Song 188: Gwen Stefani, “Wind It Up” (2006)

Gwen_Stefani-The_Sweet_Escape-Frontal

Let’s get this out of the way: so much about this song is awful. It’s all about women as wind-up toys, being gawked at by guys who “look but no, they can’t touch.” “This is the key that makes us wind up,” says Gwen Stefani. “When the beat comes on, the girls all line up.” For the boys, who look. Gross. It’s no different than most pop songs, really; it just makes the women-as-objects thing more explicit. But still: gross.

And yet “Wind It Up” puts “The Lonely Goatherd” from The Sound of Music against a drumline. I find that absurd but ingenious, and I would like to shake Gwen Stefani’s hand, as she’s apparently the one who heard Julie Andrews singing about goats and thought, “This would sound great as the follow-up to ‘Hollaback Girl.’” It took the Neptunes to actually pull it off.

Though it was a fairly big hit, “Wind It Up” was generally panned upon its release. Generally not, it should be noted, for its objectification, but for the fact that it contains yodeling. Really? Yodeling is what crosses the line? Even though “The Sweet Escape,” the monster hit from the same record, is basically one big yodel? I’m much more in agreement with The Guardian’s Caroline Sullivan, who referred to the track (positively) as “the pinnacle of madness.” Yes. It is madness, and I love it, in spite of its many problems. None of which, I repeat, are yodeling. The yodeling is glorious, haters. Glorious.

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