Three years ago, Gwen Stefani was in the midst of launching her long-awaited third solo album. She worked with numerous big-name songwriters and producers on the followup to her 2007 record, The Sweet Escape, but the project was ultimately ill-fated. She released two official singles with “Baby Don’t Lie” and “Spark The Fire” in late 2014. But after a live performance of “Start A War” early in 2015, Gwen scrapped the album, saying it felt inauthentic.
The scrapped third album left behind some anticipated unreleased songs. In addition to known songs titles “Ziplock,” “Overdose,” and “Confection,” we also knew of two songs that Charli XCX wrote for Gwen. You may have heard Charli’s demoes for “Hard 2 Love” and “Hell Yeah Baby”; now we finally get to hear Gwen’s studio recordings of the elusive songs!
“Hell Yeah Baby” sounds very much like a Charli XCX track mixed with Gwen’s more playful chill side. It sounds juvenile and cool in spite of the slight awkwardness. Full of attitude and a percussive drive, it’s the kind of song that follows in the vein of “Hollaback Girl” and “Spark The Fire.” Naturally, since Gwen co-wrote “Hell Yeah Baby.” Listen to her recording below:
“Hard 2 Love” sounds more like an ’80s-inspired romantic ballad. Gwen apologizing for her own flaws, blaming herself for a failing relationship. It’s a little cheesy sound, especially with the synths and blips that fill the background. Again, it sounds more like a Charli XCX song than a Gwen Stefani song. Nonetheless, it’s a bit more instantly enjoyable than “Hell Yeah Baby.” Hear “Hard 2 Love” below:
This is what Gwen told Spin about working Charli back in 2014:
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.
It’s great to finally hear two of the songs Gwen left behind on the 2014 cutting room floor. With any luck, we may get to hear some of her other unreleased tracks. Gwen worked with Pharrell on songs called “Woah,” “Heart Shape,” and “Carousel” in addition to “Spark The Fire.” Shakira may have been involved on a track called “Confection.” And though we have a live recording of “Start A War,” will we ever hear the studio version? Check out all the known song titles that never saw a release.
Although Gwen scrapped her 2014 album, she did return to the studio in 2015, inspired by a personal tragedy. She and husband Gavin Rossdale of the band Bush divorced, and the breakup led to a full album of new songs. Early last year, Gwen released her third solo album, This Is What The Truth Feels Like. She included none of the songs from her 2014 sessions. The album was clearly inspired, and gave us singles like “Used To Love You,” “Make Me Like You,” and “Misery.”
Keep checking back here for all the latest Gwen Stefani music news.