OutKast’s “Hey Ya!” is a timeless song that’s up there with “Billie Jean” and “Bohemian Rhapsody.” It was—and still is—a massive hit, topping the Billboard Hot 100 for nine weeks in 2003 and helping Speakerboxxx/The Love Below achieve Diamond-selling success. But more importantly, “Hey Ya!” is a stroke of genius, a heartbreaking reflection of modern love disguised as a feel-good dance floor anthem. André 3000 fucking Trojan Horse’d the world.
All of those things have made OutKast’s “Hey Ya!” such a popular song to cover. If you haven’t witnessed at least a dozen terrible drunk renditions in your life, then you really need to crash more weddings. On YouTube, there are more than 25 pages (I stopped counting at that point) of “Hey Ya!” covers, ranging from famous acts with millions of views to bedroom amateurs with more Facebook friends than video clicks.
As you can imagine, there are some pretty awful covers out there (my fellow Caucasians have a habit of picking up an acoustic guitar and ruining black songs). But there’s also some pretty great ones, too.
Here are the seven best OutKast “Hey Ya!” covers on the internet.
7. Postmodern Jukebox & Sara Niemietz
While most “Hey Ya!” covers involve an acoustic guitar and a soothing vocal performance, Postmodern Jukebox and Sara Niemietz get bonus points for giving OutKast’s 2003 hit a complete rework. Featuring drums, piano, baritone sax and backup vocalists, this cover channels the retro feel of OutKast’s music video (which itself draws inspiration from The Beatles’ 1964 performance on The Ed Sullivan Show) and transforms it into a breezy ballroom number. Postmodern Jukebox’s '40s swing cover of Drake’s “Hotline Bling” is pretty amazing—and infinitely less annoying—too.
Turning “Hey Ya!” into a song full of sorrow and hopelessness kinda takes away from the magic of the original, but it’s impossible to listen to Irish singer EDEN’s cover and not find yourself all in your feels. Lines like “‘cause the thought alone is killing me right now” take on a whole new meaning as the electric guitar feels like someone tugging at your heartstrings. Listen to this during one of those looking-through-my-ex’s-Facebook-photos-thinking-where-did-it-all-go-wrong? nights and that moment of silence at the two-minute mark will have your eyes running like the rain.
5. Obadiah Parker
Obadiah Parker (aka Mat Weddle) can claim to be the first “Hey Ya!” cover star. In 2006, a video of him performing OutKast’s song at a coffee shop in his native Tempe, AZ went viral and even landed him on the iTunes singer-songwriter charts in several European countries. With such a graceful performance from a guy who looks like he chops down trees for a living, it’s not hard to see why. Parker’s cover apparently inspired The Blanks to try their own hand at “Hey Ya!” (see below).
4. The Basement Hustle
I couldn’t tell you anything about The Basement Hustle other than the fact it’s one black guy and six white dudes (three not pictured), but homeboy’s Sway Beanie™ is a dead giveaway for the vibe they’re going for with this “Hey Ya!” cover. Featuring drums, guitar, keyboard and an MPC, The Basement Hustle come together for a reggae-flavored remake that shifts gears multiple times with ease. Shouts to dude for hitting that Godly falsetto, too.
Jamila Woods quietly dropped one of the best albums of 2016, but before going solo, she was the “M” in M&O alongside Otis (real name Owen Hill). The duo’s YouTube page is full of sincere soul (peep “Entire” and the Chance The Rapper-assisted “Lift Up”), but their most popular upload was this cover of OutKast’s “Hey Ya!” With help from a drummer, guitarist, keyboard player and backup vocalists, M&O’s take on the OutKast classic is a gorgeous blend of soothing vocals and live instrumentation.
2. The Blanks
Sorry, Obadiah Parker, but The Blanks did it better. Best known for their regular cameos on Scrubs, in which Ted and his merry band of colleagues would burst into song at any given moment, The Blanks’ “Hey Ya!” cover soundtracked Janitor's wedding episode, where all our favorite characters found—or rekindled—their love; “sticking through together,” just like their parents did. Scrubs was never the deepest—or even best—show, but I’ll be damned if that scene, and this song, didn’t make for heartwarming television.
One of KAMAU’s breakout moments was his cover of OutKast’s “Hey Ya!,” which feels appropriate considering he sounds like the spiritual successor to André 3000. With various ad libs, vocal inflections and tweaked lines that draw elsewhere from Speakerboxxx (“she lives in my lap, but who lives in my heart?”) sprinkled in, this is by far the most original take on OutKast’s “Hey Ya!”
KAMAU thanked 3 Stacks and Big Boi for “making a song that I enjoyed as a boy and that I, now, understand as a man.” The way he belts out the lyrics like they came from his own pen, it’s clear KAMAU connects with OutKast’s music on a deeper level than most. You can even hear the “Hey Ya!” influence in songs like “Jusfayu,” which also hides heartbreak in a joyful melody. 3 Stacks would be proud.
Art Credit: David Redon