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July 18, 2007

Hey Hey You You: A Pop Controversy

Ooh, there's a controversy brewing in PopTown!

It seems that Canadian post-teen pop sensation Avril Lavigne has been caught with her hand in the cookie jar. THE POP MUSIC LYRIC SWIPING COOKIE JAR!!!

Members of The Rubinoos, an obscure 70s rock band, claim that Lavigne ripped off their (only) hit song "I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend" on recent single "Girlfriend". Needless to say, they've called their lawyers. Though it's not clear if Avril actually broke the law, there certainly are similarities.

Yeah, well. I guess you could call that a STRONG similarity. Not one to be accused of stealing something that was like totally her idea and stuff, Avril fired back. In a blog-style response on her website, Avril denied any meaningful similarities to the Rubinoos song. She does have a point. Whereas the Rubinoos song is a delightful slice of American proto-powerpop, Avril's song is a forgettable specimen of bubblegum brat-punk. But, ultimately, the whole issue comes down to four little words:

"hey hey you you"

Come to think of it, that's only two words. Echoed. This particular pop invocation is hardly new to popular music. Avril herself points out that the Rolling Stones used it in their classic anthem "Get Off of My Cloud". When Mick Jagger sang "hey hey you you get off of my cloud", he spoke for a whole generation of large lipped rockers who were no longer willing to share their hard-earned frozen clusters of water vapor droplets with random interlopers.

Since this song preceded both Lavigne and The Rubinoos, one might conclude that -- rather than the former ripping off the latter -- both artists simply copped the Stones.

Not so fast. The Rolling Stones weren't the first ones to tap the awesome power of Hey Hey You You. Some pop historians believe that Mick Jagger stole the chorus of "Get Off of My Cloud" from none other than "Jazz Singer" Al Jolson.


Jolson's classic "Hey Hey You You (Wan' Me to Shine yo Shoes fo' you Massa?)" has been largely forgotten due to Political Correctness -- but Mick Jagger is an unapologetic fan of Al Jolson. Always has been. Could Jagger have "borrowed" this line from Jolson?

No. Not possible. If pop historians pulled their heads out of their $20,000 stereo systems for five minutes, they would realize that "Hey Hey You You" predates even Al Jolson. BY SEVERAL CENTURIES.

The first documented use of this pop invocation can be found circa 915 AD, in the Gregorian chant "Heu Heu, Tu Tu, Abi a meis Testibus". The literal translation of this latin chant would be "Alas Alas, You You, Depart from my Testicles". However, for our purposes, the modernized translation of "Hey Hey, You You, Get Off of my Nuts" will work just fine.

Avril, Jagger, whoever the fuck was in The Rubinoos -- they were all inspired by an antiquated religious chant. Who says religion is stupid and worthless?

Special thanks to Circa Eyes from the Latin Hotline for Latin Translation support. Also please note that the original caption of the Al Jolson pic above was "I'm like the beta version of Lenny Kravitz."

Posted by Joey at July 18, 2007 03:37 AM

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