Musical Frankenstein doesn't yield anything distinctly Stefanian
Gwen Stefani's new solo single "Baby Don't Lie" is out, and it's running all over the place.
At first it threatens to be a gum-chewing M.I.A. hip-hop hybrid. Then it soars straight into Ellie Goulding dance-pop territory, and then mid-tempo love song with a hiccup at the end, plus a OneRepublic counter-melody on the tags after the chorus. Then Iggy Azalea's influence rears its head.
Well, at least the whiff of OneRepublic can be partly to all of the co-songwriters: Ryan Tedder, who worked with Benny Blanco and Noel Zancanella to write this sonic Frankenstein.
Tedder leads OneRepublic and Blanco -- who produced on OneRepublic's latest album "Native" -- could be a solid lead as to why anybody would ape the slack-voweled sounds of Iggy Azalea: he co-wrote pop-laden "Black Widow" for the Aussie rapper. Zancanella also co-wrote and co-produced for OneRepublic, and was behind Ellie Goulding's "Burn," plus a few tunes for acts like Maroon 5, Demi Lovato and Selena Gomez.
Start connecting a bunch of those dots and you get a song that doesn't at all seem distinctly Gwen Stefani, except for her willingness to speak-sing without ever actually having to verge on rapping.
The No Doubt frontwoman still has a lot of power behind her voice and can still carry a decent melody when she's given one, namely the chorus here. But it's hardly a reintroduction to the personality behind "Hollaback Girl." This is a generic play for radio, without much fun or heart. I'm more eager to hear how a whole album would fare.
The music video for "Baby Don't Lie" will premiere tomorrow (Oct. 21).
"Baby Don't Lie" is Stefani's first new music as a solo artist since she released "The Sweet Escape" in 2006. No Doubt dropped their newest album in 2012. She is currently a judge on "The Voice."