Hey Ya!

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"Hey Ya!"
Single by OutKast
from the album Speakerboxxx/The Love Below
Released September 9, 2003 (2003-09-09)
Format CD, 7" vinyl, 12" vinyl
Recorded December 2002—2003: Stankonia Studios, Tree Sound Studios, Larrabee Sound Studios
Length 3:55
Label LaFace, RCA
Writer(s) André 3000
Producer(s) André 3000
OutKast singles chronology
"Land of a Million Drums"
(2002)
"Hey Ya!"
(2003)
"The Way You Move"
(2003)

"Hey Ya!" is a song written and produced by André 3000 for his 2003 album The Love Below, part of the hip hop duo OutKast's double album Speakerboxxx/The Love Below. "Hey Ya!" takes influence from funk and rock music. Its music video features a live performance by a band, all eight of whose members are played by André 3000, that mimicks the Beatles' 1964 performance on The Ed Sullivan Show. The song received praise from contemporary music critics, and won the award for Best Urban/Alternative Performance at the 46th Grammy Awards.

Along with "The Way You Move", recorded by OutKast's other member Big Boi, "Hey Ya!" was released by LaFace Records as one of the album's two lead singles. It became a commercial success, reaching the top five of most of the charts it entered, and topping the Billboard Hot 100 and the ARIA Singles Chart, among others: in 2009, Billboard named it as the 20th most successful song of the 2000s decade in the United States. The song popularized the phrase "shake it like a Polaroid picture", and the Polaroid Corporation used the song to revitalize the public's perception of its products.

Writing and recording[edit]

André 3000 wrote "Hey Ya!" in 2000,[1] but began work on recording it in December 2002 at Stankonia Studios in Atlanta, Georgia.[2] He used an acoustic guitar for accompaniment,[2] inspired by bands such as the Ramones, the Buzzcocks, The Hives,[3] and the Smiths.[4] Having already visualized most of the song, he recorded the introduction, the first verse, and the hook. André began recording the vocals during this time, doing several dozen takes. He returned to work on the song several evenings later, with session musician Kevin Kendricks performing the bassline on a synthesizer.[2]

Months later, André 3000 worked with Pete Novak at the Larrabee Sound Studios in Los Angeles. André improvised the lyrics based on a screenplay he had written. They experimented with various sound effects, including singing through a vocoder, and did 30 to 40 takes for each line.[2]

Composition[edit]

"Hey Ya!" is a song in G major. Each cadential six-measure phrase is constructed using a change of meter on the fourth measure and uses a I–IV–V–vi chord progression. G major and C major chords are played for one and two 4/4 measures respectively. André 3000 then uses a deceptive cadence with an after a 2/4 measure of the dominant D major chord, leading into two 4/4 measures of an E major chord. The song moves at a tempo of 160 beats per minute, and André's vocal range spans more than an octave and a half, from B3 to G5.[5]

The song opens with three pick up beats as André 3000 counts "one, two, three" (although the beats are actually two, three, and four) and then leads into the first verse. The lyrics begin to describe the protagonist's concerns and doubts about a romantic relationship.[2] He wonders if they are staying together just "for tradition", as in the lines "But does she really wanna [mess around] / But can't stand to see me / Walk out the door?" André 3000 commented, "I think it's more important to be happy than to meet up to...the world's expectations of what a relationship should be. So this is a celebration of how men and women relate to each other in the 2000s".[6] The song then leads into the chorus, which consists of the line "Hey ya!" repeated eight times, accompanied by a synthesizer performing the bassline.[5]

During the second verse, the protagonist gets cold feet and wonders what the purpose of continuing the relationship is, pondering the question, "If they say nothing is forever...then what makes love the exception?"[2] After repeating the chorus, the song leads into a call and response section. André 3000 jokes, "What's cooler than being cool?", and the "fellas'" response, an overdubbed version of his vocals, is "Ice cold", a reference to one of André Benjamin's stage names.[7] He then calls to the "ladies", whose response is overdubbed from vocals by Rabeka Tuinei,[4] who was an assistant to the audio engineer.[2]

The song's breakdown coined the phrase "shake it like a Polaroid picture", a reference to an erroneous technique used by some photographers to expedite instant film. Early versions of the film needed to be dried, and shaking the picture helped it to dry faster.[8] The breakdown also namechecks singer Beyoncé and actress Lucy Liu. The song closes by repeating the chorus and gradually fading out.[5]

Critical reception[edit]

"Hey Ya!" received positive reviews from music critics. PopMatters described the track as "brilliantly rousing" and "spazzy with electrifying multiplicity".[9] Entertainment Weekly highlighted it as the catchiest song on the double album,[10] and Stylus Magazine identified it as one of the best songs in OutKast's history.[11] "Hey Ya!" topped the 2003 Pazz & Jop list, a survey of several hundred music critics conducted by Robert Christgau, with 322 mentions, beating runner-up Beyoncé Knowles' "Crazy in Love" by 119.[12] It was listed at number 15 on Blender's 2005 list of "The 500 Greatest Songs Since You Were Born".[13]

The song's unusual arrangement drew comparisons to artists from a variety of genres. Pitchfork Media referred to it as the apex of the album and added that it successfully mixed Flaming Lips-style instrumentation with the energy of Prince's 1983 single "Little Red Corvette".[14] Subsequently, Pitchfork Media gave it the number two slot in its "The Top 100 Singles of 2000-2004" feature in January 2005, bested only by OutKast's own "B.O.B.".[15] Blender described it as a mix of soul music by Ike Turner and new wave music by Devo[16] and later as an "electro/folk-rock/funk/power pop/hip-hop/neo-soul/kitchen sink rave-up".[13] Rolling Stone compared André 3000's vocals to those of "an indie-rock Little Richard" and the backing arrangement to The Beatles' 1969 album Abbey Road,[17] later including the song in its 500 Greatest Songs of All Time and ranking it at number four on their 2011 list of the "100 Best Songs of the Aughts".[4][18] New York also likened it to The Beatles and found it to be one of the best singles of 2003.[19] AllMusic described it as an "incandescent" mix of electro, funk, and soul music.[20] NME likened trying to classify the song as "akin to trying to lasso water" and described it as "a monumental barney between the Camberwick Green brass band, a cruise-ship cabaret act, a cartoon gospel choir and a sucker MC hiccuping 'Shake it like a polaroid pic-chaaaa!' backed up by the cast of an amateur production of The Wizard of Oz. Sort of."[21] In 2011, they placed it at number three on its list of the "150 Best Tracks of the Past 15 Years".[22] In 2013, the sports website Grantland.com named it the best song of the millennium after a March-Madness style bracket of 64 songs. The music video of the same name was likewise well received by critics, who regarded it as a contemporary piece of post-industrial performance art. In 2014, NME ranked the song at #18 on their list of the 500 greatest songs of all time.[23]

Sales and impact[edit]

"Hey Ya!" was successful in North America, topping the Billboard Hot 100 for nine weeks, from December 13, 2003 to February 7, 2004.[24][25] The digital sales topped the Billboard Hot Digital Tracks for 17 consecutive weeks.[26] The song performed well in urban contemporary markets, topping the Rhythmic Top 40 chart and reaching number nine on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks. It was also successful in mainstream music, topping the Top 40 Mainstream and Top 40 Tracks and reaching number 13 on the Adult Top 40. Due to the song being influenced from funk and rock, the indie rock music origins allowed it to hit the alternative charts peaking at a moderately successful number 16 on the Modern Rock Tracks chart and due to the song's number 1 success on the pop charts, it led to be played often on modern rock radio stations despite only hitting number 16.[27] In September 2005, the Recording Industry Association of America certified the single platinum for shipping one million copies.[28] At the 46th Grammy Awards, the song won Best Urban/Alternative Performance and was nominated for Record of the Year, but lost to Coldplay's "Clocks".[29]

The song also performed well in Europe. In the United Kingdom, it debuted at number six on the UK Singles Chart and peaked at number three after 12 weeks, remaining on the chart for a total of 21 weeks.[30] "Hey Ya!" topped the Norwegian singles chart for seven weeks, and it reached the top in Sweden for the first week of 2004.[31][32] It performed well across the continent, reaching the top ten in Austria, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, and Switzerland.[33][34][35][36][37][38]

"Hey Ya!" debuted at number 17 on Australia's ARIA Singles Chart, and later topped the chart for two consecutive weeks.[39] The song remained on the chart for 16 weeks[39] and was certified double platinum by the Australian Recording Industry Association.[40] The song charted at number 61 for the 2003 end of year chart[41] and was listed at number 15 on the 2004 chart[42] and number five on the 2004 urban chart.[43] It was also successful in New Zealand, reaching number two and staying on the RIANZ Singles Chart for 23 weeks.[44]

The lyric "shake it like a Polaroid picture", along with the song's commercial success, helped to revitalize the Polaroid Corporation. Because current Polaroid film is sealed behind a clear plastic window, casually waving the picture has no effect on the film's development. Vigorously shaking the film may actually distort the image by causing the film to separate prematurely and creating blobs in the final image.[45] Nevertheless, Polaroid sought to capitalize on the allusion, hiring Ryan Berger of the Euro RSCG advertising agency.[46] Polaroid sponsored parties for OutKast, where Euro RSCG distributed Polaroid cameras.[47] OutKast made a deal to hold Polaroid cameras during some of its performances. Polaroid does not release sales figures, but its public image, previously in decline with the growing popularity of digital cameras, was bolstered by the song.[48]

Music video[edit]

Background[edit]

The song's music video, directed by Bryan Barber, is based on The Beatles' landmark appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show on February 9, 1964, but sets the action in London.[49] The beginning and end of the video blend with those of "The Way You Move" so that the two can be watched in either order,[50] and a "The Way You Move/Hey Ya!" video combining both clips with a bridging sequence was released on the OutKast: The Videos DVD.[51]

After listening to the song, Barber was inspired to create a video around the Beatles' appearance on Sullivan's show based on the song's musical structure, but André 3000 had never seen this footage. Barber showed him the footage to André 3000 and came up with the idea of reversing the British Invasion, by having the American band The Love Below becoming popular on a British television program.[49] The music video was filmed in two days in August 2003 on a sound stage at Universal Studios in Los Angeles, California. The cast consisted of over 100 girls. Each of André 3000's parts was shot several times from different angles, and he performed the song 23 times during the course of filming.[49] Because releasing "Hey Ya!" as a single was a last minute decision, André did not have time to choreograph the parts, and all of the dancing was improvised.[6] Ice Cold 3000's sequences were the first filmed, resulting in the character's energetic performance, and Johnny Vulture's were the last, so André, exhausted from the previous takes, sat on a stool for those sequences.[49]

Synopsis[edit]

The eight versions of André 3000 in the music video, performing on a set inspired by The Beatles' American debut on the The Ed Sullivan Show

In the video, André 3000 plays all eight members of The Love Below: keyboardist Benjamin Andre, bassist Possum Jenkins, vocalist Ice Cold 3000, drummer Dookie Blasingame, three backing vocalists The Love Haters, and guitarist Johnny Vulture.[49] The video opens with the band's manager Antwan (Big Boi) talking to Ice Cold 3000 and Dookie Blasingame backstage. Meanwhile, the television presenter, portrayed by Ryan Phillippe (another version featured an energetic Phillippe), tries to calm a crowd of screaming girls on a show being broadcast live in black-and-white. The band performs while the girls in the audience scream loudly; one girl is carried off by security after rushing the stage, and another faints. A family is shown dancing to the broadcast at home. When André 3000 instructs to "shake it like a Polaroid picture", some of the girls begin taking pictures and shaking them. Ice Cold 3000 dances with one of the girls on stage, and the video closes with several friends of the band watching and discussing the performance.

Reception[edit]

The music video was successful. The video debuted on MTV's Total Request Live on September 5, 2003 at number ten.[52] It topped the countdown for 19 days[53] and retired at number eight on November 24, having spent 50 days on the program.[54] At the 2004 MTV Video Music Awards, the video won four awards for Video of the Year, Best Hip-Hop Video, Best Special Effects, and Best Art Direction.[55]

It was also nominated for Best Direction but lost to Jay-Z's "99 Problems".[55] "Hey Ya!" was nominated for Best Short Form Music Video at the 46th Grammy Awards, but it lost to Johnny Cash's cover of Nine Inch Nails' "Hurt".[29] In Canada, the video topped MuchMusic's Countdown for the week beginning January 30, 2004,[56] and it won the award for Best International Video by a group at the 2004 MuchMusic Video Awards.[57] In 2006, Stylus Magazine listed it at number 72 on its "Top 100 Music Videos of All Time", comparing André 3000's dancing to James Brown's performances in the early 1970s.[58]

Cover versions[edit]

The rock influences of "Hey Ya!" have allowed many other artists to release cover versions of the song. One of the first covers was by indie rock band Razorlight, who performed it with the London Community Gospel Choir for a BBC Radio 1 session, later releasing their version as a B-side for their single "Vice".[59] In a similar vein, Will Young, also on the station, recorded a version of the song which became the B-side for his single "Friday's Child".[60] Young's version also appears on the compilation album Radio 1's Live Lounge.[61] Richard Cheese and Lounge Against the Machine recorded a lounge version of the song for their 2004 album I'd Like a Virgin.[62] Country band The BossHoss, Latin pop singer JD Natasha,[63] punk rock band Pennywise[64] and rock and roll band The Supersuckers have also recorded cover versions.[65] Organ player Booker T. Jones also recorded an instrumental version of this song, which appears on his 2009 album Potato Hole.[66]

In 2006, Mat Weddle, frontman of the unsigned folk band Obadiah Parker, performed an acoustic cover of the song at a local open mike night, and a friend of his posted a video of the performance on YouTube, which quickly became virally popular online.[67] Inspired by slowcore band Red House Painters, Weddle's version moves at a much slower tempo backed by a rhythmic guitar strum and converts the breakdown into a "staccato chime".[68] The cover received international airplay and spawned many other copycat acoustic versions.[69] In 2010, Sarah Blasko performed an acoustic cover of the song on Triple J's breakfast show with Tom Ballard and Alex Dyson during the Like a Version segment.[70] In 2011, Rita Ora released a YouTube video of her doing an acoustic cover of "Hey Ya!" at the request of her fans.[71] The video caught the attention of British drum and bass producer DJ Fresh who was looking for a voice for his song Hot Right Now.[72] Ora also performed the "Hey Ya!" cover during Radioactive Tour, the UK promotional tour for her debut album, Ora.[73] Kiwi Benny Tipene performed a cover of Hey Ya for his audition on The X Factor New Zealand. Tipene went on to finish third place in the competition although he has become arguably the most successful of the finalists. Miley Cyrus also covered the song on her Bangerz Tour, in 2014.

Formats and track listings[edit]

Personnel[edit]

The credits for "Hey Ya!" are adapted from the liner notes of Speakerboxx/The Love Below.[80]

Recording
Personnel
  • André 3000 – vocals, guitars, keyboards, production, audio programming
  • Kevin Kendricks – keyboards
  • John Frye – recording engineer
  • Pete Novak – recording engineer
  • Robert Hannon – recording engineer
  • Mike Nicholson – recording engineer
  • Josh Monroy – assistant recording engineer
  • Warren Bletcher – assistant recording engineer
  • Jared Robbins – assistant recording engineer
  • Rabeka Tunei – assistant recording engineer, additional vocals
  • Neal Pogue – audio mixer
  • Greg Price – assistant audio mixer

Charts[edit]

Certifications[edit]

Region Certification Sales/shipments
Australia (ARIA)[40] 2× Platinum 140,000^
Canada (Music Canada)[109] Gold 5,000^
New Zealand (RMNZ)[110] Gold 7,500*
Norway (IFPI Norway)[111] Platinum 10,000*
Sweden (GLF)[112] Platinum 20,000x
United Kingdom (BPI)[113] Gold 400,000^
United States (RIAA)[28] Platinum 1,000,000^

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone
xunspecified figures based on certification alone

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External links[edit]