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Why Isn’t Gwen Stefani’s Comeback Sparking Any Interest? TGJ Weighs In

Published: Wednesday 14th Jan 2015 by Sam
gwen-stefani-comeback-thatgrapejuice

It was billed as the comeback of a Pop Titan. However, under performing singles, so-so videos, and invisible radio support, confirm that Gwen Stefani‘s return to the Pop sphere is officially in the danger zone.

Let’s peruse the numbers…

Comeback single ‘Baby Don’t Lie’ peaked at a paltry #46 on the Billboard Hot 100, while its follow-up ‘Spark The Fire’ was released to such a frosty reception in December that it’s yet to chart a month on. Neither track is fairing much better on VEVO. The visual for ‘Baby’ has been lodged at the 13 million views mark months after debuting and ‘Fire’ isn’t generating any heat with just 3 million plays worldwide.

Stefani’s current predicament marks the second time in as many years that the singer has found herself on unstable terrain. No Doubt‘s 2012 comeback effort resulted in shocking sales and an axed tour. Hope for another reunion was quelled upon the announcement of Gwen’s new solo venture – which at the time felt like a fair payoff. Yet, with that now a mucky mess of sorts too, it brings the questions of what went wrong and can it be fixed to the surface.

We weigh in below…

Gwen-Stefani-Pharrell-thatgrapejuiceFrom our vantage point, Gwen (in her current guise) sounds like a caricature of her former self, which perhaps explains why her new songs just aren’t connecting. Sometimes nostalgia allows for another victory lap, yet it appears the winning chemistry between the songbird and longtime collaborator Pharrell Williams has dissolved.
It’s a dizzying reality, as – on paper – their reunion spells “epic” with an exclamation mark. And understandably so. For, beyond their previous smashes together (‘Hollaback Girl’, ‘Wind It Up’ and more), Skateboard P is on top of world and Gwen carries a success narrative that few could rival. However, the stark reality is that their new material is rubbish.

Still, the said songs are being released in an era where much worse is performing much better. So, what other factors could be affecting the campaign?

While the length of Stefani’s seven-year solo hiatus may seem like the most obvious obstruction to her return, ageism – or more specifically the industry’s sexist flavor of it – is also being touted as a reasonable rationale.

Like many female stars before her, 45-year-old Gwen is now tasked with convincing media programmers – whose primary aim is to cater to the young demographic – to spin her music and videos. And in a world bizarrely dominated by Taylor Swift (who is exactly 20 years Stefani’s junior), it quickly becomes apparent how challenging said task is for a grown mother of three. Of course, this is not fair nor does it allow for viable variety on the charts. But, put simply, it has been and continues to be the mechanics of the music business.

To apportion credit where it’s due, Stefani’s team (shepherded by the mighty Irving Azoff)gwen-stefani-the-voice-thatgrapejuice have made the right moves to help combat this – the most notable being her signing on to ‘The Voice’ (which has in turn introduced her to a sect of the record buying public who were too young to remember her slayage from 2004-2008, much less her No Doubt days).
However, the lack of follow-through with the music and promotion of it has stifled whatever momentum joining the NBC hit awarded her.

What can she do?

Forget chasing the hit producer in Pharrell and remember that several of her past gems were helmed by talent generally unknown outside of industry circles. For instance, while millions know songs such as ‘Luxurious’ and ‘4 In The Morning’, much less are aware that both were produced by her No Doubt band-mate (and former lover) Tony Kanal.
It’s a similar narrative with 2004’s ‘What You Waiting For?’ Because, though penned by the legendary Linda Perry, it was Nellee Hooper who produced the track – a name, which outside the world of trip-hop, would likely generate a “who” response from much of today’s public. Further proof that it doesn’t always take a major name or one with whom an artist has history to create magic.

Elsewhere, Stefani would benefit from seeking help in striking the right balance between “cool” and captivating. Because while “new Gwen” is smartly pandering to the trendy/edgy demographic (as evidenced her current sound and styling), there doesn’t seem to be much continuity from the larger than life Pop girl image she was peddling previously. Yes, at 45 we can’t expect some of the same looks and antics from a decade ago. But given the visual age we’re in, it’d profit her campaign to re-engage with the strong, bold, and creative imagery which made Stefani’s Harajuku gimmick so arresting.

Because if Lady GaGa is succeeding by preaching similar Psalms of rule-breaking and thinking out-of-the-box, Gwen is the Genesis and the creator of that movement for the modern crop of Pop girls. Therefore, she may need to re-read the chapters of her own success story to guide her to her musical promised land.

Do you agree? Why do you think Gwen is struggling? Can she turn it around? Let us know…

Your thoughts?

Comments 35

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  1. christinastherealtalent January 14, 2015

    Well IMO, as a fan of both Gwen the solo artist and Gwen as the lead chick from No Doubt, it took a few listens to fall in love with Baby Don’t Lie but it was missing more content to really capture my attention upon first listen. Then you have Spark the Fire which sounded hot when that seconds long teaser posted online and then when the full length version was released, the song was quite disappointing.

    All in all, I think if Gwen would stick with her “rock and roll” roots, people would invest their time and money in supporting her.

    • BubblePopElectric January 14, 2015

      @ChristinasTheRealTalent Couldn’t agree with you more, love! She’s aiming for Top 40 when Hot AC and Rock should be her go-to platforms. Things can always crossover into Top 40 from there (see also: Adele, Hozier, etc.)

    • Soapy Sam January 14, 2015

      Gwen’s solo songs are stupid just like Katy Perry’s songs. Just silly and meaningless.

    • gwenisska January 15, 2015

      Gwen was never pure rock and roll. she was a little roll mixed with some ska and pop in the No Doubt days.

      It would be nice to hear another ballad a’la Don’t Speak

  2. Absolved January 14, 2015

    Getting off the silly “The Voice” show and focus on promoting herself would be a start. Stars as regulars on reality TV comes off as not only time consuming, but desperate too. It’s something to keep your name in circulation after you’ve obviously peaked. No one hot and in demand, or is trying to be, should do that.

  3. beautifuldisaster89 January 14, 2015

    I don’t think it’s because she’s waited too long it’s because the material is lackluster bring back some of that loves Angel music baby energy!

  4. Sherry January 14, 2015

    I love Gwen. She’s so cute and her style is everything, but honestly she’s been replaced time and time again. This generation doesn’t care about her and Fergie…and her fans from back in the day only care about the nostalgia. She’s at the point in her career where she should be making music for the love of it, not the sales. 🙂

    • Cupid January 14, 2015

      Umm Fergie did pretty good with LaLa Love…. Also I don’t remember Gwen outside of Holla Back Girl and Rich Girl. Fergie pushed out serveral hits for which she really stood out both solo and with her group. I’m not sure of her selling success but gwen’s past impact may not have been great enough for her to make an easy comeback.

      • Julian January 14, 2015

        What? I mean… what? Are you serious? Is this a joke? I mean, what???

  5. CT January 14, 2015

    I love gwen but its simple she has been gone to long and is out of touch with music although she inspired a lot of todays girls she isnt a legend like janet or madinosaur so the girls werent that excited to see a comeback for her.. maybe she will have to settle for being a nostalgic superstar..

    • MovieAmi January 14, 2015

      There were enough spelling, grammatic and structural errors in there to make an idiots stew. What did you score on the SAT’s?

  6. Avi January 14, 2015

    Meh. It’s still a bit early to write her comeback off as a failure, but she’s not going to have another ‘hollaback girl’ era. New and more realistic goals need to be set this time around. Maybe launch an extravagant tour as a compliment/companion to the album.

  7. JOHNVIDAL January 14, 2015

    WHO billed it as the comeback of a pop titan???
    TGJ and their delusions. Who else?
    She had one great solo era… 10 years ago!!! That´s it. It hasn´t even aged well, it was cute music but not much more. How is she a pop titan? Are we talking about Madonna? Mariah? I don´t know. I´m confused 🙂
    On the other hand, No Doubt´s comeback didn´t go as bad seeing how the industry is now and that their break was too long too. I think they debuted with way more than 100k copies sold. And at least 4 or 5 of the songs on that album were 10 times better than Gwen´s solo stuff.

    • Mark111 January 14, 2015

      You have some freaking nerves. Gwen was the main chick that fused pop and urban together, or fused urban with pop. All the later chicks, from Fergie, Katy, Gags and Miley all took from LAMB. And don’t get me started with her rock side Paramore who? I recall LAMB first two singles being ok, and then Holla Back Girl hit.

    • Paulo January 14, 2015

      Thank you! LAMB was good but I don’t get why she’s being treated as this huge innovator outside of her band. She ain’t the Jesus of 00s Pop. Sweet Escape was not a good album maybe if it was people would be more interested in her comeback idk. I wish her well but I’m just not feeling her songs apart from her solo debut.

  8. Benjamin O’Hara January 14, 2015

    The reason why she isn’t having success anymore is because as time goes on the general public steers away from loving REAL music more and more. Only generic, boring & recycled songs make it big anymore.

    • SnowBunny January 14, 2015

      What real music are you speaking of? Gwen’s singles are very generic

  9. J January 14, 2015

    If I were her, I’d finish the ND CD, and include her singles as bonus tracks. I don’t think she should release an album anymore if it sounds like recycled Stargate tracks (BDL) and aged Neptunes productions…

  10. Mark111 January 14, 2015

    Catering to her audience plays a factor. Her last solo albums were 10 years ago and No Doubt was even longer. Those listeners aren’t 12 to 19 year old anymore. As I get older, I buy less and less NEW albums and find myself buying and stream albums from my youth and even older albumsI missed out on. Kids ddon’t want to hear 40 year olds, sorry but true. Think when you were young, who did you listen to? For me, it was Aaliyah, Usher, MJ, Janet. To some, it was Britney, Madonna, JT. To others it was Green Day, Blink 182, Eminem, Nelly. My point, they were young or really huge. I didn’t listen to MJB, Toni, Luther and Prince because their music didn’t reach my age, but as I get older, I do now. There’s a reason Adele sold all those dame albums, it was ageless music. No one in their 30s are buying Justin Bieber or Chris Brown.

  11. FutureCiara January 14, 2015

    IDK, Im here for her music, But just dont have the urge to go on iTunes to purchase anything she is releasing unless its like something ive never heard before…. I need a fresh HOT Gwen, With hits after hits!!

    • BeyRihLiyah January 14, 2015

      you clearly don’t have the urge to go on iTunes to buy your favs albums every era either #FLOP-ARA

  12. Navy Nick January 14, 2015

    Just do it for fun, she’s established.. I adore both sings and videos & play them every chance I get…, but I think the pHarrell thing is over/ what U waiting for style yes gawd!!!

  13. Theman January 14, 2015

    It has nothing to do with the general public. It’s more to do with radio being jerks..

  14. truth (icki is on the radio cryn cause THEPINKSHIT Flippidy flipidy FLOP!!! January 14, 2015

    Bcus NO ONE currrsss

  15. Theman January 14, 2015

    Radio crams certain songs down the publics throat, so they could do it with Gwen.. The industry is so iffy..

  16. ~The Arcade~ January 14, 2015

    I do agree with your notions Sam. I think Gwen is struggling because we are living in a degenerate era when it comes to artistry + she’s grown now and we all know this is a youngin’s game… every 5 years there’s a new “it” girl. The only way she can turn this around is if she gets that significant song to catapult her back onto the scene… Maroon 5 for e.g. did that horrendous “Jagger” song and now they back in the limelight; not saying she should go that route per say, but maybe she should rethink collaborating with Pharell.

  17. pat January 14, 2015

    She has no iconic music

  18. Kyle January 14, 2015

    I will always support Gwen but I must say that “Spark the Fire” was a complete mess. It sounded like a dated leftover from “The Sweet Escape” album. Her live performances of that song were unbearable to watch. I actually liked “Baby Don’t Lie”…I think the problem is that it’s been so long since her and Pharrell’s collaborative heyday and people just aren’t getting it. It’s like they’re trying to pick up exactly where they keft off but in reality they Gwen pretty much has to reintroduce herself to a whole new generation.

  19. Suicide Blonde January 14, 2015

    I think the main reason is that she never really was a Pop star, it was an aventure, it turn out well but that’s it, i love her but to be honest she’s at her best with No Doubt.

  20. SnowBunny January 14, 2015

    Let’s be real here, Gwen (solo) was a fad. She did her thing, disappeared….and the GP moved on.

  21. DanYiel Teflon January 14, 2015

    TBH I didn’t even listen to any of her Solo songs I only check for the group “No Doubt” same with Fergie I only Check for “The Black Eye Peas”….

  22. Stephy January 14, 2015

    She was just a ONE MOMENT WONDER. Kinda like MC HAMMER & Vanilla ICE. She’s beautiful & aged VERY well tho

  23. Musika January 14, 2015

    I read last month that she’s working with Charli XCX as well. I hope that she’ll help her get a hit track for the next album.

  24. G January 14, 2015

    What we need is for “Together” to be released as a single! It’s Gwen’s song with Calvin Harris. It’s from his 2014 album “Motion”. It’s by far my favorite out of Gwen’s new material. Always will support and love her.

  25. xedos January 14, 2015

    how can you expect to take a decade of and come back and trying to do songs for a whole new generation. she should have done songs her age.

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