In looking through some old stuff I found a half finished article I'd written in 2004 which I initially intended to be a song-by-song analysis (much more my style) of the entire Love. Angel. Music. Baby. album. The review tackles some of the more memorable songs on the album but I think the review of the radio hit/summer anthem "Hollaback Girl" is the most accurate of the bunch. I thought it fitting to finally "publish" this critique in the wake of The Sweet Escape's release.
Hollaback Girl - "My Shit is Bananas"
In a song that desperately tries to be the We Will Rock You of this generation, Gwen Stefani excersises her use of the word "shit" as if she'd just learned it. She seems to have a newfound interest in the word as a child who had just learned a new word such as "compromise". A child may walk around saying, "If I took all your cookies and then you had these carrots that would be a good compromise." Indeed, Ms. Stefani exhibits a similar lack of understanding of what the word shit actually means.
I teeter back and forth between respect and embarrassment for lyrics as shabby as "The shit is bananas, B-A-N-A-N-A-S." One of my favorite artists, G. Love, writes lyrics that he himself proclaims as, "so sloppy it's like a different language." However, Gwen Stefani's use of the word shit just conjures up images of bananas and shit which has ruined the fruit (and potentially bowel movements) for me for the rest of my life.
The verses are pretty much lost in the overall craziness of the chorus and brdige. No one cares about her "beating up people under the bleachers" or "how many times she's been around that track" when she's talking about her shitty bananas in the other portions of the song. I can't help but thinking that Gwen Stefani has some sort of terrible intestinal reaction to some bananas she ate.
It's shocking that this song, with its liberal use of the word shit, is such a radio hit. I've heard it roughly every time I've been within fifty feet of a radio since the day the album was released. It's a testament to the power of this song that even with the word shit making up 50% of the lyrics it is still the anthem of a generation and being piped into every mall, store, supermarket and coming out of the headphones of every iPod-carrying person between the age of 10 and 50 that I've sat next to on the subway since last month.
Later on in the song Gwen asks, nay demands, "Let me hear you say, 'The shit is bananas! B-A-N-A-N-A-S!'" How amazing is it that everyone has seemed to respond so enthusiastically? I'd be lying if I claimed that I haven't responded, without a hint of irony, "The shit is bananas! B-A-N-A-N-A-S!" Apparently the rest of America is doing the same. I salute Gwen Stefani's leadership ability to be able to unify an entire planet to do something as stupid as to say, "Yes, my shit is bananas," and then to further that by spelling the word bananas, B-A-N-A-N-A-S.
Lord knows if I'd tried to get anyone to say this a year ago I'd have been smothered and deservedly so.