The Bottom Line
"Whip My Hair," the first single from nine year old Willow Smith, daughter of actors Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith, is brimming with energy, and you are unlikely to forget the hook even after hearing it only one time. However, after you hear it three or four times, it may quickly wear out its welcome. Willow Smith's vocals borrow heavily from the style of Rihanna, and this would only make a mediocre Rihanna record. Extra points, however, for boldness.
- Instantly grabs the listener's attention
- Sheer energy
- Carbon copy of Rihanna vocally
- Written by Willow Smith and Jukebox
- Produced by Jukebox
- Released October 2010 by Roc Nation
Guide Review - Willow Smith - "Whip My Hair"
There is a ferocity about the hook, "I whip my hair back and forth!" that will rivet your attention. When you watch the video, you do get to see it in action and even watch whipping hair slinging paint around the room. After hearing it a few more times, it all feels very gimmicky. Willow Smith's vocals borrow very heavily from the style of Rihanna. There are somewhat sketchy words about dealing with the haters and the words of the hook repeated more times than we really want to count.
On the plus side, the energy here is undeniable. There are not many nine year olds that would be as bold as Willow, and she is a wonder to watch. The song and video are admirable in keeping things clean but not talking down to younger kids. "Whip My Hair" brings them into the picture for their slice of hit pop music. I imagine a nation of pre-teens making themselves dizzy whipping their hair back and forth.
If Willow Smith wants to be more than a fascinating celebrity novelty act, she will need to dig down and be more than "baby Rihanna." Fortunately, she has caught the attention of pop fans. Jay-Z signed her to his Roc Nation label citing the childhood success of Michael Jackson and Stevie Wonder. Young Willow Smith may indeed become a major pop star, but there is a long path ahead if she wants to match the success of her idol.