Song of the Day #1,797: ‘Ya Hey’ – Vampire Weekend

vampire_weekend_stepEvery year I set aside a few weeks in late December to recap my favorite songs of the year. It’s the one blog feature that I actively think about throughout the year — deliberately holding off from posting certain new songs because I know they will likely factor into the best-of series.

But sometimes I get bitten. It sounds funny, but occasionally I’ll post a song before I realize how much I like it. Or I’ll post a track in my “songs of summer” week only to discover that it’s also one of my favorites of the year.

I have ways around the dilemma — alternate versions or live performances can help a song sneak past the no-repeats rule — but it can be annoying.

This came up again recently when I posted ‘Step,’ the first release from Vampire Weekend’s new album, Modern Vampires of the City. It was a sneak peek of the much-anticipated album and I couldn’t resist throwing it out there.

Problem is, it also quickly became my favorite track on the record. So how would I deal with that in December?

Fortunately, Modern Vampires of the City is a grower, and it has revealed many more gems over time. My favorite track on the record is no longer ‘Step’ — it’s a subtler track that I will reveal six months from now.

Honestly, though, almost any track on this record could be on my year-end list. It’s a gorgeous and thought-provoking album, and the band’s best work to date. These prep school hipsters are making the most beautiful pop music I’ve heard in years.

Today’s track, ‘Ya Hey,’ is a fine example. Like many songs on the album, it is rooted in spirituality and religious uncertainty. It even contains a spoken-word verse (normally a big no-no in my book) that works like gangbusters. Vampire Weekend takes chances that almost always pay off, and I love them for it.

And for those of you who have the album, feel free to guess my new favorite song.

[Verse 1]
Oh, sweet thing
Zion doesn’t love you
And Babylon don’t love you
But you love everything
Oh, you saint
America don’t love you
So I could never love you
In spite of everything

In the dark of this place
There’s the glow of your face
There’s the dust on the screen
Of this broken machine
And I can’t help but feel
That I’ve made some mistake
But I let it go
Ya Hey (x3)

Through the fire and through the flames
(Ya hey x2, Ut Deo, ya hey x2)
You won’t even say your name
(Ya hey x2, Ut Deo, ya hey x2)
Through the fire and through the flames
You won’t even say your name
Only “I am that I am”
But who could ever live that way?
(Ya Hey x2)
Ut Deo, Ya Hey
Ut Deo, Deo

[Verse 2]
Oh, the motherland don’t love you
The fatherland don’t love you
So why love anything?
Oh, good God
The faithless they don’t love you
The zealous hearts don’t love you
And that’s not gonna change

All the cameras and files
All the paranoid styles
All the tension and fear
Of a secret career
And I think in your heart
That you’ve seen the mistake
But you let it go
Ya Hey (x3)


[Middle 8]
Outside the tents, on the festival grounds
As the air began to cool, and the sun went down
My soul swooned, as I faintly heard the sound
Of you spinning “Israelites”
Into “19th Nervous Breakdown”


Through the fire and through the flames
You won’t even say your name
Only “I am that I am”
But who could ever live that way?
(Ya Hey x2)
Ut Deo, Ya Hey
Ut Deo, Deo Annotate

5 thoughts on “Song of the Day #1,797: ‘Ya Hey’ – Vampire Weekend

  1. Amy says:

    “Not ‘Young Lion’ said Maddie. “That would be so pretentious,” not realizing she was being just as pretentious by saying that. 😉 Daniel suggested a song called “Hannah Hunt” (I think; I’m the new album novice in the family) and Maddie readily agreed. “That’s my pick; I have too much faith in Clay to think it’s Young Lion.”

    Clearly I have some homework to do.

  2. Dana says:

    The video isn’t playing, saying it doesn’t exist. No matter, as I am familiar with the song, as it is a great one from a great album. I’m not sure i am ready to declare this their best, but perhaps I will come to that conclusion in time. The debate to me harkens back to whether Paul Simon’s Graceland or rhythm of the saints is the better album. As I have been the one advocating for Rhythm, perhaps I will feel similarly as to this album as well.

  3. Clay says:

    It’s not ‘Young Lion.’ 🙂

  4. pegclifton says:

    Just wondering if in your comments “sometimes I get bitten” has to do with the Vampire Weekend?

  5. Dana says:

    I too think it’s “Hannah Hunt.”

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