Song Saturday: “Ex-Girlfriend”

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Photo courtesy of Interscope

For this week’s edition of #SongSaturday, we’re looking back at a single from No Doubt that has earlier versions of it that even fans know and love, “Ex-Girlfriend”.

Notably one of the last songs written for Return of Saturn (and produced by Glen Ballard), the band decided to head back into the studio after the album was initially done because it seemed to be missing something. The band had just finished working with Prince and found themselves inspired heavily by him and his influences. Tom and Gwen sat down together for “Ex-Girlfriend”, which at first featured a much sadder tone with Gwen revealing more heartache and a “sorry for me” feel versus what was released on the album. Fans were lucky enough to hear the complete original version a few times during No Doubt’s VH1 Storytellers special and were treated to a full acoustic take on Modern Rock Live in 2000.

Gwen explained in the VH1 special that the original version was scrapped due to it being “another bummer No Doubt song” that they didn’t need on Return of Saturn. Instead, Tom shared that he was really into Gwen’s Tricky albums and ripped off a drum-loop and started experiencing more with the song, taking it into a brand new direction. No Doubt re-created the song digitally in the computer, which was a first for them. Tom and Tony then took the lyrics to “Ex-Girlfriend” and put them together with their new track. Gwen found her inner “rapper girl” and took the song to a different level and found the track to have “attitude” and it ended up really changed the direction of “Ex-Girlfriend”.

The lyric “you say you’re gonna burn before you mellow” is a nod to Bush’s “Dead Meat” in which Gavin sings, “I’m doing you in tomorrow / I’ll burn before I mellow”. Gwen once said that [“Dead Meat”‘s] lyric always bugged her so she wanted to turn it around on her own.

No Doubt first debuted the song live during their west coast club tour in 1999 with a much more heavier bass sound (still trying to track down my copy of this version!). No Doubt was also the first band to perform on MTV in the new millennium on January 1 where they debuted “Ex-Girlfriend” live on television for the first time.

“Ex-Girlfriend” was the debut single from Return of Saturn and reached the top 40 in many different countries around the world in early 2000. No Doubt still keeps the song fresh by adding it to their current set lists which always is a crowd pleaser.


“Ex-Girlfriend” (Original acoustic version)


“Ex-Girlfriend” (Live on MTV)


“Ex-Girlfriend” (Playlist; MTV’s Making The Video, TRL Premiere)


“Ex-Girlfriend” (Live Acoustic Version)


“Ex-Girlfriend” (Live in Germany 2000)


“Ex-Girlfriend” (Original version, live on VH1 Storytellers)


“Ex-Girlfriend” (Original fast acoustic version)


“Ex-Girlfriend” (Live in Long Beach 2002)


“Ex-Girlfriend” (Live 2009)

And for fun, check out the amazing Psycho Ex remix of “Ex-Girlfriend” that was featured in the video game Frequency, which debuted on the PlayStation 2.

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Ex-Girlfriend – Lyrics

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I kinda always knew I’d end up your ex-girlfriend
I kinda always knew I’d end up your ex-girlfriend

I kinda always knew I’d end up your ex-girlfriend
I hope I hold a special place with the rest of them
And you know it makes me sick to be on that list
But I should have thought of that before we kissed

You say you’re gonna burn before you mellow
I will be the one to burn you
Why’d you have to go and pick me?
When you that we were different, completely

I kinda always knew I’d end up your ex-girlfriend
I kinda always knew I’d end up your ex-girlfriend
I hope I hold a special place with the rest of them
I kinda always knew I’d end up your ex-girlfriend

I’m another ex-girlfriend on your list
But I should have thought of that before we kissed

Your wildness scares me
So does your freedom
You say you can’t stand the restrictions
I find myself trying to change you
If you were meant to be my lover I wouldn’t have to

And I feel so mean, I feel in between
‘Cause I’m about to give you away

I kinda always knew I’d end up your ex-girlfriend (for someone else to take)
I kinda always knew I’d end up your ex-girlfriend (am I making a mistake?)
I hope I hold a special place with the rest of them (all the time that we spent)
I kinda always knew I’d end up your ex-girl, friend

I’m another ex-girlfriend on your list
But I should have thought of that before we kissed
I’m another ex-girlfriend on your list
But I should have thought of that before we kissed

I’m about to give you away for someone else to take
I’m about to give you away for someone else to take

We keep repeating mistakes for souveniers
And we’ve been in between the days for years
And I know that when I see you I’m going to die
I know I’m going to want you and you know why
It’s going to kill me to see you with the next girl
‘Cause I’m the most gorgeously jealous kind of ex-girl

I kinda always knew I’d end up your ex-girlfriend
I kinda always knew I’d end up your ex-girlfriend
I hope I hold a special place with the rest of them
I kinda always knew I’d end up your ex-girl friend

I’m another ex-girlfriend on your list
But I should have thought of that before we kissed
I’m another ex-girlfriend on your list
But I should have thought of that before we kissed

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Ex-Girlfriend (Original Version) – Lyrics

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I kinda always knew I’d end up your ex-girlfriend
I hope I hold a special place with the rest of them
And you know it makes me sick to be on that list
But I should have thought of that before we kissed

I’m another ex-girlfriend on your list
But I should have thought of that before we kissed

You say you’re gonna burn before you mellow
I will be the one to burn you
Why’d you have to go and pick me?
When you that we were different, completely

I’m another ex-girlfriend on your list
But I should have thought of that before we kissed
I’m another ex-girlfriend on your list
But I should have thought of that before we kissed

Oh, if im strong enough
I will give you up
If I stay away
You’ll find a girl that’ll make you great
A girl that’ll make you great
A girl more like you

I know that when I see you
I’m gonna die
I know im gonna want you
And you know why
It’s gonna kill me to see you with the next girl
Cause im the most georgeously jealous kinda ex-girl

Now I’m another ex-girlfriend on your list
But I should have thought of that before we kissed
Just another ex-girlfriend on your list
But I should of thought of that before we kissed
We keep repeating mistakes for souveniers
And we’ve been inbetween the days for years
Just another ex-girlfriend on your list
But I should of thought of that before we kissed

5 Replies to “Song Saturday: “Ex-Girlfriend””

  1. I’m glad they release the final version of exgf, it was the comeback they needed at that time. The other one is cute but is not the slap in the face that it was the original song when they released it.

    Now they need to re master all push and shove as they did with the original exgf track… 🙂

  2. I just love how Gwen refers to the original version as “another bummer ND song” lol. I think the original version is cute, but yeah… it really is just another typical ND heartache song. The final version is definitely superior.

  3. My favourite would also be the version off the album, I also like the Live Acoustic Version because I love Acoustics and think that Tom and Gwen sound great together.

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