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4 in the Morning

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"4 in the Morning"
4 In The Morning.png
Single by Gwen Stefani
from the album The Sweet Escape
Released May 8, 2007 (2007-05-08)
Format
Recorded 2006
Studio
Genre Synthpop
Length 4:51
Label Interscope
Songwriter(s)
Producer(s)
Gwen Stefani singles chronology
"The Sweet Escape"
(2006)
"4 in the Morning"
(2007)
"Now That You Got It"
(2007)

"4 in the Morning" is a song by American singer Gwen Stefani from her second studio album, The Sweet Escape (2006). It was written by Stefani and co-written and produced by Tony Kanal, with additional production by Mark "Spike" Stent. Interscope Records serviced the song to US contemporary hit radio on May 8, 2007, as the album's third single; elsewhere it was released in June 2007. Described as one of her favorite songs on the album, Stefani began writing the song while pregnant and finished with Kanal, drawing inspiration from Roberta Flack and Billy Idol.

A 1980s-inspired midtempo synthpop ballad, "4 in the Morning" features a light keyboard during its intro through its break, a guitar, synthetic strings and a slick sheen. Lyrically, the song talks about a relationship on the edge, with the protagonist trying to save her love. The song received generally positive reviews from music critics, who noted it as an improvement over her last singles, while praising its tempo and highlighting her vocals.

The track failed to replicate the commercial success of previous singles in the United States, peaking at number 54 on the Billboard Hot 100. It was moderately successful elsewhere, reaching the top 10 in Australia and New Zealand, and the top 20 in several European countries. Its accompanying music video was directed by Stefani's longtime collaborator Sophie Muller and features the singer lying in bed and walking around her apartment while performing the song in a melancholic mood. The song was performed during The Sweet Escape Tour and in some concerts Stefani made during 2015.

Background and writing[edit]

Stefani began working with No Doubt bassist Tony Kanal for her second solo album just after finishing the Harajuku Lovers Tour in late 2005, referring to him as her "comfort zone". They two wrote "4 in the Morning" based on a tape of melodies left from working on Stefani's debut album Love. Angel. Music. Baby. (2004). In a webisode detailing the recording process of the album, Stefani stated that she was inspired by ballads such as Roberta Flack's "Killing Me Softly with His Song" and Billy Idol's "Eyes Without a Face", as she wanted a "nice ballad" on the record.[1] It was one of the last songs recorded for the album, with Stefani citing it as one of her favorite songs on The Sweet Escape,[1] because it "brings pleasure to [her] ears."[2] The song was serviced to US contemporary hit radio on May 8, 2007 as the album's third single.[3] A CD single, containing the album version, two remixes and its music video, was released elsewhere from June 22, 2007.[4]

"4 in the Morning" was written by Stefani and Kanal, who was also responsible for its production, while Mark "Spike" Stent provided additional production.[5] Described as a 1980s-inspired midtempo synthpop ballad,[6][7] the track's instrumentation includes a "light" keyboard, which "runs tie the song together from intro through break", a guitar, synthetic strings and a slick sheen.[8] "4 in the Morning" has a midtempo beat, which according to some critics is "perfect for a slow dance".[9][10] Stefani's vocals throughout the song's chorus presents a "fast-talking" approach.[7] Lyrically, "4 in the Morning" talks about transparency in a romantic relationship,[11] with the protagonist pleading for a lover to make up his mind.[12] Bill Lamb of About.com added that the song also deals with a relationship on the edge,[9] which can be seen in the lines: "I'm lying here in the dark, I'm watching you sleep, it hurts a lot."[13] In the chorus, she sings: "I give you everything that I am/I'm handing over everything that I've got/'cause I wanna have a really true love."[10]

Critical reception[edit]

Many critics noted that the song was influenced by Madonna's early tracks

"4 in the Morning" was generally well received by music critics. Stephen Thomas Erlewine of AllMusic called it "coolly sensual", noting that "those celebrations of cool synths and stylish pop hooks that work the best for Stefani."[14] Billboard editor Chuck Taylor called it "a melodic retro ballad that could have come from 1983's Flashdance soundtrack", praising the track for "pay[ing] homage to a time when hooks were more meaningful than aligning with hostage-taking producers."[7] Gary Graff of the same publication wrote that "Stefani's Madonna reverence remains intact" on the song,[15] with Washington Post 's J. Freedom du Lac agreeing, noting a "Madonnaism" on the track.[13] Amanda Murray of Sputnikmusic also thought that the song "recalls a 'Crazy for You'-era Madonna", also noting that it is "pure Stefani—and understandably, [it's] far superior to any of her attempts at mimicking other artists."[16] Norman Mayers of Prefix Magazine wrote that the song "soar[s] thanks to Stefani's girlish vocals and brilliant hook that reference iconic moments from Madonna and Tears for Fears."[17] Bianca Gracie of Idolator called it "a breezy yet emotive '80s-ballad that highlights her tender vocals."[12] Alex Miller of NME described the song as "an expertly conceived tear-jerker", stating that "[i]t feels like the kind of song a teenage Stefani, miming along to Talk Talk, would have dreamt of singing one day."[18]

Bill Lamb from About.com cited "4 in the Morning" as the best song from The Sweet Escape, calling it "beautifully performed and produced" and noting that Stefani "allows her signature vocals to sensually float and glide through the lyrical content."[9] Similarly, a reviewer for CBBC enjoyed that the song is "a melancholy and reflective ballad about relationships, which is a breath of fresh air for Gwen", praising its "catchy melody and woeful lyrics."[10] Nick Levine of Digital Spy compared it to Robert Palmer's "Addicted to Love", writing that "it confirms what is rapidly becoming a universal truth: Gwen Stefani is far more likeable when she channels her new wave roots than when she tries to mould herself into a ghetto fabulous urban hipshaker."[6] Sal Cinquemani of Slant Magazine praised Kanal's production for making the song "less forced and much less self-conscious."[19] Quentin B. Huff of PopMatters referred to it as one of the "few real compositions" from the album.[20] John Murphy of musicOMH agreed, writing that "she sounds great" on "the lovelorn ballad."[21] Pitchfork's Mark Pytlik, however, disapproved of the song, commenting that it destroyed "the mallpop cred that Stefani accrued with L.A.M.B.'s impeccable 'Cool'."[22] Spence D. of IGN was also critical with the song, calling it "the most generic, mainstream, and blasé-blah pop song on the entire album."[8]

Commercial performance[edit]

Stefani performing "4 in the Morning" during The Sweet Escape Tour

In the United States, "4 in the Morning" debuted at number 76 on the US Billboard Hot 100 for the week of June 9, 2007,[23] before peaking at number 54 on the issue dated August 4,[24] becoming Stefani's lowest-peaking solo single on the chart at the time and her first to miss the top 50.[25] It was somewhat more successful in the mainstream market, reaching number 30 on the Pop 100 chart and the top 20 of the Mainstream Top 40 and Pop 100 Airplay charts.[25] The song was successful at the clubs and reached number two on the Hot Dance Club Play.[25] The single fared better on the Canadian Hot 100, where it peaked at number 17,[26] but was more successful outside of North America. In Australia, the song debuted and peaked at number nine on the ARIA Singles Chart,[27] meanwhile it debuted at number 36 and three weeks later it peaked at number five on the New Zealand Singles Chart.[28] It became the album's third top-10 single in both countries.[27][28]

In the United Kingdom, the song peaked at number 22 on the UK Singles Chart and remained on the chart for 10 weeks.[29] It fared better in the rest of Europe, reaching the top five in Romania, the top 10 in Finland, and the top 20 in Austria, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Slovakia, and Switzerland.[30][31][32][33] In France, the song managed to reach number 21, her first solo single to miss the top 20 since "Cool", which peaked 11 places lower.[34]

Music video[edit]

The music video was directed by Sophie Muller and features a tearful and distraught Stefani, lying in bed as she begins to sing to the camera. In a white inside-out L.A.M.B. T-shirt, she wanders around her apartment lost and questioning her lover, who is in fact absent from the video. The lyrics describe an argument, which she has with an off-screen lover throughout the video.[35] After lying around her apartment and crying during a bath, she leaves her house at night and travels in a car, as she sits tearfully in the back. The video ends with Stefani rolling on the bed.

"4 in the Morning" was given a "First Look" on MTV's Total Request Live on April 26, 2007,[36] and peaked at number seven on May 9.[37] On MuchMusic's Countdown, it became Stefani's second lowest-charting video (next to "Early Winter", which peaked at number 23) since 2005's "Luxurious", peaking at number seven for two consecutive weeks after a slow ascent.[38]

Track listings[edit]

  1. "4 in the Morning" (Album Version) – 4:51
  2. "4 in the Morning" (Thin White Duke Edit) – 4:55
  • Australian and German CD maxi single[40][41]
  1. "4 in the Morning" (Album Version) – 4:51
  2. "4 in the Morning" (Thin White Duke Edit) – 4:55
  3. "4 in the Morning" (Oscar the Punk Remix) – 5:41
  4. "4 in the Morning" (video) – 4:24

Credits and personnel[edit]

Credits adapted from the liner notes of The Sweet Escape[5]

Charts[edit]

Release history[edit]

Region Date Format Label Ref.
United States May 8, 2007 Contemporary hit radio Interscope [3]
Germany June 22, 2007 Universal [4][41][70]
Australia June 23, 2007
  • CD maxi single
  • digital download
[40]
United Kingdom June 25, 2007
  • CD single
  • digital download
Polydor [39][71]

References[edit]

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External links[edit]