A "hollaback girl" is one of the lesser cheerleaders who yells in the background. Gwen Stefani is asserting that she is the queen bee on this squad, leading the cheers with the hollaback girls in her service. She was 35 years old when the song was released, but had no trouble playing a high school cheerleader in the video.
Marching band instruments like trombones, saxophones and clarinets were used on this track, which ties in with the cheerleader theme. It's the only #1 hit with a prominent tuba ("The Tears of a Clown
" uses a bassoon).
Stefani (from Rolling Stone, June 16, 2005): "I did the whole record, but I knew I didn't have my attitude song - my 'this is my history, f--k you because you can't erase it' song. I knew I wanted a song like that."
Stefani got the idea for the cheerleader theme when she recalled a comment Courtney Love said about her in an issue of Seventeen magazine: "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."
Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo produced this track and wrote the song with Stefani. At the time, Williams and Hugo were active in their band N.E.R.D and produced under the moniker The Neptunes. Their energetic hip-hop beats fueled tracks by Britney Spears ("I'm A Slave 4 U
"), Nelly ("Hot In Herre
") and many others.
Stefani sneaks in a profanity partway through the song, saying, "This s--t's bananas," before spelling out the word "bananas" multiple times. She masks the full forbidden word every time, but it's clearly what she's saying.
On the cover of the single is written, "This s#!@'s bananas." This part of the song was very popular with listeners, but it drew an adverse reaction from some critics. Jason Damas of PopMatters, for instance, wrote, "Lyrically, this is where Gwen sinks the lowest here, especially on a breakdown where she repeats 'This s--t is bananas/ B-A-N-A-N-A-S!' several times. It's such a ridiculously stupid song laid over an adventurous Timbaland-like beat that it winds up being tons of fun, but it's the point where an awful lot of No Doubt fans might start getting worried."
This was the first song to sell one million legal downloads. It was also the first single to sell more digital downloads than CDs.
On the Family Guy
episode "Deep Throats," Brian watches a VH1 special on Gwen Stefani and says, "I don't know what a Hollaback Girl is, but I want her dead."
Joe - Chicago, IL
At the beginning of the video, Stefani says, "Get in really close. Aww, super kawaii" as she takes a picture of her backup dancers. "Kawaii" is a Japanese word for "cute." Stefani is a big fan of alternative Japanese popular culture, especially of the crazily dressed teenage girls from the area near Harajuku station in Tokyo.
Bertrand - Paris, France
Sebastian Bach of Skid Row played Gil, a guitarist in the fictional band Hep Alien, on the TV series Gilmore Girls. In the 2006 episode "Bridesmaids Revisited," he plays this song at a Bar Mitzvah.