“Like an echo pedal you’re repeating yourself
You know it off by heart, why are you standing in one place?
Born to blossom, bloom to perish”
Written by Gwen Stefani/Linda Perry
Produced by Nellee Hooper
Taken from the album Love.Angel.Music.Baby
AUS #1, UK #4, US #47
In a direct contrast with ‘Hope There’s Someone’ is Gwen Stefani’s debut solo single, ‘What You Waiting For?’, at once a natural progression and complete departure from her previous work with No Doubt. The incessant, repetitive, relentless beat at the heart of the song is completely intoxicating, a distillation of every techno-house-electro record, every eighties influence, every hot club rhythm known to man, all shoved and squished and compacted into four minutes and regurgitated back to us in the form of the greatest dance-pop single in the history of the world.
14-year-old me was completely under the spell of ‘What You Waiting For?’, obsessed with it from the moment the song hit my ears. I was hallucinating, seeing tick-tocking clocks all around me, and every second that I wasn’t listening to ‘What You Waiting For?’ was a second wasted. It felt like all other music could just disappear from existence, as long as I had this song, what more could I want? Of course over time that obsession faded away but my love has never really decreased. Every time I hear the song it’s another exciting experience, full of shouty, bright lyrics and a beautiful hammer bang-bang-banging that beat into my brain.
It helps that ‘What You Waiting For?’ was given the Number One Best Music Video Of All Time (that’s an official title), based on Alice In Wonderland but featuring a multitude of layers and details to make it the most amazing short film I’ve ever seen. It makes ‘Thriller’ look like ‘Something Kinda Ooooh’. The director’s cut found on the CD single (or below) is the version you have to seek out – it includes hilarious scenes like Gwen aimlessly looking through a revolving vending machine, Gwen sleeping in bed and Gwen talking on the phone. It’s so much better than it sounds, and once you see it you’ll understand.
A huge number one hit in Australia and pretty big elsewhere (it famously “flopped” in the US – but remained on the Hot 100 for twenty weeks and still went Gold), further singles would overshadow ‘What You Waiting For?’ when it came to chart positions but in the years since 2004, it has emerged as the most acclaimed and most beloved of all the Gwen Stefani solo singles.