Gwen Stefani Reunites with Pharrell on “Spark the Fire”

Marc Hogan

By Marc Hogan

Lead News Writer
on 11.24.14 in News

Candi Staton once sang, “How Can I Put Out the Flame (When You Keep the Fire Burning).” In 2014, Gwen Stefani has an opposite problem when it comes to pyromania. Eight years after the No Doubt frontwoman’s last solo album, 2006′s The Sweet Escape, she returned earlier this year with the disappointingly faceless “Baby Don’t Lie.” Just as that track surfaced, though, featuring work from Ryan Tedder, Noel Zancanella, and Benny Blanco, Stefani teased a reunion with Pharrell Williams, the producer who helped craft her biggest solo hit, 2004′s triumphant “Hollaback Girl.” As if to telegraph her hopes of rekindling that chart-topping flame, the new song was titled “Spark the Fire.”

Now “Spark the Fire” is here, and it’s clearly an improvement over “Baby Don’t Lie” even if it’s unlikely ever to surpass “Hollaback Girl.” The track moves from a sung intro you might expect from a James Bond theme (lyrically on point: “You know what they say, the high will never last / But I believe that they all got it wrong”) to percussive verses with cheerleader chants calling back to “Hollaback” (“OMG, OMG”). By the end, obeying the call of “Who got the lighter / Let’s spark the fire” may start to seem like the only way of belonging to the Stefani-Pharrell in-crowd, as she repeats, “You’re so much cooler when you do it.” Unfortunately, though, a look at Stefani’s prior discography might suggest there’s not much fuel left for this particular theme: As Stefani sang on No Doubt’s “Start the Fire,” from 2001′s underrated Rocksteady, “Go on baby, get the lighter / We’re gonna start the fire.”