An “I Whip My Hair Back and Forth” Lyrical Analysis

Last week I became aware of Willow Smith’s song abomination I Whip My Hair when it was referenced in a Daily Collegian article as the best song from 2010 (Ten Best Songs of 2010 ).  I’d like to believe that the list is satire. Please, please tell me it’s satire. If that song was the best contribution to music in 2010 I fear we are living in the age depicted in Idiocracy (a terrible movie that might be worth watching just because it’s so bad).

In the past few days I’ve heard I Whip My Hair referenced, including tonight when I was introduced to Jimmy Fallon’s delightful cover with The Boss. Hearing the original song and a cover version tonight raised a few questions in my mind. What percentage of the song is just the phrase “I whip my hair back and forth?” How frequently does the phrase appear? How many unique words are in the song? Any sane person will quickly identify that I Whip My Hair is a repetitive song. But sometimes just having an opinion isn’t enough. Sometimes you need documentation and numbers.

I write this blog to explore questions, seek resolution, and amuse myself. Lyrical analysis of I Whip My Hair is right in my wheelhouse. I busted out my laptop, a pen and paper, and a chocolate chip cookie and went to work.

First I compiled a transcript of the lyrics. This was rather difficult thanks to some of the creative phrasing. How do you categorize I’ma or try’na? I decided that there were 853 words in the song, with 119 unique words being used. The word hair appears 82 times and whip a staggering 107 times. The phrase “I whip my hair back and forth” occurs 67 times.

This means that more than half of the song (55%) is just the phrase “I whip my hair back and forth” repeated. The song is 3 minutes and 13 seconds long. This means that the mean time between occurrences of the phrase is 2.88 seconds.

Back to percentages. The words hair and whip alone account for 22.2% of the lyrical content of the song. Hair occurs every 2.35 seconds, while whip manages to turn up every 1.80 seconds.

These data indicate that I Whip My Hair is obnoxiously repetitive. I now know more about I Whip My Hair than I ever imagined I would, and I suspect you now know more about the song than you ever cared to know. Here’s a quick review:

In closing I must say that the song is partially redeemed by its parody potential and the use of its lyrics as catch phrases. But it’s still a terrible song. On the bright side, Willow’s career has nowhere to go but up.

*Disclaimer: I realize this song was released when Willow Smith was 9 years-old. Any disparaging remarks I made are not intended to be a personal attack directed at her. She will look back at this song and laugh in the future; I promise.


Filed under Music

5 responses to “An “I Whip My Hair Back and Forth” Lyrical Analysis

  1. This is priceless.
    Thank you so much for giving me the first laugh of the day!

  2. Anonymous

    What a ridiculous load of USELESS information..
    Who sits and does all this?
    What are you some kind of a music stalker freak?
    When I first clicked on it I thought you were about to explain to the people the “true” meaning of this song, but I guess not.
    Whatever the case, I’d like for you, in the future, to never post anything this useless again.
    Thanks :)

    • Dear Anonymous,
      Thanks for your comment, it made me smile today while I was stuck in a library studying root response to anaerobic conditions (a subject that does not prompt many smiles). I can assure you I am not a “music stalker freak.” Sometimes I just get get curious and the lyrical repetition in this song managed to trigger that. Sorry to disappoint you by not engaging in a discussion regarding the meaning of the song (I think it has something to do with the artist making a dismissive gesture with her head in response to all the haters out there). As far as refraining from posting anything this useless again, well, I make no promises =)

  3. Steve

    I thought your post was spot on. Keep it up. And for the record, it’s the worst song ever created. Bold comment but true.

  4. Dan

    Great article! Made me laugh!

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