Wind It Up (Gwen Stefani song)

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"Wind It Up"
Single by Gwen Stefani
from the album The Sweet Escape
Released October 31, 2006 (2006-10-31)
Format
Recorded 2005; South Beach Studios (Miami Beach), The Record Plant, Capitol Studios (Hollywood)
Genre
Length 3:09
Label Interscope
Writer(s)
Producer(s)
Gwen Stefani singles chronology
"Crash"
(2006)
"Wind It Up"
(2006)
"The Sweet Escape"
(2006)

"Wind It Up" is a song written by Gwen Stefani and Pharrell Williams originally for inclusion on Stefani's Harajuku Lovers Tour 2005. Because of favorable reception, the song was later recorded for her second solo studio album, The Sweet Escape (2006). The track contains an interpolation of The Sound of Music song "The Lonely Goatherd".

"Wind It Up" was negatively received by music critics, who criticized the song's use of yodeling and found the track to be over the top. It was released as the album's lead single in late 2006 and reached the top twenty in most music markets. The corresponding music video, which became popular on stations such as Total Request Live, was directed by Sophie Muller and takes influence from The Sound of Music.

Background and writing[edit]

In July 2005, Stefani began writing and recording material with Pharrell Williams in Miami, Florida.[1][2] During one of their sessions, they penned "Wind It Up" for a September 2005 fashion show revealing the 2006 collection of Stefani's fashion line L.A.M.B.[2]

Stefani asked DJ Jeremy Healy to create a mashup of the song and "The Lonely Goatherd", a song from the 1959 Rodgers and Hammerstein musical and 1965 film The Sound of Music.[3] Stefani considered The Sound of Music her favorite film, and she had wanted to incorporate a beat to one of its songs all her life.[4] Stefani commented, "I literally cried, and I'm not exaggerating, when I heard the mash-up."[2] Williams, however, did not like the addition of yodeling and The Sound of Music to the track.[3]

The lyrics are not narrative, and Stefani stated, "A song like 'Wind It Up' isn't about anything."[5] In the song, Stefani discusses how boys watch girls dance.[6] The song includes a reference to L.A.M.B., with Stefani going, "They like the way that L.A.M.B. is going 'cross my shirt".[7]

Critical reception[edit]

"Wind It Up" received overwhelmingly negative reviews by contemporary pop music critics. Entertainment Weekly's Michael Slezak found the bassline "rubbery" and criticized the song for lacking a melody as well as its reference to Stefani's own clothing line.[7] Stephen Thomas Erlewine of Allmusic stated that The Neptunes had forced the sampling "into one of their typical minimalist tracks, over which Gwen spouts off clumsy material-minded lyrics touting her fashion line and her shape".[8] Bill Lamb of About.com rated the song three and a half stars, giving it "high marks for entertainment value", but commented that it sounded like a retread of "Rich Girl" from Stefani's debut album Love. Angel. Music. Baby.[9] Charles Merwin of Stylus Magazine was mixed on the track, writing that "it's preventing something far less interesting from getting played."[10] John Murphy from musicOMH called the track "just horrible, and possibly the worst start to an album this year".[11] Spence D. from IGN characterized the song as "a bugged out Sound Of Music bhangra blitz that sounds like part M.I.A. and part Julie Andrews".[12]

Many criticized the inclusion of yodeling and "The Lonely Goatherd" sample. In a review for Rolling Stone, Rob Sheffield called the track "yodel-trocious" and argued that "the problem isn't the Swiss Miss motif so much as the fourth-rate Neptunes track.[13] Caroline Sullivan from The Guardian was pleased with the track, describing the yodeling as "off-her-head", and referred to the track as "a pinnacle of madness".[14] IndieLondon's Jack Foley noted "Wind It Up" as a highlight of The Sweet Escape and called it "Stefani's gift that she can take something that, on paper, sounds cheesy and make it utterly, utterly cool."[15] USA Today's Ken Barnes, however, found the track "campy" and "a tacky attempt at sexiness", adding that the combination of yodeling and the interpolation was "awkward".[16] Alex Miller of the NME also found the song campy, commenting that its "dumb sexual bravado has all the sophistication of a teenage boy's wet dream", and compared the yodeling, interpolation, and "erotic rap" to "a trench foot which screams for amputation from the tracklisting".[17]

In the face of criticism, Stefani has defended the track:

I knew some people wouldn't get it but I think I am enough down the line to not care. The people that did get it are Sound Of Music fans and really got a lot of pleasure from it. I still think it's brilliant and I stand by it. Why can't you do something weird for a while? These songs are all about having fun, silly records that are to be enjoyed and not taken too seriously.

—Gwen Stefani, The Sun[18]

Chart performance[edit]

"Wind It Up" was moderately successful in North America. In the United States, it debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 at number forty on the issue dated November 18, 2006.[19] It peaked at number six after four weeks and remained on the chart for eighteen weeks.[20] It peaked at number seven on the Pop 100 but was less successful on the Pop 100 Airplay, only reaching number nineteen. The single performed well in clubs, reaching number five on the Hot Dance Club Play, and charted at number eighteen on the Mainstream Top 40.[21]

Stefani performing "Wind It Up" during the 2007 Sweet Escape Tour.

"Wind It Up" had similar success in Europe, reaching number five on the European Hot 100 Singles.[22] In the United Kingdom, the single debuted at number eight and peaked at number three the next week behind Take That's Patience and Cliff Richard's 21st Century Christmas, leaving the chart after ten weeks.[23] It had less success across the continent, reaching the top ten in Belgium, the Czech Republic, Finland, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, and Norway and the top twenty in Austria, France, Sweden, and Switzerland.[24]

The song was generally successful elsewhere. In Australia, "Wind It Up" debuted at number eight and spend its first seven weeks within the top ten.[25] It peaked at number five in its fifth week on the run, spending nineteen weeks on the chart,[25] and was certified gold by the Australian Recording Industry Association.[26] The song topped the New Zealand Singles Chart in its third and fourth week and stayed on the chart for twenty weeks altogether.[27] Three years later, on March 14, 2010, the Recording Industry Association of New Zealand certified "Wind It Up" gold.[28]

Music video[edit]

The music video features a key motif and incorporations of The Sound of Music.

The song's music video was directed by Sophie Muller. Although it does not follow a substantial plot, it features outfits and scenes inspired by The Sound of Music. Stefani and her Harajuku Girls are often dancing in front of fields of flowers and a background of key-like symbols composed of two G's placed back to back. In a scene mimicking The Sound of Music, Stefani portrays Maria von Trapp while the dancers, dressed in pajamas, portray her children and jump on a bed. In another scene, Stefani uses curtains to create sailor suits for the Harajuku Girls. Stefani also appears as a nun and an orchestra conductor. One scene uses smoke to create the illusion that Stefani is a submerged escape artist searching for a key.[29] She pulls the key, a symbol of "the sweet escape", from her mouth as an allusion to performances by escapologist Harry Houdini.[30] The song's title is often visualized by a colorful sign that reads "wind it up". Another video was produced in 3-D, but this version was never released. After seeing the video, Jimmy Iovine, co-founder of Interscope Records, decided to work with James Cameron to produce other 3-D music presentations.[31]

The stage was designed like a hill with sheep for performances on The Sweet Escape Tour, as a reference to a scene from The Sound of Music.

The video was successful on music video television programs. "Wind It Up" was first aired November 10, 2006 on MTV,[29] and it premiered on the station's top-ten chart program Total Request Live four days later.[32] The video debuted at number eight on the countdown and reached a peak at number two.[33] After its November 17 debut on MuchMusic's Countdown, it reached number two for the week of January 26, 2007.[34] In a review of the music video, The Guardian's Anna Pickard poked fun at the number of personas that appear in the video, referring to some of them as "Nunzilla", "Gweninatrix", and "CinderGwennie", and commented that "your speakers have a mute setting for good reason."[35]

Track listings[edit]

  • UK, European, and Australian CD single
  1. "Wind It Up" (Main Mix) – 3:11
  2. "Wind It Up" (Original Neptunes Mix) – 3:08
  • European CD maxi single
  1. "Wind It Up" (Main Mix) – 3:11
  2. "Wind It Up" (Original Neptunes Mix) – 3:08
  3. "Wind It Up" (Instrumental Mix) – 3:02
  4. "Wind It Up" (Video) – 3:11
  • UK 12" single
A1. "Wind It Up" (Main Mix) – 3:11
A2. "Wind It Up" (Original Neptunes Mix) – 3:08
B1. "Wind It Up" (Instrumental Main Mix) – 3:11
B2. "Wind It Up" (Instrumental Neptunes Mix) – 3:10

Personnel[edit]

Charts[edit]

References[edit]

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External links[edit]

Preceded by
"My Love" by Justin Timberlake featuring T.I.
New Zealand Singles Chart number-one single
December 25, 2006 – January 1, 2007
Succeeded by
"Smack That" by Akon featuring Eminem