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Gwen Stefani 

With Ciara. Thursday, December 8, at the Wolstein Center at CSU.

Plenty of reviewers ripped on 2004's Love, Angel, Music, Baby, No Doubt -- er, Gwen Stefani's solo debut, because it was superficial. "An exercise in showy artifice," sniffed a Los Angeles Times critic. "Pure fluff," added a Drawer B scribe. But even though both statements are defensible, they miss the point by acres.

All too often, successful bandleaders who go out on their own are mainly concerned with proving their smarts, but not Stefani. She's more interested in a good time than good notices, and her focus on fun paid off handsomely when it came to Love: Cuts such as "What Are You Waiting For?" and "Rich Girl" earned oodles of airplay, and the aptly titled "Cool" and the irrepressible "Hollaback Girl" are still in the top half of the Billboard singles chart nearly a year after the launch of the multi-platinum CD. Okay, these songs are a bit silly, but so is a lot of the best pop music, as critics far too often forget. Although Stefani isn't an important artist, she's an entertaining one, and in this case, that's enough. Viva superficiality!

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