The Real Thing (Gwen Stefani song)
|"The Real Thing"|
|Promotional single by Gwen Stefani|
|from the album Love. Angel. Music. Baby.|
|Released||October 3, 2005|
"The Real Thing" is a song by American singer Gwen Stefani from her debut solo studio album, Love. Angel. Music. Baby. (2004). It was written by Stefani, Linda Perry, and her then-husband Gavin Rossdale, who is credited as "GMR". Nellee Hooper produced the song, with Mark "Spike" Stent serving as an additional producer. A synth-pop and Europop ballad, "The Real Thing" talks about mutual love between two lovers. Interscope Records issued the track as a promotional single exclusively in the Philippines a year after the album's release. It was released as a CD single featuring a remix by the music duo Wendy & Lisa. The remix was also included on the deluxe edition of L.A.M.B., as well as on the international version of the album.
After its release, "The Real Thing" received generally favorable reviews from critics. Critics appreciated the "vintage" production of the song and labeled it a stand-out track on the album, while also noting its New Order influence. Stefani performed the single throughout her 2005 Harajuku Lovers Tour in a vintage red bathing suit along with a group of breakdancers and the Harajuku Girls. The live performance was praised and compared to similar works by Madonna and Cyndi Lauper.
Background and release
While writing and recording for her debut album, Stefani cited her major influences as Club Nouveau, Lisa Lisa, Prince, New Order, The Cure and early Madonna and advised the producers and writers that she wanted a similar sound for the album. According to MTV's Jennifer Vineyard, musician and songwriter Linda Perry "put Gwen in a headlock" during a party after the Grammys and told her they could make beautiful music together"; however, Stefani felt scared and insecure about working with Perry. While recording at Perry's house, Stefani was initially insecure about her writing process and "would go into another room to try to write some lyrics, and when she came back, Perry would already have the whole song nailed." After a writing session where "What You Waiting For?" was created, Stefani became less insecure and felt more comfortable when making songs. After working with other musicians, Stefani and Perry worked together on "The Real Thing". On October 3, 2005, Interscope Records released the song as a promotional single exclusively in the Philippines. The label released a CD single, which featured the album version and a remix by Wendy & Lisa of the song.
"The Real Thing" was written by Stefani, Perry, and Gavin Rossdale, who is credited as "GMR" on the album's booklet. Production was handled by Nellee Hooper, with additional production by Mark "Spike" Stent. New Order vocalist Bernard Sumner and bassist Peter Hook also contributed to the song while music duo Wendy & Lisa were in charge of providing guitar and keyboards, respectively. The song has two versions: the first is a midtempo synth-pop and Europop ballad, and the second, which is a slow version remixed by Wendy & Lisa called: "Wendy & Lisa Slow Mix". Lyrically, the song discusses mutual love between a couple.
"The Real Thing" received generally favorable reviews from contemporary music critics. Sal Cinquemani of Slant Magazine called the song a "slice of vintage euro-pop perfection", while John Murphy of musicOMH dubbed it "another poppy ballad which gets away with some cheesy lyrics by being touchingly sincere, making it probably the best track on the album." Jennifer Nine of Yahoo! Music agreed, labeling it an "airy, girlishly fresh album stand-out [that] soars lump-throatedly along on a peerlessly evocative Peter Hook bassline like some dreamy combination of Cyndi Lauper's 'Time After Time' and Ms Ciccone's 'True Blue'. Jason Damas of PopMatters stated that the song "takes us back closer to No Doubt territory again, this time wedding a distinctively Peter Hook (of New Order) influenced bass line to a sweet pop ballad."
Rob Sheffield of Rolling Stone referred to Stefani as "some kind of visionary" for getting New Order on the same track as Wendy and Lisa. Kathi Kamen Goldmark of Commonsensemedia agreed, noting that the addition of the musicians "actually works." Anthony Carew of Neumu called it an "obligatory cut [...] where great care was taken to get that neo-vintage sound sounding just right." Charles Merwin of Stylus Magazine was more critical, calling it "tepid", while Nick Sylvester of Pitchfork was overall displeased by the song, heavily comparing it to New Order's "Bizarre Love Triangle" and stating: "Anyone remotely involved with 'The Real Thing' should find a stray dog and let it bite him".
Stefani included the song on the setlist for both of her worldwide concert tours: Harajuku Lovers Tour and The Sweet Escape Tour. In his review of the video album Harajuku Lovers Live, James Stevenson of the Toronto Sun wrote "the Harajuku Girls donned 40s-era bathing suits and carried plastic beach balls while Stefani herself was glamorously decked out in a red-and-white-polka dot suit in one of many costume changes"; the Harajuku Girls are a dance troupe that has performed with Stefani on multiple occasions. Stevenson highlighted the performance as one of the standout on the concert, noting that it "set[s] the bar high early in the evening." Corey Moss of MTV News compared the performance to Madonna's and noted that the song "could have been titled 'Lucky Star 2005." During his review of the concert's video album, Glenn Meads of the Manchester Evening News described Stefani's performances as "reminiscent of Cyndi Lauper." Stefani performed the "Slow Jam Mix" of the song during her The Sweet Escape Tour (2007); the performance also included Stefani in a 1940s-style bathing suit, once again accompanied by the Harajuku Girls.
|Philippine promotional CD single|
|1.||"The Real Thing" (album version)||4:12|
|2.||"The Real Thing" (Wendy & Jam Slow Jam Remix)||3:36|
Credits and personnel
- Gwen Stefani – lead vocals
- Nellee Hooper – production
- Mark "Spike" Stent – additional production, mixing
- Greg Collins – recording, electric guitar, slide guitar
- Simon Gogerly – recording
- Ewan Pearson – programming
- Aidan Love – programming
- Jason Lader – programming
- Ian Rossiter – engineering assistance
- Kevin Mills – engineering assistance
- Wendy Melvoin – guitar
- Lisa Coleman – keyboards
- Peter Hook – bass
- Bernard Sumner – background vocals
- David Treahearn – engineering assistance
- Lee Groves – mix programming, keyboards
- Rob Haggett – second engineering assistance
|Philippines||October 3, 2005||CD||Interscope|
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