Meaning of “Hollaback Girl” by Gwen Stefani

In the song “Hollaback Girl”, singer Gwen Stefani uses the analogy of a cheerleader to describe her status as a leader. This inspiration is believed to have come from the criticism she received from another musician, Courtney Love, who demeaningly referred to her as a “cheerleader”.


Early in the hook, Gwen Stefani defines the stance which governs this track. She does in fact compare herself to a cheerleader but one who is the star of the group, not just an average member.


This sentiment is forcefully repeated in the refrain, as Stefani establishes the fact that she owns this track, as in being in total control.


Now Gwen specifically points out that this song is in response to someone “talking sh*t”. However, this person not only underestimated Stefani but also her preparedness to counterattack. So Gwen lets her know that she is ready to go all out in defending herself, once using the analogies of cheerleading and the other sport that it is mostly associated with, American football.


Stefani then gets more specific, basically inviting her rival to a fist fight where there is just the two of them – no spectators.  She states that they both can’t be on top, as in only one of them can prevail. So Stefani is going to put all of her strength into combating this competitor. And in the end she feels that she will prevail, with her rival just being another in a long list of defeated opponents. This verse is set as if the conflict is a school-based quarrel, thus once again playing into the cheerleader theme, as cheerleading is often practiced in high schools.


“Hollaback girl” is a term associated with cheerleading. But at the same time it can be a challenge to Courtney Love to respond to the track. That said, it can also be a reference to Stefani’s own lack of fear in ‘hollering back’ at Love who initially dissed her.

Lyrics of "Hollaback Girl"

“Hollaback Girl” Music Video

The music video for this tune was directed by noted music video director, Paul Hunter. In the clip, Stefani portrays the character of a cheerleader. The video was nominated for four MTV Video Music Awards in 2005. It ended up winning in the category for the Best Choreography.


Facts about “Hollaback Girl”

  • Gwen Stefani penned “Hollaback Girl” along with Pharrell Williams and noted American record producer Chad Hugo.
  • The production duo, The Neptunes, produced this song. FYI The Neptunes consists of Williams and Hugo. So we guess it is safe to say that they are brains behind this hit single.
  • On March 15, 2015, Interscope records released this song worldwide as a single. It became the third single from Stefani’s debut solo studio album, Angel. Music. Baby.
  • “Hollaback Girl” holds the distinction of being the first song to ever sell a million copies (in legal downloads).
  • Being her most successful solo song till date, Stefani performs this song at almost all her concert tours.
  • On the U.S. Billboard Hot 100, “Hollaback Girl” peaked at number 1. On the U.K. Singles chart, it reached number 8.
  • At the time this song was released, Stefani was 35 years old. However, she was still able to play the role a high school cheerleader in the song’s video.

Does “Hollaback Girl” contain any samples?

Yes. It samples at least two popular songs. The first one is the hit single “Another One Bites the Dust” by Queen. The second is The Notorious B.I.G.’s “Nasty Boy”.

Did “Hollaback Girl” win a Grammy Award?

No. However, at the 48th Grammy Awards in 2006, the song was nominated in the following categories:

  • Best Female Pop Vocal Performance (lost to “Since U Been Gone” by Kelly Clarkson)
  • Record of the Year (lost to “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” by Green Day)

2 Responses

  1. Ward says:

    Coulda fooled me with the meaning cause to me it sounds more like a cheerleader that was an easy [expletive] and known for cu****g before her latest jock thrill

  2. Cj says:

    Yeah, Ward. I think so too. I am not buying the explanation.

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