No Doubt's Tragic Kingdom: Track By Track

No Doubt's Tragic Kingdom: Track By Track

A retrospective album review by Nicholas Jones
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It was announced late last week that after 13 years of marriage, Gwen Stefani and Gavin Rossdale would be filing for divorce. It isn't the first divorce in Hollywood and it certainly will not be the last. I thought, if only to lighten up the mood, I should review No Doubt's magnum opus. It's the band that made Gwen Stefani who she is. The timing is perfect because it just so happens that Tragic Kingdom will be turning 20 years old this October. So without further ado, here we go!

  • "Spiderwebs" As soon as the song starts, I almost feel as if I’m walking through a parade route. It sounds cultured but new at the same time. It was a nice idea to put this song at the front of the record, mainly because it opens Tragic Kingdom for what it is. An oxymoronic journey of confusion. It may sound like nothing you’ve heard before and the lyrics are just as creative. A great listen, impeccably triumphant.
  • "Excuse Me Mr." This song, in my opinion, is a huge step down from “Spiderwebs.” It sounds almost like a malfunctioning rollercoaster. Lyrically, it’s quite exceptional, but Stefani’s vocals make this track almost impossible to enjoy. I’m a fan of her voice, for sure, when it’s pronounced. In this, I feel as if she and the band are simultaneously trying to overpower each other. Too complicated. If it were stripped back a tad bit, it would more than likely have been more enjoyable.
  • "Just A Girl" Bouncing back from the turbulence of the previous track, “Just A Girl” is both sonically and lyrically pleasing. A triumphant Ska-flavored, teenage feminist anthem. Stefani’s belts and range are diverse and well-measured, stacked perfectly against the sounds reflecting it. This song begins and ends on a high note, quickly becoming a stand-out track in its own right. No doubt.
  • "Happy Now?" This track starts out with a strong guitar strum and doesn’t stray far from the high level of excitement it promises. It’s mellow and Stefani’s echoing vocals sound strained but controlled. It sounds like a 50s dance hall throwback splashed together with contemporary influences. It doesn’t strain itself and that ultimately makes it an entertaining almost-four minutes.
  • "Different People" While the concept of the song is unique, the song is a filler. Either that, or it just runs too long. Either way, I’m only two minutes in and I’ve lost interest.
  • "Hey You!" This song is actually kind of sad. Depressing, actually. All hope is lost. It’s an upbeat track on the surface, which actually makes “Hey You!” a tad bit melancholy. I enjoy this song, though. Not the best, but not bad.
  • "The Climb" Lyrically, this song is immaculate. No question about that. But it drags on towards the end, almost to the point where it becomes annoying, like it’s never going to end. Although, Gwen’s vocals and the material she’s working with makes up for it. Somewhat.
  • "Sixteen" After listening to this song, I can honestly say that if I were younger, I’d probably find enjoyment in “Sixteen.” I like it. It speaks to the teenager in all of us, without a doubt. It certainly would’ve had hit potential if it had been released as a single. That’s all I can say.
  • "Sunday Morning" Along with “Just A Girl,” this song is among the more lyrically clever. The vocals are well pronounced and clear, so is the rhythm. It’s certainly a standout track. It fully deserved all the praise it got. It’s a good track, worthy of mentioning when talking of the album as a whole.
  • "Don’t Speak" Where do I begin? This track is my favorite song from No Doubt’s entire catalogue. Speaking from personal experience, I played this song heavily after my first break-up. It’s the quintessential song if you’re the one being broken up with. The emotion in Gwen Stefani’s voice and the raw chemistry the band shares on this track is enough to make it every fan’s favorite song. No Doubt struck gold with this song. I couldn’t give it enough praise, or rather, I just can’t put it into words. Not to mention, the music video cemented its place in pop culture reverence. Perfect.
  • "You Can Do It" A near-360 degree turn away from “Don’t Speak,” this song is much more motivational. It’s hard to move on after a break-up, but hey, if you got yourself in then you can get yourself out. Abrasive, some might say, but I think it certainly has a great amount of poignancy.
  • "World Go Round" It’s a great track with a catchy hook, but it ultimately doesn’t fit in with every other track on Tragic Kingdom, at least not to me. It gets points for being catchy, though, and I will say that it’s very well constructed.
  • "End It On This" This song suffers from the same problem that many before it have. It isn’t slow enough. One of the main reasons why “Don’t Speak” struck out so well was because No Doubt made the conscious effort to tone it down. The “bad” songs on this album could’ve been better if they followed the same pattern as “Don’t Speak” -- especially this one. I don’t know whether to be excited or depressed and it’s emotionally jarring, to be honest. Nice lyrics, though.
  • "Tragic Kingdom" The title track is the last track and it’s… *sigh* underwhelming. I’m not a fan of this song. It could’ve been better. All I’m saying.

I give No Doubt’s Tragic Kingdom a C+. It has its fair share of hits. And lyrically, all of the songs are diverse, but the sound of this record, after an hour, is dizzying and leaves you mentally exhausted. Maybe I’m just not that big of a Ska-revivalist fan? I don’t know. Although, I will say, it does appeal to a younger audience, with songs like “Just A Girl” and “Don’t Speak.” It’s easy to see why it was such a huge hit when it was released. Ultimately, Tragic Kingdom has just as many low points as it does high points.

Cover Image Credit: http://www.nodoubt.com/music/tragic-kingdom

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8 Reasons Why My Dad Is the Most Important Man In My Life

Forever my number one guy.
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Growing up, there's been one consistent man I can always count on, my father. In any aspect of my life, my dad has always been there, showing me unconditional love and respect every day. No matter what, I know that my dad will always be the most important man in my life for many reasons.

1. He has always been there.

Literally. From the day I was born until today, I have never not been able to count on my dad to be there for me, uplift me and be the best dad he can be.

2. He learned to adapt and suffer through girly trends to make me happy.

I'm sure when my dad was younger and pictured his future, he didn't think about the Barbie pretend pageants, dressing up as a princess, perfecting my pigtails and enduring other countless girly events. My dad never turned me down when I wanted to play a game, no matter what and was always willing to help me pick out cute outfits and do my hair before preschool.

3. He sends the cutest texts.

Random text messages since I have gotten my own cell phone have always come my way from my dad. Those randoms "I love you so much" and "I am so proud of you" never fail to make me smile, and I can always count on my dad for an adorable text message when I'm feeling down.

4. He taught me how to be brave.

When I needed to learn how to swim, he threw me in the pool. When I needed to learn how to ride a bike, he went alongside me and made sure I didn't fall too badly. When I needed to learn how to drive, he was there next to me, making sure I didn't crash.

5. He encourages me to best the best I can be.

My dad sees the best in me, no matter how much I fail. He's always there to support me and turn my failures into successes. He can sit on the phone with me for hours, talking future career stuff and listening to me lay out my future plans and goals. He wants the absolute best for me, and no is never an option, he is always willing to do whatever it takes to get me where I need to be.

6. He gets sentimental way too often, but it's cute.

Whether you're sitting down at the kitchen table, reminiscing about your childhood, or that one song comes on that your dad insists you will dance to together on your wedding day, your dad's emotions often come out in the cutest possible way, forever reminding you how loved you are.


7. He supports you, emotionally and financially.

Need to vent about a guy in your life that isn't treating you well? My dad is there. Need some extra cash to help fund spring break? He's there for that, too.

8. He shows me how I should be treated.

Yes, my dad treats me like a princess, and I don't expect every guy I meet to wait on me hand and foot, but I do expect respect, and that's exactly what my dad showed I deserve. From the way he loves, admires, and respects me, he shows me that there are guys out there who will one day come along and treat me like that. My dad always advises me to not put up with less than I deserve and assures me that the right guy will come along one day.

For these reasons and more, my dad will forever be my No. 1 man. I love you!

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Monsters

An excerpt by Katherine F. Messina

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Fear clawed at my stomach as my heart threatened to beat out of my chest. My legs were shaking from the exertion when the grass beneath my feet turned to concrete. Sweat caused hair to stick to my face. I stopped, looking around, my breathing harsh. A sudden flash of light blinded me as screeching filled the air. I backed towards the woods quickly, tripping over my own feet. My backside hit the ground with a thud. A metal contraption came to a stop inches from me. I took a deep breath, trying to steady myself.

What is that thing?

A tall man stepped out of the strange device. He had large arms and blonde hair. He towered over me.

"What the hell are you doing in the middle of the road? I could have killed you!" he shouted, waving his arms.

I tried to scramble away. His eyes swept over my ripped clothes and bloody feet, and his face changed into one of sympathy.

"Hey," he said in a soothing voice, "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to scare you. Are you okay?"

He held his hand out towards me, and I eyed it suspiciously.

"I'm Tucker," he offered, "What's your name?"

"Sh-shay," I stuttered.

Rustling in the woods behind me spurred me into action.

"Let's go, fast."

Tucker stood completely still and stared into the woods, drawn to the rustling. The Kurasa crashed through the trees, searching for me. Their black eyes landed on Tucker and lit up with malice. They stood a foot taller than him, nearly 7 feet. Their grey skin looked like mud. Tucker froze, and panic filled his eyes.

"In the car," he said, his voice tight.

I didn't argue. I jumped into the metal monstrosity. He was across the road and into the seat with the circular object in front of it in what felt like seconds. I could feel the iron throughout the car. The Kurasa kept their distance. Iron repelled them like most fae even in small doses. I was feeling sick, and I'm only half faerie. The tires squealed as he took off, leaving the Kurasa behind.

"You alright?" Tucker asked, "You look a bit pale."

"Yes, I'll be fine."

"I know that was scary, but it'll be okay. I'll get you far away from them."

"You seem oddly calm for someone who just encountered that," my suspicion rose.

"It's not my first time. Hopefully, it'll be your last. I hunt things like them. Or I used to."

Warning bells went off in my head. What would he do if he found out I was one of them?

"You can let me out soon," I said.

"Don't be ridiculous. I'm going to take you to my place and let you clean up. You'll be safe there, I promise," he gave me a warm smile.

Until you find out what I really am.

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