PopWatch: Why 2016 will be the Year of the Diva

We have already had a full album and single release from everyone’s favourite Barbadian-who-doesn’t-give-a-f**k, Rihanna. ANTI‘s shock release this past January sent fans into a spin with the set recently debuting at the top of the US Billboard Charts, despite previously being released as a free download. Lead single “Work” is currently ruling the charts worldwide.

Then we had a surprise gift from the ultimate noughties diva Queen Bey (a.k.a Beyonce). “Formation” was released last Sunday before her performance at the Super Bowl and received rave reviews for its strong political messages which has whet the public’s appetite even more for a new full album.

Noughties favourite Gwen Stefani has announced her first solo album in 10 years This Is What the Truth Feels Like is to be released this March with lead single “Make Me Like You” available to listen to from today!

So a strong diva showing already this year from RiRi, Queen Bey and Gwennie and we could possibly see new material from the following pop divas:

Lady GaGa

Mother Monster has been relatively quiet lately. For her, at least. She released ARTPOP way back in November 2013 and then Cheek to Cheek, her duet album with Tony Bennett in 2014. Although both sets topped the US Billboard Charts their sales were well below par for the chart conquering diva, which means she has a lot to prove on album number 5. Since then, she has recorded a song for The Hunting Ground soundtrack “Til’ It Happens to You”, which is nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song, and she randomly popped up in season five of American Horror Story: Hotel. Here’s the good news, she says that her time on the gory show has influenced her latest studio album which can only be a good thing as GaGa is best when she is at her most theatrical. Let’s hope for another “Bad Romance” or “Monster”.

Anticipation Rating: 8/10

Christina Aguilera

Everybody’s rooting for Christina, but she hasn’t given us much to work with lately. In fact, since 2007 her success has been mostly limited to guest feature singles such as “Moves Like Jagger”, “Feel this Moment” and “Say Something” and she hasn’t released any singles since 2013 with her last full album Lotus coming out in 2012. That’s a long time in the world of pop! But the ever-competitive Xtina will be eager to prove that she can still hobnob with the current crop of popstar royalty (young whippersnappers!), so it’s guaranteed that she’ll be pulling out all the stops for album number eight. Its confirmed that that she will be returning for The Voice USA: Season 10, which should air in March or April, so it would be a smart move to coincide this return with some new music and a cheeky performance to get the ball rolling. Apparently she’s been doing a lot of yoga lately so perhaps we can expect some chilled house from the blonde bombshell.

Anticipation Rating:6/10

Taylor Swift

Swifty had a big 2014 and 2015 with a tirade of smash singles from her latest studio album 1989 but, according to the rules of the universe, Taylor Swift’s album releases must follow a 2 year cycle. She has released one every even year since 2006’s eponymous Taylor Swift. We got Fearless in 2008. Speak Now in 2010. Red in 2012 and 1989 in 2014. So if my calculations are correct 2016 should be another Swift year. However, I wouldn’t hold my breath as Swift has reportedly said that she is ready to take some well deserved time off. because she is afraid of people getting sick of her! Seriously no danger of that Taylor…

Anticipation Rating:3/10

Katy Perry 

The California Gurl’s album releases are a bit more erratic than Swift’s. One of the Boys was released in 2008, Teenage Dream in 2010 and Prism in 2013. Those stats make me feel a bit awkward as it seems like she’s taking longer and longer between albums…Couple that with the fact that she recently said that she might not release anything until 2018 and I’m in tears ripping up my Prismatic World Tour t-shirt on my bedroom floor.

Let’s not leave it that long Katy eh? Whenever it comes out, we might get a reply to Taylor’s “Bad Blood” which is secretly/not so secretly written about Perry and we could do with some “Left Shark” action. Perhaps a heartfelt ballad or ode to shark.

Anticipation Rating:4/10



Eager to get all Fergalicious again, our favourite Black Eyed Pea has been readying a new album for a while now. She dropped “L.A Love” back in September 2014 which got us all excited but then promptly disappeared again when it didn’t perform as well as expected on the charts. Mega sad face. She then popped up again in summer 2015 claiming the album was almost finished which suggested a quarter 4 release but then silence on the Fergie front. She really can’t drag this out any longer so I would expect a new beat-heavy single before the start of May in hope of bagging a summer smash. Fergie’s been working with an interesting array of people, including Charlie Puth, Jean Baptiste Kouame, DJ Mustard, Rock City, Mike WiLL Made-It and RoccStar, so the album should be quite eclectic, which definitely worked on The Dutchess.

Anticipation Rating:5/10

Britney Spears

Sure Britney has a devoted fanbase and enjoys a god-like status in the world pop, but there is only so much fans can take before we lose our faith in the divine. Between balancing her energies on her Las Vegas Residency Show and being a Soccer Mom to two young boys, she admits that new music hasn’t been her top priority recently. But seeing as her last studio set Britney Jean was such a bomb, containing only one noteworthy single “Work Bitch” we are really in need of some new Britney material to reaffirm our love for Godney. Luckily, she has been posting and dropping hints recently on social media so the outlook is good for a summer release. Let’s hope she does a double Beyonce by dropping two full albums without warning. We can dream can’t we?

Anticipation Rating:9/10


If we get new music from all these wonderful divas in 2016 I will probably have a meltdown and my brain will explode. So STAGGER people! Thanks for reading and please feel free to comment, share and like.




The Best Songs of Gwen Stefani

Be excited because Gwennie Gwen Gwen is back with a new album and single “Make Me Like U”. Have a listen here!

Our favourite Orange County Girl has ever been the sultry, cool alternative to our beloved pop princesses. On the eve of the release of her third album it’s easy to forget what a big footprint Stefani has left on music with her impressive body of work. From break ups to bindis to Harajuku Girls, lest we forget that cerca 2004-2006 Gwen Stefani was hot property boasting a string of international chart toppers and cultivating a inimitably kooky style that only she could pull off. She is one of the most versatile and musically innovative singers of her generation blessed with a voice which is instantly recognisable and utterly unique. To celebrate the release of Gwen Stefani’s third solo studio album This is What the Truth Feels Like on March 18th, I feel the time is right to look back at the 46 year old’s impressive discography:

15) Gwen Stefani – 4 In the Morning

Stefani lost in melancholy. “4 In the Morning” was released as the third single from The Sweet Escape, Stefani’s 2006 follow up to Love. Angel. Music. Baby. This Madonna-esque synthpop ballad is one of Stefani’s strongest downtempo songs and puts her innocent, girlish vocals firmly at the forefront.

14) No Doubt – Simple Kind of Life

By the release of No Doubt’s second studio album, 2000’s Return of Saturn, Stefani had started pining for domesticity. On the morose “Simple Kind of Life” Gwen declares her need for marriage and family but eventually recognises that her independence is more important. The single became the only song to chart on the US Billboard Chart from Return of Saturn and remains one of the band’s most understated singles.

13) Gwen Stefani – Used to Love You

After failed lead singles “Baby Don’t Lie” and “Spark the Fire” failed to ignite the charts, Stefani decided to take a more personal approach to her songwriting. Inspired by the end of her 13-year romance with Gavin Rossdale “Used to Love You” is a confessional ballad and one of Stefani’s most potent tear-jerkers, proving that honesty really is the best policy.

12) No Doubt – Hella Good

For their third album 2001’s Rock Steady No Doubt decided to dip their toes into grittier waters which resulted in the bassline-heavy “Hella Good”.

11) Gwen Stefani Feat. Eve – Rich Girl

Eve’s first but not last appearance in this list. Urban-flavoured banger “Rich Girl” borrows a sample from Fiddler on the Roof’s “If I Were a Rich Man” to create pop chart gold. “Rich Girl” was released as the second single from Love. Angel. Music. Baby in 2005 and attained massive chart success worldwide.

10) No Doubt – It’s My Life

No Doubt decided to go on hiatus in 2004 but before they did we were treated to a Greatest Hits collection The Singles: 1992-2003. Although we technically didn’t get a new song with the project, we did get this spectacularly bombastic cover of Talk Talk’s “It’s My Life”. Stefani is ravishing in the video as a black widow sentenced to death for murdering three men. The Devil truly does wear Prada.

9) No Doubt Feat. Lady Saw – Underneath It All

This is No Doubt at their most sweet. On the reggae-tinged “Underneath It All” Gwen declares that, beneath the façade, her boyfriend Gavin Rossdale is actually quite nice . Bless. “Underneath It All” was released as the third single from Rock Steady in 2002 and became a smash in the US and one of the band’s biggest hits there. It also won the long-windedly titled Grammy for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal. On a side note, superb ad libs from Lady Saw on this track.

8) Gwen Stefani Feat. Akon – The Sweet Escape 

All the best pop songs are written in 10 minutes…Said nobody ever. Until Gwen Stefani and Akon that is. With this 2007 doo-wop banger Stefani declared she was back in style and she was proved quite right when it soared to the top of the charts worldwide. “The Sweet Escape” finished 2007 as the second best-seller of the year in the US. “Woohoo. Yeahoo”.

7) Gwen Stefani – Cool

This 1980’s style synthpop ballad is straight out of Taylor Swift’s 1989 songbook. Only 10 years before. Upon first glance, it seems to be light and breezy summer fare, but lyrically not as disposable as its production would have you believe. Retro-kitsch sounding “Cool” is the perfect ode to post-break-up friendships, drawing inspiration from Stefani’s relationship with former boyfriend and fellow member of No Doubt, Tony Kanal.

6) No Doubt – Just a Girl

After two unsuccessful albums No Doubt suffered the loss of their keyboardist and songwriter Eric Stefani (Gwen’s brother) which left Gwen as the primary songwriter. At the time Stefani was frustrated with gender stereotypes because, despite pushing 30, her dad got angry at her for staying late at her then boyfriend Tony Kanal which inspired her to write “Just a Girl”. On the track she sings about female stereotypes such as being perceived as weak and needing to be looked after. This was No Doubt’s breakthrough single in the US and became a big hit in the UK after the release of “Don’t Speak”.

5) Eve Feat. Gwen Stefani – Let Me Blow Ya Mind 

Stefani may only feature on “Let Me Blow Ya Mind” but her first foray into life without her band was a resounding success. The Eve-Gwen tag team got its first airing with this squelchy-beated banger in 2001, showing that Stefani’s versatile voice can easily lend itself to hip-hop. For their efforts the song won a Grammy Award in 2002 for “Best Rap/Sung Collaboration”. An encouraging start by any stretch of the imagination.

4) Gwen Stefani – Hollaback Girl

Without a doubt Stefani’s most divisive song. In fact, “Hollaback Girl” has been frequently described as one of the most annoying compositions of all time. The track was written when Stefani and Pharrell decided that  her 2005 Love. Angel. Music. Baby album needed an “attitude song”. Whatever that is. So Gwen decided to write about a comment Courtney Love made in an interview with Seventeen magazine.

“Being famous is just like being in high school. But I’m not interested in being the cheerleader. I’m not interested in being Gwen Stefani. She’s the cheerleader, and I’m out in the smoker shed”

Stefani responded in the March 2005 issue of the NME:

“Y’know someone one time called me a cheerleader, negatively, and I’ve never been a cheerleader. So I was, like, “OK, fuck you. You want me to be a cheerleader? Well, I will be one then. And I’ll rule the whole world, just you watch me.”

No-one really knows for sure what a Hollaback Girl is….except from presumably Gwen herself (though it’s doubtful she even knows). Despite critical misgivings, this tribal chant, hip-hop stomper was a massive hit in the US, becoming the first digital download to sell a million copies in the US. Like it or not, no other artist has ever sung about bananas as convincingly as Gwen.

3) No Doubt Feat. Bounty Killer- Hey Baby

The Jamaican dancehall influenced “Hey Baby” is a triumphant rallying call for all No Doubt fans. From the start it’s a chaotic party starting jam which is impossible to ignore. The track contrasts No Doubt groupies’ naughtiness and debauchery on the Return of Saturn tour with Stefani’s dissatisfaction at her long distance relationship with Rossdale. It won the band their second consecutive Grammy for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal. Greedy much…?

2) Gwen Stefani – What You Waiting For?

The lead single from Stefani’s first solo album Love. Angel. Music. Baby was typically eye-catching (should that be ear-catching), introducing us to Stefani’s crazy, kooky world complete with Harajuku Girls and a topsy turvy Alice in Wonderland inspired video. After the announcement of No Doubt’s hiatus, Stefani was literally forced into a chokehold by prolific singer songwriter Linda Perry who demanded they write songs together. The initial session proved to be unfruitful due to Stefani’s lack of confidence without her band, which resulted in a bad case of writer’s block. This inspired Perry to form a skeleton of the song “What You Waiting For?” as a way to empower Stefani. The rest, as we say, is history.

1) No Doubt – Don’t Speak

The best and probably the saddest song on this list. Written about bandmate Tony Kanal after he ended their seven year relationship “Don’t Speak” was released as the third single from the bands breakthrough album Tragic Kingdom, but it was almost the single that never was. In 1996 tensions were riding high in the band and they were on the verge of breaking up but decided to film a video for “Don’t Speak” as a form of therapy. As a result, the video is brutally honest in showing the source of the tension with the band mostly in the background while Stefani receives all the attention. Upon release “Don’t Speak” became their band’s biggest hit to date, peaking at No. 1 throughout the world and eventually selling over a million copies in the UK as of 2015 (after almost 20 years of sales!). While the song was extremely popular in the US, “Don’t Speak” did not chart on the Billboard Hot 100 (chart rules back then required a physical single be issued for a song to chart and the band never released one for “Don’t Speak”). However, it did manage to stay at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 Airplay for 16 weeks, a record at the time.

Now that’s what I call a formidable discography. Let’s hope Stefani’s new stuff is just as good. Fingers crossed. Thanks for reading and feel free to comment, like and share. Here’s a lovely Spotify playlist to listen to all Gwennie’s songs mentioned here and a few cheeky extras: