“Hey Ya!” is the first single from André 3000’s half of OutKast’s Speakerboxxx/The Love Below double album. André said the following about the concept of this genre-bending song:
‘Hey Ya!’ is pretty much about the state of relationships in the 2000s. It’s about some people who stay together in relationships because of tradition, because somebody told them, ‘You guys are supposed to stay together.’ But you pretty much end up being unhappy for the rest of your life.
He also added:
The song isn’t autobiographical, it’s more like fantasies or tangents based on real life. Moments from my life spark a thought when I’m writing. The story was set in the ‘50s, so the song was me trying do a Woody Allen kinda thing, a humorous kind of honesty.
André also revealed another source of inspiration in the creation of the song:
I had to tell Aretha Franklin that “Say A Little Prayer” had a lot to do with the song ‘Hey Ya!’ They’re similar [time signatures]. It’s hard to explain, but listening to that song, the way the loop comes back around, is kinda how I devised ‘Hey Ya.’ And I had to tell her that she is a big part of that song.
Engineer Pete Novak said the following about the recording process:
He would do 30 or 40 takes of each line. […] We [recorded] a lot of vocals and lived with them and trashed them. There were so many different versions of that song. If I had the files, I could let you hear 20 different versions of that song. There were lots of ideas that were interesting, but I’m happy with the way it turned it out. We had one of the verses with him singing through a vocoder. It was cool at the time, but it didn’t really work.
The music video features André and his band The Love Below re-creating The Beatles' performance of “I Want To Hold Your Hand” on The Ed Sullivan Show from February 9, 1964. With 3 Stacks playing all the different members of the band, he had to perform the song 23 times so the video could be shot from multiple angles.
The single achieved platinum status and reached #1 on the pop charts in multiple countries, including the US Billboard Hot 100 chart. “Hey Ya!” racked up numerous accolades, including a Grammy Award for Best Urban/Alternative Performance and a ranking of #182 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.
Bryan Barber directed the music video, which won Video of the Year honors in 2004 at the BET Awards, Soul Train Music Awards, and the MTV Video Music Awards.