TRACK PREMIERE: LEENA OJALA – ‘HEY YA’
One of those songs that just immediately stuck with me, much like Gwen Stefani’s “What You Waiting For?”, I remember the first time I heard “Hey Ya!” by OutKast. I was 13 years old, walking with my mom in Downtown Orlando on a family vacation when the song burst on over a street speaker. I had never heard anything like it before: It was dancey, it was hip-hoppy, it was funky, it was soulful, it was poppy. Best of all, it was different. I was hooked.
When I received an email to premiere a cover of the song, I was skeptical at first. But when I listened to Leena Ojala’s airy take on the hit 2003 jam, I could sense that the song was just as special to the indie-pop songstress as it was to me. And it didn’t hurt that the cover was actually really good.
A moody, mid-tempo synth-pop rendition, Leena’s “Hey Ya!” is more wistful than funky-fresh. Combining the South London artist’s astral vocals and frosty trip-hop production, the cover creates a sense of cerebral atmosphere; a dreamscape of synths and trap-lite beats.
“‘Hey Ya!’ was the first track I ever did a cover of when I started playing the guitar at 16,” the singer-songwriter tells us of her decision to cover the tune, adding, “I played a solo acoustic cover of it in my gigs [and] it always went down well as it’s uptempo, dynamic and has a nice melody.”
Leena also shares that while working with producer Benbrick, they “went for a completely different sound and feel, keeping it uptempo but changing the emotion from happy to that of dreamy or reminiscing the past.”
She says, “In the initial choruses I try to reach out timidly, only hoping but not expecting to be heard, whereas in the final chorus I placed myself on a mountain top, imagining to reach out once more with all my heart.”
This baby don’t mess around. Listen below: