The Bottom Line
Michael Franti has been a leader in contemporary socially conscious protest music for more than two decades now. However, it is only with his most recent albums that he has approached a major commercial breakthrough. "Say Hey (I Love You)" is a left field pop hit in the best sense of the words utilizing the talents of true reggae legends Sly & Robbie in the production booth. Expand your pop boundaries as you dance and sing along with Michael Franti and his band Spearhead.
- Instantly engaging dancehall rhythm structure
- Michael Franti's relaxed, open singing style
- Lyrics of love and joy
- No significant negatives here
- Written by Michael Franti and Carl Young
- Produced by Michael Franti, Sly Dunbar and Robbie Shakespeare
- Released September 2008 by Anti
Guide Review - Michael Franti and Spearhead - "Say Hey (I Love You)"
Michael Franti and his band Spearhead are suddenly an overnight success with pop audiences after recording for over 20 years. The song "Say Hey (I Love You)" began taking off on radio in the spring of 2009, and an inclusion in the TV show Weeds didn't hurt either. Reggae legends Sly and Robbie give the song an engaging dancehall rhythm structure that easily communicates the love and joy in the lyrics. The moments where the song slows or opens up for silent, empty space are particularly effective. The impact of the production here isn't completely in the sounds present. It is also in the spaces left open.
Franti doesn't drop his social consciousness entirely for the sake of a simple love song. References to his travels and embrace of people around the world give "Say Hey (I Love You)" an engaging international feel. The back catalog of Michael Franti and his band Spearhead is one well worth exposing to a wider audience. However, casual pop fans will find his politically charged earlier music more challenging than his breakthrough hit here.
"Say Hey (I Love You)" also features the vocals of Jamaican dancehall artist Cherine Anderson. She has toured extensively with Michael Franti and Spearhead in 2008 and 2009. She has also worked with Sly & Robbie in the past. Fans of "Say Hey (I Love You)" would do well to explore additional songs recorded by Cherine Anderson. Like the success of M.I.A.'s "Paper Planes" last year, Michael Franti's breakthrough here is likely to expand the current horizons of pop further into international, underground sounds previously shut out of the mainstream.