No musician puts a "Hey!" in a song for his/herself. "Hey!" is a social cue, an opportunity for engagement between a musician and the audience. It means nothing, but it means the same nothing to all of us and therefore means something, maybe even everything. Woah. Here are the six best "Hey!"s in rock and roll. And, uh, hey, let us know your favorites in the comments below.
6. The Beatles - "You've Got To Hide Your Love Away"
"You've Got To Hide Your Love Away" is best link between the happy go lucky Help! Beatles and the serious, ambitious Rubber Soul Beatles. John Lennon kicks off each hook with a "Hey!" so enthusiastically that he jumps in his chair at the 1:35 mark of the above video. The snippet from the Help! film does a great job of portraying the occasional boringness of being Ringo, and it basically sets up the cover art for Definitely Maybe by Oasis. The "Hey!" is a sly trick at play. Some songs try to get a hook in your head by repeating it ad nauseum. "You've Got To Hide Your Love Away" earworms its way in by yelling at you to pay attention first.
5. Arcade Fire - "Une Annee Sans Lumiere"
The aftermath of Arcade Fire's debut Funeral, those thousands of indie bands with dozens of members, can distract from how fresh the album seemed upon release. "Une Annee Sans Lumiere" is never a song people call their favorite. It's a slow jam with more than half of its lyrics in French and it makes zero references to space dogs. But this song may have the largest impact, as it pioneered the modern "Hey!" The Arcade Fire "Hey!" is short and shouted and usually doused in reverb, and there's currently a song on top 40 radio that uses it heavily.
4. The Ramones - "Blitzkrieg Bop"
You can't have "Ho!" and "Let's Go!" without "Hey!" Also, if you forgot how awesome The Ramones' guitars sound, re-educate yourself, fool.
3. Four Non Blondes - "What's Up?"
The "Hey!" in "What's Up?" by 4 Non Blondes is not the typical chanted variation. It's a slow, elongated "Hey!" that takes four seconds to elapse. This is the "Hey!" equivalent to the "Yeah!" of Nirvana's "Lithium."
Quick aside to those who grew up in St. Louis - does the official version of "What's Up?" seem less familiar than the dance remix that was heavily in rotation on Q 104.1 back in the 90s?
2. Piebald - "American Hearts"
Piebald was a mathy emo-ish rock band from Boston who had a tendency to get a bit too cheeky at times. You know, like writing songs about ice cream. The band's most delicate balance occurred on its 2002 landmark We Are The Only Friends We Have which spawned the almost-hit single "American Hearts." I actually remember hearing this on 105.7 The Point, but the masses want nu-metal and nu-metal they shall receive. "American Hearts" uses its "Hey!" deliberately with a chorus of "Hey! You're part of it." In a way, it is a wake-up call. The band's singer Travis Shettel chronicles the tensions of modern America, the way we all contribute to the fabric of a society that can be unequal and stubborn. But "Hey!" pay attention to me, because you need to know that we're all in this together. For better or worse, you're part of it. It's actually a really responsible statement for a rock song.
1. Gary Glitter - "Rock'n Roll Part Two"
Really, it has to be "Rock'n Roll Part Two," because it is usually seen parenthetically as "Rock'n Roll Part Two (The Hey Song)." Hearing this song in a public setting, it takes physical restraint to not shout "Hey!" at the appropriate time. It's that whole involuntary, classical conditioning, Pavlov's dog thing that comes along with a song embedding itself deeply into our culture.
With that said, let's discuss how freaky Gary Glitter and his band are on the performance video of "Rock'n Roll Part Two," how uncomfortable the relatively straight-laced kids in the crowd are, how the guitar player with the star has to reconnect his strap at 1:40, and how beautiful it is that somebody this alien is responsible for the most notorious "Hey!" in rock history. Think about how even the most queer-bashing Westboro Baptist Church member would not think twice about shouting along to this song, even though Glitter is androgynous as it gets and the drummer looks like Mrs. Doubtfire and the action of partaking in the song is an indirect approval of these freaks. To this I say - "Hey, you're part of it."