Gwen Stefani Compares Herself to Early Days of Music Success: ‘I Was So Naive’

by Anna Dunn

On the 25th anniversary of “Don’t Speak,” Gwen Stefani spoke with Variety about her early days. While Stefani admitted she doesn’t care much for anniversaries, she has been reflecting more on her past as a singer/songwriter.

Stefani’s Start

Gwen Stefani’s career started in the 80s as the lead singer for No Doubt. Stefani and No Doubt further rose to fame in 1995 with “Just a Girl,” but No Doubt’s 1998 song, “Don’t Speak,” was their true breakout hit. “Don’t Speak” spent 16 weeks as the most played song on the radio in the United States.

Stefani and her brother originally wrote the song to be more complex and portray love in a happier light. When when the record label asked for more simplicity, the siblings got to work on the re-write. Gwen Stafani, who was going through a breakup at the time, made the lyrics more pained, especially after her brother left the band.

On writing Don’t Speak, Gwen Stefani said, “When I was writing back then, I was so naive, I didn’t know anyone would hear it ever. We worked on that record for so long before it came out.” She never could have guessed what the song would become. “It was so different from everything else on our record,” She continued, “so the fact that it was the defining world hit that it was — and continues to be — is insane.”

Stefani eventually embarked on a solo career in 2001. She came out with some of the most popular hits of the 2000s. “Hollaback Girl,” “Sweet Escape,” and “Rich Girl” are amongst the iconic songs from her solo career. Stefani also took some years to focus on motherhood before becoming a judge on “The Voice” in 2012. It was on the voice where she met Blake Shelton, her fiancée.

Gwen Stefani Today

Stefani still sings “Don’t Speak.” She told Variety: “I love performing that song. It never gets old to me. It’s like, you know you’re giving [fans] what makes them so happy when you do it, and it brings people right back to that place where they first heard that song or related to that song for whatever pain they were going through.”

She’s also gone on to work with her fiancée, Blake Shelton, on country songs. Their hit “Nobody but You” is nominated for an ACM. The heartfelt song takes a look at their relationship.

Gwen Stefani is also working on multiple solo projects. While she’s admitted she’s a bit nervous about returning to the spotlight, she’s also grateful for the opportunity. Her upcoming album will focus on incorporating some of her old sound while also making herself anew. From a naive kid to a superstar, Gwen Stefani’s journey has been wonderful to watch.