Audio + Video: Gwen Stefani Wades Deep Into Her Feelings Post-Divorce On 'Used To Love You'


Is it wrong that when every time I hear an artist going through a rough patch in their lives, in the back of my mind I keep thinking: "That next album is gonna be awesome"?

I can't even remember those last two singles Gwen Stefani put out (one involved sparks flying and the other was about a baby not lying, right?) but "Used To Love You" is the Gwen Stefani I'm familiar with. The Gwen Stefani of my youth. The one who foreshadowed about being an ex-girlfriend and fiercely lamented about past paramours. Not that the sound fiestas Gwen has done on her solo joints and post-2001 No Doubt albums haven't been a blast (was I the only one who loved every ounce of Push & Shove?) but Gwen always hits it on the nail when she wades deep in her feelings.

"Used To Love You" is a gem of a fizzy trap ballad, filled with the kind of fussy, conflicting angst of Tragic Kingdom-era Stefani, but with crystal clear wisdom of a matured woman who is grappling with her latest life change. The song, her first since she announced the demise of her 13-year marriage to Gavin Rossdale, is no doubt (heh) a jab at her ex-husband, Gwen recounting with heavy heart: Suitcase, band-aids/ Pulling back out the driveway / You go, I'll stay / You can keep all the memories/ I thought I was the best thing that ever happened to you / I thought you loved me the most.

If the lyrics weren't enough to showcase the hurt, the pensive pain coming from Stefani's face in the accompanying visual should give clue that the singer is roaming on a emotional battlefield at current. Directed by Sophie Muller (whom has been behind the lens of No Doubt videos in the past like "Don't Speak" and "Simple Kind Of Life"), the four-minute video stays focused on Stefani's (never aging!) visage, and we can see her grapple with her feelings in every facial flinch and furrowed brow. It's not the type of video I would've done (if I'm doing a post-divorce song, the scene where Angela Bassett torches her ex's clothes and car in Waiting To Exhale is gonna be recreated somewhere in the video...), but the effect is executed well.

In a recent interview with Entertainment Weekly, Stefani confessed that she's starting over anew with her upcoming set, feeling a change of pace post-divorce after putting in studio time with Benny Blanco, Pharrell Williams, Calvin Harris, and Charli XCX:

"It didn’t feel right, I didn’t feel fulfilled. That record with Benny was done that way because I had just given birth and had just started on The Voice and felt like I should do something in music, but what was I going to do? There wasn’t enough time. So I tried to make a record where I was just kind of involved — which is how a lot of people do it, but it didn’t work for me."
Stefani elaborated further about the new direction she took with her writing process:
"I needed to go through what I needed to go through to write the record that I needed to write. There was a lot of prayer and meditating in the sense of trying to be open and grateful with this record. These songs are really natural — they’re from not worrying about what happened or what’s going to happen but about living in the moment, from trying to be present and trying to feel." 
Like I said, with divorce, awareness, and lyricals soaked in sodium tears, this new project from Gwen is gonna slay...trust me, artists pain is always the consumers gain.

Bring on the heartache Gwen, let it all fucking out...

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