Willow Smith uses Rihanna as muse in young career - Reverb

Pop & Circumstance: The Fresh Princess of Pop

That hair won't whip as easily. Photo courtesy of the artist's Facebook page.

That hair won't whip as easily. Photo courtesy of the artist's Facebook page.

So young, so hip, so fresh.

Last fall, the viciously addictive single “Whip My Hair” hit radio airwaves (and took over the web, too). The song became an instant Internet meme, spawning a Sesame Street parody, a headbanging, hairwhipping parrot and a buttload of “.gifs.”

Willow Smith, like her father, likes to keep it real — just at the tipping point of the PG-to-PG-13 crossover. She’s got style, talent and an age-appropriate attitude. What’s not to like? Now, nearly six months after the release of “Whip My Hair,” Willow’s got a new track for pop fans worldwide. And who better to sing a song entitled “21st Century Girl” than the 10-year-old Willow, a millennium baby.

At first listen, “21st Century Girl” mimics two wildly different artists and four other pop songs in a matter of 30 seconds. The opening “EH EH EH EH EH EH AYY EH” sounds hella similar to Rihanna’s “Umbrella,” which then slips into Kesha’s “Tik Tok” with an auto-tuned easy rhyme: “I’m the type of chick who likes to rock the beat, rock the beat, knock you off your feet.”

Willow quickly transforms back into Rihanna with a hook that sounds like a hybrid of “Shut Up and Drive” and “Only Girl in the World”: “I’m a 21st century girl, a beautiful life, I do what I like. Step on the breaks, step on the gas. I’m a rebel but I do it with class.” Since when is this little girl driving? And more importantly, if Willow sounds like Rihanna, does that mean Rihanna has the voice of a 5th grader? While Willow has been quoted saying that she’d “love to be a baby Rihanna,” we’re not sure if 23-year-old RiRi is loving the comparisons.

There’s only one moment during “21st Century Girl” where Willow really sounds like the kid that she is — during the scream at the end when she claims, “I feel like I can take over the world…it’s that new girl thinking and this song is just the start!” Only an innocent child could be so optimistic, eh?

One thing is for certain — due to her movie star parents, rockin’ vocal ability and incredibly young age, Willow has plenty of time to form her own musical identity and write songs that sound like herself, while continuing her acting career. Big Willie has announced plans to star Willow in his remake of the classic Broadway hit “Annie” in 2012. So, for now, let Willow do her thang and let the playground bullying stay inside. She has her own voice, she’s just got to whip around a little deeper to find it. Willow, we think you’re going to like it here.

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Allison Berger is a Philadelphia-based writer and a Pop music columnist for Reverb. Check out more of her writing here.

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