Wednesday, 14 October 2009

55: OutKast - Hey Ya!

"Shake it like a Polaroid picture"

With one memorable lyric, OutKast not only sealed their place in the history of popular music at the start of the 21st century, but also immortalised a dying technology. Thirty years from now, hardly anyone will even remember Polaroid cameras, consigned to the passing winds of change in the digital age. Yet you can be certain that people will still be dancing to OutKast's electrifying, vivid ode to relationships.

'Hey Ya!' is such a bizarre record, so difficult to place within the Noughties music history. It inspired some brilliant journalism, being described by Blender as "electro/folk-rock/funk/power pop/hip-hop/neo-soul/kitchen sink rave-up" and by NME as "a monumental barney between the Camberwick Green brass band, a cruise-ship cabaret act, a cartoon gospel choir and a sucker MC hiccuping 'Shake it like a polaroid pic-chaaaa!' backed up by the cast of an amateur production of The Wizard of Oz."

Amazingly, it only peaked at #3 in the UK singles chart, despite hanging around the Top 40 for five months. But it will remain as one of the most universally beloved tracks of the decade, a short, joyful burst of energy that all ages can appreciate.

One final thought, regarding that most memorable of lyrics. It falls into the "I never knew that" category. According to Wikipedia, "because current Polaroid film is sealed behind a clear plastic window, casually waving the picture has no effect on the film's development. Vigorously shaking the film may actually distort the image by causing the film to separate prematurely and creating blobs in the final image."

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