In 1992, No Doubt released their eponymous debut album. No one heard it. Three years later, they released The Beacon Street Collection, a ska-infused album that managed to sell triple the number of copies of its predecessor. Then along came Tragic Kingdom, a diamond-certified million-seller that sent the band stratospheric and spawned a string of Top 20 hits. They’ve now sold over 33 million records worldwide, and while no one (not least the band) is sure if there’ll ever be another album, we’ve at least got their back catalog to enjoy. Here’s our pick of the 10 best No Doubt songs of all time.
10. Underneath It All
2001’s Rock Steady is widely regarded as No Doubt’s most musically adventurous album, touching on everything from electropop and dancehall to new wave. Gwen Stefani’s lyrics are equally diverse, extolling the virtues of partying one minute and reflecting on her relationship with then-boyfriend Gavin Rossdale the next. Underneath It All is one of its highlights. Featuring a reggae production from Sly and Robbie along with guest vocals from Lady Saw, it spent two weeks at No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 (the band’s highest-charting position ever) and won a Grammy Award for Best Pop Performance at the 46th Grammy Awards.
9. Settle Down
After an eleven-year absence, No Doubt returned in 2012 with their sixth studio album, Push and Shove. Despite their long absence, they’d clearly lost none of their commercial appeal, soaring to No. 3 on the Billboard 200 after selling 115,000 copies in the first week alone. Its lead single, Settle Down, proved just as successful as the rest of the album. A busy piece of synth-powered pop with a chewy hook and a massive chorus, it peaked at No. 34 on the Billboard Hot 100.
8. Sunday Morning
As Rolling Stone writes, Stefani delivers a powerhouse performance on the excellent Sunday Morning. After kicking off with a stellar drum solo from Adrian Young, it builds and builds, with Stefani’s snarling delivery proving a perfect match to the bitter lyrics. Released as the fifth single from the band’s third studio album, Tragic Kingdom, it peaked at No. 35 in the US and reached the Top 40 in Australia and Canada.
7. It’s My Life
In 1984, Talk Talk earned a Top 40 hit with It’s My Life. Almost 20 years later, No Doubt revisited the song for their greatest hits record, The Singles 1992–2003. In fairness, it’s not quite as good as the original, but it’s still excellent, with a feel-good vibe and a stellar vocal from Stefani. Released as a single in October 2003, it reached No. 10 on the Billboard Hot 100, No. 16 on the US Dance Club Songs Chart, and No. 20 on the UK Singles Chart.
If any song can be credited with bringing ska to the mainstream in the 1990s, it’s Spiderwebs. A super catchy but unapologetically dark song about a phone stalker who won’t get the hint, it’s one of the band’s biggest earworms, with a hypnotizing central melody that’s guaranteed to get stuck in your head for days. Although it wasn’t officially released as a single in the US, it got enough airplay to reach No. 5 on Billboard’s Alternative Songs chart and No. 11 on the Mainstream Top 40 chart. In March 2021, it was finally certified platinum after reaching sales of over 1 million.
5. Hella Good
From both a commercial and critical perspective, the 2001 album Return of Saturn wasn’t No Doubt’s finest hour. The following year’s Rock Steady was a different story entirely, displaying a staggering musical range and an astonishing degree of lyrical dexterity. Hella Good is one of its gems, a hugely creative piece of music that manages to incorporate everything from hip hop to electronica. Released as the album’s second single in March 2002, it reached No.13 on the Billboard Hot 100 and No. 3 on the Billboard Mainstream Top 40.
4. Simple Kind of Life
By 2000, Stefani and Gavin Rossdale were settling into a life of domestic bliss. On Simple Kind of Life, she explores the conflict of wanting marriage and kids while also wanting to maintain her independence. Somber and raw, it’s No Doubt at their moodiest, and their most melodic. Released as the second single from the band’s fourth album, Return of Saturn, it peaked at No. 38 on the Billboard Hot 100, becoming the only single from the album to enter the chart.
3. Just a Girl
As NME says, Just a Girl is the closest thing you can get to the nineties, distilled into three minutes. Released on the band’s third album, 1995’s Tragic Kingdom, Stefani rocks hard as she rails against sexism and female stereotypes, moving from a hyperfeminine vocal to a vicious one as the beat gets ever more furious. Widely considered to be the bands’ breakthrough single, it peaked at No. 23 on the Billboard Hot 100 and reached the Top 10 in Australia, Ireland, New Zealand, Norway, Scotland, and the United Kingdom.
2. Hey Baby
As diffuser.fm writes, it took No Doubt five years to release the follow-up to their 1995 breakthrough, but apparently, they were saving all their best songs for the album that came after it. Hey Baby, the lead single from Rock Steady, is one of them. Big, flashy, and wonderfully funky, it became a massive hit, spending three weeks at No. 5 on the Billboard Hot 100 on its release in October 2001.
1. Don’t Speak
If you remember the 1990s, you’ll remember Don’t Speak. One of the biggest songs of the decade, it’s a tune that’s almost guaranteed to give you a twinge of nostalgia every time it comes on the radio. Written by Stefani in the wake of her break up to No Doubt’s bassist Tony Kanal, it’s hypnotically dramatic, combining intimate lyrics with a stunningly tense delivery. Released in April 1996, it spent 16 weeks at No. 1 on the US Hot 100 Airplay and topped the charts in numerous other countries.