In this franchise, we look back on songs that deserved a little more love and attention.
Believe it or not, the forever-youthful Gwen Stefani turns 49 today (October 3). In honor of the pop icon’s birthday, I thought I would pay tribute to the most slept-on single in No Doubt’s discography. After an 11-year break, the seminal ’90s band reunited in 2012 for a new album. Push And Shove arrived on a tidal wave of hype and got off to a fairly promising start when lead single, “Settle Down,” cracked the top 40. That track found the quartet returning to their ska roots, but there was one pure-pop moment on the album.
“Looking Hot” holds up against classics like “Hey Baby” and “Hella Good” as one of No Doubt’s most playful and immediate pop songs. It’s a fluffy piece of nonsense that finds Gwen bragging about her sex appeal over driving drum beats, crisp guitar riffs and lashings of synths that wouldn’t sound out of place on LAMB. “Go ahead and look at me, ’cause that’s what I want,” the blond bombshell begins the song, flipping the usual pop/rock trope of female objectification on its head. “Take a good look won’t you please, ’cause that’s what I want.”
“Do you think I’m looking hot? Do you think this hits the spot?” Gwen demands on a chorus that finds her calling the shots, instead of the other way around. While a throwback vibe dominated most of Push And Shove, “Looking Hot” sounded right on trend for an era that found Kesha dominating the charts alongside electro-pop queens like Britney Spears and Lady Gaga. As such, expectations were high when it was rolled out as the album’s second single. But to say that everything went wrong is something of an understatement.
Before cancel culture reached its current zenith, No Doubt was one of the first acts to feel the wrath of social media when they rolled out a culturally insensitive video for “Looking Hot.” (Someone had the great idea of putting Gwen in a Native American headdress. Oh, and there was also a subplot about her being kidnapped). The backlash was immediate and the big-budget video was pulled from YouTube after one day. That basically killed the song, then and there. Which is a shame because it was, is and forever will be, a bop.
Revisit the underrated gem by watching the (non-problematic) lyric video below.
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