Our Top 10 No Doubt songs list looks back at a ska band that became mega pop stars in the 90s fueled by great musicians & Gwen Stefani’s star power. It’s tough to categorize No Doubt into any one musical category because the band has explored all of them. From their ska punk roots through rock and roll, jazz, funk pop and even dance hall No Doubt became one of the biggest musical acts of the 1990s. Since their success in the 1990s, lead singer Gwen Stefani made the leap into a solo career that resulted in her becoming a star of immense magnitude like a Madonna or a Lady Gaga. She is credited as leading a musical movement that inspired countless female vocalists with her unique style of vocal phrasings.
The band No Doubt has released six studio albums. Their first album entitled No Doubt was released in 1992. The second album The Beacon Street Collection was released in 1995. The band’s break out record entitled Tragic Kingdom was issued in 1995. It would be another five years before No Doubt would release a new album. In 2000 they released the Return Of Saturn album. A year later No Doubt returned with a much different sound on the 2001 album Rock Steady. That seemed to be the last No Doubt album as Gwen Stefani would launch a very successful solo career in the 2000s. Nonetheless, twenty years after they released Rock Steady, No Doubt reunited and released the album Push and Shove in 2012.
Our Top 10 No Doubt songs list attempts to present a mix of their big hits with some lesser known gens. We could have easily done a top 50 list, but its more fun to have to just choose ten.
# 10 – Trapped In A Box
There is no better song to open this top 10 No Doubt songs list than the super organic ska infused track “Trapped In A Box.” The song was released on No Doubt’s debut album entitled No Doubt. The album was originally released independently on a very low budget. However, when No Doubt signed with Interscope Records they re-recorded the entire album. No Doubt learned quickly that the celebration of signing with a major label can be overrated if the label does not get behind the band which is what happened at the beginning. Nonetheless, the band financed the making of the video for “Trapped in the Box,” themselves for about five thousand dollars. Sadly, MTV never played the video.
This great No Doubt song “Trapped in the Box,” is pure rock and roll pop ska gold. It defines very early on the potential of this great band. The entire focal point on this is the music. Wearing a baseball cap, Gwen Stefani’s performance is all about her vocal which is brilliant on this track. Yet, even dressed down, one can not take their eyes of her. Even in a small little room, with no where to go, her presence is off the charts.
# 9 – Oi To The World
Continuing with our top 10 No Doubt songs we turn to anther great recording that has mostly gone unnoticed or at least many people have missed. Its rare that we put a Christmas or Holiday songs on a top 10 list, but this is just so good we couldn’t resist listing it here on our No Doubt songs list. “Oi To The World,” was released on the album A Very Special Christmas 3 in 1997. The song was originally written by Joe Escalante of The Vandals. No Doubt’s version is simply smoking and highly entertaining. I mean how could you not love a song that opens with a musician playing a bass solo standing on top of an elephant.
# 8 – Sunday Morning
After opening up our top 10 No Doubt songs list with two lesser known No Doubt songs we now turn to one of the biggies. As we said in the intro we wanted to mix it up a bit, but of course the band had so many big time hits we could not ignore their success. After all, this is a top 10 list and their hits were just as awesome as the rest of their catalog. At number eight we have placed the grand track “Sunday Morning.” The song was released on the their break out album Tragic Kingdom. The album was released in 1995. “Sunday Morning,” was the fifth single released from the album, although not in the United States. This great track has always been one of our favorite songs from the Tragic Kingdom album. It’s also a critic and fan favorite. The energy and passion behind the song is just limitless.
# 7 – Squeal
If there ever was an argument that No Doubt was in essence a ska band, take a listen to this great one. The song “Squeal,” defines No Doubt at their rock and roll ska best. What separated No Doubt from other ska bands like Madness was the dynamic phrasings of Gwen Stefanie. This cut shows how the band wrapped itself around Gwen’s vocals and pretty much vice versa. This is just stunning music that is both fun and captivating to listen to. The song “Squeal,” was released on the album The Beacon Street Collection. The album served as the follow up to their debut album. The album was released independently because their first album failed to sell and the record company was no longer supporting the group.
# 6 – Hella Good
Tell me the drums and bass line at the song’s intro are not to die for. This one grabs you right from the start and just gets better with every line Gwen Stefani sings. No Doubt’s “Hella Good,” was released on the album Rock Steady. It was released as the album’s second single. This is a No Doubt song that has topped many best of No Doubt lists and stands as a favorite of critics and fans around the world.
# 5 – Spiderwebs
As we enter the second half of our Top 10 No Doubt songs list we turn to the band’s big hits. Of course, because the group had so many hit songs we are bound to miss plenty of them because of space limitations. Nonetheless, these are our favorites that also were big time commercial hits. No Doubt’s single “Spiderweb,” was released as the second single from the album Tragic Kingdom. While it was not as commercially successful as the album’s lead single “Just A Girl,” it still was a top 20 hit in the United Kingdom and Canada. This an intense tune that combines all the elements of ska, rock, and pop so perfectly with such a unique sound.
# 4 – Ex-Girlfriend
Another one of No Doubt’s most entertaining and fun songs is the great single “Ex-Girlfriend.”
Gwen Stefani seems to be having a heck of a lot of fun on this one. “Ex-Girlfriend,” was the second single released on the album Return of Saturn. The album and single were both released in 2000. Return of Saturn had a more stripped down sound than Tragic Kingdom because of the hiring of Glen Ballard who was well known because of his success as producer of Alanis Morissette’s Jagged Little Pill album. Still, a great song is a great song no matter what type of production is added or taken away from it. We love this one as everyone did a fantastic job on it.
# 3 – Hey Baby
This was one of those songs that took Gwen Stefani’s original vocal phrasing and tuned it up to eleven. The song “Hey Baby,” kept the band in the commercial spotlight big time while it was released as the first single of their album Rock Steady. The album Rock Steady was definitely the band’s most commercial sounding album of their career. It also marked a change in direction from their ska roots towards a sound more geared to the hip hop world. In many ways, it was one of the most influential albums in changing the direction of hip hop or at least adding another lane to it. One could see that it wouldn’t be long before Gwen Stefani’s growing star power would lead her to leave the group and embark on a solo career that would make her one of the biggest stars in the world. This is the song that began that process.
# 2 – Don’t Speak
As we close in on the number one spot on our top 10 No Doubt songs list, we turn to the band’s most commercially successful song. No Doubt’s “Don’t Speak,” was released as the third single from their landmark album Tragic Kingdom. Fueled by the success of the album’s first two singles “Just A Girl,” and “Spiderweb,” the band found it’s popularity juggernaut internationally with this explosive hit single. “Don’t Speak,” would become No Doubt’s first and only number one single. The song hit number one in the United Kingdom, Sweden, Switzerland, The Netherlands, Canada and Australia.
The video for “Don’t Speak,” showcased the personal story of the breakup of Gwen Stefani and No Doubts bassist Tony Kanal. One could really see the sadness that Gwen Stefani had endured from the break up. It was an early glimpse of reality tv without monologue seen thorough a three minuet video. The song’s video got heavy airplay helping promote “Don’t Speak,” on an international basis turning this band into mega superstars.
# 1 – Just A Girl
We close out our top 10 No Doubt songs with they highly entertaining and very original sounding song “I’m Just A Girl.” The song “I’m Just A Girl,” was released on the Tragic Kingdom album. The song was released as the first single from the album. It would become the band’s first hit on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100. The song also peaked very high at number three on the United Kingdom music charts.
It was really tough to pick a number one on this top 10 No Doubt songs list because they have so many earth shattering songs. In the end, it was that ultra slick funky guitar lick, the change from the groovy verse rhythm to that the pulsating intense chorus, and of course Gwen Stefani’s highly adducting, totally captivating, and pitch perfect vocal performance on the song that made us pick “I’m Just A Girl,” for the number one spot.
Top 10 No Doubt songs article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2020
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