Gwen Stefani’s LOVE. ANGEL. MUSIC. another big reason why I wanted to visit Japan so bad. 

Just last year this album turned 10 years old. It completely shocked me to think that it had been around so long. It’s one of my favorite albums of all time and it’s one that I never stopped listening to. There are so many great singles on this masterpiece: “Cool“, “Luxurious“, “Crash”, and “Hollaback Girl“. It seems that there is song for every type of ear because of all the different and ornate sounds.

At the time, this album was a solo breakout for Gwen Stefani who was formerly the lead singer of No Doubt. My parents loved No Doubt & I grew up to their music because of it. When my mom found out Gwen was releasing a solo album she was really excited. My dad on the other hand didn’t really care to much. Regardless, we bought it. I remember the exact day we got it. We were at a huge Virgin Records store that we would always go to when I was kid.

It was kind of a long drive home so we put the CD in as soon as we got in the car. Halfway through the CD, my parents decided they hated it. They were so annoyed by it that they completely shut it off and turned on the radio. Being that I was only 9 years old, I agreed with my parents. I wasn’t fond of it myself.

Then came the “What You Waiting For” music video. This music video totally flipped how I felt about the album. In the video, Gwen can’t find inspiration & is experiencing writer’s block. So she seeks help and the story then submerges you in a fantasy wonderland. The video has an Alice In Wonderland influence with a kawaii-Harajuku twist. I was so in love with Gwen’s vision. She looked so pretty and I loved all costumes in the video. The video is very abstract and you can definitely feel the rush that Gwen was feeling. Some people might even say that the video makes you feel uncomfortable. I had always kind of been a weird kid though so naturally I loved the music video.

I then decided to go back & give the album another listen, without my parents around. It wasn’t long before I was in love with the album and Gwen herself. More videos kept dropping for this album and with every new video there was a new love. I was able to understand Gwen’s vision even more with every new video. When Beyoncé released her self titled album, she surprised us all by releasing music videos for the whole entire tracklist. Beyoncé claimed to do this because she wanted everyone to see her vision and story that she saw for each individual song. That’s what I feel Gwen did for this album. Although only select songs from this album have videos, the videos that she did release are all top notch. They all put you in situations and tell a different story which corresponds to all the different sounds of the album. She didn’t stick to the Alice In Wonderland theme for the rest of the videos but I do believe that she stuck to fantasy. I think each different video is one of Gwen’s many fantasies that she has.

One theme that is so prominent in this album is the idea of Harajuku Girls. As a 9 year old, I’m like what the hell is a Harajuku Girl? There is a whole song about them on the album but I still don’t really get it. That’s where the videos come to play again. Between “What You Waiting For” & “Hollaback Girl“, the concept of the kawaii Harajuku style is well displayed. Of course I fell in love again, especially since this was something that was new to me. Although I did have a foreign exchange student from Japan, she was just a typical school girl so I wasn’t really exposed to this type of culture when she visited. However I do remember one time we were taking her to Hollywood because she was obsessed with Beverly Hills & she tried to wear a really skimpy outfit. My mom got really concerned and made her change (lol).

As I grew up, Harajuku Girls was always something I remained interested in because of this album and Gwen Stefani. Especially since Gwen has her L.A.M.B.Harajuku Lovers line. Walking through the streets of Harajuku & being able to listen to this album was such a dream come true to me. Music is such an important part of life. It was a surreal moment to me that I was listening to the very album that inspired me and showed me what Harajuku is. Then listening to all the lyrics of “Harajuku Girls” and having it be a complete reality was so worthwhile. It’s such a simple idea and maybe even a bit corny but being able to listen to this album while in Japan was one of my favorite parts of the trip.

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