“Don’t Speak” by No Doubt

No Doubt’s “Don’t Speak” is a song based on an actual breakup that its singer, Gwen Stefani, was going through at the time which resulted in the termination of an eight-year relationship with fellow No Doubt band member, Tony Kanal. And according to record, she was dumped. Thus this track is an accurate portrayal of what her emotional disposition must have been going through that harrowing ordeal.

For instance, as the title suggests, she telling her significant other “don’t speak”. The reason for this would apparently be that he is harping on the inevitability of the situation, as in rationalizing their unavoidable break up. And Stefani recognizes that she is indeed living in the dying days of their relationship. In fact things have apparently already reached the point where they are more or less separated, especially compared to the earlier days of their association.

But in all, this is not an exercise in denial. The singer seems well aware that this relationship is over. But that realization does not lessen the toll of the emotional turmoil she is experiencing. As such, she is not interested in talking to her partner about the situation. Rather, it appears that she prefers to let things die out slowly. In other words, she doesn’t want the pain she is going through to be exacerbated by her lover explaining to her why things are so.

Lyrics of "Don't Speak"

Music Video

The music video to “Don’t Speak”, which was directed by the band’s regular collaborator Sophie Mueller, was nominated for Video of the Year as well as Best Group Video at the 1997 MTV Video Music Awards.  It won the latter. This is ironic because No Doubt were reportedly about to disband just one day prior to filming it.

Who wrote “Don’t Speak”? 

The writers of this song are siblings Eric and Gwen Stefani. 

They originally penned it as love song. However, after Gwen broke up with Kanal, she rewrote the lyrics to the version we are all familiar with.

“Don’t Speak” was produced by American record producer and musician Matthew Wilder.

“Don’t Speak” was a Major Hit

Moreover the track itself was an international hit, topping music charts in numerous countries, including: Australia, Canada, Denmark, Iceland Norway, Scotland and Sweden. It also reached the top of the charts in Britain. However, it was unable to make an appearance on America’s Hot 100. The reason this happened was because No Doubt, apparently partially in response to negative reviews by music critics, never released it as a single in their native United States.

Did “Don’t Speak” win a Grammy?

This classic was nominated for a couple of Grammy Awards in 1998 in the following categories:

  • Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals 
  • Song of the Year

Kanye West’s Version

Music superstar Kanye West did a gospel-infused remix of “Don’t Speak” in 2019. And according to Gwen Stefani, she liked so much that she “literally started crying” upon hearing it for the very first time. That’s how touching it was to her.

When did “Don’t Speak” actually come out?

No Doubt released “Don’t Speak” through Interscope Records on 15 April 1996. And it is featured on their third album (Tragic Kingdom).

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