Girls

Album: Licensed to Ill (1986)
Charted: 34

Songfacts®:

  • This song finds Adam "Ad-Rock" Horovitz rapping about his desire for women over a drum beat and a vibrophone loop, with occasional pauses. He wrote the track with producer Rick Rubin on the train to Washington, DC. Rubin recalled to Newsweek in a 2013 interview: "We started with the idea of what the song would be. It was rooted in the Isley Brothers' 'Shout.' What would a rap version of 'Shout' sound like? And if you listen to it now, you'll see it's really similar."
  • Listening to this track from the trio's first album, you probably wouldn't have pegged them for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but the Beastie's had a plan all along. "Girls" is so outrageous in its misogyny that it is clearly satire, and while no reasonable listeners thought the rappers really expected girls to hang around doing their dishes and laundry, the group's breakout hit, "(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (to Party)," led many to believe that they were mindless frat boys. Those who were in on the joke understood that the Beastie Boys told over-the-top stories in their songs, sometimes with references to White Castle.
  • Kesha did a female version titled "Boys" using an electronic form of the same beat.
  • We were wondering when someone would have the chutzpah to use this song to promote a product or event for women. It finally happened in 2013 when a toy company called GoldieBlox used it in an elaborate online commercial making the point that not all girls want to be princesses, and that some aspire to be scientists and engineers (with the aid of their toys, of course). In the commercial, the song is sung by young girls with the lyrics changed to be about their empowerment and disdain for all things pink.

    After the commercial went viral, it was revealed that GoldieBlox didn't get permission to use the song. The toymaker claimed they were entitled to use the song because their version was a parody, but the Beastie Boys disagreed, stating in their lawsuit: "Unfortunately, rather than developing an original advertising campaign to inspire its customers to create and innovate, GoldieBlox has instead developed an advertising campaign that condones and encourages stealing from others."

    The group doesn't allow their songs to be used for advertising, and their member Adam Yauch, who died in 2012, even requested in his will that they not alter this policy.

    On March 19, 2014, a settlement was reached in the case, which included a public apology by GoldieBlox and a donation to charity.

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