Hey You (Madonna song)

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"Hey You"
Madonna Hey You singlecover.jpg
"Hey You" cover
Promotional single by Madonna
Released May 17, 2007
Format Digital download
Genre Pop
Length 4:12
Label Warner Bros.
Writer Madonna

"Hey You" is a pop charity song by American singer-songwriter Madonna. It was co-produced by Pharrell Williams. The song was released as part of the Live Earth campaign and was free to download from websites like MSN. It was released digitally as well as on the CD and DVD of the Live Earth concerts on December 4, 2007.[1] Musically it is a stripped-down, folksy ballad with straightforward, anthem-like lyrics talking about how to save the world from destruction. The song received generally mixed reviews, with one group of reviewers commenting that the modest message of the song was uninspiring while others called the song sweet and commended Madonna's commitment to charity.

The song was initially released as a free download for a period of seven days before being made available as a regular digital single. Once it had been released as a regular digital single, it entered the lower reaches of the sales charts of a few countries including the United Kingdom, Canada, Sweden and Switzerland. Madonna only performed the song once at the Live Earth concert, London, where she was joined by a choir of school children who provided backing vocals to her singing while the backdrops displayed images relevant to the song's message, like natural devastations, different cultures and political leaders.


The song was written by Madonna, who also co-produced it along with Pharrell Williams in honor of the 2007 Live Earth concert in London. It was inspired by the climate change campaign.[2] Live Earth was a music event that brought together more than hundred headlining artists in a series of concerts, two billion people and launched a mass movement to combat climate crisis. The concerts took place in cities like New York, London, Sydney, Tokyo, Shanghai, Rio de Janeiro etc. It marked the beginning of a multi-year campaign led by The Alliance for Climate Protection to move individuals, corporations and governments to take action.[3] The song was made available to be downloaded in MP3 and WMA formats on MSN's Live Earth website.[3] Microsoft pledged to donate $0.25 per download to the "Alliance for Global Climate Change" society for the first million downloads of the track.[4] Live Earth founder Kevin Wall said in a statement, "We are thrilled that Madonna donated her art to Live Earth and is a part of this movement for us."[4]


A 26 second sample from Madonna's song "Hey You" where Madonna sings the first verse.

Problems playing this file? See media help.

"Hey You" is a stripped-down, straightforward mid-tempo ballad[5] with influences of folk in it and features lyrics like "Hey you/ Don't you give up/ It's not so bad/ There's still a chance for us."[4] The lyric conveys the message that purifying your own soul can open the way, by which one can change the mind of others.[5] According to The New York Times, the lyrics have straightforward, anthem-like meaning with lines like "You can change someone else/Then you have saved someone else/ But you must first love yourself."[6] Daryl Davis from Blogcritics felt that "Hey You" is about making the world a better place. The song begins with the sound of acoustic guitars, leading to an instrumental chorus, which according to Davis, is "simple and touching".[7]

Critical reception[edit]

Sarah Hall from E! Online called the song to be unlikely inspiring to the listeners to hit the dance floor.[4] Jon Pareles from The New York Times, while reviewing the Live Earth concert in London, said that the song and its lyrics like "Don’t you give up/it’s not so bad" are not exactly eloquent.[8] While reviewing Madonna's album Hard Candy, he commented that "Hey You" failed to be the equivalent of Madonna's cover version of John Lennon's song "Imagine". He also noted that "[t]he song came and went, raising some corporate donations".[9] Alessandra Stanley from The New York Times commented that the song had a modest message with lines like "Don't you give up/it's not so bad/there's still a chance for us."[10]

Michael Hirschorn from The Atlantic Monthly said that the song was proof that Madonna's heart was in the right place.[5] Responses from the Madonna fansites were also mixed with some fans decrying the track's message as overly sentimental and the lyrics as weak, while others defended the song as "sweet" and "not that bad," while commending the singer's commitment to charity.[4] Daryl D from Blogcritics felt that "even if the lyrics are slightly clichéd, Madonna gives her best vocal performance since the Evita years and adds feeling when the lyrics falter.... The production on this record is outstanding. It also proves that Madonna brings more to the table on her own records than her critics give her credit for because this sounds absolutely nothing like a song Pharrell Williams would produce. The acoustic guitars at the beginning lead to an instrumental chorus that is simple and touching."[7]

Chart performance[edit]

"Hey You" was promoted through the official Live Earth website and the July 7, 2007 concert in London. There was no physical single released. However, it managed to chart in countries like Canada, Sweden and Switzerland in its second week of release based purely on paid downloads. In Canada the song entered for one week on the Canadian Hot 100 chart at position fifty-seven and was present for one week only[11] In Switzerland, it entered the chart at position sixty[12] but fell down to ninety-one the next week.[13] The song started climbing up again and ultimately reached a peak of fifty-five on the chart issue dated September 2, 2007.[14] The song was present on the chart for a total of seven weeks.[15] It debuted on the Swedish Singles Chart at number fifty-eight[16] and reached a peak of fifty-seven.[17] It was present on the chart for three weeks.[18] The song was also able to chart at the lower positions of the UK Singles Chart.[19] It reached the top ten in the Czech chart.[20] In the United States, the song sold 3,000 digital downloads after it was made non-free on iTunes. The song was not eligible to chart on the Hot Digital Songs since both Billboard and Nielsen SoundScan do not allow free downloads to chart.[21]

Live performance[edit]

Madonna performing "Hey You" on the concert. She is surrounded by a choir of children in school uniform.

On May 17, 2007, Warner Bros. Records announced Madonna as one of the seventeen headliners performing at Wembley Stadium for the London stop of the Live Earth concerts. It is still the only venue where Madonna has performed the song.[3] Madonna's set list was the last performance of the London leg before the concert moved to New York City. "Hey You" was the first of the set list which consisted of a total of four songs.[22] It was also used as the bridging music between the bands performing at Wembley. The performance started with the symbolic turning-off of lights of the stadium which plunged it into darkness except for the lights on the stage and that from the cameras. Actor Terence Stamp who compered the show, declared "Let’s not be endarkened by this, let's be enlighteened by this. Let it be the beginning of an adventure!"[23] Madonna came out on the stage wearing a black satin leotard[24] accompanied by a long line of children in school uniform.[25] The children were compared to the Hogwarts school choir from the Harry Potter series by The New York Times.[10] Madonna started singing the song while holding the amplifier in her hand. The backdrop imitated the song's message by displaying a procession of images of environmental devastations like fires, nuclear power plants, suffering animals—which altered with images of visionary leaders like Nelson Mandela, Aung San Suu Kyi, Mahatma Gandhi, and current political leaders like George W. Bush, Gordon Brown and Nicolas Sarkozy.[5] The video progressed to display the image of underdressed but nonetheless festive African children tossing a globe into the air, where it resolved into an image of the Earth as seen from space.[5] The idea of the video was to transpose the images of the world leaders with natural disasters.[23] The lyrics of the song were also projected as supertitles.[6] Backing vocals were provided by the children. The performance ended with Madonna and the kids coming in front of the stage and saluting the crowd.[26] This backdrop was created by Johan Söderberg and Marcus Lindkvist to support Live Earth. The performance saw an increase in Madonna's digital and album sales. HMV reported that sales of Madonna's 1990 greatest hits compilation The Immaculate Collection doubled up than that from the previous week of the performance. Also, there was an increase in the downloads of "Hey You" from the retailers.[27]



Chart (2007) Peak
Canadian Hot 100[11] 57
Czech Airplay Chart[20] 9
Swedish Singles Chart[17] 57
Swiss Singles Chart[14] 55
UK Singles Chart[19] 187


  1. ^ Press Release (2007-10-16). "Live Earth – Digital Album Available Now". Live Earth. Retrieved 2009-06-02. 
  2. ^ Crueger, Andie (2007-05-17). "Madonna pens song for Live Earth". BBC (BBC Online). Retrieved 2009-05-20. 
  3. ^ a b c Press Release (2007-05-17). "Madonna writes new song "Hey You" for Live Earth". Live Earth. Retrieved 2009-05-20. 
  4. ^ a b c d e Hall, Sarah (2007-05-17). ""Hey You," Madonna's Got a New Song". E! Online (E! Entertainment Television Inc.). Retrieved 2009-05-20. 
  5. ^ a b c d e Hirschorn, Michael (2007-11-13). "Falling Stars". The Atlantic Monthly (Boston) 300 (4): 171. ISSN 1072-7825. 
  6. ^ a b Pareles, Jon (2007-07-27). "Live Earth: Madonna’s Uplifting Waltz". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-05-21. 
  7. ^ a b Davis, Daryl (2007-05-17). "Music Review: Madonna – "Hey You" – Page 2". Blogcritics. Retrieved 2010-06-04. 
  8. ^ Pareles, Jon (2007-07-09). "An Alignment of the Stars in a Plea for Green Heard Round the Planet". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-05-20. 
  9. ^ Pareles, Jon (2008-04-27). "Material Woman, Restoring Her Brand". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-05-20. 
  10. ^ a b Stanley, Alessandra (2007-07-07). "Sounding the Global-Warming Alarm Without Upsetting the Fans". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-05-21. 
  11. ^ a b "Canadian Hot 100: Week Ending June 6, 2007". Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. 2007-06-16. Retrieved 2009-05-20. 
  12. ^ "Swiss Singles Top 100". Swiss Music Charts. Hung Medien. 2007-07-29. Retrieved 2009-05-20. 
  13. ^ "Swiss Singles Top 100". Swiss Music Charts. Hung Medien. 2007-08-05. Retrieved 2009-05-20. 
  14. ^ a b "Swiss Singles Top 100". Swiss Music Charts. Hung Medien. 2007-09-02. Retrieved 2009-05-20. 
  15. ^ "Swiss Singles Top 100". Swiss Music Charts. Hung Medien. 2007-09-09. Retrieved 2009-05-20. 
  16. ^ "Swedish Singles Top 60". Sverigetopplistan. Hung Medien. 2007-06-06. Retrieved 2009-05-20. 
  17. ^ a b "Swedish Singles Top 60". Sverigetopplistan. Hung Medien. 2007-06-21. Retrieved 2009-05-20. 
  18. ^ "Madonna – Hey You (Song)". Sverigetopplistan. Hung Medien. 2007-07-12. Retrieved 2009-05-20. 
  19. ^ a b "Chartstats – Madonna singles". The Official Charts Company. Chartstats.com. 1983–2010. Archived from the original on 2012-07-30. Retrieved 2009-05-25. 
  20. ^ a b "RADIO TOP100 Oficiální – Madonna Hey You". International Federation of the Phonographic Industry. IFPIcr.cz. 2007-07-31. Retrieved 2009-07-29. 
  21. ^ Caulfield, Keith (2007-07-06). "Ask Billboard: Free To Be... On The Charts?". Billboard (Nielsen Business Media, Inc.). Retrieved 2009-07-01. 
  22. ^ Sutherland, Mark (2007-07-07). "Live Earth London Wraps With Madonna Spectacular". Billboard (Nielsen Business Media, Inc). Retrieved 2009-05-21. 
  23. ^ a b Reporter, Staff (2007-07-07). "Madonna brings Live Earth London to its climax". NME (IPC Media). Retrieved 2009-05-21. 
  24. ^ Cooper, Glenda (2007-07-08). "Live Earth London's Glacial Pacing". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2009-05-21. 
  25. ^ Channel, News (2007-07-08). "Live Earth gigs send eco-warning". BBC (BBC Online). Retrieved 2009-05-21. 
  26. ^ Lewis, Derence (2007-07-07). "Madge closes Live Earth with a bouncing, planet-saving set". MTV (MTV Networks). Retrieved 2009-05-21. 
  27. ^ Reporter, Daily Mail (2007-07-10). "BBC receive 150 complaints over use of foul language during Live Earth". Daily Mail. Retrieved 2009-05-21. 

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