Gwen Stefani Wiki
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"What You Waiting For?" is the opening track on American singer and songwriter Gwen Stefani's debut studio album Love. Angel. Music. Baby.. It was released as the album's first single on October 4, 2004. The song also appears as the third track from Gwen Stefani's 2021 compilation EP, Just a Girl.

The song details Stefani's lack of inspiration, fear of producing the album, as well as her reaction to pressures exerted by her record label. It is primarily an electropop song and introduces Stefani's four back-up dancers, the Harajuku Girls, who had a major input into the album's production.

Background and writing

During the night of the 45th Annual Grammy Awards, Perry forced Stefani into a chokehold, and demanded that they were "gonna write songs together!", to which Stefani reluctantly agreed. Soon after, Stefani finished the Rock Steady Tour with her band No Doubt, and took a call from her label, who informed her that Perry was in a studio ready to collaborate, and that Perry "only [had] five days out of the whole year to work with [her]." Stefani has since admitted that she was frustrated by not being able to see her husband Gavin Rossdale, and was intimidated at the thought of collaboration, in particular with Perry, who she did not feel was qualified to write dance music. Stefani was exhausted by the recently completed tour, and shortly afterwards suffered an emotional breakdown, which she spent in bed crying.

During their first day of work, the two wrote a song titled "Fine by You", which Stefani later described as "a stupid love song, but really good". Perry remarked that the song "wasn't right", and the track was excluded from the album. The session was unproductive, due in part to Stefani's self-consciousness and writer's block, and she at one stage broke down in tears in the studio. Stefani has since admitted that writing songs without her band members felt "humiliating and intimidating even if they're sweet and excited, because you're drowning in their creativity".

Perry recalled feeling Stefani's hesitation upon first meeting: "Jimmy Iovine really wanted Gwen to go solo... From my take of it, Gwen was very reluctant — she was not ready to go be Gwen Stefani. When she showed up, you could just tell she was, “Oh, I don’t know if I wanna be here.” She was literally a kid with their foot halfway out the door and halfway in. I felt agonized for her. We talked for a while and then I said, “Why don’t you go? Let’s come back tomorrow and let’s see how you feel. Don’t worry about it.” She left, and I was up all night long. I wanted her to show up the next day and be inspired."

That night, Perry began work on another track, which she played for Stefani the next day to motivate her. Stefani was impressed with the track, and Perry asked her, "What are you waiting for?" According to Perry, Stefani took the question as a dare, replying, "You're totally challenging me, right?" The two began writing lyrics for the new wave-styled song based on Stefani's writer's block and fears about making a solo record, and it grew into "What You Waiting For?" Perry set up multiple microphones to record different lines of verses, with each labeled as a different "character," leading to the battling back-and-forth in Stefani's delivery.

Stefani came up with the idea of the Harajuku Girls while writing the song. Stefani first saw the women of Harajuku, known for their unique style drawing from Gothic Lolita and cyberpunk fashion, in 1996 and had admired them since. She decided to mention them in the line "You Harajuku Girls, damn you got some wicked style", and the concept grew into a running theme on Love. Angel. Music. Baby., which went as far as to feature one song named after and dedicated to them.

Composition

"What You Waiting For?" combines the genres of electropop, new wave, dance-rock, and funk, and was composed in common time and in the key of G minor. It is written in verse-chorus form, and its instrumentation derives from the guitar and electronic keyboard. The song opens with an emotional piano solo as a tribute to Stefani's time with No Doubt. The verse begins at only 60 beats per minute and gradually slows, mixed with sounds of applause from the audience. A beat set at 138 BPM begins, and Stefani repeats the phrase "tick-tock", commonly interpreted as a reference to her maternal clock and the pressures she felt about producing the album.

Stefani creates an argument between lyrical personas by alternating her vocal range and point of view. Stefani's vocal range spans two octaves in the song, from G3 to G5. In a melody similar to that of Weezer's "Hash Pipe", one side of Stefani's personality sings in a higher range in the first person, and the other, more confident personality sings lower in the second person. During the verses, the more nervous personality discusses her concerns about leaving No Doubt for a solo career as well as the ephemeral success of female singers in the music industry. The chorus is a boost of confidence for her and continues the song's time motif with the lines "Look at your watch now/You're still a super hot female". Backed by perfect octave dyads, Stefani sings a verse about her excitement for her future, and the two personalities merge into one during the coda.

Commercial performance

In the United States, "What You Waiting For?" debuted at number 93 on the Billboard Hot 100 on the issue dated October 16, 2004. It reached a peak of number 47 on November 27, 2004, and remained on the chart for a total of 20 weeks. The song topped the Hot Dance Club Play chart, but only had moderate success on the pop charts, reaching number 17 on the Mainstream Top 40 and number 24 on the Adult Top 40. The song was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) on February 25, 2005. Additionally, it was nominated for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance at the 2005 Grammy Awards, but lost to Norah Jones' "Sunrise".

Elsewhere, the song's reception was stronger. In the United Kingdom, "What You Waiting For?" debuted and peaked at number four on the UK Singles Chart and remained on the chart for 15 weeks. The single performed well across most of the rest of Europe, reaching the top five in Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Ireland, Italy, Norway, and Romania, and the top 10 in Austria, Hungary, the Netherlands, and Sweden.

In Australia, "What You Waiting For?" debuted atop the ARIA Singles Chart on November 14, 2004, and stayed there for two weeks. It remained within the top three through January 17, 2005, and dropped off the chart after 15 weeks. In 2014, the single was certified double platinum by the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA). The song reached number three on New Zealand's RIANZ Singles Chart and spent four months on the chart.

Alternative versions

Stuart Price (also known as Jacques Lu Cont) made the most well-known remix of the song, titled the Thin White Duke Mix, which was included on the CD single. The track, over eight minutes long, is carried by a guitar riff and occasional chimes. The remix received positive reviews from music critics. Aaron Mandel of Pitchfork labeled it "outstanding", and John M. Cunningham of Stylus Magazine stated that it "endowed [the song] with a sense of grandeur". DJ InVincible from About.com viewed the remix as "moody and a bit hypnotic", commenting that it is "best suited for early-evening sets". Armand Van Helden created two remixes, the Armand Van Helden Remix and the Armand Van Helden Dub, which use only some of the original vocals and a new bassline constructed with synthesizers and some electric guitar. Felix da Housecat created the Rude Ho Mix, which uses more bass guitar and leaves out the original background vocals by Mimi Parker until the final verse.

Alex Kapranos, guitarist and lead singer of Scottish indie rock band Franz Ferdinand, wore a Gwen Stefani pin on a Members Only jacket as a tribute to "What You Waiting For?". In December 2005, the band performed a cover version of the song on Live Lounge, a segment of The Jo Whiley Show on BBC Radio 1. The cover includes the chorus from Billy Idol's 1983 song "White Wedding". In October 2006, the song was released as a part of the Radio 1's Live Lounge compilation, and the cover received mixed reviews. Jack Foley from IndieLondon called the track "completely insane", stating that it "really has to be heard to be believed." The Guardian's Dorian Lynskey found the cover smug, adding that "one of Alex Kapranos's eyebrows [is] raised so high that it practically vacates his head."

Welsh indie pop singer Marina Diamandis covered "What You Waiting For?" during some of her early live performances in 2009. Mary Bellamy of Drowned in Sound referred to her debut album The Family Jewels (2010) as "an extended album length re-write" of "What You Waiting For?".

Lyrics

[Intro]
What an amazing time
What a family
How did the years go by?
Now it's only me

[Hook]
Tick-tock, tick-tock, tick-tock
Tick-tock, tick-tock, tick-tock
Tick-tock, tick-tock
(La la la la la la la...)

[Verse 1]
Like a cat in heat stuck in a moving car
A scary conversation, shut my eyes, can't find the brake
What if they say that you're a climber?
Naturally I'm worried if I do it alone
Who really cares? 'Cause it's your life
You never know, it could be great
Take a chance 'cause you might grow
Oh, oh-oh

[Chorus]
What you waiting, what you waiting
What you waiting, what you waiting
What you waiting for?
What you waiting, what you waiting
What you waiting, what you waiting
What you waiting for?

[Post-Chorus]
Tick-tock, tick-tock
Tick-tock, tick-tock
Take a chance, you stupid ho

[Verse 2]
Like an echo pedal, you're repeating yourself
You know it all by heart, why are you standing in one place?
(Uh-huh)
Born to blossom, bloom to perish
Your moment will run out 'cause of your sex chromosome
I know it's so messed up how our society all thinks (For sure)
Life is short, you're capable (Uh-huh)
Oh, oh-oh

[Pre-Chorus]
Look at your watch now
You're still a super-hot female
You got your million-dollar contract
And they're all waiting for your hot track!

[Chorus]
What you waiting, what you waiting
What you waiting, what you waiting
What you waiting for?
What you waiting, what you waiting
What you waiting, what you waiting
What you waiting for?

[Bridge]
I can't wait to go back and do Japan
Get me lots of brand new fans
Osaka, Tokyo
You Harajuku girls
Damn, you've got some wicked style... go!


[Pre-Chorus]
Look at your watch now
You're still a super-hot female
You got your million-dollar contract
And they're all waiting for your hot track!


[Chorus]
What you waiting, what you waiting
What you waiting, what you waiting
What you waiting for?
What you waiting, what you waiting
What you waiting, what you waiting
What you waiting for?

[Outro]
What you waiting for?
What you waiting for?
Take a chance, you stupid ho
Take a chance, you stupid ho
What you waiting for?
What you waiting for?
What you waiting for?
Take a chance, you stupid ho
Take a chance, you stupid ho


Music Video

Gwen_Stefani_-_What_You_Waiting_For?_(Clean_Version)_(Official_Music_Video)

Gwen Stefani - What You Waiting For? (Clean Version) (Official Music Video)

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