EXCLUSIVE: First Listen to Gwen Stefani’s “Shine” (Featuring Pharrell)

It’s no secret that Gwen’s 2014 comeback after seven long years had a lukewarm reaction. The first cut from her forthcoming (and as-yet untitled) third studio album, “Baby Don’t Lie” was perfectly inoffensive but failed to make any real impact critically or commercially; “Spark The Fire” seemed to either be dismissed as total trash or labeled simply uninteresting depending on who you spoke to.

“Shine” seems more certain to impress, with what can be gathered from the LQ version we obtained this morning. The horn/string combo on the track feels current without feeling pandering which seemed to be the main criticism lobbied at the emoji-ode, “Spark The Fire.” The melody is cute and the lyrics nicely reference the film itself without being totally obscure. Pharrell is Pharrell, he pops along at the end, offers some inspirational platitudes and then incessantly shouts ‘hey!’ throughout the chorus (your guess is as good as mine.) Actually, my main criticism is probably those very same ‘hey!’s – I didn’t notice them on first spin, but they’re the kind of background irritation that are impossible to ignore once you do pick them up.

Nonetheless, it’s a catchy tune which feels much more like vintage Stefani than anything we’ve seen so far this era. Also, the massive success of the film will hopefully garner some publicity – “Paddington” not only absolutely destroyed the box-office on opening weekend in the UK (it has yet to be premiered over the pond) but opened to rave reviews from critics. Maybe some of this magic will rub off on Gwenny-Gwen Gwen.

What do y’all think? Remember, you heard it here first, people.