Gwen Stefani — still glowing from “The Aviator” ‘s Oscar wins — is turning her attention away from movie cameos and back to promoting her solo album, Love, Angel, Music, Baby. She’s just shot a video for the next single, the B-girlish anthem “Hollaback Girl,” which she calls her “attitude song.”
Like most of the songs on her solo debut, this was a collaboration — but one borne out of a bit of jealousy instead of pure camaraderie. When Stefani originally booked time with Pharrell Williams, it was at the end of the project, when she figured her sessions were mostly over, since she’d already co-written some 20 songs. The pair did two tracks back to back, so she cut short the session and packed her bags. Then he complicated things considerably by calling her back into the studio.
“I was tired. I wanted to go home, but he was like, ‘Don’t leave yet,’ ” she said. “So I come back, and he starts playing me his solo album. If something’s really good, I get really jealous. So I’m like, ‘You are a fricking genius. I can’t believe I’m sitting in here with you right now, and you have these songs. We have to write another song.’ I’m greedy.”
So the two started talking about what she felt like the record might be missing — a tough task, because she already felt like she had too many tracks to begin with, enough to put out two albums. But of all the styles she had dabbled in — from blinged-out R&B to new wave to retro dance — she felt like she didn’t have anything that explained why she was doing this in the first place. “If I’m being honest with myself, I don’t know why,” she revealed. “But I needed something about how the [No Doubt] fans probably are like, ‘Why is she doing this record? She’s going to ruin everything.’ ”
The track won’t exactly alleviate that anxiety, but it does give Stefani a chance to respond to would-be detractors: “Meet me at the bleachers/ No principals, no student teachers … So I’m gonna fight, gonna give it my all, gonna make you fall.” “Hollaback Girl” also borrows the beat from Queen’s “We Will Rock You,” typically used in high school pep rallies and sporting events, and then lyrically references yet another Queen song — “Another One Bites the Dust.”
Keeping with the song’s high-school references, Stefani shot the video for “Hollaback Girl” at a Southern California high school with director Paul Hunter. In one scene, she drives a yellow sports car with her Harajuku girls in tow.
“To me, it was the most fresh attitude song I’ve heard in so long,” Stefani said.
For a full-length feature on Gwen and the recording of her solo album, check out “Gwen Stefani: Scared Solo.”