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A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this music.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this is an upbeat collection of songs mostly about boys, and the ups and downs of liking them, or one in particular -- and it could be the wrong one. The lyrics aren't sexually explicit, but some of them are loaded with double meanings. On "Hella Good," for example, when Stefani wants to "keep on dancing," is she talking about dancing or something else? The lyrics cover long-distance love ("Making Out"), jealousy ("In My Head"), loving a bad boy ("Underneath It All"), giving the bad boy a second chance ("Don't Let Me Down"), and groupie backstage action ("Hey Baby").
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Kids more familiar with the stuff on Gwen Stefani's solo release, Love. Angel. Music. Baby., will find a lot to like on ROCK STEADY, an album chock-full of catchy crowd-pleasers that take you from new wave to disco to dancehall. While it's quite a departure from the band's earlier work, their signature sound hasn't disappeared completely. "Making Out" and "Hella Good" are all about the funky disco beats, but "Underneath it All" feels like old-school No Doubt. Part of the album was recorded in Jamaica, and many of the tracks have a beachy breeziness, especially the reggae-influenced "In My Head" and the title track.
Is it any good?
At times Rock Steady seems to be all over the musical map, perhaps a side effect of the all-star cast that contributed to the collection: Prince on "Waiting Room," where his input couldn't be more apparent, and "Don't Let Me Down," co-produced by The Cars' Ric Ocasek, which seems to take you back to 1985. The only ballad on this mostly bouncy album is "Running," an ode to making a relationship work, and one in which Stefani's vocals shine. It's hard not to like No Doubt and our homegirl Stefani: She's spunky, sassy, stylish, and has a great voice.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what teens are thinking about: What's okay to put up with in a romantic relationship and what isn't? When is it healthier to walk away? How can you tell when you're ready for something hot and heavy? How do you deal with someone you're really into being unfaithful, or not calling you when he/she promised, or not liking you as much as you like him/her? Families can also discuss whether or not Gwen Stefani is a good role model for women. How are the lyrics in this album different from No Doubt's more introspective previous album, Return of Saturn? How has Stefani's style and music changed since she got married, had a baby, and released her first solo album?