- Album Title: This Is What The Truth Feels Like
- Release Date: March 18, 2016
- Recording Dates: Mid-2014 to early 2015; Mid-2015 to early 2016
- Status: Gwen finished writing and recording in January 2016; it is scheduled for release
- Official Lead Single: "Used To Love You" (Oct. 20, 2015)
- Second Single: "Make Me Like You" (Feb. 11, 2016)
Making The Album: 2014-2015
Gwen's Surprise Coachella Appearance
In April 2014, Pharrell Williams was playing a concert at Coachella. Fans were surprised when Gwen Stefani suddenly appeared on stage to sing "Hollaback Girl," from her first solo album. And that wasn't all: At the end of the performance, Pharrell mentioned something very important:
Look how amazing the queen looks as she is making her arrival back to the music industry.
What's that? Gwen was making a return to the music industry? People weren't sure yet, but it definitely sounded like Pharrell just announced that Gwen was coming back to music… alone. Was she getting ready to release a 3rd solo album?
You can see the Coachella performance below:
And then there was more: Gwen Stefani officially joined NBC's The Voice, taking over Christina Aguilera's spot as the latter was due to have her second child. Pharrell was also joining The Voice, taking the place originally held by Cee Lo Green.
Gwen and Pharrell performed "Hollaback Girl" on The Voice in May 2014:
You can also see an interview with the pair from the Hollywood Reporter.
Diplo Working on New Gwen Stefani Album?
By now, a few news outlets have confirmed through unnamed “reliable sources” that Gwen was recording new solo music.
In an interview with Idolator in July 2014, DJ and producer Diplo was describing some artists he was currently working with, and Gwen’s name came up. All Diplo said was, “Done some stuff for Gwen Stefani for her new record possibly.” That’s it. No details or specifics, just the fact that he has been working on new music for a new album.
At this point, it's looking very likely that Gwen Stefani will be releasing a new solo album soon. Some people have heard that it should be out before Christmas this year, but this is unconfirmed.
There is no news on what happened to the No Doubt music the band worked on in spring 2013. For now, there are more questions than answers. Hopefully we will know more in the next few months.
Gwen Stefani at 2014 VMAs: I Want to do BOTH!
When she was at the VMAs on Sunday, August 24th, Gwen Stefani revealed what has been going on with the new music. No Doubt has been working on a new album, Gwen has been working on a solo album, and now she’s thinking she’d like to do both!
I’m the biggest No Doubt fan so I’m waiting on new music. When can we expect it?
You know, there’s no way – With new music, you never know when its going to happen exactly, but we are working on new music, on new No Doubt music, just new music generally.
Will you do another solo album?
I’m not exactly sure what’s going to happen. I’m in this weird place where things just happen now. I don’t know what’s happening next, but I want to do both [a solo album and a No Doubt album]. I want to do it all.
We don’t know about you, but we are excited that we could get not one, but two new albums! No Doubt and Gwen Stefani have both put out amazing records over the years, and why choose one when you can have both?
"My Heart Is Open"
On September 2, 2014, Maroon 5 released their album V. Gwen Stefani joins singer Adam Levine on vocal duties for the album's closing track, "My Heart Is Open." Check it out:
"Baby Don't Lie"
In the middle of September 2014, rumors about a new Gwen Stefani single appeared online. According to some music insiders, a new song called “Baby Don’t Lie” was scheduled to be released around October 14!
Big singles coming out of Interscope in the next few weeks, as their promo site just revealed: Fergie Monday, Kendrick Tuesday, Gwen 10/6.
— Kurt Trowbridge (@KurtTrowbridge) September 17, 2014
@mindtrappa Fergie: "L.A.LOVE (la la)"
Kendrick: "(i) (love myself)"
Gwen: "Baby Don't Lie"
— Kurt Trowbridge (@KurtTrowbridge) September 17, 2014
The Pulse admin stated that he saw the news on playiga.com, but the news has since been taken down from that site.
Since then, other insiders have admitted they heard the new single. According to Haze Radio, “Baby Don’t Lie” is fun and uptempo – great for Gwen’s first solo single in 7 years!
— HazeRadio (@HazeRadio) September 16, 2014
— HazeRadio (@HazeRadio) September 17, 2014
— HazeRadio (@HazeRadio) September 17, 2014
Based on what he heard, Haze Radio states that the single was produced by Ryan Tedder and Benny Blanco:
@mindtrappa being told she worked with Tedder and Blanco
— HazeRadio (@HazeRadio) September 17, 2014
By September 22nd, there was news that Gwen had shot the music video for the new single. Daily Mail reported that Gwen’s husband Gavin Rossdale (of Bush fame) and their 6 year old son Zuma visited her on the set of her new music video on Saturday, September 20th. No further clues about the video were posted.
Some lucky fans had already gotten to listen to the single, and promised that it’s amazing. One fan, named Kristen, described “Baby Don’t Lie” as tribal and “total Top 40.” Here’s her full recap:
All right, y’all, I’ve been trying to think of the most accurate way to describe the song to you. First – IT’S GOOD. You can definitely tell Ryan Tedder wrote it. A lot of the elements you can hear in OneRepublic’s latest single “Love Runs Out” and Adele’s “Rumor Has It” (which he wrote with her) are there – that driving beat in particular; the short, crazy catchy, repetitive vocal lines in the chorus, with men chanting “ooh”s after it which all together give it that, “tribal” feel that’s been in a trend in pop music lately. The instrumentation in the verses reminds me of that Jeremih, song “Don’t Tell ‘Em” except Gwen’s song is lighter and not urban sounding, just the best description I can find. It’s TOTAL Top 40, way more so than Hot AC. Also they are not sure about the 10/6 release date. They need to coordinate with the Voice. That’s most of the info I have and all I can share. Looking good for a solo album by the holidays and YES I got confirmation the label knows there is new No Doubt in the works too!! No details about that but I am guessing it will be poppy and everyone seems to be hoping Gwen uses the solo time to draw a line back to the band. There you go!
At the end of September, there were rumors about the lead single. It is reported that Gwen and her team were still trying to decide what song would act as the lead single, despite previous rumors of "Baby Don't Lie" coming in early October. The radio add dates were removed, and rumors of a second music video appeared.
It saw some delays, but finally "Baby Don't Lie" was released, and only a week later than originally planned. On October 20, 2014, "Baby Don't Lie" was released on iTunes and online:
"Baby Don't Lie" has a driving, tribal sound and a reggae-influenced beat, and Gwen’s vocals have new inspiration too – at times she almost sounds like Rihanna or Shakira. The song was co-written by Ryan Tedder, Benny Blanco, and Noel Zancanella, and their signature drum beat, synths, and “ooh”s make that clear. But “Baby Don’t Lie” is also personal and centered on relationship struggles – a recurring theme in Gwen’s lyrics.
In an interview with Ryan Seacrest that morning, Gwen revealed that “Baby Don’t Lie” was the first song she finished for her new album. While the song discusses a difficulty in her relationship, she assured that it was inspired by past events.
Gwen Stefani already filmed a music video for “Baby Don’t Lie,” and was set to preview it on that night's episode of The Voice; the full video would come the next day. Gwen worked with longtime collaborator Sophie Muller on the video.
More New Song Titles + Preview of "Spark The Fire"
On the same day that "Baby Don't Lie" was released, Gwen also had plenty of interviews lined up. During her interview with Ryan Seacrest, Gwen described working with Pharrell again. They were reunited thanks to The Voice, and after performing her 2005 hit single “Hollaback Girl,” Gwen felt it was time to make some more music. One song in particular was “magical,” but took a few late night sessions to finish. The song is called “Spark The Fire,” and Gwen says “it’s literally the song that kind of explains everything that’s going on in my life right now, in this surreal way.” In her next interview of the morning – this time with Carson Daly – Gwen even played a clip of “Spark The Fire”! It was still a work in progress, but Gwen hinted that it could become a single.
Gwen also told Ryan Seacrest about No Doubt’s progress. They’d been working on a new album too, and just recorded a song called “Shine” on Saturday, October 18th. It was also co-written by Pharrell.
Gwen’s second interview was with Carson Daly. In addition to sharing a clip of “Spark The Fire,” Gwen also shared some more song titles. She worked with Pharrell on songs called “Woah” and “Heart Shape” - these were both written prior to "Spark The Fire."
Although the recording process for her new solo album has been quick, Gwen confirms that she is still working on it. The December release may be unrealistic at this point, and a 2015 release is looking more likely, but nothing is set in stone yet.
Gwen also revealed that she has filmed two new music videos with director Sophie Muller in the last couple of weeks. The first is for her new single “Baby Don’t Lie.” Gwen implied that the other music video is for "Spark The Fire."
"Baby Don't Lie" Music Video
On October 21st, the Sophie Muller directed video for "Baby Don't Lie" premiered. Like Gwen’s previous two lead singles, this “Baby Don’t Lie” video is inspired by a well known story. While her 2004 debut “What You Waiting For?” played off of Alice In Wonderland, and her 2006 sophomore album started with a Sound Of Music referencing “Wind It Up,” this new music video is more subtle in its inspiration.
“Baby Don’t Lie” is set in a colorful and eerie land of Oz, inspired by the classic novel and film, The Wizard Of Oz. We see Gwen strolling down the yellow brick road (singing “we’ve been walking down this road for some time”). She then encounters some animated characters that look like the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, and the Cowardly Lion, and if you see some swirling words, that’s the tornado that got Gwen into Oz in the first place.
Unlike previous videos in which Gwen was accompanied by her entourage of four Harajuku girls, this video shows her with six other girls that appear near the end to dance in the street. There is no word yet on whether the famous Harajuku girls will rejoin Gwen for her third album cycle.
On November 4th, Calvin Harris put out a new album called Motion. Gwen Stefani is featured on one of the album tracks, "Together." This is Gwen's second collaboration this year, following her duet with Adam Levine on Maroon 5's "My Heart Is Open." Check out "Together" below:
In addition to these collaborations, Gwen is also expected to be featured on the next album from Major Lazer. Frontman Diplo confirmed this in an interview with Music Times.
Getting Ready to "Spark The Fire"
In November 2014, both Gwen Stefani and Pharrell started gearing up to release their collaboration, "Spark The Fire." On November 8th, Pharrell played the song from his iPod at the Camp Flog Gnaw Carnival in Los Angeles. Some people in the excited crowd were able to capture the moment:
"Spark The Fire" is also in a new FIAT Gran Finale commercial. The clip was uploaded on November 19th, and featured some of her upcoming music video as well. Another clip from Gwen's "Spark The Fire" video was played during the AMAs on November 23rd.
On November 24th, Gwen revealed the single artwork for "Spark The Fire."
You can see a short interview clip from The Voice in which Gwen and Pharrell discuss the story behind "Spark The Fire" -
"Spark The Fire" Is Released
On December 1st, the music video for "Spark The Fire" was released. Like her video for “Baby Don’t Lie,” this new video for “Spark The Fire” is filled with bright colors and animation. Speech bubbles – with both words and emojis – give it a comic-book vibe. Gwen filmed the music video around the same time she did the one for “Baby Don’t Lie;” both were directed by Sophie Muller.
Paddington and "Shine"
Gwen first mentioned the song “Shine” in October when she was promoting her lead single, “Baby Don’t Lie.” She revealed that it was a new No Doubt song, and said she had written it with Pharrell.
Since then, Gwen has confirmed that “Shine” will be in the upcoming children’s film, Paddington, which will be released in the US in January. The movie follows a Peruvian bear who ends up in England; the story is based on the popular Paddington Bear children’s book series which started in the 1950s.
Although Gwen has mentioned that “Shine” is a No Doubt song, it seems that the version in the movie is just her and Pharrell Williams. There is no mention of No Doubt. You can hear two short clips of it below:
“Shine” only appears in the US version of Paddington, which will hit theaters on January 16th.
6 More Song Titles Revealed!
On December 8th, Spin published a new interview with Gwen Stefani. In it, she mentioned a new song called "Start A War," which she and No Doubt had written with Sia and Pharrell. She said this about the collaboration:
Sia and I did a session with Pharrell and No Doubt. She’s a genius and I love working with her. There’s a song on the record called “Start a War” that she wrote that I’m very grateful for. I think that girls are gonna love that one.
In late December, 5 more song titles were discovered on BMI:
“Hard 2 Love” was written by Charli XCX (real name: Charlotte Emma Aitchison), Benny Blanco (aka Benjamin Levin), Michael Angelakos (of Passion Pit), Magnus Hoeiberg, and Aryn Wüthrich. It doesn’t list Gwen as a writer, but she is the performer.
“Hell Yeah Baby” was written by Gwen Stefani, along with the 5 artists named above. Considering that this was written by Gwen, Charli XCX, and Benny Blanco, this may be the track she was referring to in the interview with Spin earlier in December. (“Hard 2 Love” must also have come from these sessions, despite Gwen not writing on it.)
Here is what Gwen told Spin about working with Charli:
The way that Charli and I worked together was that we really didn’t work together. [Laughs.] She wrote with Benny [Blanco] and then I wrote with Benny separately. I wrote her an email and was like, “This is so weird that I haven’t ever met you and now we have this song.” I think out of all the writers out there, male and female, I really like her style the most. I think that she comes up with really good melodies. I feel really lucky to work with her in the weird way that we did. It’d be interesting to actually be in the studio with her. I’d be intimidated. It’s always awkward for me to be vulnerable when I’m in the studio with people, but sometimes really great stuff comes out of that. You just have to be brave enough to do it.
“Ziplock” is another song co-written by Benny Blanco. Other writers include Jacob Kasher, Ross Golan, Gamal Lewis, and Niles Hollowell-Dhar. Gwen is only listed as a performer.
We also have two possible collaborations lined up. One is a song called “Overdose,” and is performed by Gwen Stefani featuring Miguel. It was written by Miguel, Benny Blanco, and Michael Angelakos.
The other is called “Confection.” It lists both Gwen Stefani and Shakira as performers – it is unclear if they have each recorded separate versions of the song, or if they recorded a duet.
With the addition of these 6 songs, we now have a total of 14 known song titles that could appear on the new Gwen Stefani and No Doubt albums.
Full Version of "Shine" Leaks
On December 30, 2014, the full version of "Shine" leaked for everyone to hear. “Shine” is included in the upcoming children’s film Paddington, based on the popular books by Michael Bond. The film follows a Peruvian bear to London, and “Shine” get inside his head as Gwen sings from his perspective. Pharrell also appears towards the end of the track. Check out the song below:
Paddington was set to hit US theaters on January 16th, and includes the song “Shine” as performed by Gwen Stefani and Pharrell Williams. The British version of the movie, which was released in November, does not include the song.
Although Gwen previously stated that “Shine” was a No Doubt song, it seems this may be a different version. All credits so far only mention Gwen and Pharrell. It is possible an alternate version of “Shine” – performed by No Doubt – exists, but this is unconfirmed. Nonetheless, “Shine” has No Doubt’s signature horn section and Gwen’s cool attitude. We also love the acoustic guitar and laid back vibe.
On January 14th, an official lyric video preview was released by the film company. It's a short clip of the song - only a minute and a half long - featuring scenes from the Paddington movie.
"Start A War"
On February 7, 2015, Gwen Stefani played her first full-length solo concert in 6 years at the Orpheum Theatre in Los Angeles, and she had a few surprises in store for her eager fans. In addition to playing her biggest solo hits and her new 2014 tracks, Gwen also treated the crowd to brand new song called "Start A War." The ballad was co-written by Sia, and it's the best new song we've heard from Gwen since she launched her comeback in late 2014. With big vocals and relatable lyrics, "Start A War" showcases Gwen at her best. Check out the fan-filmed live performance below:
Gwen first mentioned "Start A War" during an interview with Spin last December:
Sia and I did a session with Pharrell and No Doubt. She's a genius and I love working with her. There's a song on the record called "Start A War" that she wrote that I'm very grateful for. I think that girls are gonna love that one.
Not much is known about the song other than that Sia wrote it, and that it's a beautiful ballad that's worthy of becoming the next single. Gwen's first two singles, "Baby Don't Lie" and "Spark The Fire," didn't really catch on the way Gwen's earlier solo work did, but a ballad like "Start A War" would be a great song to grab people's attention again.
New Song Titles And Possible Collaborations
On February 9th, Fashion Magazine posted a preview of their interview with Gwen, from her March issue cover story. In the interview, she mentioned a new reggae song called "Lifting You."
I'm really excited about a song I just did called “Lifting You” — which is kind of cute. It’s a little bit of a reggae track.
You can read more from the interview at the official Fashion Magazine website.
French producer and DJ Cedric Gervais revealed that he may record a song with Gwen Stefani for his own album. He's signed to the same label as her, Interscope Records, and already has a song ready. He mentions her around the 2:20 mark in the video below:
And he's not the only artist planning to feature Gwen on his album. Major Lazer also recorded a song with Gwen for their album, due in November 2015. They actually recorded two songs with her, but on one of them they ended up not using her vocals. However, the second song she did will appear on their second of two albums. As Diplo stated:
We did two songs with her: one we didn’t use her voice on it [and] we have another song that’s amazing that we’ve put to the second album because this is a two album series. One [Peace Is The Mission] is out on June 1 and one's going to be out in November, her record's on that one. It sounds like a big classic reggae No Doubt kind of vibe and she sounds awesome on it.
You can read more from the interview at Triple J.
No Doubt Confirm That They Are Not Working On Music
On April 10, 2015, the Orange Country Register published an interview with No Doubt's bassist, Tony Kanal. No Doubt was gearing up for some live shows in the spring, but there wasn't going to be any new music soon. While Gwen works on her solo album, No Doubt is on hold save for some live shows here and there. As the Orange County Register reported:
Though soon No Doubt will spend a good chunk of time together playing these shows, Kanal said the band is not working on new music. With Stefani focusing on a forthcoming solo album, Kanal added that he’s just glad that all of their schedules aligned to make these upcoming gigs possible. That’s not to say, however, that there won’t someday be fresh material from the band, which even after all of these years and some time apart, keeps finding its way back together.
Adrian Young re-stated this information in an interview with Billboard on April 20th. When asked how long it would be before No Doubt released their next album, Adrian responded:
It's hard to say. We don't have any immediate plans for new music. Like Tom said, this year is about playing festivals and then we'll see where that takes us. There was some experimenting going on, but Gwen's gonna do another solo record and we're gonna continue to play some more live shows and see what happens from there.
Adrian also revealed a bit of information about their management. Although Gwen signed with Irving Azoff management in 2014, that does not apply to the three guys in No Doubt:
The three of us are self-managed now. It’s not really the plan, it wasn’t like we’re gonna be a self-managed band, so we're in a little bit of limbo right now. But we don't have a real tour going on or a new record coming so we'll see where that takes us.
You can read the rest of Adrian and Tom Dumont's interview with Billboard for more information.
Gwen Teams Up With Ryn Weaver & LunchMoney Lewis
On April 21st, songwriter Ryn Weaver talked about working on new music for Gwen in an interview.
[Charli XCX and I have] written on another project now, too, for another artist… Gwen Stefani! I'm not sure necessarily what's happening with the songs, but yeah, we wrote for that.
Ryn admitted that she wasn't sure if she was allowed to talk about working on new Gwen Stefani songs. However, since Charli had already spoken about it months prior, Ryn figured it would be okay to bring it up. See the full interview below; Ryn talks about Gwen at about the 1:45 mark.
Ryn Weaver and Charli XCX aren't the only songwriters Gwen has worked with recently. On April 7th, rapper LunchMoney Lewis shared a photo on Instagram of him working with Gwen in the studio.
LunchMoney Lewis revealed more in an interview with Ryan Seacrest on May 7th. He talked about working with Gwen Stefani and had nothing but good words to say about her and the new music:
She’s working on a new album and it sounds really dope. It’s crazy and she brought me in to collaborate with her and create some good energy. She’s amazing. [The album] is really fun. It’s like new Gwen and a taste of what we love from her. I just tried to add my little two cents.
You can listen to his full interview at the KIIS FM site.
Gwen & Snoop Dogg: "Run Away"
Besides working on her own album, Gwen has also continued collaborating with others for their own albums. The newest collaboration is with rapper Snoop Dogg. He tweeted the track list for his new album, Bush, and April 29th; Gwen is featured on the 9th track, "Run Away."
— Snoop Dogg (@SnoopDogg) April 29, 2015
Bush was released on May 12th. The whole album was produced by Pharrell Williams, so it's no wonder Gwen teamed up with Snoop Dogg on a track. You can buy Bush - including "Run Away" featuring Gwen - on iTunes.