In my years as a columnist, I have attempted many differing approaches to my craft. Some of them have worked better than others, and some haven’t worked at all. But with that spirit of unyielding experimentation, this week. I am going to attempt something I have never done before.
You see, though I have covered a variety of topics in my tenure, I have never devoted an entire column to one song. It hardly seems possible; after all, it would take a really special song to justify devoting so many inches to such a narrow and singular topic.
But, friends, I have found such a song, and this week, I would like to devote my space to analyzing this track.
The song in question is Gwen Stefani’s first single as a solo artist, “What You Waiting For.” For Stefani’s new song is no ordinary tune; it is the most putrid piece of audio feces ever defecated for the masses.
Some of you may remember my previous list of the worst songs of all time. Well, kids, we have a new number one.
“What You Waiting For” is the tune meant to launch Stefani’s career as a solo artist, and by the sound of things, she’s aiming straight for the Pop market. With this in mind, it’s not surprising that this wretched little ditty is so moronic and empty-headed. The real surprise is that people are playing it.
And, we’re not talking about KIIS-FM here. KROQ, the most awesome, cutting edge radio station in the world (if you don’t believe me, just ask them) is spinning the track ad nausea, and Gwen’s handlers have apparently paid off a lot of callers and programmers, because the thing has been number one on the “Furious 5 at 9,” which tracks the most requested songs on the station.
But, has anyone really listened to it? “What You Waiting For” has all the spunk and depth of an Ashlee Simpson b-side, and the cobbled together pseudo-80’s rhythm could have been assimilated by any beginning keyboard player, if they didn’t erase it out of embarrassment before finishing it.
Now, I’ve never been a fan of Stefani’s sexually-assaulted hyena delivery, or the super-polished sheen her band mates in No Doubt put behind it. But, let me tell you, the asinine warbling of “Simple Kind of Life” sounds positively inspired when compared to “What You Waiting For.”
I can ignore the kindergarten rap grammar in the title, because when analyzing the lyrics, it becomes clear that something far more sinister is going on here.
Gwen’s first stab at a sing-a-long comes with the meaningless refrain of “tick tock, tick tock,” which is delivered with her best pouting Britney impersonation. Those “ticks” and “tocks,” my friends, are the sounds of precious passing minutes of your life that you will never get back. So, right from the outset, she’s warning you that you’re about to do some time wasting.
“Stuck in a moving car/ a scary conversation, shut my eyes, can’t find the brake,” begins the first verse. Nice analogy, Gwen. I’m with you so far, but you lose me with the next line, “what if they say that you’re a clutter?” I don’t know. Is being called a “clutter” really that offensive?
Gwen lifts her insults to a higher plateau with her charge of “take a chance, you stupid ho.” Now, who is that directed at, exactly? Maybe to the same person to whom she later assures, “you’re still a super hot female.” Apparently, “hos” are “super hot females.” This would certainly account for Paris Hilton’s celebrity status. Is that who you’re singing about, Gwen?
Okay, so the deep relevance of the song is beginning to unravel now. But, I get really lost when the second verse tells us, “ya know you’re (wigging out) cuz of your sex chromosome/ I know its so messed up how our society’ll think.” Uh-huh. As if to simplify this riddle, Stefani then adds, “life is short, you’re capable.” Oh, okay, that’s what I thought you meant.
Gwen may sound a bit shallow with all of this, but she also demonstrates more global concerns as well. For instance, she pines to “go back to Japan/ gimme lots of brand new fans.” I don’t know if you’re going to win those new fans over with this one, Gwen. As if she realizes this, she can’t resist buttering her prospective public up with a well-timed compliment, “damn, you’ve got some wicked style.”
Add the beat and a few more “stupid ho”s, and you’ve got “What You Waiting For.”
Seriously, now. This is dumb, dumb stuff. While intelligence is not something we have any right to expect from Pop music, in Stefani’s case, we need to set our standards much higher.
With No Doubt, Gwen’s success was richly deserved, even if the music stinks. At least in that band, she followed the path of a truly passionate musician. By touring relentlessly and winning fans over with her high-energy performances, Stefani earned the public’s heart.
But that reputation will not save her here. To prove herself as a worthy solo artist, Gwen is going to have to step to the mic with something a little more substantial than “like a new cut pattern, you’re repeating yourself.”
Of course, those of you who are helping push Gwen’s song to international success probably see things differently. I don’t know why you even bother reading my column, but you can feel free to direct all hate mail to the address below. So, convince me I’m wrong, you “stupid ho’s.” What you waiting for?
Taylor Kingsbury, a senior journalism major, is a columnist for the Campus Times. He can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.