When I was a kid my grandmother told me that I’d get whip lash if I kept flipping my hair around. Apparently no one ever told that to Willow Smith. The nine year old daughter of celebrity couple Jada Pinkett Smith and Will Smith unveiled her song “Whip My Hair” on BET’s show “106 & Park.” However the big reveal may not have had the impact the Smiths hoped for since the song was leaked earlier that day.
By the time I began writing this article, Smith’s music video for “Whip My Hair” had been viewed more than 8,000,000 times on YouTube. This seems pretty popular considering Obama’s 2010 State of the Union Address on YouTube has only had about 140,000 hits. Is its popularity due to her parents’ fame or the fact that she recently signed onto Jay-Z’s label? Maybe it’s her age, that she cried after the premier of her video or just her raw, musical talent.
Personally the most persuading explanation seems to be that its popularity stems from the chorus’ irritating catchiness. The chorus, aka the line “I whip my hair back and forth” can easily follow its listeners around for the better part of their day. Though some may cringe at the comparison, Smith’s chorus has the same persistence as the chorus of the Clash’s “Rock the Casbah.”
The video starts out at a mildly futuristic elementary school cafeteria complete with sterile, white and metallic surfaces. Smith struts in carrying her stereo with built-in jars of paint, hits play and starts whipping her hair around. Suddenly fellow students, teenagers, teachers, a baby, a janitor and possibly a grandmother are overcome with the urge to whip their hair around as well. The paint adds color to the room and personality to the back-up dancers. It is also one aspect that reminds me that I’m watching a nine year old in a video that was possibly influenced by a nine year old’s imagination. The paint doesn’t just hit whatever is in its way. It magically coats the entire object like some kind of Jackson Pollock cartoon art project.
Smith’s big, innocent and sometimes cheesy smiles also remind me that she’s young. They’re the same practiced and perfected smiles confident kids put on whenever they see a camera. Though there are also moments when kids are jumping around and genuinely seem to be having fun, I’m brought back to reality of the situation when Smith calls out to all her “ladies” or pretends that she’s driving.
I like to imagine that Smith was influenced by Devo’s “Whip It” and Mortal Kombat’s Sindel. When a problem comes along Devo whips it and Sindel battles her enemies with her hair. However, I fear that they were before her time. During an interview with Ryan Seacrest, Smith explained that her song means to “just be an individual, like you can’t be afraid to be yourself. You have to be yourself and you can’t let anybody tell you that that’s wrong.” Much like Devo and Sindel, Smith is out to challenge haters as she explains in her line, “Ain’t no sense listening to them haters cuz we whip ‘em off.” They all whip it to win.
During the same Seacrest interview Jay-Z phoned in to say, “She’s a child. She has a child’s innocence, but she has a clear vision of what she wants and who she wants to be. I can imagine … that that’s how Mike was when he was a young kid. …I believe that you have to start somewhere and when you have that sort of talent and you have that sort of vision then you know, there’s no such thing as too young. Stevie Wonder started when he was eight.”
Though I wouldn’t start comparing Smith to Wonder, I’d listen to her over Kidz Bop any day. By the time this article was completed, “Whip My Hair” had almost 9,000,000 hits on YoutTube. The video’s comments ranged from, “Will smith’s Daughter is a whore,” to “For her age her voice is great! people wait till this girl grows up, shes going to be amazing!” to “she kinda ooks like an avatar still cute but she looks like a avatar lol.” Regardless of how you feel about her age, her parents or her musical potential, if you listen to the song once, it’ll be playing in your head for the rest of the day.
Some information for this article is courtesy of music.msn.com.