Sunday, August 28, 2011

Another Mediocre "Single," "Cool" By Gwen Stefani Is Barely Adequate.

The Good: Not a bad pop-ballad, video is a nice touch
The Bad: Short, Poor use of the medium, No need for a “Hollaback Girl” remix!
The Basics: A bland pop-ballad single, “Cool” is not the worst way to spend about fifteen minutes, but it's nothing extraordinary.

Every now and then, virtually every popular music artist gives listeners a real reason why they deserve the listener's time and attention as well as airplay over the radio. After all, with so many talents in the world, there are very few slots for singers and they tend to go to the same banal pop performers whose works are overproduced and vocally lackluster. Frequently, I find myself wondering “how did this person even get signed?!” In the case of Gwen Stefani, I suspect that music videos went a long way to creating her career because she is, as they say, the stereotypical smokin’ hot blonde. Of course, there are millions of them out there, so every now and again, Stefani has to make an effort to prove she has talent. Her single “Cool” is one such attempt which is generally successful.

The fourth single from Stefani's solo debut album, Love, Angel, Music, Baby, “Cool” is a pop ballad that seems to want to continue Stefani's “Don't Speak” power ballad tradition from her No Doubt days. And, it is generally successful in that regard.

With only three tracks and a music video, “Cool” is largely the musical vision of Gwen Stefani. Stefani co-wrote the song, but did not produce it or the remix that appears on the “single.” Co-writer Dallas produced the album version and there is a longer remix from Photek. The "single" version also includes a remix of "Hollaback Girl" by Stefani's No Doubt bandmate Tony Kanal which includes a pretty ridiculous reggae rap in the song. Because, honestly, did we truly need another remix of "Hollaback Girl?!" Stefani is only responsible for co-writing "Cool" and providing the lead vocals on the single.

"Cool" is a softer guitar and piano ballad which highlights the fact that Gwen Stefani actually can sing. The album version of the song features Stefani's unretouched, not-at-all overproduced voice. Stefani sings her lines with soft, soprano tones which are actually quite melodic and sexy. She has a good voice and on "Cool" the listener hears it well.

This pop ballad is essentially about making friends with an ex-lover and is rumored to be about Stefani's relationship with No Doubt bandmate Tony Kanal. With lines like "And after all the obstacles / It's good to see you now with someone else / And it's such a miracle that you and me are still good friends / After all that we've been through / I know we're cool / We used to think it was impossible / Now you call me by my new last name / Memories seem like so long ago / Time always kills the pain" Gwen Stefani makes it seem like it is possible to get through the pain of a breakup and become friends again with someone one was once intimate with.

"Cool" is a good song, but the "Photek Remix" tries to take the ballad and make it into yet another insipid pop-dance song. It is almost as bad as the longer, less dancable, pumped up synth sounds on the remix of "Hollaback Girl" that is on this c.d. single. Those who like "Cool" might do better to just pick up the album this is from as the two exclusive remixes on this single are nothing to write home about.

Also on this c.d. single is the Quicktime version of the music video for "Cool" and the video tells a story that parallels the song and it is adequate, but not terribly entertaining on multiple replays. While this is a nice bonus above the music, it is not thrilling and it will not play on all media players.

Finally, because the single is more average than extraordinary to begin with, it feels cheap that Stefani and Interscope do not load it up with material. It is a waste of the c.d.'s capacity to use only fifteen minutes and even fans are likely to be underwhelmed by this c.d. single.

For other singles, please be sure to visit my reviews of:
Overprotected - Britney Spears
Right Beside You - Sophie B. Hawkins
Was It Worth It? - Pet Shop Boys


For other music reviews, please be sure to visit my index page by clicking here!

© 2011, 2010 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.

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