Excuse Me Mr.

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"Excuse Me Mr."
A blank compact disc displaying the song's title and respective artist.
Single by No Doubt
from the album Tragic Kingdom
Released August 21, 1996
Format CD
Recorded 1995
Genre Ska
Length 3:04
Label
Songwriter(s)
Producer(s) Matthew Wilder
No Doubt singles chronology
"Don't Speak"
(1996)
"Excuse Me Mr."
(1996)
"Sunday Morning"
(1997)

"Excuse Me Mr." is a song by American band No Doubt for their third studio album, Tragic Kingdom (1995). It was written by Gwen Stefani and Tom Dumont, produced by Matthew Wilder, and released as the record's fourth single overall on August 21, 1996. "Excuse Me Mr." has also been featured on their 2003 greatest hits album, The Singles 1992–2003. Musically, "Excuse Me Mr." is a ska and rock-influenced song with lyrics describing a woman trying to get the attention of a man. A country version of the song was also created but never released.

Critically, "Excuse Me Mr." was cited as one of the best tracks on Tragic Kingdom. Other critics discussed the song's speed, which they found to be rather fast-paced. "Excuse Me Mr." was only distributed for airplay within in the United States and therefore was unable to enter the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Elsewhere, it had a minimal impact on record charts. It reached the top 40 of the alternative charts in both the United States and Canada and peaked at number 11 in New Zealand.

The music video for "Excuse Me Mr." was directed by Sophie Muller and filmed during January 1997. It features two different storylines: the first shows No Doubt playing "Excuse Me Mr." to an empty room that becomes crowded with paparazzi while the second has Stefani tying herself to train tracks in the hopes that a man will come to her rescue. No Doubt has performed "Excuse Me Mr." at a number of live appearances, including during their 1995–97 Tragic Kingdom World Tour, while serving as the guest musical act on Saturday Night Live in December 1996, and at their Return of Saturn Tour (2000).

Background and release

A color photograph of No Doubt posing together on stage after a performance.
Two versions of "Excuse Me Mr." were created prior to its inclusion on Tragic Kingdom. No Doubt pushed for the release of the punk rock version while their producer, Matthew Wilder, preferred the country version.

"Excuse Me Mr." was written by Gwen Stefani and Tom Dumont, and production was handled by Matthew Wilder. It was featured on No Doubt's third studio album, Tragic Kingdom (1995), which was the group's first record with minimal contributions from Gwen's brother, Eric Stefani, who had left the group due to creative differences earlier in 1995.[1][2] Kenneth Partridge from The A.V. Club considered this misfortune to be a blessing, because it allowed the band members to incorporate the influences that helped popularize No Doubt; Partridge later stated that this allowed Tragic Kingdom songs like "You Can Do It", "Hey You!", and "Excuse Me Mr." to be recorded.[3] The original version of "Excuse Me Mr." was more melodic and mellow, according to Tony Kanal, but the band members preferred the "harder version" that was released as a single. No Doubt disagreed with their then-producer, Wilder, who wanted the group to record a country-influenced rendition.[4] Member Adrian Young said:

When we recorded ['Excuse Me Mr.'], we used to play it the way it is now, and our producer wanted us to play it almost kind of like a country-shuffle, and so we gave it a shot. We later decided that we didn’t really like that, but the other version was erased from the tape. We had to go back in—it must’ve been months later—we re-recorded it the way we used to play it.[4]

According to the liner notes for No Doubt's 2003 greatest hits album, The Singles 1992–2003, the debate over which version of "Excuse Me Mr." would be featured on Tragic Kingdom became a debacle. No Doubt told Interscope Records that they would refuse to record "Spiderwebs", the album's eventual second single, unless they could re-record the punk rock version of "Excuse Me Mr.".[5] The song was first released as on August 21, 1996.[6] Commercial CD singles for "Excuse Me Mr." were not distributed in the United States;[7] however, a promotional CD single was created and sent to radio stations in that country.[8]

Composition and lyrics

Musically, "Excuse Me Mr." is a ska song that recalls No Doubt's previous works.[9] The A.V. Club' Partridge described "Excuse Me Mr." as a rock-influenced track that pays homage to the music that helped form No Doubt.[3] Diffuser.fm's Brendan Manley noted the track's "Dixieland brass breakdown" during the bridge and then used "Excuse Me Mr." as an example of the one of the many different styles of songs on Tragic Kingdom.[10] David Browne discussed in his Entertainment Weekly album review of Tragic Kingdom that "Excuse Me Mr." is able to combine various genres within a duration of three minutes.[11]

According to Musicnotes.com, "Excuse Me Mr." is set in common time, with a double time-like feel and has a very fast tempo of 146 beats per minute.[12] The key of the song is in F major with Stefani's vocal range spanning nearly an octave and a half, from A3 to F5 in scientific pitch notation.[12] The song progresses in the following chord progressions of F–C–Dm–C in each of the song's two verses.[12]

The song's lyrics describe a woman who is actively trying to capture the attention of a male.[13] The song's message is the opposite of "Spiderweb"'s, and Stefani sings with an anxious tone. Partridge felt that the point in the song where it switches to "circus music" helps secure the idea that love is absurd.[14] Loren Diblasi from MTV News noted that the lyrics of "Excuse Me Mr." suggest that they are detailing a painful breakup; Stefani sings during the middle eight: "It's almost as if I'm tied to the tracks / And I'm waiting for him to rescue me / The funny thing is, he's not going to come".[15] These lyrics, specifically, were described a "sonically slapstick" by Noisey's Nick Levine,[13] whereas Browne from Entertainment Weekly compared the lyrics' "rescue-me blankness" to Mariah Carey's songwriting abilities.[11] Seija Rankin speculated that the subject of the song's matter was Kanal, who Stefani had broken up with prior to writing the material for the album.[16]

Critical reception

Several critics described "Excuse Me Mr." as one of the highlights on Tragic Kingdom. In honor of the 20th anniversary of the album, a panel of critics from The A.V. Club reanalyzed Tragic Kingdom. Annie Zaleski from the publication admired the track in addition to "Happy Now?" and "Sunday Morning"; she noted that all three of them "have just the right amount of pep".[17] Marah Eakin described "Excuse Me Mr." as a banger that "aged well" despite being released over twenty years ago; she also selected it as one of the album's singles that sounds "fucking good".[17] With a similar opinion, Ilana Kaplan from The Observer called the single "one of the buzzy tracks that erupted" from Tragic Kingdom; she also classified it as perhaps the "fastest song ever made".[18] MTV News's Diblasi was impressed by the track, and listed it as the fifth best "breakup song" on the parent album. She also found the track to be emotive and one of the "most gut-wrenching tracks" on Tragic Kingdom due to its ability to help someone "survive a breakup".[15]

Chart performance

"Excuse Me Mr." was not released as a commercial single in the United States and therefore was ineligible to enter the Billboard Hot 100 chart. On Billboard's Alternative Songs chart, "Excuse Me Mr." peaked at number 17, becoming the least successful of the four singles from Tragic Kingdom to enter this chart.[19] "Excuse Me Mr." did not enter the RPM singles chart in Canada, but did reach the Top Rock/Alternative Tracks chart, where it debuted at number 27; similarly, it became the fourth consecutive entry from Tragic Kingdom to make an appearance on the chart.[20] During its ninth week within the rankings, it reached a peak of number 12 on March 31, 1997.[21] Outside of the alternative charts in United States and Canada, "Excuse Me Mr." only charted in one country. On May 25, 1997, the song debuted at number 38 on New Zealand's singles chart. Four weeks later it reached its peak at number 11, becoming the fourth top 40 entry from the parent album.[22]

Music video

Stefani ties herself down to rail tracks in hopes that Dumont, Kanal, or Young will save her in the "Excuse Me Mr." video.

The music video for "Excuse Me Mr." was directed by Sophie Muller. It serves as the fourth of five videos created for the songs of Tragic Kingdom.[23] Filming for the video was completed by January 1997, and took place around No Doubt's touring schedule.[24]

The video opens with No Doubt performing in a dimly-lit room. As the camera pans to the other members of the band, Stefani tries her best to remain in front of it whenever possible, resorting to pushing the other members out of her way. Various women dressed in vaudeville-inspired outfits are spaced evenly throughout the room and dance provocatively as the camera approaches them. Before the song's second verse, Stefani ties herself to rail tracks in front of an oncoming train with the hopes that nearby Dumont, Kanal, or Young will come to her rescue. The men fail to do so, so Stefani stands up, departs the scene, and reenters the dark room. The band resumes playing as a group of paparazzi enters and disrupts them. The video ends with No Doubt posing for a group picture in front of the photographers.[25]

The video was selected for rotation on several music-related television networks, including MTV, where it charted within the top ten on the channel's official "most-played clips" playlist.[26][27] In 2004, the video was featured on No Doubt's compilation The Videos 1992–2003.[28] It was also included as a bonus feature on the second CD of a two part CD single series for "Spiderwebs" that was released exclusively in the United Kingdom.[29]

Live performances

"Excuse Me Mr." was performed as the second song of No Doubt's 1995–97 Tragic Kingdom World Tour. The performance of the song at the July 1, 1997 show in Anaheim, at The Arrowhead Pond, was recorded and released in No Doubt's first live album, Live in the Tragic Kingdom (1997).[30] On the December 7, 1996 episode of the American television series Saturday Night Live, No Doubt served as the special musical guest, whereas Martin Short was the episode's host.[31] During their appearance, they performed both their previous single "Don't Speak" and "Excuse Me Mr.".[32]

The song was performed during No Doubt's Return of Saturn Tour in 2000. A majority of the songs performed during the event featured Stefani singing about marriage and romance, but when No Doubt returned with songs from Tragic Kingdom, like "Excuse Me Mr." and "Happy Now?", Rolling Stone's Greg Kot found the audience to be more engaged. Kanal and Stefani "bounc[ed]" around the stage during the performance and Kot compared Stefani's vocals to a cross between cartoon character Betty Boop and American performer Lydia Lunch.[33] For the 2002 Rock Steady Tour, "Excuse Me Mr." was performed during the concert's middle segment, in between singing "In My Head" and "Different People".[34] Their performance of "Excuse Me Mr." at the November 22–23 and 29, 2002 shows at the Long Beach Convention and Entertainment Center in Long Beach were recorded and featured on the group's second live album, Rock Steady Live (2003).[34] During a reunion concert in 2009, their first official shows since 2004, No Doubt performed a revised version of "Excuse Me Mr." to the crowd. According to Rolling Stone's Christopher R. Weingarten, the song had a "radical makeover" as it was "slowed down and skanked [sic] up until it sounded like the English Beat".[35]

At the first ever Rock in Rio USA music festival in 2015, No Doubt headlined the main stage during the first day of the event. They performed several songs from Tragic Kingdom, including "Don't Speak", "Sunday Morning", and "Excuse Me Mr.".[36]

Track listing

US promotional CD single[8]
No. Title Length
1. "Excuse Me Mr." 3:05

Credits and personnel

Obtained from the liner notes of Tragic Kingdom.[37]

  • Bass – Tony Kanal
  • Drums, percussion – Adrian Young
  • Guitar – Tom Dumont
  • Mastering – Robert Vosgien
  • Mixing – David Holman, Paul Palmer
  • Piano, keyboards – Eric Stefani
  • Producer – Matthew Wilder
  • Recording – George Landress, Phil Kaffel
  • Trumpet – Phil Jordan
  • Writers – Gwen Stefani, Tony Kanal

Charts

Chart (1997) Peak
position
Canada Rock/Alternative (RPM)[21] 12
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)[22] 11
US Alternative Songs (Billboard)[19] 17

References

  1. ^ Heath, Chris (May 1, 1997). "Snap! Crackle! Pop!". Rolling Stone. New York (759). ISSN 0035-791X. OCLC 1787396. 
  2. ^ Zelig, Evan (October 31, 1996). "Interview with Tom Dumont". Backstage. Archived from the original on December 6, 2008. Retrieved July 4, 2018. 
  3. ^ a b Partridge, Kenneth (March 25, 2014). "With Tragic Kingdom, No Doubt gave ska a chance". The A.V. Club. Archived from the original on August 2, 2018. Retrieved August 2, 2018. 
  4. ^ a b Nostro, Lauren (September 25, 2012). "No Doubt Tells All: The Stories Behind Their Classic Records". Complex. Archived from the original on December 13, 2017. Retrieved July 17, 2018. 
  5. ^ The Singles 1992–2003 (liner notes). No Doubt. Interscope. 2003. B0001495-02. 
  6. ^ "Excuse Me Mr. (Album Version) by No Doubt on Amazon Music". Amazon.com (US). August 21, 1996. Archived from the original on May 15, 2010. Retrieved August 3, 2018. 
  7. ^ "No Doubt: Music – International". No Doubt. Archived from the original on October 17, 2008. Retrieved July 17, 2018. 
  8. ^ a b "Excuse Me Mr." (liner notes). No Doubt (Promotional CD ed.). United States: Interscope, Trauma. 1996. INT5P-6086. 
  9. ^ "No Doubt's 'Tragic Kingdom' still offers the essence of ska". The Paly Voice. April 3, 2001. Archived from the original on September 30, 2015. Retrieved August 4, 2018. 
  10. ^ Manley, Brendan (October 9, 2015). "20 Years Ago: No Doubt's 'Tragic Kingdom' Sparks a Ska-Punk Frenzy". Diffuser.fm. Archived from the original on August 2, 2017. Retrieved August 2, 2018. 
  11. ^ a b Browne, David (August 2, 1996). "Article: Tragic Kingdom". Entertainment Weekly. Archived from the original on January 18, 2017. Retrieved July 6, 2018. 
  12. ^ a b c "Digital Sheet Music – Excuse Me Mr., Words and Music by Gwen Stefani and Thomas Dumont". Musicnotes.com. Archived from the original on August 4, 2018. Retrieved August 4, 2018. 
  13. ^ a b Levine, Nick (2015). "Navel Gazing: Looking Back at No Doubt's 'Tragic Kingdom' 20 Years Later". Noisey. Archived from the original on July 17, 2018. Retrieved July 17, 2018. 
  14. ^ Partridge, Kenneth (October 10, 2015). "No Doubt's 'Tragic Kingdom' at 20: Classic Track-by-Track Album Review". Billboard. Archived from the original on June 12, 2018. Retrieved July 5, 2018. 
  15. ^ a b Diblasi, Loren (August 3, 2015). "6 Songs from No Doubt's 'Tragic Kingdom' to Help You Through a Breakup". MTV News. Archived from the original on January 13, 2018. Retrieved August 3, 2018. 
  16. ^ Rankin, Seija (March 17, 2016). "Blake Shelton Isn't the Only Man That Gwen Stefani Has Written About: Let's Look Back at Her Most Emotional Song Lyrics". E! News. Archived from the original on July 23, 2017. Retrieved August 3, 2018. 
  17. ^ a b Eakin, Marah; McLevy, Alex; Rytlewski, Evan; Zaleski, Annie (October 17, 2015). "Does No Doubt's Tragic Kingdom still matter?". The A.V. Club. Archived from the original on July 6, 2018. Retrieved July 5, 2018. 
  18. ^ Kaplan, Ilana (September 10, 2015). "No Doubt's 'Tragic Kingdom' Still Appeals to Misfits 20 Years Later". The Observer. Archived from the original on July 13, 2018. Retrieved July 17, 2018. 
  19. ^ a b "No Doubt Chart History (Alternative Songs)". Billboard. Retrieved May 28, 2016.
  20. ^ "Top RPM Rock/Alternative Tracks: Issue 9808". RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Archived from the original on August 3, 2018. Retrieved August 3, 2018. 
  21. ^ a b "Top RPM Rock/Alternative Tracks: Issue 3167." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved May 28, 2016.
  22. ^ a b "Charts.nz – No Doubt – Excuse Me Mr.". Top 40 Singles. Retrieved June 10, 2016.
  23. ^ Breihan, Tom (October 9, 2015). "Tragic Kingdom Turns 20". Stereogum. Archived from the original on July 9, 2017. Retrieved August 3, 2018. 
  24. ^ Newman, Melinda (January 11, 1997). "A Final Reflection on a Departed Year: What They Said at the Billboard Awards". Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. 109 (2): 13. ISSN 0006-2510. Retrieved August 4, 2018. 
  25. ^ "Excuse Me Mr". MTV (UK). January 23, 2007. Archived from the original on October 12, 2017. Retrieved August 4, 2018. 
  26. ^ "Video Monitor: The Most-Played Clips as Monitored by Broadcast Data Systems". Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. 109 (9): 70. February 16, 1997. ISSN 0006-2510. Retrieved August 5, 2018. 
  27. ^ "Video Monitor: The Most-Played Clips as Monitored by Broadcast Data Systems". Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. 109 (11): 109. March 15, 1997. ISSN 0006-2510. Retrieved August 5, 2018. 
  28. ^ "No Doubt – The Videos 1992-2003: No Doubt: Movies & TV". Amazon.com (US). May 4, 2004. Archived from the original on March 6, 2012. Retrieved July 15, 2018. 
  29. ^ "Spiderwebs" (liner notes). No Doubt (CD single, part 2 ed.). United Kingdom: Interscope, Trauma. 1997. INDX 95551. 
  30. ^ "No Doubt – Live in the Tragic Kingdom". AllMusic. Archived from the original on July 15, 2018. Retrieved July 6, 2018. 
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  33. ^ Kot, Greg (May 11, 2000). "Live Report: No Doubt in 2000". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on August 4, 2018. Retrieved August 3, 2018. 
  34. ^ a b Horowitz, Hal. "No Doubt – Rock Steady Live [DVD]". AllMusic. Archived from the original on December 18, 2016. Retrieved July 15, 2018. 
  35. ^ Weingarten, Christopher R. (May 4, 2009). "No Doubt Make Reunion Official With Pumped-Up Bamboozle Gig". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on August 5, 2018. Retrieved August 4, 2018. 
  36. ^ Varga, George (May 9, 2015). "No Doubt heats up Rock in Rio USA". The San Diego Union-Tribune. Archived from the original on February 9, 2017. Retrieved August 7, 2018. 
  37. ^ Tragic Kingdom (liner notes). No Doubt. Interscope. 1995. INTD 90003. 

External links

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