“Big Girls Don’t Cry” (also known as “Big Girls Don’t Cry (Personal)”) is a song recorded by American singer and rapper Fergie for her debut studio album, The Dutchess (2006). It was written by Fergie and Toby Gad while the production was helmed by will.i.am. The song was released as the fourth single from the album on May 22, 2007. “Big Girls Don’t Cry” deviates from the hip-hop and urban music of Fergie’s previous singles and opts for a more simplistic pop sound that incorporates acoustic and classical elements. It features credits from about thirty instrumentalists, many of which play the violins, violas and celli on the track. Lyrically, the song talks about moving on from the pain of divorce.
The critical reception of “Big Girls Don’t Cry” was positive, with many praising the maturity and simplicity displayed on the single as well as the message. The song was a commercial success domestically, attaining the top position on the Billboard Hot 100. It became her third single to do so and earned her the accolade of being the first female artist with three number one singles from one album since 2000 with Christina Aguilera’s first three number one singles. “Big Girls Don’t Cry” also became Fergie’s highest selling single in the country with 3,833,000 units sold as of August 2012, and her longest charting with nearly fifty weeks logged on the Hot 100 between May 2007 and March 2008. The song peaked at number one in Canada and was present for fifty-three weeks on the chart.
The song also reached number one in various international territories including Denmark, Ireland, New Zealand, Norway and Australia, where it spent nine weeks at the top position. Besides France and Hungary, “Big Girls Don’t Cry” reached the top ten in all other international markets like the Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. It was used in an episode of Pretty Little Liars, “Father Knows Best”.
The accompanying music video for the song was directed by Anthony Mandler and released in May 2007. It depicts Fergie and her love interest, portrayed by actor Milo Ventimiglia, in their turbulent relationship that ultimately ends with Fergie packing up her belongings and driving away in her car. The music video featured Fergie in apparel designed by Candie’s and was used by the brand to promote their clothing line.
“Big Girls Don’t Cry” was written by Fergie (credited as Stacy Ferguson) and Toby Gad. The song was recorded at the Metropolis Recording Studio in London, England. will.i.am produced the song as well as playing the bass, supervising in programming the drums and engineering the song. In discussing the album with Clover Hope of Billboard, Adams described the production of this song to be his most challenging yet, saying that “I did an Edie Brickell type of production.” He was aided by Neil Tucker and Tal Herzberg, who also provided additional editing with the use of Pro Tools technology. The song features a large number of instrumentalists on the song.
On the basses are Trey Henry and Mike Valerio while Keith Harris plays the drums, keyboard bass and keys. George Pajon Jr. plays the guitar. “Big Girls Don’t Cry” features eighteen violinists, four people on the violas and four people on the celli. The strings were arranged and conducted by Ron Fair, who also produced the additional vocals on the song. They were recorded by Allen Sides at the Signet Sound. The song was mixed at Ocean Way Recordings in Hollywood, California by Jack Joseph Puig and Dean Nelson. A&M Records, in association with will.i.am Music Group and Interscope Records, sent the song to contemporary hit radio on May 20, 2007 in the United States.