By Lindsay Der
Amusing adlibs, upbeat percussion, and nasally vocals—on the surface, “Hey Ya!” by OutKast embodies a cheery, lighthearted listen. However, the early 2000s hit takes a turn for the depressing with closer attention to the lyrics. Discouragingly, the song follows a man as he describes a crumbling relationship with an unknown partner.
“My baby don’t mess around
Because she loves me so, and this I know for sure (Uh)
But does she really wanna
But can’t stand to see me walk out the door? (Ah)”
In the opening lines, André 3000, the half of the hip hop duo who wrote and performed the song, confidently applauds his partner for staying loyal, but questions the motive for her faithfulness. He wonders if she only refrains from cheating because she fears him leaving her rather than her commitment to the relationship.
“We get together, oh, we get together
But separate’s always better when there’s feelings involved (Ah)”
Seemingly tones of regret present themselves in these lyrics, the rapper claiming that it’s better to stay apart… even when you have feelings for each other. André 3000 feels trapped in his relationship, despite the fact that he loves his girl.
“So why oh, why oh, why oh, why oh, why oh
Are we so in denial when we know we’re not happy here?”
André bemoans the situation that he and his partner found themselves in—neither one happy but both refusing to end their relationship.
“Y’all don’t wanna hear me, you just wanna dance”
Buried beneath the chorus, the lyrics provided a powerful foreshadowing of the perception of “Hey Ya!” by the public; instead of a poignant ballad about a failing couple, the song is mistakenly perceived as a lively dance number.