I’m not a big fan of Gwen Stefani. I liked No Doubt before Return of Saturn, and I must admit that Gwen’s amazing ability to stay relevant despite the daily entry of new tarts into the American musical scene is something truly worth praising.

With the upcoming release of The Sweet Escape, which drops on December 5, 2006, I have gained newfound respect for Ms Stefani. How?

Listen to Wind It Up on Gwen’s official website. It samples – are you ready for this? – The Lonely Goatherd from The Sound of Music! As in, the song starts with Julie Andrew’s crystalline voice singing, “High on the hill is a lonely goatherd,” complete with yodel!

I love how today’s artists like going back to some of the real old-school music I grew up listening to. At 29 going on 30, I already feel ancient listening to some of the music today, so getting a good sample from some of the old-school music gives me some kind of cheap thrill, thinking maybe I’m not completely irrelevant. Akon’s Lonely (samples Bobby Vinton’s Mr. Lonely) and Jay-Z’s Hard-Knock Life (samples It’s a Hard-Knock Life from the OST of Annie) among them, I think Wind It Up is absolutely brilliant.

This, of course, adds to Gwen Stefani’s genius. The woman takes whatever she wants to and makes it cool. Haven’t seen Janet, Madonna, even Mariah, do that lately. It’s really inspiring to see someone marching to her own drum, and having America appreciate it. I hope Wind It Up does spectacularly.