This was written by Gwen Stefani after her brother Eric, No Doubt's primary songwriter up to then, left the band. She wrote it about being frustrated at her father being overprotective due to her gender, saying at the time: "I wouldn't trade being female, for anything, but the guys don't understand what a burden it can be sometimes."
The song became a girl-power anthem, but that wasn't what Stefani had in mind when she wrote it.
"I was in this all-guy band and all my friends were guys," she explained in a video
. "I just had this point of view and I wanted to play on that. I thought it was really appropriate and really real to who I was."
"Just A Girl" was No Doubt's first single, ending years of hardship and turmoil as they tried to break through. The band formed in 1986 and nearly broke up when their original lead singer, John Spence, committed suicide the following year. After some lineup changes, they signed with Interscope in 1991 and released their debut album in 1992, which flopped hard. Gwen's brother Eric, who formed the band, bailed in 1994, leaving Gwen the last original member. The Tragic Kingdom took over two years to make, during which time Gwen and bass player Tony Kanal ended their seven-year relationship.
When they finally had a hit, it was a huge relief. It was especially gratifying when the powerhouse Los Angeles radio station KROQ began playing the song, fulfilling the band's dream.
Stefani was often asked to explain this song by reporters wondering if she was painting a bigger picture or hiding a secret meaning. When Spin asked her in 1996, she snapped: "I hate it when I'm asked what that song is about. The lyrics are so obvious. If you don't think it's sarcastic, you've got to be like an idiot."
The music video, directed by Mark Kohr, was the first look most fans got of Gwen Stefani, and it established her image, which many of her young fans tried to copy.
Stefani had the idea of putting the guys in a gnarly men's bathroom, with Stefani next door in a beautiful women's room. In the end, the guys come through and the party begins.
Kohr was known for directing Green Day videos like "Longview
" and "Basket Case
," but thanks in part to the "Just A Girl" video, he developed a reputation for capturing the essence of strong, confident female singers, going on to direct videos for Alanis Morissette ("Hand In My Pocket
") and Shakira ("Ojos Asi
The band had been performing this song live for a while before it was released, including on the first Warped Tour in 1995.
When this song caught on, No Doubt was off and running. They did lots of touring and promotion over the next few years and gradually built a following. The songs "Spiderwebs
" and "Don't Speak
" earned lots of airplay, and the Tragic Kingdom
album moved up to #1 in America in December 1996, 14 months after it was issued. It stayed at the top for nine weeks and sold over 10 million copies.
No Doubt had a heartthrob bass player and drummer prone to playing naked, but when "Just A Girl" hit, all anyone wanted to know about was Stefani. The song, by dint of its title, added to the Gwen curiosity and pushed even more attention her way. This was disruptive to the band, which saw themselves as equal partners. They tried to maintain unity in interviews, but inevitably, the lens would zoom in on Stefani, and she ended up doing a lot of the press herself because all the questions would be for her anyway. It came to a head when Spin put her on the cover solo for their November 1996 issue with the headline, "Riot Girlie: No Doubt Just Wanna Have Fun."
No Doubt made their late-night TV debut on The Conan O'Brien Show playing this song. They later performed the song on David Letterman's show.
No Doubt were touring as the opening act for Bush when this became a hit. Stefani started going out with Bush lead singer Gavin Rossdale
, and they got engaged in 2001. They tied the knot on September 14th, 2002, with Gavin's dog in attendance. The couple had three children, but divorced in 2015.
Dani - Regina, Canada
The band is from Anaheim, California, home of Disneyland. The album title is a play on "Magic Kingdom," the name of one of Disney's popular parks.
This was played over the opening credits of the 1997 box office hit Romy and Michelle's High School Reunion
, starring Lisa Kudrow (Phoebe from Friends
) and Oscar winner Mira Sorvino.
Britney - Calabasas, CA
No Doubt performed this at the 2003 Super Bowl between the Bucs and Raiders. Unlike Shania Twain, who was on before her, Gwen Stefani did not lip-sync. After they performed the song, Sting came out and sang "Message In A Bottle" with them. The game aired on ABC, which is owned by Disney, who was either willing to overlook the "Tragic Kingdom" album title or didn't know about it.
This plays in Clueless at the beginning of the movie when Cher goes to pick up Dionne and rolls over everything in her path. The film's music supervisor, Karyn Rachtman, thought the song was "the embodiment of Clueless," and desperately wanted it as the lead single from the soundtrack, but Capitol Records (the label that released the album) refused. In fact, Capitol demanded the song be removed from the soundtrack altogether, possibly because the band was still unknown or they were signed to a rival label. Rachtman's instincts were right: Just two months after its brief appearance in the movie, the song blew up as the lead single from Tragic Kingdom.
Regarding the video, Stefani recalled to MTV News that she bought the red, white and blue tennis top she wore during her performance of the song in the bathroom at a thrift store. She then applied fake diamonds to it, an early indicator of her talent for clothes designing.Did you spot the very pregnant girl, who has a blink-and-you'll-miss-it cameo? That's Stefani's younger sister, Jill.
When playing this at a Virgin Megastore in Costa Mesa, California, lead singer Gwen Stefani's mother asked her not to swear because their relatives were present. When Gwen swore, her mother refused to speak to her for a week.
This appears in the 2019 movie Captain Marvel in a scene where Captain Marvel unleashes her powers for the first time. It was also used in the 1997 movie Romy and Michele's High School Reunion.