For this weeks’ edition of Song Saturday, we’ve been inspired by Gwen and Pharrell’s much loved and surprise performance of “Hollaback Girl” during this past weekend’s Coachella Music Festival in Indio, California.
“Hollaback Girl” is still Gwen’s most successful solo single to date. Released on March 15, 2005, the song reached the top 10 all over the world and hit number one in both the US and Australia. “Hollaback Girl” also made history by becoming the first song to reach a million digital downloads. The single also was nominated for several awards including two Grammys in 2006.
During the early writing sessions for Love.Angel.Music.Baby., Gwen had previously met with The Neptunes (Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo) but after several accounts of “writer’s block”, their meetings resulted in “uninspired collaborations”. Once her first solo album was almost finished, Gwen flew out to New York to work with the team once again after regaining more confidence in herself. Within a week, The Neptunes and Gwen cranked out two songs and then Gwen reportedly abruptly left saying she was tired. It’s reported that Pharrell called Gwen back to the studio and played his own solo work to her, making Gwen a little jealous. Inspired by Pharrell’s music, they decided to try working on another song, “Hollaback Girl”.
“Hollaback Girl” was inspired and written in response to Courtney Love referring to Gwen as a “cheerleader” in an interview with Seventeen magazine saying, “Being famous is just like being in high school. But I’m not interested in being the cheerleader. I’m not interested in being Gwen Stefani. She’s the cheerleader, and I’m out in the smoker shed.” Gwen responded in an interview with UK’s NME saying, “You know, someone one time called me a cheerleader, negatively, and I’ve never been a cheerleader. So I was, like, “OK, fuck you. You want me to be a cheerleader? Well, I will be one then. And I’ll rule the whole world, just you watch me.” Gwen reached inside and wanted to write an attitude song regarding her intentions of making a solo record. She also believed that some No Doubt fans would be upset about her making albums on her own.
After the writing and recording process, Gwen called “Hollaback Girl” the most “freshest attitude song [she had] heard in a long time.”
In interviews following the song’s release, Gwen never disclosed what the exact meaning was behind the smash single. Media, critics and fans alike all had their own take on the song.
“Hollaback Girl” debuted at #82 on April 2, 2005 on the Billboard Hot 100 and skyrocketed to #1 six weeks after it’s release, making it the the fastest-rising single to reach the top of the year. It remained at #1 for a month straight and introduced Gwen to huge demographics including urban radio. “Hollaback Girl” also came in at #2 on the year end chart, only coming behind Mariah Carey’s “We Belong Together”.
Not only did the single make history as being the first to sell over a million digital downloads, “Hollaback Girl” also went 5x platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America. Huge!
The music video for “Hollaback Girl”, directed by Paul Hunter, was released on March 21, 2005 and was highly successful. It debuted at #10 on MTV’s TRL and remained on the countdown for fifty days eventually retiring, becoming Gwen’s first solo video to do so. “Hollaback Girl” also won the MTV VMA for Best Choreography.
“Hollaback Girl” is still making waves almost ten years after its’ release debuting on the iTunes charts, mostly due to Gwen and Pharrell’s most recent performance of the song during this year’s Coachella festival in Indio this past weekend. Gwen always gave her all into the song’s live performances and was always a highlight of her tours and television appearances all over the world in the Spring of 2005.
“Hollaback Girl / What You Waiting For?” live in Los Angles (12/11/2004)
“Hollaback Girl” live on The Late Show with David Letterman (3/21/2005)
“Hollaback Girl” live on Good Morning America (3/22/2005)
“Hollaback Girl” live on CD:UK (4/9/2005)
“Hollaback Girl” live on Ellen (5/18/2005)
“Hollaback Girl” live on Jimmy Kimmel Live (5/19/2005)
“Hollaback Girl” live on T4 (5/22/2005)
“Hollaback Girl” live on TRL (5/30/2005)
“Hollaback Girl” live on the Teen Choice Awards (8/14/2005)
“Hollaback Girl” live in Anaheim (Harajuku Lovers Live DVD)
“Hollaback Girl” live in Noblesville (6/2/2007)
“Hollaback Girl” live in Indio (4/12/2014)
And as a bonus, check out two of the deluxe album’s incredible remixes of “Hollaback Girl” including Tony’s amazing “Dancehollaback Remix” of “Hollaback Girl” featuring Elan Atias and Diplo’s “Hellatronix Remix”.
And for fun, check out famous No Doubt cover band No Duh covering “Hollaback Girl” which I filmed while they were tour in Seattle back in 2010!