For this week’s edition of Song Saturday and in honor of Love.Angel.Music.Baby‘s 10th anniversay tomorrow, we’re looking back at Gwen’s Grammy nominated debut solo single and fan favorite, “What You Waiting For?”
After meeting in 2003, co-writer of the single Linda Perry confronted Gwen and expressed how much she wanted to work together for her debut solo project. After feeling reluctant, Gwen was advised that she had only five days to meet with Perry and she reportadly became frustrated and intimidated before heading into the studio. Gwen felt that Perry wasn’t qualified to write pop music for her upcoming dance record. After wrapping up the Rock Steady tour with No Doubt, Gwen was said to be emotionally exhausted and their first writing session together was “unproductive”. The pair did write a track titled “Fine By You”, which Gwen described as “a stupid love song, but really good”. Perry found that the song “wasn’t right” and was noticably excluded from the album. Gwen reporadly found it “humiliating and intimidating” writing outside of the band and felt a drain in creativity.
After writing later in the night by herself, Perry presented Gwen a new song which she instantly was attracted to. After being impressed by the track, Perry asked Gwen, “what are you waiting for?” She reportadly took the question as a dare with Gwen responding with, “You’re totally challenging me, right?” The two then clicked and sat down and wrote the lyrics to the new-wave pop song based on Gwen’s writing block and fears about reaching out on her own for the first time outside of No Doubt. The song later blossomed into “What You Waiting For?” and also inspired Gwen’s idea for the Harajuku Girls, which grew into the album’s theming and concept.
“What You Waiting For?” was produced by Nellee Hooper (“Hella Good”, “Running”, “It’s My Life”) and recorded in London and Henson Recording Studios in Hollywood, California.
“What You Waiting For?” was released on September 28, 2004 and is the lead-in track on Gwen’s debut solo album, Love.Angel.Music.Baby. The single, which tells of the story of Gwen’s fears and pressures from the record company to deliver a “hot track”, was well received by critics and peaked at #47 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. The track also charted strong around the world hitting #4 on the UK singles chart and #9 on the European Hot 100 Singles. “What You Waiting For?” was releaed as a digital download, CD single and 12″ vinyl. B-sides on the single included notable Jacques Lu Cont remixes, the instrumental and music video. The single was certified gold in February 2005 and was nominated for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance at the 2005 Grammy Awards.
The iconic music video for “What You Waiting For?” was directed by Francis Lawrence and debuted in Septmeber 2004. MTV also aired a 30-minute special Making The Video featuring a behind-the-scenes look and interviews with Gwen on-set.
The video deals directly with the lyrics’ theme of Stefani’s search for inspiration in songwriting. It opens with a lengthy non-musical section in which Stefani arrives in Los Angeles off of No Doubt’s Rock Steady Tour. She receives several calls from Interscope label head Jimmy Iovine, who attempts to push her forward with her solo debut project, but she replies that she is tired and uninspired. After a failed studio attempt, Stefani sees a flyer advertising help for writer’s block. Upon arrival she is asked to fill out a suspicious questionnaire, where the camera pans to the questions which will be important. She is then told that she’ll be billed when she is finished. She asks for clarification only to discover that she is already back in the studio by herself. When Stefani picks up an oversized pocket watch from the piano, a rabbit knick-knack that she had previously seen jumps across the room. She throws the watch at the knick-knack, causing her to fall back on her chair and find herself transported to a fantasy world based on Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass. (Wikipedia)
There are four different versions of the video with the original director’s cut (which clocks in over eight minutes) and was a huge hit with critics and fans everywhere. “What You Waiting For?” debuted at #11 on MTV’s Total Request Live and went to #1 for over five weeks. The video also took home the award for Best Art Direction at the 2005 MTV Video Music Awards and Best Dressed Video at the first MTV Australia Video Music Awards.
In late 2004, Gwen performed “What You Waiting For?” during several notable appearances including Top of the Pops, TRL, American Music Awards, MTV Europe Music Awards and the Billboard Music Awards. Gwen incorporated the now-iconic Alice in Wonderland theme into most of her performances and promotional appearances.
Gwen also included the single on both of her tours, including choosing to close with the monster hit on her Sweet Escape world tour in 2007.
Other notable versions of “What You Waiting For?” include the said Jacques Lu Cont remixes and Elevator Mix included on the deluxe version of Love.Angel.Music.Baby.
“What You Waiting For?” recently celebrated it’s 10th anniversary and was voted by our visitors as Gwen’s best lead single and favorite solo single. Stylight also included Gwen in her Alice in Wonderland themed outfit (worn on the American Music Awards) in their list of the Top 15 Iconic Outfits in Music.