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The ten best "yeahs" in recent music history

The ten best "yeahs" in recent music history
Aaron Thackeray

Granted, sometimes invoking a pithy "yeah" in song might seem like token verbalizing just to fill in the gaps when a singer can't think of anything else to say. No argument there. Sometimes, though, a forceful "yeah" can express all kinds of raw, unbridled emotion (see James Hetfield). Uh-huh. Yeah. Exactly. See what I'm saying? Keep reading for a quick rundown of the best "yeahs" in music history. Yeaaaaahhhhhh!!!!

See also: The fifty worst rock/pop lyrics of all time

10. Yeah Yeah Yeahs (yeah, nothing in particular, just...that name!) Okay, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs get a place on this list because of their name. I mean, anyone who's committed enough to the glory and wonder of the "yeah" to name their band after it merits automatic inclusion in something like this, don't you think?

9. The Beatles - "She Loves You" The early Beatles' poppy, campy "yeahs" are the stuff of legend, and "She Loves You" is the crown jewel of their "yeah" empire. What was it about those "yeahs" that made teen girls want to rip off their bobby socks and go berserk? Songs like "She Loves You" conjure up a simpler time, before John and Paul wrote all their songs from beneath a barbiturate haze in Ravi Shankar's opium den.

8. Outkast - "Hey Ya!" "Hey Ya!" marked the moment when America realized that Andre 3000 was kind of a freak, but we were really into it. This song gave us so much, from fashionable plaid golf pants to endless debates over the effectiveness of shaking Polaroids (spoiler: It doesn't work). But the gentle "Hey ya" chorus backing up the frantic verses really sealed the deal. This song managed to turn two filler words into one of the catchiest choruses of the 2000s. What's cooler than being cool?

7. Yello - "Oh Yeah" Did you think that when you skipped school you would have an incredible time, like Ferris Bueller, instead of just sitting alone in your basement eating pizza rolls and playing Halo? Oh, how wrong you were. Regardless, this '80s Eurotrash wonder was the centerpiece of Bueller's reckless theft of Cameron's sweet, sweet ride: the cherry-red Ferrari. Ooooohhhh, yeeeeaaaahhhh.

 

6. Usher - "Yeah!" Welcome to the year 2004. W is about to get re-elected, Janet Jackson is about to have the wardrobe malfunction seen 'round the world, and you can't go freaking anywhere in America without hearing the song "Yeah!" by Urrrshrrr. The best part about this song -- besides everything, that is -- is that they brought in the King of Yeahs, Lil Jon, especially for his yeah powers. You can just see the board meeting full of suits: "We've got this great tune called 'Yeah!,' but I'm not sure Usher can handle it solo. We need a pro. Get Lil Jon on the phone."

5. Nirvana - "Lithium" "Lithium" may not be Nirvana's biggest hit from their runaway album Nevermind, but it's up there, partly because those yeahs are pretty righteous. Don't even pretend like you don't hear that "yeah" right now, just seeing that song title. These yeahs, notably, are the antithesis of Lil Jon. They're ironic. They're in air quotes. "Yeah," or whatever, I guess.

4. Busta Rhymes - "Woo-Hah! Got You All in Check" Ah, the late '90s. It was a time when rap videos were filmed with only one requirement: Use the fisheye lens as much as possible! Busta Rhymes sounds completely unhinged on this track. Technically, this lyric is a "yaw," but let's not be purists here. Not to be overlooked: His just-cut-loose marionette dance in a fuzzy yellow suit while incanting "Yaw yaw yaw yaw yaw." What is going on there?

 

3. The Who - "Won't Get Fooled Again" In this song, Roger Daltrey's immortal "Yeah!" steals the spotlight from Keith Moon's drumming badassery for, like, a second -- and damn, what a glorious moment that is. The Who's songs have now been featured ad nauseam in so many TV shows and movies (including, criminally, Robot Chicken and some godawful Joseph Gordon-Levitt flick) that it's easy to forget how powerful their songs actually are.

2. Collective Soul - "Shine" Collective Soul lead singer Ed Roland sounds like Eddie Vedder's most precious, marbles-in-mouth protege when he throws his syncopated "yeah"s into the chorus of their big hit, "Shine." Did the band make other music? Does it matter? Aside from that prurient "Turn your head now, baby, and spit me out" lyric, do you remember anything about Collective Soul but that yeah? Uh, no.

The ten best "yeahs" in recent music history

1. Lil Jon (pretty much everything he ever recorded) I'm sure Lil Jon has said other words in his life, but after Dave Chappelle's immortalizing skits, I'll challenge you to remember any of them except perhaps "What?!" and "OK!" Much like his perennially toted crunk juice cup, Lil Jon's "yeah"s are there to get you amped the eff up.





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