Let me add some more to the sorry excuse for an informative write-up above.
This is the greatest CD of all time. In my opinion, of course.
Yes, yes, I am delightfully uncultured, you will love me, yes?
Released in 1995, this was No Doubt's first multiplatinum album. It was their third CD, and their second release with their record label, Interscope. It was also the CD that would bring them to fame and fortune and stadium tours. The singles that brought all that about were "Spiderwebs," "Just a Girl," and "Don't Speak". All have music videos; there are additional videos for "Sunday Morning" (which always reminds me of the Wallace Stephens poem) and "Excuse Me Mr." "Spiderwebs" was the catchy song that people put on their answering machines; "Just a Girl" was the neo-feminist anthem (at concerts, Gwen often starts out the song by asking all the "sweet, innocent, sexy girls in the audience" to please sing along with "Fuck you! I'm just a girl!"); "Don't Speak" was the sad break-up song that I recently, tragically, heard on the local easy-listening station.
Various emotional problems led to the creation of this CD, not to mention five years of hard musical work. The most publicized, and the most inspirational it seems (7 songs on the album-- and these are just the glaringly obvious ones that come right out and say things like "Let's end it on this"-- are about it), is the break-up of Gwen Stefani and Tony Kanal after a seven year relationship that began when he took her, a college student, to his senior prom. Next, Eric Stefani, the keyboardist/chief songwriter, left the band to become an animator for the Simpsons. As a result, Gwen, Tom Dumont, and Tony penned most of the songs. The third problem came after the album was released.
When No Doubt's self-titled first album came out, one reviewer predicted that Gwen would be a star in five years. He was perfectly correct. A year after Tragic Kingdom came out, it started to get popular (due to the release of the singles noted above), and Gwen became a star. Gwenabees the world over dyed their hair blond and sported bindis (I, too, had a bindi). Photographers and interviewers took note of this and began to focus solely on her instead of the whole band; the final straw came when a magazine said that they were running a picture of all four and instead simply put Gwen on the cover.
The band released the video for "Don't Speak" in late 1996. Rather than break up (the title of their fifth album, Rock Steady, refers to how the band's love for each other is "so rock steady"), they used the video to vent; in it, a photographer takes pictures of Gwen alone while the boys stand off to the side.
(On a side note: just a few days ago I read an interview with Gwen that posed as a review of Rock Steady. Why can't they ever focus on the guys?! They're cool too!)
Tragic Kingdom is the culmination of several different styles, and is uniquely No Doubt's own. After the release of the album, they went on a tour across the country, playing to sold out crowds. It would take them four years to make another album, the again multiplatinum Return of Saturn.
(One more side note: after five years of listening to and loving this album, I realized that, in the song "Tragic Kingdom," when Gwen sings, "They pay homage to a king/ whose dreams are buried in their minds/ His tears are frozen stiff/Icicles drip from his eyes" that she's talking about Walt Disney being cryogenically frozen. Wow. I never got that until now...)
2. Excuse Me Mr.
3. Just A Girl
4. Happy Now?
5. Different People
6. Hey You
7. The Climb
9. Sunday Morning
10. Don't Speak
11. You Can Do It
12. World Go 'Round
13. End it on This
14. Tragic Kingdom