No Doubt. A suburban-ska-turned-genre-blending rock band formed in the late 80s in Anaheim consisting of Gwen Stefani, Tom Dumont, Tony Kanal and Adrian Young. After not touring since 2015 - and not releasing an album since 2012 (!) - they are Back (and I Can’t. Stop. Thinking. About. It.)
For personal context, my own No Doubt phase hit its peak in 2019, when I was a wannabe angsty 17-year-old, growing out my pixie cut and just starting to write and release my own music. I had just started sixth form, so was also in the beginnings of a school uniform-less existence, which led to some exciting (and some questionable) outfit choices as I tried to pin-point what felt ‘me’.
I’d never properly heard of No Doubt (sorry!) and discovered them off the back of revisiting Gwen Stefani’s solo albums. I immediately fell in Love. I adored this version of Gwen, with her punk-ish aesthetics and exciting (albeit also sometimes questionable) outfit choices really sticking with my somewhat lost 17-year-old self. Having only previously heard her voice in the Pop World, I was in awe of how she sang these harsher, more demanding songs. Not to mention my endless, repetitive streams of their Tragic Kingdom album, which I still revisit semi-regularly.
So when I saw that ominous, “and…NO DOUBT” at the bottom of this year’s Coachella lineup, my heart rate dramatically ascended (I’m talking butterflies bouncing off the sides of my stomach lining like over-caffeinated children in a trampoline park).
With No Doubt’s Instagram announcement post littered with angry comments (personal favourite being “Love y’all but I’d rather cover myself in honey and roll into a fire ant bed than attend Coachella”) I can’t help but wonder why Coachella? And why is it (allegedly) just Coachella that is currently planned for the band (according to Gwen Stefani for People magazine)?
I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t highly sceptical of (and, frankly, quite nervous about) their comeback. Will this really be a one-off performance? What will No Doubt be like after nearly a decade of no shows? Will Gwen have her ‘solo moments’ to cater to a younger, pop festival crowd? (I’m having visions of Pharrell appearing while the crowd are informed how to spell BANANAS*).
*(A reference to Stefani’s 2005 hit ‘Hollaback Girl’, not an impromptu English lesson).
I’m not just writing this as a means to broadcast my fears surrounding the return of No Doubt; this reunion has been put on a pedestal by Coachella (and now, by more mainstream media) and I’m absolutely falling for the hype. Even if their Coachella set ends up being a stand-alone shitshow, it has sparked a new conversation surrounding No Doubt (my Spotify has been riddled with Gwen Stefani for over a week now). I’m an absolute sucker for anticipating upcoming trends and if I can speculate No Doubt having an upcoming influence in mainstream music, fashion or across social media, I’m here for it.
Do I think No Doubt’s return is going to lead to a widespread 2020s ska-pop resurgence? Christ, no. Am I slightly scared this will lead to a high volume of potentially insensitive outfit choices at Coachella? Absolutely (Gwen Stefani’s interesting relationship with cultural appropriation would warrant an article of its own…). I’m just absolutely intrigued as to why Now is the time for No Doubt, and what impact their highly anticipated comeback will have (if any?).
Regardless of the outcome, there is No Doubt that this will be taking up space in my brain until April.