NO DOUBT - "Settle Down" Indeed.

By Lauren White

I know the geek and pop culture world has been buzzing this week, but settle down guys, we have important music news to discuss! No Doubt, one of the few bands that manages to unite pop, reggae, and ska fans for about three to five minutes, has officially made their musical presence known again after what seems like a long hiatus. People held their breath in anticipation over the new single and crossing their fingers that the hiatus would have an effect similar to wine and get better with age and not spoil the sound, like milk. Would Gwen Stefani, Tony Kanal, Adrian Young, and Tom Dumont manage to stay true to their distinctive flavor while providing a fresh take? Wicked Theorists, you know we cannot leave this question unanswered: it is time to take a look at their new single “Settle Down”...

She got moves like Jagger.
Okay, I have a confession: I was not too crazy about this song when I heard it on the radio. It sounded way too poppy and more like a Neptunes track instead of No Doubt. However, it was one of those cases where you needed to hear a live version of the song in order for everything to click. I somehow ended up watching the Teen Choice Awards and saw No Doubt perform “Settle Down” for a crowd of teeny-boppers and their celebrity idols. All the musical elements of their reggae/ska sound were more prominent than what I had heard from the radio edit of the song. It captures the listener’s attention with a grandiose orchestral introduction, worthy of a medieval epic.

 A brief clip of children’s laughter offers a segue into the familiar reggae strum of the guitar. This along with a heaping of Jamaican dancehall and dashes of poppy synthesizers and ska horns are a recipe for a typical No Doubt song. The vocals appear to be more fluid in this song, maybe as a result of Stefani’s pop career

There is not much to say about the lyrics of the song. Simply put, it is about remembering to stay calm when life throws you a curveball and never let people see you sweat. It is nice that the lyrics also reflect that No Doubt has not changed over the years, with the use of Californian and Jamaican slang still present in the song.
"No wonder! This a take out menu, not a map! Duh."

There is a lot of color in this video. Not your average neon, in your face scenester colors, but rich, vibrant colors representing Indian and Jamaican culture. The band members are in separate trucks and appear to be coming from different locations. Everyone is determined to get to their destination as they look at maps and readjust mirrors. This montage is broken with a shot of Gwen Stefani jumping in a crowded club. More shots of the party are briefly seen along with a split shot of watches being synchronized. The song begins with all the band members talking to each other via CB radio while more shot of the crowded party are slipped in there. Stefani, Kanal, Young, and Dumont swap heartfelt hugs when they arrive at their destination. Moments later, they attack their touring horn members Stephen Bradley and Gabrial McNair with hugs before getting down to business.

Optimus is getting a headache.
Strumming, singing, picking and banging happens on the top of their respective trucks with some visual help from LEDs. At this point, we see more of the party, but the spotlight is still on Gwen as she tries to lose herself in the music. A new location is shown, with the band playing a concert in the middle of the desert that was hinted at in the beginning of the video. Fleeting shots of dancers in front of a screen and a lit-up truck provide the transition to the bridge. As the song starts to wind down, we see more of the casual dancing happening in the background. The crowd breaks out classic dancehall moves while Gwen and Tony provides the punk rock jumping and Adrian supplies some skanking to please the ska lovers. Upon closer inspection, it is shown that the people near the trucks are in a formation and are mixing country western line dancing with the aforementioned dancehall moves.

The extended outro is crammed with shots of the line dance, the concert, the party, and new clips of party-goers setting off numerous fireworks and every scene filled with gyrating and liquid bodies.

The video concept is not ground-breaking or edgy, but it does not have to be. It conveyed the message that No Doubt is back, appeared to have found the Fountain of Youth, and has not conformed to the auto-tuned happy radio standards. If this single is an indicator, they will make new fans and keep old ones with their new album, Push and Shove.
Maybe if they synchronized their product placements they would have met up sooner.

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