Meet the Writers Behind “Hollaback Girl” by Gwen Stefani

Gwen Stefani, Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo are the powerhouse team of songwriters behind one of the most well-known bops of mid-2000s pop music. Stefani grabbed people’s attention with this foot-stomping smash that’s become one of her signature hits.

Videos by American Songwriter

Stefani arguably taught an entire generation how to properly spell the word “bananas” when she famously chants this shit is bananas / b-a-n-a-n-a-s. Below, we look at the team who wrote “Hollaback Girl.”

Writers Behind the Song

By the time “Hollaback Girl” was released in 2005, Stefani had already built a reputation as the lead singer and principal songwriter for the rock band No Doubt. The group was known for hits “Hey Baby,” “Underneath it All” and “It’s My Life,” among others. After five albums with No Doubt, she then launched a solo career with her debut album, Love. Angel. Music. Baby., co-writing all 12 tracks, including the third single “Hollaback Girl.” Stefani also saw solo success with hits “Rich Girl,” “Cool,” “The Sweet Escape” and others.

Stefani has released four studio albums thus far, the latest being her 2017 holiday album, You Make it Feel Like Christmas. Her career rose to new heights as a coach on The Voice, where she’s filled the role for six seasons thus far. It’s also where she met her now-husband, country star Blake Shelton, whom she wed in July 2021.

The Neptunes

As for her collaborators, Williams and Hugo are known as the songwriting and producing duo the Neptunes. They formed in 1992 in their native Virginia and are behind hits by several other megastars including Britney Spears, Beyonce, Justin Timberlake, Nelly and Snoop Dogg. They’re the men responsible for some of the hottest tracks to come out of the 2000s like Snoop Dogg’s signature hit, “Drop it Like It’s Hot,” which they co-wrote and produced, “I’m a Slave 4 U” and “Boys” by Spears, Nelly’s smash hit “Hot in Herre,” Timberlake’s “Rock Your Body,” Ludacris’ “Moneymaker” and countless others. The duo has also won several Grammy Awards, including Producer of the Year, Non-Classical at the 2004 ceremony.

Williams isn’t just a mastermind behind the board, he’s also built an empire as a solo artist. Beginning with his 2003 debut single, “Frontin'” featuring Jay-Z, he had a hit on his hands when it topped the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart and reached No. 5 on the Billboard Hot 100. He’s released two studio albums, In My Mind in 2006 and Girl in 2014, the latter of which features his global hit “Happy,” as heard on the soundtrack of Despicable Me 2. The song appeared on multiple charts across the world with Williams scoring his first No. 1 on the Hot 100.

Williams is set to release his new album, Phriends, Vol. 1, in 2023, which includes “Cash In Cash Out” featuring 21 Savage and Tyler, the Creator. He’s also known for his wildly popular collaborations with Daft Punk on “Get Lucky” and Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines.”

The Neptunes are so outstanding in their field that they were inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2020 and received honorary doctorates from Berklee College of Music.

“It’s always just been gratifying to see people enjoy the music when it’s played out loud and you’re cultivating moments or opportunities for moments to share,” Hugo told the Associated Press in 2022. “When music is playing out, it’s a sound. And if we can share that understanding with what we hear, then hopefully we’ll be able to understand each other’s soul and our intents in this world.”

Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for The Met Museum/Vogue

Leave a Reply

The 30 Best J. Cole Quotes