Rich Girl (Gwen Stefani song)

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"Rich Girl"
Single by Gwen Stefani featuring Eve
from the album Love. Angel. Music. Baby.
Released December 14, 2004 (2004-12-14)
Format
Recorded
Genre
Length 3:56
Label Interscope
Writer(s)
Producer(s) Dr. Dre
Gwen Stefani singles chronology
"What You Waiting For?"
(2004)
"Rich Girl"
(2004)
"Hollaback Girl"
(2005)
Eve chronology
"Not Today"
(2003)
"Rich Girl"
(2004)
"Like This"
(2007)

"Rich Girl" is a song by American recording artist Gwen Stefani from her debut solo album, Love. Angel. Music. Baby. (2004). Produced by Dr. Dre, the track features rapper Eve, and is a remake of Louchie Lou & Michie One's 1993 song of the same name, which was in turn an adaptation of the Fiddler on the Roof song "If I Were a Rich Man". Stefani says the song discusses her dreams of fame and riches from the perspective of "when she was just an Orange County girl".1

The last song to be included on the album,2 "Rich Girl" was released as the album's second single in late 2004 to mixed reviews from music critics. It was a commercial success, reaching the top ten on most of the charts it entered. In the United States, "Rich Girl" was certified gold, and it received a nomination for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration at the 2006 Grammy Awards.

Writing process

Stefani and Eve had previously collaborated on the 2001 single "Let Me Blow Ya Mind". When Stefani first began recording solo material, Eve expressed interest in working with Stefani again, saying, "She's fly, she's tight and she is talented. It's going to be hot regardless."3 The two decided to work together again after talking in Stefani's laundry room during a party.2 After Stefani had co-written more than twenty songs for her solo debut, she approached Dr. Dre, who had produced for her twice before.4 Dre had produced "Let Me Blow Ya Mind" as well as "Wicked Day", a track that was excluded from No Doubt's 2001 album Rock Steady.5

The song is a ragga adaptation of "If I Were a Rich Man".

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After playing some of the songs on which she had been working, Dr. Dre told her, "You don't want to go back there." Instead of using one of the tracks, Dr. Dre instead suggested using English reggae duo Louchie Lou & Michie One's 1993 song "Rich Girl", which itself interpolated "If I Were a Rich Man" from the 1964 musical Fiddler on the Roof.4 Stefani and Eve helped each other with their parts, but when they presented Dr. Dre with the demo, he told them to rewrite the song,4 suggesting that Stefani play a character in the song.2

Since she had not seen the musical since she was a child, Stefani went to Broadway to better understand the theme that "even if you're poor and you have love, you're rich."2 The idea which became the final version came to Stefani while brainstorming on her treadmill.4 She commented that the troubles in writing the song came because "Dre was really pushing me to write in a new way", but when she presented him with the song, "he just totally tricked the track out."6

Music and structure

The chorus, which indirectly draws from "If I Were a Rich Man", is backed by a repeating C-G dyad.

"Rich Girl" is a ragga song composed in the key of C minor. It is written in common time and moves at a moderate 100 beats per minute.7 The beat is accompanied by an alternating perfect fifth dyad and an accented piano trichord.78 The song is written in verse–chorus form,7 and its instrumentation includes the electronic keyboard, guitar, and keyboard bass.9 Stefani's voice ranges from G3 to E5.10

The introduction consists of the repeated use of the word na. Stefani reaches her highest note of the song, E5, as part of a trichord and her lowest, G3, during this section.7 After the first chorus, Stefani discusses dreams of wealth and luxury,11 and she namechecks fashion designers Vivienne Westwood and John Galliano. Stefani commented that the references were not product placement but that she included them "because I think they're rad and want to talk about them. [...] I'd give all my money to [Westwood] and buy all her clothes!"12 A bridge, in which Stefani's voice is overdubbed, precedes the second chorus. During the second verse Stefani discusses her Harajuku Girls, and she then repeats the bridge. Following Eve's rap, Stefani sings the chorus and closes the song with a coda, which, like the introduction, consists of repeating the word na.7

Critical reception

"Rich Girl" received mixed reviews from music critics. Richard Smirke of Playlouder said that it brought "a much-needed element of diversity" to L.A.M.B. and called it a "potential hit single".13 Krissi Murison of the NME, however, described it as "playground chant featuring a tough-girl ragga cameo from Eve."14 John Murphy from musicOMH gave it an overall positive review, calling it "a great fun song, and far superior to some of the dross that comes out these days", but also commented that it did not live up to "Let Me Blow Ya Mind" and found the references to the Harajuku Girls "slightly creepy."15 Lisa Haines of BBC Music referred to the song as "disco gold, impossibly girly and very easy to dance to."16 The song drew comparisons to the No Doubt album Rock Steady,17 and Charles Merwin of Stylus Magazine described it as "a lite version of 'Hey Baby.'"18

"I could tell I had ruffled Gwen's feathers when we spoke before the disc came out. It was the first time I took her to task for disingenuousness—for being ungodly rich yet still singing, 'If I were a rich girl....'

'What do you mean by that?' she snapped. I said the song could be seen as absurd, even untrue. She explained its lyrics were about when she was just an Orange County girl—ah, that troubling phrase!—dreaming of such wealth."

Several reviewers found it ironic that Stefani, who had already sold 26 million records with No Doubt,19 discussed having money in the counterfactual conditional. John Murphy from musicOMH found it "rather strange" for Stefani to sing the song while living off of royalties from No Doubt and her husband, post-grunge musician Gavin Rossdale.20 Anthony Carew from Neumu called the lyrics "insipid" and noted that "the incredibly wealthy pop-starlet wonders what it'd be like to be, uh, incredibly wealthy".21 The Orange County Register writer Ben Wener told Stefani that the song was disingenuous and "absurd", to which Stefani responded that the point of view was from before she was famous.1 Stefani later refused to issue credentials to the newspaper1 after Wener wrote that "while posting a reported US$90 million via her clothing lines [...] she's no more 'just an Orange County girl' than Best Buy is just a shack that sells Commodore 64s" in response to a track titled "Orange County Girl" from Stefani's second album The Sweet Escape.22

The interpolation of "If I Were a Rich Man" drew mixed reviews. Jason Damas, writing for PopMatters, argued that the track "turns it into an anthem of urban bling-lust" and that its "simple pounding piano chord makes for great percussive backing."8 Nick Sylvester from Pitchfork Media found the song corny, classifying it as "Eve- and Dre- and Tevye-powered camp-hop."23 The Villager's Winnie MCCroy found the interpolation "innovative" and noted the song's take on "the current style of shout-out rap songs."24 David Browne of Entertainment Weekly disagreed, stating that the interpolation was used awkwardly,11 and Rob Sheffield of Rolling Stone called the interpolation a goof.25 Jason Shawhan from About.com called the track "a dancehall/classic house teardown of 'If I Were a Rich Man'" and added, "If this is what Jay-Z's fudging with Annie has wrought, I say, be glad of it."26

Commercial performance

Stefani (far left) performing "Rich Girl" during the Harajuku Lovers Tour.

"Rich Girl" performed well in North America. The single debuted at number seventy-four on the Billboard Hot 100 on December 25, 200427 and reached a peak position ten weeks later at number seven, remaining on the chart for over six months.28 The song did well on pop-oriented charts, reaching number three on the Pop 100, number four on the Mainstream Top 40, and number sixteen on the Adult Top 40.29 The single had little crossover success on the urban charts, only reaching number twenty-seven on the Rhythmic Top 40 and number seventy-eight on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs.29 "Rich Girl" was helped on the Hot 100 and Pop 100 charts by its strong digital downloads, peaking at number two on the Hot Digital Songs.29 Due to its high number of digital downloads, the song was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America.30 On the 2005 year-end chart, the single was listed at number thirty-one,31 and at the 2006 Grammy Awards, the song was nominated for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration but lost to Jay-Z and Linkin Park's "Numb/Encore".32 The single was less successful in Canada, where it debuted at number twenty-eight and reached a peak of number twelve for two non-consecutive weeks.33

Performances of "Rich Girl" during The Sweet Escape Tour featured Stefani and the Harajuku Girls, wearing bat capes, breaking into a safe.34

Across Europe, "Rich Girl" was largely successful, reaching number two on the European Hot 100 Singles.35 It reached the top five in Belgium, Denmark, France, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, and Sweden and the top ten in Austria, Finland, Italy, and Switzerland.36 The song also charted highly in the United Kingdom, debuting at number four on March 20, 2005 ― for the week ending date March 26, 2005.37 The track was unable to reach a higher position and remained on the chart for twelve weeks.37

Elsewhere, "Rich Girl" peaked within the top twenty on the majority of the charts it entered. In Australia, it debuted February 27, 2005, at number two under Nelly's "Over and Over" featuring Tim McGraw.38 It was unable to reach number one and dropped off the chart after thirteen weeks.38 The single appeared at number twenty-six on the ARIA year-end chart,39 and was certified platinum for sales in excess of 70,000 copies.40

Music video

Stefani, flanked by her Harajuku Girls, dancing in the treasure trove from the music video.

The music video for "Rich Girl" was directed by David LaChapelle and features a pirate theme. The video, inspired by an early '80s Vivienne Westwood advertising campaign, opens with four Japanese schoolgirls playing with a toy pirate ship and two Bratz dolls of Stefani and Eve, while the girls discuss what they would do if they were a "rich girl". The video features several sequences. Stefani is first shown below the deck of a pirate ship, dancing on a table and singing to the song. She is surrounded by pirates and wenches and is soon joined by Eve, wearing an eyepatch. In the surreal style of LaChapelle, the pirate crew has distorted features, and a leaked casting call commented, "I need the freaks on this one."41 Above deck Stefani, the Harajuku Girls, Eve, and more pirates dance on the deck and rigging. Stefani is also seen dancing with the Harajuku Girls in a treasure trove, often carrying a sword, and swinging from an anchor. When the girls dunk the toy ship in a fish tank, the galleon engages in cannon fire, causing Stefani and the pirates to fall all over the ship, and Stefani and the Harajuku Girls are soon shipwrecked.

The music video was a success on video channels. The video debuted at number nine on MTV's Total Request Live on December 13, 2004.42 It worked its way to number five,43 staying on the chart for a total of thirteen days.42 The video also reached number four on MuchMusic's Countdown, remaining on the chart for sixteen weeks.33 VH1 listed "Rich Girl" at number twenty-four on its Top 40 Videos of 2005.44

Use in visual media

"Rich Girl" was used in the films Last Holiday (2006), Bring It On: All or Nothing (2006), Beverly Hills Chihuahua (2008), and Confessions of a Shopaholic (2009). "The song is also used in the video game Just Dance 2014".

Track listings

  • European CD single
  1. "Rich Girl" (album version featuring Eve) – 3:56
  2. "What You Waiting For?" (live) – 3:52
  • UK and European CD maxi single
  1. "Rich Girl" (album version featuring Eve) – 3:56
  2. "What You Waiting For?" (live) – 3:52
  3. "Harajuku Girls" (live) – 4:36
  4. "Rich Girl" (video) – 4:03
  • US 12" single
A1. "Rich Girl" (Get Rich Mix) – 4:07
A2. "Rich Girl" (Get Rich Instrumental) – 4:07
B1. "Rich Girl" (Get Rich Quick Mix) – 3:47
B2. "Rich Girl" (Get Rich Quick Instrumental) – 4:07
B3. "Rich Girl" (Acappella) – 3:57

Personnel

Charts

References

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External links