I happened to watch Matt Weddle’s acoustic cover of “Hey ya” today, courtesy of whoever posted it on YouTube. The video’s great, if you like watching bearded men playing acoustic guitars. After watching it I spent a happy five minutes reacquainting myself with the video for the original song, which is still a very fine piece of work – as, indeed, is the song. I don’t think Matt Weddle does anything very exciting with it, but he does demonstrate – almost by a process of elimination – that the song’s extraordinary catchiness doesn’t derive from the gospel backing singers or the sproingy bass line or that strange keyboard riff or the handclaps or the back-chat, fun though all of these are. Take all of those away and you’ve still got a song that loops round and round in a way that seems somehow wrong, to the point where it takes up residence in your mind like an unsolved crossword clue.
I think it’s a matter of an unexpected chord change, and in particular of an unexpected bar of 2:4. This, interestingly enough, is a feature which “Hey ya” shares with another infuriatingly memorable song – as you can see below.
One, two, three, four!
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Coincidence? You be the judge.