Snap Judgment: Gwen Stefani's 'The Sweet Escape' video

Gwen_lLet’s start by saying that I am perhaps the wrong person to undertake this particular Snap Judgment as my bias against all late-era Gwen Stefani has been well established, but never the less, here I am, prepared to watch and assess the former No Doubt singer’s latest personal branding exercise, er, music video, which you can watch here. (Thanks, Yahoo and Pepsi!)

First of all, I’m thrilled to announce that "The Sweet Escape" is actually a song and not a collection of guttural noises and random samples like "Wind It Up," but my excitement at the presence of real live singing and a modicum of melody has been tempered immediately by the ongoing commercialization of Gwen as a brand. Where she used to be strong and empowering, now I mostly find her shallow and glossy, more concerned with hairstyles than substance, with bling and boys than self-awareness. (Just because you can make your first initial look like the Fendi logo doesn’t mean you should.) The irony of it all is that her feminist period occurred while single, and in a band with dudes; now that she’s a married wife and mother with a solo career, she’s acting like a sugared-up tween at the mall with a credit card.

But I suppose none of that has anything to do with this video. Ordoes it? There’s Gwen, trapped in a golden cage, because celebrity ishard! Then she gets out, but she has to use her own perfectly sculptedhair to haul the Harajuku Girls up the side of a building. That musthave hurt… but then, when you’re famous, it often feels as thoughpeople just want to use you (and your beautiful hair) to climb to thetop! Thank God, then, that Akon comes along! The dashing Senegaleseman takes her to 7-Eleven in his Chevy (JUST IN CASE YOU MISSED IT THATCAR WAS A CHEVROLET THANK YOU FOR WATCHING), and sitting there in thefront seat drinking her Big Gulp, Gwen can finally be free. Hooray!Except… oh, it was only a dream. And there she is, back in her goldencage. Damn this fame and all these riches! And has someone bronzed thebaby?

Yeah, so, I’m clearly thrilled with this. Sigh. Why am I so crabby?It’s a perfectly catchy song (the "woo-hoo"s are super fun), the videois cool-lookin’ (especially the parts with the blue background and Gwenau naturel)… I guess I just expect more. You?


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  • maggie

    So I must agree. I am really disappointed w/ Gwen. I pretty much “grew up” on no doubt and loved how unique her voice was and her style. But today I feel like she’s gone the way of mariah Carey and squandered her incredible talent for crappy pop songs where you don’t even hear singing!! Gwen needs to stop rapping and return to singing. I didn’t watch the video, I’m at work, but I felt I had to comment because I want Gwen to take heed and quit colaborating and heavilly producing her songs and strip it down and sing.

  • jodi

    i don’t know. i think i have to disagree. the sweet escape is a great song, and since it’s gwen, you have to expect an over-the-top, but imaginative video. that’s who she is. i’m a fan.

  • Nick

    Gwen needs to start work on the next NO DOUBT album. I like her more with them.

  • Wes

    So interesting that the point of Gwen as a brand was made!! I think Gwen was honestly THRUST into the feminist position. Anyone who listens to No Doubt’s “Return of Saturn” and other stuff knows that she has always wanted marriage, love, and fluffy stuff. While I agree that her gimmicks and image worked wonders with LAMB and is now kinda fading on The Sweet Escape, I think she’s keeping her shallow, glossy image for the solo dance records and keeping with her real, deep messages (as deep as they get) with No Doubt.
    Really, what other pop star these days makes fearless, silly, good-ole-fashioned fun music without taking themselves too seriously? Fergie, and she’s that way because of the trails Gwen blazed. I think Gwen serves a purpose in music today, and unlike all the other tweens/teens singing, she has earned her place.

  • Dre

    99.9% of music played on the radio and/or that has a video on MTV is garbage. This song and all other by Gwen (solo or with the boys) would fall into this category.

  • Tauwan

    “Really, what other pop star these days makes fearless, silly, good-ole-fashioned fun music without taking themselves too seriously?”
    Thank you Wes. I agree completely.

  • Telly B

    I absolutely agree with Whitney’s assessment.
    Let’s not even get into the “feminist” thing, once upon a time Gwen used to sing actual songs, that had actual melodies and actual exhuberance and joy and musicality and just…beauty.
    In a raw,essential way.
    Now she sings crappy pseudo-jingles and she is all about Stefani, Inc.
    No, there’s nothing wrong with commercial music, but when your music is simply A COMMERCIAL for your clothing line and your purses and your eyewear collection, that sucks.

  • brandonk

    Well, that song was about 100 times better than the other one! I might actually consider buying the CD now. The video kind of gave me a headache with all the flashing quick-cuts, and the Chevy logo was annoying.

  • Stephanie

    I have to agree with Dre. Luckly there are some indie bands out there that have turned their backs on this over chewed garbage. But then again the wheel turns the same. In the sixties bands wanted to be like the Beatles, in the eighties bands wanted to be either Duran, Duran or Def Leppard, late ninties to now over done teen pop or over produced hip hop. It is silly.

  • aramis

    Wes – Dammit! I had typed pretty much everything you said, and then I noticed your post. But I totally agree with you. Gwen is out there to make FUN music. She has everything she’s ever wanted out of life, so now it’s time to enjoy it. God forbid she actually does that…geez, people.

  • Chris

    Gwen is a sell out, and a horrible one at that. She was great w/ NO DOUBT, but lost her self along the way. Music just isn’t about music anymore, and artist like Gwen remind us of that!

  • mike

    Imagine if the Rock Steady cd were released this year. Hella Good, Hey Baby and Underneath It All would destroy the saccarine crap being played on the radio. Come back Gwen!

  • beb

    We need to take a look at Gwen’s solo track record so far…her first single off of “Love, Angel, Music, Baby” was “What You Waiting For”, which is just as out there as “Wind It Up”. I would not have chosen “The Sweet Escape” as the 2nd release, though. Instead, I would have loved to see the brilliance that is “Early Winter” or the Depeche Mode homage “Wonderful Life” take on the charts next. “Yummy” wouldn’t be too bad, either, but it’s more a 4th or 5th single.

  • bootsycolumbia

    Gwen Stefani as a feminist? I don’t think I’ve ever thought of her as an artist young women can look to and aspire to. I’d put Madonna, Sheryl Crow, The Dixie Chicks, even Mariah Carey as examples of feminist pop stars before I’d name Gwen Stefani. I’m not dissing her music, but there’s no underlying message of empowerment in it. Madonna’s made a career of following her inner voice and putting out groundbreaking albums. Mariah and Sheryl have been through a lot of personal turbulence and used their experiences to put out some great music. The Dixie Chicks could have rolled over and put out a straight-up country album to appease their former fans. The fact that they defiantly continue to put out great, political music instead make them feminists in my book. Not so Gwen Stefani.

  • Stacey

    Wow. I’m glad someone else is getting annoyed with this. I’ve always liked Gwen, but her commercialization is getting on my nerves. She seems now to be all about selling her clothing line and her products and making money. She’s been seeming very money grubbing lately. I prefer Gwen in her No Doubt days!

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