Saturday, October 31, 2009

"Hollaback Girl" by Gwen Stefani (2005)



I want to like Gwen Stefani. I really really do. I think it's leftover affection from "No Speak", an undeniably excellent song. I do like ska music a lot, but I never really took to No Doubt's overly exuberant take on it. And towards the end of their career as they devolved into claptrap like "Hey Baby" (or decided to cover Talk Talk's "It's My Life" in a version that sounds exactly like the original), I actually thought that the idea of her 'going pop' (like, what was No Doubt exactly?) was a good one. I figured she'd fit the top-40 mould quite well.

But let's make no mistake about it: this is a deeply, deeply annoying song. I don't really even want to call it a song exactly, since it's just a chant, but there's some interesting instrumentation scattered throughout the track. An accident, I'm sure, or at least no fault of Gwen's, who is about as annoying as she's ever been here. The song is based primarily on her shouting "I ain't no hollaback girl" (perhaps hoping we'll care about what that might mean), singing 'it's my shit' or repeatedly spelling the word 'bananas'. I kid you not. This is what Gwen Stefani considered single-worthy (and in fact she was right, as the song was a massive success: must resist urge for misanthropy...).

Apparently this song is, in part, a response to Courtney Love's labelling of Gwen Stefani as a 'cheerleader' (which she very obviously is, as an archetype). I'll certainly not defend Courtney Love, but if someone disses you, and you respond by giving them ample material for the diss... well, either you're a glutton for punishment or you just want to fill swimming pools with money, Unca Scrooge-style.

Well... I guess I can't fault Gwen Stefani that. But when she coos "ooh, it's my shit, it's my shit" over and over again, she's about as honest and observant as she's ever been.

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