The History Of 'Hey Ya!', As Explained By André 3000

Outkast's beloved hit "Hey Ya!" turned 10 years old this month, and despite its age, the song has remained as infectious as ever. For those fans who still shamelessly dance to the lyrics, "shake it like a Polaroid picture," we thought it'd be interesting to find a little about the story behind the song. So we reached out to André 3000 himself.

The internet is filled with tidbits about the apparent history of the 2003 hit. Here's what Mr. Benjamin said about what's fact and what's fiction.

Was "Hey Ya!" originally titled, "Thank God For Mom And Dad"?


André 3000: The song went through several working titles, that was one of them. That song was actually the oldest one on the album because I had started writing it during the Stankonia tour.

Did "The Love Below" begin as a soundtrack to a screenplay André 3000 had written?

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André 3000: There was never a screenplay but I did envision a story about a guy that went to Paris and each song represented a different woman. The concept started off as songs, then I reached out to a buddy to talk about filming it. We were green and didn’t realize how long it would take to get it done.

At the time, shooting a movie wasn’t done on digital cameras. It took time to shoot and a lot of money to finance. Musically, there was one vehicle (the record company) and you released full albums. Those realities affected the original plan.

Was the song about a particular woman that André 3000 had sex and fell in love with but then ended up getting cold feet about a relationship that could last forever?

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André 3000: The song isn’t autobiographical, it’s more like fantasies or tangents based on real life. Moments from my life spark a thought when I’m writing. The story was set in the 50’s, so the song was me trying do a Woody Allen kinda thing, a humorous kind of honesty.

We actually reached out to Woody Allen to appear in the video for “Hey Ya!” His schedule didn’t work though. We had also asked Ralph Lauren because I designed the clothes in the video to look like polo players, which is a style he popularized.

So, did André 3000 design those amazing green pants?

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André 3000, in a previous interview with The Daily Mail: I designed those before I had my own label -- Benjamin Bixby -- using fabric I found in my hometown. I got a seamstress to sew them up for me, and then the year the single came out I started to see more and more green in people's collections. I don't know if there's such a thing as a royal green, but that's what I like to call it.

In making "Hey Ya!", was André 3000 inspired by the Ramones, the Buzzcocks and the Smiths?

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André 3000: Yep. I was heavy into that -- this was my “bad” version of that because I didn’t know how to do it.

Now, as André 3000 says in "Hey Ya!", we gonna break this thang down for just a few seconds...

"Hey Ya!" was the first song to ever reach 1 million paid downloads. In iTunes' first year in existence, it was the most downloaded song.


Since its release in 2003 the song has continued to remain ubiquitous in pop culture. Check out this acoustic cover from the show, "Scrubs."

Or these dancing twins that went viral in 2011.

OR the Vampire Weekend song (which André told us he has yet to hear) that flips the name to "Ya Hey."

"Hey Ya!" made Rolling Stone's list of Greatest Songs Of All Time, along with countless best songs of the decade lists.


But for what it's worth, you're actually not supposed to shake Polaroid pictures.

So, of course we had to ask about this...

How did the line "Shake it like a Polaroid picture" come about? Apparently you're not actually supposed to shake those pictures.

André 3000: (Laughs) I have no idea! In rap, lyric writing is what comes to mind, that was just the visual I had. And you’re apparently not even supposed to do that. Same thing with the line about “all the Beyonces & Lucy Lius”…when I was writing, her video was on. It’s great when that happens, you’re not thinking, you’re just going with it.