“Only 16?” As if, Gwen. I was only eight when I first tuned into MTV’s Top 10 Countdown to watch the “Just a Girl” video, pulling the bottom of my t-shirt through the neck hole and sporting a hand-drawn dot in the center of my forehead.
Sure, she was just a girl. A platinum blonde girl with a deep, sexy voice and a group of four guys backing her up. It didn’t matter that one of them was her brother or that all the rest were skinny kids from the Valley in mismatched collared shirts and tube socks.
What mattered in Tragic Kingdom was the perfect mixture of ska and power ballad, horn sections and deep vibrato vocals, an inclusive pop style with a touch of classic punk. It was everything a pre-teen suburbanite dancing in front of the television could hope for.