iTunes Diaries, entry #26: “Spiderwebs” and “Hella Good” by No Doubt

I was once a little…um, okay, terribly obsessed with iTunes.  I got my first iPod in 2004 and became immediately entranced by Apple’s seeming infinite lists of music for sale.  Over the years, I spent way too much time on iTunes and spent way too much money on music, some of which was great, and some of which was not.  In 2011, for the sake of my sanity and my bank account, I went cold turkey.  I suspended my iTunes activities and completely stopped visiting site.  With the iTunes Diaries, I take a look back, highlighting the good, the bad, and the ugly in music that I just had to have in the moment. 

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My iPod is a funny thing. Despite the fact that I think I keep it organized, I really don’t. Even though my downloaded songs end up on named playlists, I swear that songs seem to disappear and reappear at whim. So despite my attempts to download songs together that meet particular “themes,” somehow or another, those “themes” never really hold out in the end, and the playlists end up being mish-moshes of this, that, and the other. This usually leads to me forgetting my carefully chosen themes altogether, and ultimately forgetting the very songs I downloaded. Therefore, when the iPod is doing its thing, a very common thought that comes with many a song on it is “I completely forgot that I downloaded {enter song name here}!” And often, a concurrent thought is “why the hell did I download {enter song name here}?!”

Cases in point: “Spiderwebs” (1995) and “Hella Good” (2001) by No Doubt.

Besides being damn catchy songs, one of which helped make (cutesy) ska mainstream (“Spiderwebs”), and one that ushered in many “new sounds” of the early new millennium (“Hella Good”), I have no idea why these songs are on my iPod. While I don’t dislike or have actively avoided No Doubt or Gwen Stefani, neither are staples in my musical regimen. Yet, whenever either of these songs plays, I am surprised by their inclusion, which forces some self-reflection. The issue there is that this process ends up at the same ambivalent place: “they’re okay songs, I guess.” Sure, not every song on my iPod is a winner, but when I go out of my way to grab songs that were middling to me in the first place and remain as such to me now, I definitely feel the pangs of regret.

But I’m also so much pickier about what goes on my iPod now. Back then, in the mid-2000s when my music addiction was truly raging, any song worth its earworm-y weight in data was okay to download, even if, to me, it was less than the sum of its parts. As far as No Doubt went, between their albums Tragic Kingdom (1995) and Rocky Steady (2001), they were simply inescapable. You couldn’t step two feet in any direction without hearing a No Doubt song. They were a fun and popular band, but not one I gravitated towards…except with some of their individuals songs, apparently. (And I did end up buying Stefani’s solo album Love, Angel, Music, Baby because…I could? Also for “What You Waiting For.”)

So when it came time to create playlists devoted to pop and dance, No Doubt infiltrated my searches, because the band could. Because they were loved and trendy and made millions. Not because I could name another band member besides Gwen Stefani. And not because of their valiant punky-efforts of the late 1990s. Just because…it was there. And those songs, “Spiderwebs” and “Hella Good” were there too.

People will claim up and down that “lyrics make the song.” It’s a point I won’t argue, but I also think it applies only personally. Because frankly, the one and only reason I think I have kept both “Spiderwebs” and “Hella Good” is because of the music, not the lyrics, and not Gwen Stefani’s unique voice. “Spiderwebs” without words is fantastically bright. The light ska and Caribbean influences are jubilant and make me forget all about the fact that Stefani screens her phone calls. Woo. As for “Hella Good,” it just happened to come out during a time when I was all about that bass…like actual bass. Well…okay you got me there because “Hella Good” falls more in with synthesized bass, but still, the lightly sinister introductory lines of “Hella Good” were enough for me to say yes to the song itself. The choppy, electronica focus throughout keeps me interested enough to “keep on dancin’,” so to speak.

I guess a handful of mild regrets isn’t so bad in a sea of 5000+ songs. But if my iPod lacked No Doubt, I doubt I’d even notice.

tragic-kingdom
No Doubt – Tragic Kingdom (1995)
No Doubt - Rocksteady (2003)
No Doubt – Rocksteady (2001)

 

4 thoughts on “iTunes Diaries, entry #26: “Spiderwebs” and “Hella Good” by No Doubt”

  1. While I don’t really listen to them anymore, I did used to enjoy No Doubt in the ’90s. They were also a major staple of my Rock Band days because my brother was a huge fan which means I’ve sung some embarrassing renditions of things like “Ex-girlfriend” among friends before. I’m sure I have much worse than this in my music collection!

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    1. There’s no denying that No Doubt was a powerhouse during the 90s. (I almost got Tragic Kingdom several times, but could never bring myself to make the purchase!) You’re right that worse is out there (in my own collection as well), but it’s funny how some bands just fall out of fashion despite whatever staying power they’re perceived as having. A decade ago I would have thought No Doubt around be in the game forever, but that didn’t turn out to be the case.

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