Throwback Thursday: Gwen Stefani – “Cool”
Today is Dallas Austin’s 52nd birthday, so how about one of the many classics he’s helped create? A selection from the TLC catalog felt a little obvious, so we’re gonna go with a song many people might not know he wrote: “Cool” by Gwen Stefani.
Released as the fourth single from Gwen’s debut solo album, Love. Angel. Music. Baby., “Cool” is a song about two former lovers who somehow remained cool despite their failed relationship. Given that it is performed by Gwen and she is credited as a songwriter, it is not unreasonable to assume that it is about her relationship with ex-boyfriend and No Doubt bandmate Tony Kanal. In fact, the version of the song we’ve come to know could very well be about their relationship as well. However, “Cool” existed before Gwen ever got involved with the song, and that original version is about Dallas Austin’s relationship with Chilli, who he dated for a decade and with whom he has a child. She left him for Usher in 2001, but they remained friends and he continued working with TLC. In fact, Dallas and Chilli were so cool that the group was initially supposed to record “Cool.”
Peaking at No. 13 on the Billboard Hot 100, “Cool” is not one of Gwen Stefani’s biggest hits, but real ones recognize it as the classic it is. It is simple in melody and lyrics, and yet somehow complex because it touches on an uncommon topic in popular music: Amicable breakups. In a world where most breakup songs are about crying oneself to sleep or exacting revenge, “Cool” is not just cool, it’s radical.