NBC Insider Exclusive

Create a free profile to get unlimited access to exclusive show news, updates, and more!

Sign Up For Free to View
NBC Insider The Voice

Here's What Gwen Stefani's Song "Hollaback Girl" Is Really About

The meaning behind the lyrics is B-A-N-A-N-A-S.

By Elizabeth Logan

The Voice Coach Gwen Stefani's 2005 single "Hollaback Girl" is one of the catchiest earworms of the 21st century. Put it on at any gathering, and you'll have an instant karaoke situation on your hands. But even 20 years after its release, most people aren't sure what a "hollaback girl" is, or why Stefani isn't one. Here's the meaning behind the lyrics.

Gwen Stefani's"Hollaback Girl" lyrics meaning

How to Watch

Watch The Voice Mondays and Tuesdays at 8/7c on NBC and next day on Peacock. 

"Basically [a 'hollaback girl' is] someone who is going to be, like, going back at somebody that’s coming at them. In a bad way or a good way," Stefani explained in a video for Brut. In the context of the song, Stefani said, "I wouldn’t be that person. I’m above that kind of thing."

Over the years, the term has been interpreted many ways, from someone who will fight back with words but not actions to someone who responds to catcalls, to...something Naomi Campbell once said!

Gwen Stefani on the voice season 24 episode 13

In the context of the song, Stefani has heard that someone was saying rude things about her and wants to finally duke it out instead of exchanging insults. "That's right dude, meet me at the bleachers / No principals, no student teachers," she sings, adding, "Both of us wanna be the winner / But there can only be one."

RELATED: Why a "Confused" 29-Year-Old Gwen Stefani Had Braces and Dyed Her Hair Pink

Why Gwen Stefani is a cheerleader in "Hollaback Girl"

The cheerleader motif, in both the lyrics and the music video, stemmed from a comment Stefani heard that negatively compared her to a cheerleader. But Stefani had no problem with cheerleaders, so she decided to embrace the idea. "I kind of threw that back in their face," she told Brut.

How Gwen Stefani and Pharrell Williams wrote "Hollaback Girl"

AfterThe Voice alum Pharrell Williams wrote a song that Stefani took to her band No Doubt, she was eager to work with him again on her solo debut.

"When Pharrell and I wrote 'Hollaback Girl,' we’d been in the studio a lot at that point, and I knew what song I wanted to write. I knew lyrically what I wanted to write," Stefani told NBC (watch above). "[Pharrell] just goes, 'Oh, you mean like this,' and he went over and played this beat on his keyboard. This little tiny keyboard. I was so mad, I was like 'Wait, this whole time, you had that in there and you didn’t play that for me?'"

With the lyrical ideas and beat in place, Stefani explained, "We wrote the song pretty quickly. He kinda came [up] with the chorus and then he left...He came back and helped me finish things up, and I remember both of us looking at each other and going, 'OK, wait a minute.' We literally called everyone. We got the champagne. We couldn’t have been more excited about it." They knew they had a hit on their hands, and they were right.

RELATED: Gwen Stefani Reveals Why Having Her Youngest Son, Apollo, Was "a True Miracle"

And as for the spelling? That's just fun, especially for Stefani, who is a self-described bad speller who deals with dyslexia. "I couldn’t spell to save my life so I think it’s kind of funny that I taught the world to spell 'bananas.'"