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The Real Thing (Gwen Stefani song)

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"The Real Thing"
Gwen Stefani - The Real Thing.jpg
Promotional single by Gwen Stefani
from the album Love. Angel. Music. Baby.
ReleasedOctober 3, 2005 (2005-10-03)
FormatCD
Recorded2003–2004
Studio
  • Home Recordings, London, England
  • Henson, Hollywood, California
Genre
Length4:12
LabelInterscope
Songwriter(s)
Producer(s)

"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[edit]

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.[1] 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."[2] After a writing session where "What You Waiting For?" was created, Stefani became less insecure and felt more comfortable when making songs.[3] After working with other musicians, Stefani and Perry worked together on "The Real Thing".[4] 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.[5]

Composition[edit]

"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.[6] The song has two versions: the first is a midtempo synth-pop and Europop ballad,[7][8] and the second, which is a slow version remixed by Wendy & Lisa called: "Wendy & Lisa Slow Mix".[9] Lyrically, the song discusses mutual love between a couple.[10]

Critical reception[edit]

"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",[8] 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."[11] 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'.[12] 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."[13]

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.[14] Kathi Kamen Goldmark of Commonsensemedia agreed, noting that the addition of the musicians "actually works."[15] Anthony Carew of Neumu called it an "obligatory cut [...] where great care was taken to get that neo-vintage sound sounding just right."[16] Charles Merwin of Stylus Magazine was more critical, calling it "tepid",[17] 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".[18]

Live performances[edit]

Stefani performing "The Real Thing" on the Harajuku Lovers Tour in a 1940s-style bathing suit

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.[19] Stevenson highlighted the performance as one of the standout on the concert, noting that it "set[s] the bar high early in the evening."[20] Corey Moss of MTV News compared the performance to Madonna's and noted that the song "could have been titled 'Lucky Star 2005."[21] 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."[22] 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.[23]

Track listing[edit]

Philippine promotional CD single[5]
No.TitleLength
1."The Real Thing" (album version)4:12
2."The Real Thing" (Wendy & Jam Slow Jam Remix)3:36

Credits and personnel[edit]

Credits adapted from the liner notes of Love. Angel. Music. Baby.[6]

Release history[edit]

Region Date Format Label
Philippines[5] October 3, 2005 CD Interscope

References[edit]

  1. ^ Mar, Alex; Halperin, Shirley (October 1, 2004). "Gwen Stefani Makes "Love"". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on April 8, 2014. Retrieved February 8, 2013.
  2. ^ Vineyard, Jennifer (2004). "Gwen Stefani: Scared Solo". MTV. p. 1. Archived from the original on January 4, 2009. Retrieved February 26, 2007.
  3. ^ Vineyard, Jennifer (2004). "Gwen Stefani: Scared Solo". MTV. p. 2. Archived from the original on December 2, 2008. Retrieved November 28, 2015.
  4. ^ Vineyard, Jennifer (2004). "Gwen Stefani: Scared Solo". MTV. p. 3. Archived from the original on December 1, 2008. Retrieved November 28, 2015.
  5. ^ a b c "Gwen Stefani - The Real Thing". Discogs. Archived from the original on May 26, 2018. Retrieved October 22, 2015.
  6. ^ a b Love. Angel. Music. Baby. (liner notes). Gwen Stefani. Interscope Records. 2004. B0003469-02.CS1 maint: others (link)
  7. ^ "Picks and Pans Review: Gwen Stefani". People. Vol. 62 no. 23. December 6, 2004. ISSN 0093-7673. Retrieved August 19, 2018.
  8. ^ a b Cinquemani, Sal. "Gwen Stefani: Love. Angel. Music. Baby". Slant Magazine. Archived from the original on October 19, 2013. Retrieved October 22, 2015.
  9. ^ "Gwen Stefani: Love Angel Music Baby". HMV. Archived from the original on September 23, 2012. Retrieved July 3, 2010.
  10. ^ Cills, Hazel (November 29, 2014). "Looking Back at Gwen Stefani's Racist Pop Frankenstein Ten Years Later". Vice. Archived from the original on August 31, 2016. Retrieved February 19, 2016.
  11. ^ Murphy, John. "Gwen Stefani – Love Angel Music Baby". musicOMH. Archived from the original on October 10, 2015. Retrieved June 2, 2015.
  12. ^ Nine, Jennifer (November 25, 2004). "Gwen Stefani – Love, Angel, Music, Baby". Yahoo! Music. Archived from the original on December 11, 2004. Retrieved March 22, 2007.
  13. ^ Damas, Jason (November 29, 2004). "Gwen Stefani: Love.Angel.Music.Baby". PopMatters. Archived from the original on October 24, 2013. Retrieved January 25, 2014.
  14. ^ Sheffield, Rob (December 9, 2004). "Love Angel Music Baby : Gwen Stefani". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on October 14, 2007. Retrieved February 27, 2007.
  15. ^ Kamen Goldmark, Kathi. "Love. Angel. Music. Baby. Review". Common Sense Media. Archived from the original on March 1, 2016. Retrieved February 19, 2016.
  16. ^ Carew, Anthony. "Gwen Stefani – Love. Angel. Music. Baby". Neumu. Archived from the original on September 27, 2007. Retrieved March 22, 2007.
  17. ^ Merwin, Charles (November 24, 2004). "Gwen Stefani – Love, Angel, Music, Baby". Stylus Magazine. Archived from the original on March 31, 2014. Retrieved January 26, 2014.
  18. ^ Sylvester, Nick. "Gwen Stefani: Love Angel Music Baby". Pitchfork. Archived from the original on July 7, 2010. Retrieved October 22, 2015.
  19. ^ Sanneh, Kelefa (May 22, 2007). "Rated PG, With No Dirty Dancing". The New York Times. Archived from the original on January 25, 2013. Retrieved May 4, 2010.
  20. ^ Stevenson, Jane (December 9, 2005). "Meet the new princess of pop". Toronto Sun. Archived from the original on July 12, 2012. Retrieved January 23, 2011 – via Jam!. Archived at Jam! on December 10, 2005.
  21. ^ Moss, Corey (October 24, 2005). "Gwen Stefani Brings Solo Show To Hollywood 'Hometown' Crowd". MTV News. Archived from the original on March 31, 2012. Retrieved January 25, 2011.
  22. ^ Mead, Glenn (November 27, 2006). "DVD Review: Gwen Stefani – Harajuku Lovers Live". Manchester Evening News. Retrieved September 24, 2009.
  23. ^ Fuoco-Karasinski, Christina (April 30, 2007). "Live Review: Gwen Stefani in Phoenix". LiveDaily. Archived from the original on July 15, 2007. Retrieved March 15, 2016.

External links[edit]