This isn’t a full song analysis as much as something that it’s quite revealing to listen to. Two videos: the first one is the original version of OutKast’s 2003 hit, Hey Ya. Embedding is disabled, but you can Listen on YouTube.
The second one (embedding also disabled) is Obadiah Parker’s cover of the same song. The video quality is crappy, and the only member of the band you get to see is the front man, Matt Weddle. But it’s worth listening to.
OK, same song, radically different approaches - let’s do a bit of compare and contrast.
1. The OutKast version is a brilliant piece of production. There’s massive energy in there, sustained by a dominant, squidgy bass and that great da-da-da-DUM-da-da/ da-da-da-DUM-da-da rhythm. Andre 3000’s vocals have been compressed to lift out a lot of the overtones and undertones (especially in the deep bass) and had effects added to give a great edgy, almost sneery, arrogant, sound.
2. The Obadiah Parker version, which is really stripped down, shows us what a beautiful, simple song lies under the heavy production and effects of the OutKast version. It’s interesting because it takes the modern, hip-hoppy song back to one of the less talked about influences on all modern African American music, from blues and jazz onwards - traditional (white) American country and folk. It’s commonplace to say that work songs, spirituals and the rest had a big influence on African American song, but early American roots music did, too.
I’m not making a value judgment as part of this anaylsis - both versions are equally brilliant in their own ways. Two lessons:
1. A great song is a great song, and can be adapted to a range of styles.
2. If you’ve written a good song, try changing the style completely to see what the effect is: folky to jazzy, electric to acoustic and so on - you can really take yourself by surprise and discover new angles you’d not considered before. Analyse your own songs to see how you can shift perspectives around and maybe make a good piece of writing really great.