Catchy, Good or Both? “HEY!”


For this edition of “Catchy, Good or Both?” we’ll be looking at a not-so-recent phenomenon that has come back into vogue within popular music in the last few years: yelling “HEY!”

This newly minted hit by the Lumineers was the genesis for this article because it has stretched this guttural tendency to a domineering new place. This song is based around yelling, well, “HEY” and “HO” over and over. But this ain’t no fun time Naughty-by-Nature singalong, it’s a folk song. This infectious monosyllable is not new, let’s take a look back at some recent examples before we come to a decision on whether “HEY!” is catchy, good or both.

This song by overzealous band-namers Of Monsters and Men, a new Icelandic outfit, uses the shouted “HEY!” in a way that is either novel and catchy, or terrible and derivative, depending on whether this is your first time listening to music.

Having spent a few years languishing in a limbo of compromised artistic ideals and not thinking to shout “HEY!” during a song, Edward Sharpe finally scored his breakthrough with this undeniably catchy slice of jangle pop.

2 years before Edward Sharpe made “HEY!” a part of current musical vernacular, Arcade Fire released this track, a standout on the under-appreciated Neon Bible and was also featured on their first EP.

So, is “HEY!” catchy?

-Any time a particular phrase or passage is sung by a large group of voices there’s a suggestion of inclusion, encouraging you to sing along.

-The “HEY!”s in all of these songs punctuate a rhythmic and melodic phrase simultaneously. Way to put your money where your “HEY!”s are, bands.

-”HEY!” is an utterance very easy to pronounce for the majority of human beings.

-The “HEY!”s in these songs all convey an inarticulate emotion. It’s probably the reason they are all sung by multiple voices; they can mean something different for each listener.

But is it good?

-The last of the above points has a backlash. “HEY!” what?

-In each of these songs “HEY!” is, arguably, central to the hook; central to drawing in the listener. Hedging the success of a song on something so simple is risky, and what was newly re-novel can come quickly become re-played-out.

These songs are all quite catchy, but for different reasons. It’s difficult to know if “HEY!” will stick around for a while or just dissapear for another 40 years.


Verdict: Very Catchy, Goodness results inconclusive (*with all due props to these guys and these guys)

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