Whip My Hair
|"Whip My Hair"|
|Single by Willow|
|Released||October 26, 2010|
|Willow singles chronology|
"Whip My Hair" is the debut single by American recording artist Willow Smith. The song was written by Ronald "Jukebox" Jackson and Janae Luann Ratliff, with the former producing the track as well. Initial reception of the song praised the song's kid-friendly, yet universal appeal, while dubbing Smith "baby Rihanna." However, other critics called the song's hook "grating" and "a nightmare of a brain drill." The official remix featuring British rapper Tinie Tempah was released on January 3, 2011.
In the summer of 2010, Smith's mother, Jada Pinkett Smith, revealed on Lopez Tonight that her daughter was recording an album. On September 27, 2010, Smith's single was leaked onto the Internet Time magazine, CNN, and Billboard all covered the song the evening it surfaced. The effort was applauded by several celebrities on Twitter, including Ciara, Brandy, Solange Knowles, Britney Spears, and Alfredo Flores.
Lyrically the song is about letting loose, being as wild as can be, while she asks ladies to "whip their hair" and "shake haters off". The lyrics have motivational undertones, speaking of self-love and assurance, and referring to letting your hair down as a representation of this in parts like the line, "Keep fighting until I get there, when I'm down and I feel like giving up/I whip my hair back and forth, I whip it, I whip it real good."
A sample of the song, featuring the line, "Don't let haters keep me off my grind."
Problems playing this file? See media help.
"Whip My Hair" is a high-tempo R&B-hip hop piece incorporating dance-pop and crunk, with funk and disco influences. The song is said to be composed in an "eclectic" style, and makes use of heavy synthesizers and drums. Smith's vocals are auto-tuned in some parts, while containing keyboard washes over a drum-heavy beat described as "propulsive" and "futuristic". The song features a knocking beat, including the vocal refrain of "I whip my hair back and forth". Some critics have deemed the song too similar to Smith's musical influence Rihanna. Additionally, others said the song was similar to the style of Rihanna contemporaries Ciara and Keri Hilson, with a hip hop feel similar to Lil Mama. Gina Serpe of E! Online called the track a fourth-grade version of Rihanna and Hilson.
The track has received polarized reviews. A main point critics attributed to the song was its ability to be kid-friendly, yet appeal to all music listeners, with Gerrick Kennedy of The Los Angeles Times calling the song radio, club, and recess-friendly, and Daniela Capistrano of MTV News calling it a "kid-friendly club banger". Kennedy commented, "don't let her age fool you; the song packs serious punch." Capistrano said that the song's "crazy" beat works on the schoolyard and dancefloor. Commenting that the song was age-appropriate, Gina Serpe of E! Online said, that accomplishment was commendable, stating, "it's got to be a bit of a battle finding material suitable for someone still in the single-digits." Tim Stack of Entertainment Weekly commended the song, complimenting the production value, stating the song was "Lil Mama meets Rihanna". CBC said while the song may not be deep, it was the best to be expected from a "fourth grade fashionista", commenting the track was more "schoolyard friendly" than any music released by Miley Cyrus. The Guardian described the track as "a pretty good R&B belter in the same vein as Rihanna, all heavily treated vocals and huge juddering beats". BET Sound Off blog commented that Smith had more personality on the track than fellow artists three times her age. Melinda Newman of HitFix complimented Smith's "competent" singing voice.
Prior to radio add dates and release, the song collected greatest gainer recognitions on the US Rap Songs chart. On the week ending September 25, 2010 the song debuted at number 60 on the US Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs. It jumped to number 38 on that same chart in the following week. It has so far peaked at number five. "Whip My Hair" debuted at number 78 on the Billboard Hot 100 the week of October 28, 2010 and moved up to number 11 the next week. It has sold over 1,216,000 digital copies in the US alone. On December 8, 2010, "Whip My Hair" debuted on the UK Midweeks at number 1, but on December 12, 2010, it was beaten to the top by The Black Eyed Peas with "The Time (Dirty Bit)".
Background and release
Smith filmed the song's accompanying music video in Los Angeles the week of September 20, 2010. Ray Kay, known for Lady Gaga's "Poker Face" and Justin Bieber's "Baby", among others, was to direct the clip. In an interview with Rap-Up, Kay said "I'm certain people that are watching the video will feel inspired to develop their own individuality and freedom and express their own art after seeing Willow in this video." Kay also confirmed that the shooting would take two days, and require a lot from Smith, but said, the director was confident that Smith would "kill it" in front of the camera. Later, Kay commented to Rap-Up in a separate piece, "I think this video will be considered iconic in the future. Willow is definitely here to stay, she's a superstar. I think we managed to create a fresh expression using Willow's amazing energy, a positive and inspiring concept, and mixing the colors of the sets with Willow's fashion, which consisted of custom-made clothing and exclusive One Z jumpsuits. She's a trendsetter already and I'm sure others will be copying her style soon!"
A teaser video released on September 16, 2010 received 1.2 million views prior to the release of the official music video. The video premiered on October 18, 2010, with Vevo hosting its online premiere, and its first televised airing during Smith's appearance on 106 & Park. Before the video received its official premieres, it was leaked online, and RocNation removed all unauthorized clips. Just a day after release, the video had reportedly garnered over 100,000 views on YouTube.
The video begins in a futuristic cafeteria with kids, dubbed the "Warriorettes", sitting down at tables wearing all white while the tables and walls are gray. Smith then enters the room in colorful attire, including a blue vest, orange pants and a belt with her name on it, while donning rhinestones on her lips and extravagant nail tips. With her braids shaped to form a heart, she carries a boombox filled with paint and plays it while undoing her braids and dipping them into paint inside the stereo, using her hair as a paintbrush and enlivening the atmosphere with colors. Smith then performs dance moves and gets the classroom involved, which is intercut with the singer now donning a colorful mohawk, performing choreography with dancers with blue shirts in front of a light blue backdrop. She alternates different hairstyles, and then walks down a hallway with her backup dancers, donning a cotton candy-esque hairstyle. She further whips her hair to give color to the lockers and students' attire, before performing extensive choreography with the hallway students. Midway, Smith and her dancers perform a dance routine with music not in the original song. The last scenes involves Smith with puff braids and in a yellow jumpsuit with her backup dancers in a different classroom trying to get them to dance, which is intercut with previous paint-splashing scenes, as the students, including her brother Jaden, teachers, janitor, elderly lady, and toddler dance. A writer for Rap-Up said that Smith "is in a class of her own in the breakout video for her empowering anthem", calling the video "the birth of more B.S.".
Natalie Finn of E! Online commended the video for being "sassy, yet kid friendly". Carina Adly MacKenzie of Zap2it said while the song took everyone by surprise, that the video was "even more awesome", commenting, "we probably shouldn't be shocked that Willow has more charisma in her pinky finger than half the artists twice her age." Ryan Brockington of The New York Post reviewed the video positively, stating, "great thing about the video is that director Ray Kay kept it very young and colorful, the complete opposite of the very grown up sounding track." A Popeater writer said that the video "has transcended from Jada and Will Smith's 9-year-old kiddo to a legitimate star", stating, "the video stacks up to the incredibly catchy, Rihanna-sounding song with killer outfits, fun classroom dance pieces and, yes, tons of hair whipping -- with paint!" Also, a Celebuzz writer said that Smith "kills it with some seriously fierce bling, dance moves and, of course, intense hair whipping". Commenting that Smith had the attitude of a "full-blown teen", Melinda Newman of HitFix commented, "As Miley Cyrus gets ready to become an adult, we can fill that spot with Willow", complimenting her charisma.
Matt Cherrete of Chris Ryan of MTV Buzzworthy said the video lived up to the "energy" and "power" of the track, commenting that it contained the "most inspiring and awesome youth power dancing, hair whipping and floor stomping that you're going to see all day". Matt Donnelly of The Los Angeles Times said with the release, the singer "introduces to us a pre-preteen firecracker who lives up to her impeccable breeding and perhaps takes the legacy one step further". Admitting she originally dismissed the song and a video concept, due to her quick rise to fame and the oversexualized image of pop music already, Leah Greenblatt of Entertainment Weekly commented, "his clip is about to put a boom in the chiropracting industry (with possible ancillary benefits for housepaint), because girl can snap it." Billy Johnson, Jr. of Yahoo! Music said among the many dancers in the clip, Smith "shines as the clear breakout star", calling the video a "smash", and commenting "she pulls it off without need for cameo appearances from her famous parents." Veronica Miller of NPR that it wasn't the hairstyles that made the clip, but "the sheer fearlessness with which young Willow is singing, dancing and whipping", stating she has "just enough sass and pluck and confidence to hold our attention and leave us wanting more". The video was nominated for "Video of the Year" and "Outstanding Music Video" at the 2011 BET Awards and NAACP Image Awards respectively.
Smith performed the song for the first time live on November 2, 2010 on The Ellen DeGeneres Show. Smith again performed the song on December 6, 2010 at the LA Live Tree Lighting, and on December 31, 2010 at Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve with Ryan Seacrest. Later she performed the song on March 1, 2011 on The Oprah Winfrey Show, on April 3, 2011 at the 2011 Kids Choice Awards and on April 25, 2011 at the 2011 White House Easter Egg Roll. She also performed the song as an opening act on the United Kingdom leg of Justin Bieber's My World Tour.
In September 2010, a fan-made mash-up of the video and a Sesame Street segment appeared online. The original Sesame Street clip featured a puppet portrayed as a young black girl proud of her hair. She flails her braids, cornrows, afro, and other ethnic hairstyles. According to the show's writer, Joey Mazzarino, the song was a tribute to his Ethiopian daughter's hair, writing it, stating that he wanted to say, "Your hair is great. You can put it in ponytails. You can put it in cornrows. I wish I had hair like you." The mash-up uses different shots in the show's segment paired with "Whip My Hair" to act as a music video. During the week of release of the "Whip My Hair" video, the Sesame Street clip also went viral. Veronica Miller of NPR commented that with both clips, "little black girls are having the best week ever", noting the rarity that "little African-American girls are publicly celebrated for their uniqueness and beauty", due to non-positive comments about their physical appearance, making them question individual and collective beauty. On the single's video, Miller said, "Little Willow is operating with a sort of empowerment that grown women can sense, admire, and in some cases, envy", stating, "not many girls are taught that it's OK to openly love and affirm yourself." Noting that the norm is not to be "sassy" or "cute", she said that "Whip My Hair" is "a celebration of little girls celebrating themselves".
On the November 16, 2010 episode of Late Night with Jimmy Fallon the song was covered in an acoustic folk/country style by Jimmy Fallon in character as Neil Young. Fallon/Young was accompanied by that evening's musical guest Bruce Springsteen, who was dressed in parody of himself from the mid-1970s.
In 2013, the song was used as a "lip-sync for your life" song on the fifth season of RuPaul's Drag Race, during the seventh episode "RuPaul Roast". Contestants Alyssa Edwards and Roxxxy Andrews were in the bottom two after failing the challenge. After a double wig trick from Andrews, an energetic performance from Edwards and an emotional breakdown from Andrews, both contestants were saved from elimination. RuPaul has gone on to say that this performance was his favorite lip-sync ever.
- Digital download
- "Whip My Hair" – 3:13
- UK digital download
- "Whip My Hair" – 3:13
- "Whip My Hair" (music video) – 3:54
- EP – digital download
- "Whip My Hair" – 3:13
- "Whip My Hair" (Warriorettes Mix) – 3:17
- "Whip My Hair" (music video) – 3:54
- German CD single
- "Whip My Hair" (album version) – 3:13
- "Whip My Hair" (Warriorettes Mix) – 3:17
Charts and certifications
|United States||September 21, 2010||Urban airplay|
|October 12, 2010||Mainstream airplay|
|October 26, 2010||Digital download|
|United Kingdom||December 5, 2010||Digital download|
|December 6, 2010||CD single|
|Germany||January 14, 2011||CD single|
- "Willow - Whip My Hair". Hung Medien. Retrieved 2010-11-20.
- "Top 10 Most Annoying Pop Songs of 2010".
- "The Absolutely Worst Songs of 2010".
- Serpe, Gina. "Willow Smith (Yep) Has a Hip-Hop Song. And It's Good". E! Online. Retrieved 2010-09-09.
- Capistrano, Daniela. "Willow Smith Makes Music Debut With 'Whip My Hair'". MTV News. MTV Networks. Retrieved 2010-09-09.
- "Current Twitter trends: 'All I want,' 'Sons of Anarchy,' Eid, Willow Smith". London: Independent.co.uk. 2010-09-08. Retrieved 2010-09-09.
- Godfrey, Gavin (2010-09-08). "Willow Smith drops new single 'Whip My Hair'". CNN Marquee Blog. CNN Online. Retrieved 2010-09-09.
- Friedman, Megan (2010-09-08). "Will Smith's Daughter, 9, Drops New Single". Time. Retrieved 2010-09-09.
- "Billboard Bits: 50 Cent Raises Eyebrows on Twitter, Katy Perry Tapped for 'SNL' Premiere". Billboard. Nielsen Business Media Inc. Retrieved 2010-09-09.
- Kennedy, Gerrick D. (2010-09-08). "Will Smith's daughter Willow wows the blog world with debut single 'Whip My Hair' [UPDATED]". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-09-09.
- Capistrano, Daniela. "Jay-Z Signs 'Superstar' Willow Smith To Roc Nation". MTV News. MTV Networks. Retrieved 2010-09-09.
- "Will Smith's daughter releases hip-hop song". CBC. Archived from the original on September 12, 2010. Retrieved 2010-09-09.
- Cragg, Michael (2010-09-09). "New music: Willow Smith – I Whip My Hair". guardian.co.uk. London. Retrieved 2010-09-09.
- Concepcion, Mariel. "Willow Smith, "Whip My Hair"". Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. Retrieved 2010-10-22.
- "Harriet Walker: The authenticity of Willow Smith". Independent.co.uk. London. 2010-10-20. Retrieved 2010-10-19.
- "New Kids on The Block". BET Sound Off Blog. Retrieved 2010-09-09.
- Wilkening, Matthew. "Willow Smith, 'Whip My Hair' -- New Song". AOL Radio Blog. Retrieved 2010-09-09.
- "Will Smith's Daughter 'Whips' Towards Roc Nation Deal". AOL Boombox. AOL. Retrieved 2010-09-09.
- Stack, Tim. "Will Smith's daughter releases new single: Is she the next Rihanna?". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2010-09-09.
- Newman, Melinda. "Willow Smith whips her hair in 'Whip My Hair' video". HitFix. Retrieved 2010-10-19.
- "Chart Highlights: Country, Rock Songs & More". Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. 2010-09-13. Retrieved 2010-09-13.
- "Top R&B/Hip-Hop Songs: Week of September 25, 2010". Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. Retrieved 2010-09-17.
- Trust, Gary (2010-09-16). "Weekly Chart Notes: the Beatles, Eminem, Willow Smith". Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. Retrieved 2010-09-17.
- Top Hip-Hop and R&B Songs & Singles Charts | Billboard.com
- Caulfield, Keith; Pietroluongo, Silvio (2010-10-28). "Chart Moves: Susan Boyle, Willow Smith, Taylor Swift, Bo Burnham, Cee Lo". Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. Retrieved 2010-10-28.
- Caulfield, Keith; Pietroluongo, Silvio (2010-11-04). "Chart Moves: Taylor Swift, Michael Jackson, Rihanna, Kanye West". Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. Retrieved 2010-11-04.
- "Week Ending March 6, 2011: Songs: Rated PG". Yahoo! Chart Watch. 2011-03-09. Retrieved 2011-03-10.
- "UK Chart Update". BBC Radio 1. 2010-12-08. Retrieved 2010-12-12.
- Sperling, Daniel (2010-12-12). "Black Eyed Peas climb to singles No. 1". Digital Spy. Hachette Filipacchi UK. Retrieved 2010-12-12.
- "Director of Willow Smith's 'Whip My Hair' Hopes Video Will Inspire Others". Rap-Up. 2010-09-17. Retrieved 2010-09-18.
- "MUSIC VIDEO: Willow Smith - Whip My Hair". Retrieved 2010-10-18.
- "Video: Willow Smith - 'Whip My Hair'". Rap-Up. Retrieved 2010-10-18.
- "Willow Smith Unleashes 'Whip My Hair' Single Cover, Video Pics". Rap-Up. 2010-10-14. Retrieved 2010-10-18.
- Van Druten, Rebekah. "'Superstar' signed". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 2010-09-09.
- Ziegbe, Mawuse; Thomas, Rebecca (2010-10-21). "Willow Smith Explains Her 'Warriorettes' Crew". MTV News. Viacom. Retrieved 2011-03-09.
- Byrne, Katie (2010-10-18). "Willow Smith's 'Whip My Hair' Video Premieres". MTV News. MTV Networks (Viacom). Retrieved 2010-10-18.
- Bain, Becky. "Willow Smith Gets Whiplash In Her "Whip My Hair" Video". Idolator. Buzzmedia Publishers. Retrieved 2010-10-18.
- McClanahan, Matt. "Will Smith's daughter, 9-year-old Willow Smith releases video for hit song "Whip My Hair"". San Diego Entertainer Magazine. Retrieved 2010-10-19.
- Finn, Natalie. "Watch Willow Smith's Hair Whip Back and Forth in Debut Video". E! Online. Retrieved 2010-10-18.
- MacKenzie, Carina Adly (2010-10-18). "Willow Smith's 'Whip My Hair' video premiere: Watch out, Rihanna". Zap2it. Tribune Media Services. Retrieved 2010-10-18.
- Brockington, Ryan (2010-10-18). "Get ready for 9-year old world domination". The New York Post. Retrieved 2010-10-18.
- "'Whip My Hair' Video Arrives, Willow Smith Remains Awesome". Popeater. AOL. Retrieved 2010-10-18.
- "Willow Smith's 'Whip My Hair' Video Hits the Internet". Celebuzz. Buzzmedia Publishers. Retrieved 2010-10-18.
- Ryan, Chris. "New Video: Willow Smith, 'Whip My Hair'". MTV Buzzworthy. MTV Networks (Viacom). Retrieved 2010-10-22.
- Donnelly, Matt (2010-10-20). "Willow Smith: All you need to know, including what it's like with Justin Bieber in the picture". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-10-22.
- Greenblatt, Leah. "Willow Smith's 'Whip My Hair' video: Watch it here". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2010-10-19.
- Johnson, Jr., Billy. "Parental Advisory: Willow Smith's 'Whip My Hair' Video To Influence Your Tween Daughter's Hairstyles". Yahoo! Music. Retrieved 2010-10-22.
- Miller, Veronica. "The Best Week Ever For Black Girls". NPR. Retrieved 2010-10-22.
- "Video of the Year | BET Awards | Shows | BET". BET. Retrieved 2011-11-21.
- D'Zurilla, Christie (2011-03-07). "'21st Century Girl' Willow Smith wins new-artist NAACP Image Award". The Los Angeles Times. Tribune Company. Retrieved 2012-03-22.
- "Watch Willow Smith Whip Her Hair". Extra Online. Retrieved 2010-10-18.
- "Video: Willow Smith Performs on 'Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve'". Rap-Up. 2011-01-01. Retrieved 2011-10-29.
- "Video: Willow Smith Performs on 'Oprah'". Rap-Up. 2011-03-01. Retrieved 2011-10-29.
- "Video: Willow Smith Performs at 2011 Kids' Choice Awards". 2011-04-02. Retrieved 2011-10-29.
- "Video: Willow Smith Performs at White House Easter Egg Roll". Rap-Up. 2011-04-25. Retrieved 2011-10-29.
- "Willow Smith Kicks Off Tour with Justin Bieber, Wins NAACP Image Award". Rap-Up. 2011-03-05. Retrieved 2011-10-29.
- "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon: Neil Young & Bruce Springsteen perform Whip My Hair". Retrieved 2011-05-24.
- "Whip My Hair – Willow". Amazon.com. Retrieved 2011-03-09.
- "Whip My Hair - Single". iTunes Store United Kingdom. Apple Inc. Retrieved 2011-03-09.
- "Whip My Hair - EP" (in German). iTunes Store Germany. Apple Inc. Retrieved 2011-03-09.
- "Whip My Hair". Amazon.de (in German). Retrieved 2011-03-09.
- "Australian-charts.com – Willow – Whip My Hair". ARIA Top 50 Singles. Retrieved 2010-11-29.
- "Austriancharts.at – Willow – Whip My Hair" (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40. Retrieved 2011-01-30.
- "Ultratop.be – Willow – Whip My Hair" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50. Retrieved 2010-12-03.
- "Ultratop.be – Willow – Whip My Hair" (in French). Ultratip. Retrieved 2011-01-30.
- "Brasil Hot 100 Airplay". Billboard Brasil (Brasil: bpp) (2): 86. Fevereiro de 2011.
- "Willow Chart History (Canadian Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved 2010-11-04.
- "Danishcharts.com – Willow – Whip My Hair". Tracklisten. Retrieved 2010-12-03.
- "Chart Track: Week 52, 2010". Irish Singles Chart.
- "Dutchcharts.nl – Willow – Whip My Hair" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Retrieved 2011-01-30.
- "Charts.org.nz – Willow – Whip My Hair". Top 40 Singles. Retrieved 2010-12-13.
- Top 50 Airplay Romania
- "Official Scottish Singles Sales Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company.
- "SNS IFPI" (in Slovak). Hitparáda – Radio Top 100 Oficiálna. IFPI Czech Republic. Note: insert 201052 into search. Retrieved 2011-02-11.
- "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company.
- "Official R&B Singles Chart Top 40". Official Charts Company.
- "Willow Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved 2010-11-04.
- "Willow Chart History (Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs)". Billboard. Retrieved 2010-10-07.
- "Willow Chart History (Pop Songs)". Billboard. Retrieved 2010-11-16.
- "ARIA Charts – Accreditations – 2011 Singles". Australian Recording Industry Association. Retrieved 2014-06-20.
- "Canadian single certifications – Willow – Whip My Hair". Music Canada. Retrieved 2014-06-20.
- "British single certifications – Willow – Whip My Hair". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 2014-06-20. Enter Whip My Hair in the search field and then press Enter.
- "American single certifications – Smith, Willow – Whip My Hair". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved 2014-06-20. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Single, then click SEARCH
- "Urban/UAC Future Releases". AllAccess. Retrieved 2010-09-13.
- "Top 40/Mainstream Future Releases". AllAccess. Retrieved 2010-09-17.
- Sigel, Tego (2010-10-29). "Willow Smith's Whip My Hair Given UK Release Date". Rewind Magazine. Retrieved 2010-11-03.