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Thursday, December 18, 2003
Tom Ewing gives an ambivalent take on "Hey Ya."

He's probably not referring to my earlier assessment of the song when he says: "I'm also sympathetic to the idea that if 'Hey Ya' is the start of something then it's the start of something lame: I'm no more looking forward to everybody doing a wacky guitar track than I am to checking out the Darkness clone bands." He could very well be referring to some ILM thread which I haven't read, as, um, I don't read ILM, but regardless, I can honestly say I'm not sure I've read anyone yet who hates it. Well, I guess that shows that you shouldn't listen to me on inter-blog feuds, and why I've generally stopped participating as much as I should...

But anyway, yes, I said that I think "Hey Ya" could be the start of something, but I, being I, thought this would probably be something good. But if I'm reading Tom right, we're suggesting two different paths. He (and apparently others?) seem to be assuming that "Hey Ya" will breed a bunch of hip-hop artists doing guitar tracks, which, I dunno, seems so obvious that it would mostly work out bad that I don't even know why you'd have to bring it up. Hip-hop guys have little talent for writing a rocky song like "Hey Ya," and indie folks have pretty much no talent for writing hip-hop songs. One of the great things about Outkast is how readily their songwriting can slip convincingly into other genres and songforms. But: I think "Hey Ya" is much closer to indie than hip-hop, honestly, and were (God forbid) a good indie songwriter to try and do a Prince- and hip-hop-influenced song, in the right hands it could go very well. I'm still interested to see someone try it. It's a good model.

Then again, I'm not so sure it'd be horrible for hip-hop folk, as long as you take out the "wacky," and really, is "wacky" really a prized asset in hip-hop these days? Guitar's been used productively in any number of great hip-hop songs, and maybe this is just a different way of doing it. But yeah, I have to admit that "Hey Ya" ripoffs would be pretty bad--so much of that song is being carried by Andre's charming personality that I can only see, eh, Eminem doing something like that well.