"Rich Girl" is a pop-ragga song performed by singer Gwen Stefani featuring Eve. The song was primarily written by Dr. Dre, Eve, and Stefani, with other collaborators for Stefani's debut solo album Love. Angel. Music. Baby (2004). "Rich Girl" is based on the Louchie Lou and Michie One song of the same name, which is an adaptation of the Fiddler on the Roof song "If I Were a Rich Man". In the song, Stefani discusses her dreams of fame and riches from the perspective of "when she was just an Orange County girl".
The last song to be included on the album, "Rich Girl" was released as the album's second single in late 2004 (see 2004 in music) to mixed reviews from music critics. It was a commercial success, reaching the top ten on the majority of the charts it entered, and topped the singles chart in Argentina. In the United States, "Rich Girl" was certified double platinum, and it received a nomination for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration at the 48th Grammy Awards.
After playing some of the songs on which she had been working, Dr. Dre told her, "You don't want to go back there." Instead of using one of the tracks, Dr. Dre instead suggested using reggae duo Louchie Lou and Michie One's 1993 song "Rich Girl", which itself interpolated "If I Were a Rich Man" from the 1964 musical Fiddler on the Roof. Stefani and Eve helped each other with their parts, but when they presented Dr. Dre with the demo, he told them to rewrite the song, suggesting that Stefani play a character in the song.
Since she had not seen the musical since she was a child, Stefani went to Broadway to better understand the theme that "even if you're poor and you have love, you're rich." The idea which became the final version came to Stefani while brainstorming on her treadmill. She commented that the troubles in writing the song came because "Dre was really pushing me to write in a new way," but when she presented him with the song, "he just totally tricked the track out.
"Rich Girl" is a ragga song composed in the key of C minor. It is written in common time and moves at a moderate 100 beats per minute. The beat is accompanied by an alternating perfect fifth dyad and an accented piano trichord. The song is written in verse-chorus form, and its instrumentation includes the electronic keyboard, guitar, and keyboard bass. Stefani's voice ranges from G3 to E5.
The introduction consists of the repeated use of the word na. Stefani reaches her highest note of the song, E5, as part of a trichord and her lowest, G3, during this section. After the first chorus, Stefani discusses dreams of wealth and luxury, and she namechecks fashion designers Vivienne Westwood and John Galliano. Stefani commented that the references were not product placement but that she included them "because I think they're rad and want to talk about them…I'd give all my money to [Westwood] and buy all her clothes! A bridge, in which Stefani's voice is overdubbed, precedes the second chorus. During the second verse Stefani discusses her Harajuku Girls, and she then repeats the bridge. Following Eve's rap, Stefani sings the chorus and closes the song with a coda, which, like the introduction, consists of repeating the word na.
|I could tell I had ruffled Gwen's feathers when we spoke before the disc came out. It was the first time I took her to task for disingenuousness – for being ungodly rich yet still singing, "If I were a rich girl...."|
|"What do you mean by that?" she snapped. I said the song could be seen as absurd, even untrue. She explained its lyrics were about when she was just an Orange County girl – ah, that troubling phrase! – dreaming of such wealth.|
—Ben Wener, The Orange County Register
Several reviewers found it ironic that Stefani, who had already sold 26 million records with No Doubt, discussed having money in the counterfactual conditional. OMH Media found it "rather strange" for Stefani to sing the song while living off of royalties from No Doubt and her husband, post-grunge musician Gavin Rossdale. Neumu called the lyrics "insipid" and noted that "the incredibly wealthy pop-starlet wonders what it'd be like to be, uh, incredibly wealthy". A reviewer for The Orange County Register told Stefani that the song was disingenuous and "absurd," to which Stefani responded that the point of view was from before she was famous. Stefani later refused to issue credentials to the newspaper after the same reviewer wrote that "while posting a reported $90 million via her clothing lines…she's no more 'just an Orange County girl' than Best Buy is just a shack that sells Commodore 64s" in response to a track titled "Orange County Girl" from Stefani's second album The Sweet Escape.
The interpolation of "If I Were a Rich Man" drew mixed reviews. PopMatters argued that the track "turns it into an anthem of urban bling-lust" and that its "simple pounding piano chord makes for great percussive backing." Pitchfork Media found the song corny, classifying it as "Eve- and Dre- and Tevye-powered camp-hop. The Villager found the interpolation "innovative" and noted the song's take on "the current style of shout-out rap songs. Entertainment Weekly disagreed, stating that the interpolation was used awkwardly, and Rolling Stone called the interpolation a goof. About.com called the track "a dancehall/classic house teardown of 'If I Were a Rich Man'" and commented, "if this is what Jay-Z’s fudging with Annie has wrought, I say, be glad of it.
The music video for "Rich Girl" was directed by David LaChapelle and features a pirate theme. The video, inspired by an early 80's Vivienne Westwood advertising campaign, opens with four Japanese schoolgirls playing with a toy pirate ship and Bratz dolls of Stefani and Eve, while the girls discuss what they would do if they were a "rich girl". The video features several sequences. Stefani is first shown below the deck of a pirate ship, dancing on a table and singing to the song. She is surrounded by pirates and wenches and is soon joined by Eve, wearing an eyepatch. In the surreal style of LaChapelle, the pirate crew has distorted features, and a leaked casting call commented, "I need the freaks on this one. Above deck Stefani, the Harajuku Girls, Eve, and more pirates dance on the deck and rigging. Stefani is also seen dancing with the Harajuku Girls in a treasure trove, often carrying a sword, and swinging from an anchor. When the girls dunk the toy ship in a fish tank, the galleon engages in cannonfire, causing Stefani and the pirates to fall all over the ship, and Stefani and the Harajuku Girls are soon shipwrecked.
The music video was a success on video channels. The video debuted on MTV's Total Request Live on December 13, 2004, at number nine. It worked its way to number four, staying on the chart for a total of fourteen days. The video also reached number four on the MuchMusic countdown, remaining on the chart for sixteen weeks. VH1 listed the song at number twenty-four on its Top 40 Videos of 2005.
"Rich Girl" performed moderately well in North America. The single debuted at number seventy-four on the Billboard Hot 100 on January 1, 2005 and reached a peak position ten weeks later at number seven, remaining on the chart for over six months. The song did well on pop-oriented charts, reaching number three on the Pop 100, number four on the Top 40 Mainstream, and number sixteen on the Adult Top 40. The single had little crossover success on the urban charts, only reaching number twenty-seven on the Rhythmic Top 40 and number seventy-eight on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks. "Rich Girl" was helped on the Hot 100 and Pop 100 charts by its strong digital downloads, peaking at number two on the Hot Digital Songs. Due to its high number of digital downloads, the song was certified double platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America. On the 2005 year-end chart, the song was listed at number thirty-one, and at the 2006 Grammy Awards, the song was nominated for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration but lost to Jay-Z and Linkin Park's "Numb/Encore. The single was less successful in Canada, where it debuted at number twenty-eight and reached a peak of number twelve for two non-consecutive weeks.
Across Europe, "Rich Girl" was largely successful, reaching number two on the Eurochart Hot 100. It reached the top five in Belgium, Denmark, France, the Netherlands, Ireland, Norway, and Sweden and the top ten in Austria, Finland, Greece, Italy, and Switzerland. The song also charted highly in the UK, debuting at number four on March 21, 2005. The track was unable to reach a higher position and remained on the chart for twelve weeks.
Elsewhere, "Rich Girl" peaked within the top twenty on the majority of the charts it entered. In Australia, it debuted February 28, 2005 at number two under Nelly's "Over and Over" featuring Tim McGraw. It was unable to reach number one and dropped off the chart after thirteen weeks. On the ARIA end of year chart, the track charted at number twenty-six, and the single was certified platinum. The song was generally successful in Latin America, entering the Latin America Top 40 at number twenty on March 13, 2005 and peaking at number five ten weeks later. It reached the top twenty in most South American countries, including Argentina and Chile.