Thursday, June 11, 2009

Missing Persons? No Doubt


I’m attending an art-unveiling party tonight co-organized by someone who happens also to be a Gwen Stefani employee — but not organized by Stefani herself, so it won’t be ingratitude if I take this opportunity to criticize her band No Doubt just a bit.

Now, I start off leaning in favor of No Doubt, if only because they are an actual, living, breathing 80s band that’s still kicking and growing, neither a retro band nor a comeback/revival thing. It took them a while before they found fame in the 90s, but they’ve been at it for over twenty years.

In fact, I’m sure I’m not the only one who thought, when he first heard their vocals and guitars, “They sort of sound like if Madonna became the lead singer of the Cars” (which, by the way, would be no stranger than the Cars’ actual comeback a few years ago, sans Ric Ocasek and the late Benjamin Orr, with Todd Rundgren as lead singer). But I have recently realized that there is a much closer analogy to No Doubt, indeed, a band that at times sounds almost exactly like them: Recall Missing Persons, and pretend you’re listening to No Doubt as you hear “Walking in L.A.” and see/hear “Words” as if for the first time. Eh?

No Doubt would barely have to change a note if they covered those songs (and would no doubt do a better job of it than Traci Lords did). Perhaps No Doubt should cover those songs instead of the ones they’ve so far picked because (and here’s the negative part, at the risk of sounding like a jackanapes or some manner of hollaback girl), much as I might share their fond memories of the songs “It’s My Life” by Talk Talk and “Stand and Deliver” by Adam [Ant] and the Ants, I don’t think the No Doubt sound does these songs justice, distinctive as each of them is — the original version of the first sounding almost David Gilmour-like in its ethereal, hovering way and the second being practically a comedic-piratical old-timey/New Romantic world unto itself, as unfit for a half-assed cover by someone else as, say, “When Doves Cry” by Prince or a Stones song.

The original “Stand and Deliver” also happens to be my favorite video of all time, I admit. But for the complete list of my all-time favorite videos, you’ll just have to come back tomorrow.

P.S. Here’s one of Dave Whitney’s favorite No Doubt songs while we’re at it.

P.P.S. Ah-ha!! Ric Ocasek (one of the weirdest-looking men ever to study at Bowling Green State University in Ohio, though not necessarily the weirdest) has been a producer for No Doubt. Like autistic people (according to Tyler Cowen’s speech a week ago), I seem to have a better than average ear for audio nuances. And a rather blank facial expression. And a preference for rules and trivial knowledge over the reading of emotions. Best not to think about it. Again, tomorrow: a painstakingly-compiled list of my favorite videos.

(Ocasek’s wife, Paulina Porizkova, is also something of a nerd/autistic boy’s dream come true: a highly intelligent fashion model who dismisses her facial beauty humbly as merely a matter of “geometry” over which she has no control. That non-haughty attitude may be what’s helped keep her hitched to the marvelously freaky-looking Ocasek for exactly twenty years this coming August 23 — congratulations.  Hey, you know who else has been happily married for twenty years now, even though he’s sixteen years older than she isKevin Kline and Phoebe Cates — and that gives me one more reason to always think of her in conjunction with the Cars.)

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