On October 10, 1995, No Doubt released their third studio album, Tragic Kingdom. As the album celebrates 25 years, rediscover the music of your past with seven facts about it below.

1. They did not expect it to do so wellAfter their debut album and follow-up album didn’t do so well, they were not expecting the number of sales that they received with Tragic Kingdom. “We were really compelled to make that record; it was so important to us,” guitarist Tom Dumont said in an interview. “It’s the honest truth that we didn’t expect it to break through and become a success at all. We were writing the album in such a naive, but good, way. We were writing it for ourselves and to prove something only to ourselves and to make songs that we loved.”

2. The album was written during a breakup. Gwen Stefani and bassist Tony Kanal were in a relationship for 8 years and broke up during the writing process of the album. “Don’t Speak” was originally supposed to be a love song but ended up being about the heartbreak within the band.

“We were on tour for Tragic Kingdom for 28 months. We were going through the breakup, and in every interview we were talking about it so we were opening this wound on an hourly basis. It was so brutal but I don’t know how we made it through,” Kanal told The Guardian. Gwen Stefani commented that even though the breakup was difficult, it made her a better songwriter and helped her find her “creative power”.

The song actually won the band their first video award for Best Group Video at the MTV Video Music Awards. Tony Kanal said “We didn’t want it to be about a normal breakup. So we thought: ‘What would be the saddest thing that could happen? The band splitting up?’ So that’s what the video’s about.”

3. Gwen Stefani’s brother left half-way through the writing, to do animation. Eric Stefani was one of the main writers in No Doubt, but halfway through writing the songs for Tragic Kingdom, he left. Eric wanted to do animation and found success in that career path with shows like The Simpsons. Their bassist Toni Kanal said in an interview that “When he left, it created this sort of, ‘Okay, what are we going to do now?’ But that forced Tom, Gwen, Adrian and myself to step up and that’s when songs like ‘Spiderwebs,’ ‘Just A Girl’ and ‘Sunday Morning’ started coming out.” So it seems like Eric’s parting from the band worked out for everyone involved. Although you can still notice Eric near the back of the album cover, looking away from the camera, after Gwen pushed to still have him included.

4. It took a over year to hit number 1. The album was released in October of 1995, but it took until December of 1996 to reach No. 1 on the Billboard 200. Once the album hit No.1 though, it stayed there for nine weeks straight.

5. “Just A Girl” made their radio and TV debut. No Doubt struggled for years trying to get a radio station in LA to play their music. They were ignored countless times until the song was finally played and requested many times over. It might have also had something to do with the complaints the station was getting for their lack of female artists at the time. “Just A Girl” was also No Doubt’s first TV performance on The Conan O’Brien Show. 

Gwen Stefani originally wrote the song while frustrated with her father about being overprotective because of her gender. “I wouldn’t trade being female, for anything, but the guys don’t understand what a burden it can be sometimes.”

Her mom was an obstacle with playing this song live as well. Gwen Stefani and her mother were driving to a show in California when the song first became popular, her mother asked if she was “going to say those curse words onstage” because she had invited some relatives. Gwen had told her mom she wasn’t planning on it but the frustration grew inside her on stage and she refused to change her song just because it seemed inappropriate for a girl to curse. Her mother didn’t talk to her for a week after that.

Tom Dumont told The Orange Country Register about how Gwen Stefani’s writing process addressed these feelings.

“She had a notebook of ideas and this was an idea of hers about coming to terms with growing up and seeing what challenges there were in being a female and growing up,” he said. “There was sort of this sarcastic take on it, and she wasn’t just singing like ‘Girl Power.’ She was singing it in such a clever and sarcastic way. Eric pulling away from the band left a space for Gwen to start writing words about her life rather than just singing words about Eric’s life.”

6. It’s sold over 16 million copies. We don’t have an exact number these days, but in 2015 Billboard reported that 16 million copies of Tragic Kingdom had been sold.

7. Disneyland is responsible for the title track/album name. The members of No Doubt are from Orange County, the home of Disneyland. Tragic Kingdom is a play on words for Disneyland’s old nickname, The Magic Kingdom. In the song “Tragic Kingdom” the band even sampled some theme-park announcements. There seems to be many rumours and theories about the meaning of the song including one from Pitchfork claiming the track is about how evil Walt Disney is. Another rumour suggests that maybe Gwen Stefani worked at Disneyland before making music. Keep in mind those are theories.


Filed under: Album Anniversary, no doubt, Tragic Kingdom