“Sunday Morning” No Doubt

Maybe it was Gwen Stefani’s cute red dress and pumps on the cover, maybeno-doubt it was trite, sarcastic neo feminism (“I’m just a girl, oh little old me”), maybe it was the promise of ska packaged in a pop confection, but certainly something took hold for No Doubt in 1996, the year in which Tragic Kingdom sold 16 million copies worldwide.  With the benefit of hindsight, we can say pretty conclusively that Tragic Kingdom was one of the most successful albums of the decade – not just because it spawned mega-hits “Just A Girl,” “Spiderwebs,” and “Don’t Speak,” but because it launched an empire, brought ska into the mainstream, made Gwen Stefani a superstar, who, both in 1996 and onward, influenced fashion endlessly, and simply, defined that period of the 90’s – angry but still bubbly, wild and defiant… but not that wild.  I remember buying Tragic Kingdom at a Target in 1996, learning all the songs by heart… then just a few months later learning to despise the whole thing as too popular.

One thing that has never changed for me, though, is my love of its clean-up single “Sunday Morning.”  It came late in the album with an ever loudening march of snare drums, and opens onto a bass and organ ska melody.  Since this was a band who’d cut their teeth at ska shows but got popular making unobjectionable rock pop music, “Sunday Morning” remains the single reminding us of No Doubt’s good time roots.  Yet as time has wandered on for me, for the band, for Stefani, “Sunday Morning” also seems to me the song that they really got right, the best of all their worlds.  A breakup song of sorts, it’s a kiss-off to a lover who simply “changed since yesterday, without any warning,” but then dismisses the whole thing with a mighty, sly “Oh well.”  I hear this song and there’s no doubt (hah!) why the band, Stefani, and the type of music all did so well – so much giddy, sublime angst!  A bass and drum heavy party anthem to be pissed off to and dance (er, skank?) your cares away!  Some songs from the mid 90’s now remind me of my middle and high school years with gleeful nostalgia.  “Sunday Morning” is so much better – it makes me want to kick and jump around and experience those emotions all over again.

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