“The Sweet Escape” — Gwen Stefani feat. Akon

Released: 1.1.07

Peak: #2

Oh, I don’t know, maybe I am a fan. If nothing else, Gwen’s commitment to superficiality means her taste in 80s pop is better than that of yr average slavish retro dude, not to mention yr average reluctant pop sellout. She loves chintz for its own sake, not for its resale value on the pop market. And so, only the phoniest guitars will do, only horns goofy enough to have given Paula Abdul second thoughts. And she somehow coaxed Akon into imitating a cartoon hyena working in a coal mine.

I admire how “The Sweet Escape” earns its hijack of my favorite minor Madonna hit, “True Blue,” deploying ’80s gloss the way Madonna used girl-group sass – to represent an ideal fantasy getaway from the everyday. The lyric is as though John Lennon accepted all the blame for romantic stagnation in “(Just Like) Starting Over.” Gwen even gets off a good line or two: She’s been acting so cold, and “stank” as “sour milk,” because you left the fridge open.

For some reason, Stefani’s second solo album was less lauded than the first. The same media fans who holla’d back two years earlier found the Sound of Music yodeling on “Wind It Up” OTT. (I think the intervening emergence of Fergie somehow doused critical delight in overly faux dollies.) I just hope that twenty years from now, some clever gal constructs a similar nostalgic fantasy from retro ‘00s autotune. It may well be Gwen Stefani.

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  • Andy  On December 2, 2010 at 7:46 am

    I do not like this song, but I have not been able to get it out of my head since reading this post. Thanks!

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