I think it’s fair to say that the last time the word “Polaroid” was everywhere was 2003, when the Atlanta hip-hop duo Outkast released “Hey Ya.” It wasn’t just the song of the summer; it was the song of an entire year, ubiquitous on the air and in the mall, one of the last true mega-hits before the music business caved in on itself. It had an incredibly catchy, propulsive bass-and-synth groove at its core that keeps you bopping along, and the video riffs on an Ed Sullivan Show–ish TV appearance by the band (digitally turned into a foursome). And, of course, there was the bridge, built around a sexed-up line that every kid knew: “Shake it like a Polaroid picture.”
I’m not going to get into the whole don’t-shake-your-Polaroid-photos thing here; it’s been done to death. (Short recap: They don’t develop any faster, and you can crack ’em.) It’s like being the guy on Millennium Eve who kept insisting that the real turn of the century was at the start of 2001. He may have been right, but he missed out on a really big party.
Outkast’s Pola-moment starts at 3:53, but really, you should play the whole thing. It’s a perfect pop-meets-hip-hop song, the guys’ wardrobe is just great, and the production design is awesome.
My friend Emily recently asked me, at a party, whether this song comes up in the book. I was happy to tell her that it’s on page 1.
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