The Meaning of Gwen Stefani’s “Hollaback Girl”
Gwen Stefani’s earworm smash hit “Hollaback Girl” was released in early 2005 as the third single from her album Love. Angel. Music.
It quickly rose to the top of the charts all over the place, enjoying a short stint as the most popular song in the world, and has maintained a nostalgic popularity at clubs and dance parties ever since.
The lyrics, which Stefani sings like a cheerleader, are about confronting those who challenge or bad mouth you, rather than hiding behind cheap words.
The cheerleading theme encompasses the entire song, with the title phrase “Hollaback Girl” even being a reference to the sport.
In cheerleading, the cheer captain often shouts a cheer and the rest of the team repeats it back louder.
In this way, Gwen Stefani is saying that she is the leader, as she isn’t just going to “hollaback”, she’s going to fight. She’s done that before, and she isn’t going to do it like that again.
A few times I’ve been around that trackFirst verse to “Hollaback Girl” by Gwen Stefani.
So it’s not just gonna happen like that
‘Cause I ain’t no hollaback girl
I ain’t no hollaback girl
As for Stefani’s inspiration for the song, “Hollaback Girl” was actually created in response to a beef she had with Courtney Love (widow of the late Kurt Cobain).
Their beef has been ongoing since 2004, when Love threw some shade at Stefani during an interview with Seventeen:
“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. And plenty of you are out there in the smoker shed too. When it comes to rock ‘n’ roll, it’s just like high school.”Courtney Love dissing Gwen Stefani in 2004.
Apparently, Stefani was not pleased to hear that Love had called her a cheerleader: “Y’know someone one time called me a cheerleader, negatively, and I’ve never been a cheerleader,” Stefani tells NME in March 2005. “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.’”
Stefani truly did rule the world with the release of “Hollaback Girl”, taking Love’s cheerleader comments and turning them straight on their heads.
However, while the song was insanely popular, not everybody was able to enjoy it.
For many fans of Gwen Stefani’s former band No Doubt, which produced hits like “Don’t Speak” and “Just A Girl”, and even had a close relationship with Sublime, the mindless pop sensation of “Hollaback Girl” represented a new low.
The lyrics that get the most criticism are the repeated “this shit is bananas, B-A-N-A-N-A-S”, which also happens to be the most infectiously catchy part of the song.
Here Stefani seems to refer to the beat as “bananas”, a commonly used slang term to say that something is crazy.
Those who were growing up at the time of this song’s initial surge in popularity may even recall using the catchy phrase from the song as a way to remember how to spell “bananas” — “B-A-N-A-N-A-S”.
“Hollaback Girl” was released along with a music video that further ties in this cheerleading theme. Needless to say this video was all over MTV and VH1 back in the day.
Watch it below.