Gwen Stefani has become a household name in the last decade — first because of her string of hits with the angsty pop band No Doubt and then for her acclaimed solo career, which won her numerous accolades. From “Don’t Speak” (1996) to “Hollaback Girl” (2004) to “The Sweet Escape” (2006), Stefani’s music is “no doubt” infectious and lively. However, it’s been quite a few years since the pop diva has really been in the spotlight, aside from her appearance as a judge on “The Voice” (2011 – present) in 2014.
With the release of her single “Used to Love You” (2015) and its stark music video, Stefani is making her way back into the mainstream music world. Recently, the singer divorced her husband, Gavin Rossdale (a guitarist in the band Bush), which has clearly influenced the songwriting/video-making genius that is her latest single. Shot in one take, the video simply features a close-up of Stefani — looking impossibly gorgeous at 46 years old — while the song plays in the background. Throughout the three minutes and 50 seconds of the song, not much changes in the video. However, Stefani is incredibly emotive. She holds her head in her hands, averting her gaze and mouthing some of the words to the song as her eyes brim with tears.
The subtleties of her performance and the minimalist direction make the video truly beautiful. During certain moments, Stefani’s expression changes from distressed to strong, as the lyrics assert, “You know I was the best thing that ever happened to you / Now look at what you lost,” only to crumble once more into teariness. Particularly poignant is the refrain, which sighs, “I remembered for the first time since I hated you / That I used to love you.”
Despite the importance of the lyrics, the song almost sits in the background of the video, as the focus remains on its visual component. Though it seems crazy and repetitive to have a nearly four-minute long video of someone just looking upset, the technique is remarkably effective. The video perfectly encapsulates the whirlwind of emotions that come with the end of an important relationship — an experience to which many people can relate. And of course, it seems like a very personal creation for Stefani, who is surely dealing with some difficult times.