Sheet music for reference:

No Doubt was arguably one of the most popular Ska-Punk bands of the 1990’s. No Doubt incorporated electric/bass guitars, drums, keyboards… as well as electronic and experimental music.  However, it was evident Just a Girl has resisted falling into one category. More so, it has been described as an alternative, new wave, pop song. Perhaps this was because Gwen was the sole songwriter for this piece, giving it a new tone of voice. For reference, Both ska punk and new wave are both subgenres of rock music, as well as grunge.

The band was clearly influenced by ska and new wave music, and they were eager to show that in their music style. Ska music is known to have fast tempos- and in Just a Girl we see just that (a tempo of 110 bpm). With this ‘new wave’ inspiration, No Doubt used a Roland Jupiter-8 (an eight-voice polyphonic synthesizer)… which can be heard throughout Just a Girl. You can also hear throughout the song retro sounds: such as 80s keyboards and effects. Wikipedia said, Just a Girl is “written in the key of D major, like the majority of popular music”. In addition, Gwen Stefani “spans nearly an octave and a half, from B3 to E5 in scientific pitch notation”. This sets Just a Girl apart from other rock songs  out at he time with its opening riff. Its intro is very upbeat, and its electronic sound makes the song bright and energetic. You can hear this as the song beings, where Dumont (guitarist) plays with the Roland Jupiter-8. Although the lyrics might fall into the Riot Grrrl category, I think this songs genre does not. It lacks the grunge style we are used to hearing and brings in a more pop element. Perhaps this is what helped bring so much success to the song in the long run.

Stefani empowered bands to have female vocalist, such as Evanescence and Paramore in early 2000s who both claimed No Doubt to be very influential to them. In addition, Just a Girl peaked at number 23 in the Billboard Hot 100. And their album Tragic Kingdom was certified diamond, selling over 10 million copies making them very influential in the music industry overall.

Personally, I have not listened to this style of music that much at all. I look forward to exploring these genres more and seeing where they originate.


– Caroline