It seems like the ’90s were a prime time for female musicians to make their mark on the music world. Alanis Morrisette, Shirley Manson (Lead singer of Garbage) and other powerful females were dominating the music charts and going toe to toe with the men. Another one of those women is Gwen Stefani, lead singer of No Doubt.
Tragic Kingdom was one of the biggest albums of the ’90s and also, one of my favorites of all time. Ska music was all over the radio from bands like Sublime and The Mighty Mighty Bosstones but there was not a whole lot of ska bands with females. There are only 2 that notably stand out to me (No Doubt and Save Ferris) so when Tragic Kingdom began to blow up, it was a huge deal.
“Just a Girl” was a satiric play on how women are portrayed in society; weak and helpless. “Just a Girl” was Stefani’s way of breaking out . The song was a laundry list of grievances against the stereotypes against women. “’Cause I’m just a girl, little ‘ol me Don’t let me out of your sight
I’m just a girl, all pretty and petite So don’t let me have any rights”. While it seems like she’s just complaining, she’s actually empowering women who have also “had it up to here”. Instead of speaking out about the issue, she wrote a hit song and made girls everyone proud to be female.
“Sunday Morning” was a single off the album, but not as popular as the other singles but it happens to be my favorite song on the album. Even though “Don’t Speak” became the break up anthem this is another song about dealing with break ups. The way I see it, it’s two different ways of handling things; “Don’t Speak” is about taking a break up pretty hard and “Sunday Morning” is about picking yourself up and moving on from the relationship. “Thank you for turning on the lights
Thank you, now you’re the parasite I didn’t think you had it in you And now you’re looking like I used to” is a switch of power. Maybe you got dumped and you’re all torn up about it. Suddenly, your significant other wants you back and you give them the boot, now they’re the ones missing out. Totally irrelevant to the song, but whenever I hear this song I think of the music video. Gwen Stefani had a ’50s housewife thing going on and she looked flawless…. I hate her so much for that.
I remember going through a break up and crying with “Don’t Speak” in the background. It’s such a simple song but what makes it so great is it just lays everything out on the table. It’s the brutal honesty of the song that gives it so much heart. “I really feel that I’m losing my best friend I can’t believe this could be the end. It looks as though you’re letting go and if it’s real, well I don’t want to know “ We’ve all been there. Had a break up that made you think it was the end of the world and you’d never love again. I also think it was pretty bad ass of Stefani to write and record a break up song about a member of her band… while he’s still in the band. It also says a lot about their relationship, seeing as the band is still going strong.
Tragic Kingdom is one of those albums that you can never get sick of, not just because of the quality of the music, but because of the message of the songs. Songs like “Just a Girl” and “Sunday Morning” let females know it’s OK to be a strong, independent woman and to stand up and be proud. No Doubt has had (and hopefully will continue to have) a long, successful career but no matter what they have done or will do in the future, Tragic Kingdom will always be their stand out album.
Written by: Katie Sperduti