Monday, October 20, 2014

Two unnecessary pop singles by artists we've largely ceased to care about

After 2012's underwhelming No Doubt comeback, a new Gwen Stefani solo album was basically guaranteed. And so here we are in 2014, with Baby Don't Lie, the first single from the star's third record.

The speaker-rattling intro immediately wrongfoots you, suggesting a pounding club track before it disappointingly gives way to a meandering midtempo blancmange. Gwen comes across as weirdly aggressive, hectoring her boyfriend to confess some wrongdoing or other. "What you hiding boy?" she repeats with increasing fury over the middle 8. I bet she started the conversation in a restaurant for maximum squirm factor.

Still, with co-writing credits from Benny Blanco, Ryan Tedder and Noel Zancanella the song was never going to be an absolute stinker - and the Sophie Muller-directed video, which premieres tomorrow, is bound to be a visual treat.

On balance, then, 6/10.

Gwen Stefani - Baby Don't Lie

Also on the comeback trail this week is Fergie Whatshername out of the Black Eyed Peas, who's taken a mere eight years to record the follow-up to her debut solo album The Dutchess.

The first single, LA Love, basically picks up where she left off in 2006. It's a half-rapped, half-sung, call-and-response earworm in the vein of London Bridge. It's also one of those singles which appears to believe that singing a big list countries makes you seem (a) international and (b) a talented lyricist, when it just makes you sound like a geography teacher.

This one's more instant than the Gwen Stefani song, but more likely to diminish with repeat plays. And, curiously, Fergies's vocal cords seem to have been possessed by Iggy Azaelea.

It'll be interesting to see whether "the kids", who only know Fergie from that song off the Great Gatsby soundtrack, will give a damn about it. 5/10.

Gwen Stefani - Baby Don't Lie

Fans of unnecessary pop singles by artists long past their sell-by date will be pleased to know there's a Madonna album in the works.

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