The Bottom Line
This just might be the contemporary pop hit that will go down in the memory of fans as "that ukulele song." It leads off the song drawing immediate attention to Train's return to the pop top 10. Combine that unique feel with a catchy chorus and Patrick Monahan's familiar and distinctive voice and you have a deserved hit. You just might be clapping and singing along by the final chorus.
- The ukulele lead
- Patrick Monahan's engaging, effortless lead vocals
- Simple, slowly building mix that lets melody shine
- Gimmicky lyrics
- Written by Amund Bjorklund, Espen Lind, and Pat Monahan
- Produced by Espionage and Martin Terefe
- Released August 2009 by Columbia Records
Guide Review - Train - "Hey, Soul Sister"
It's not a common instrument in the pop music pantheon, but the ukulele, native to Hawaii, which kicks off "Hey, Soul Sister" seems to be just the thing to get pop-rock band Train back into the upper reaches of the pop charts. Train made a huge splash with their second album Drops of Jupiter in 2001 and its title single. The group won two Grammy Awards and the song spent over a year on the Billboard Hot 100. The future looked bright indeed. However, since that point, two successive albums failed to match the success, and the most recent did not generate any singles that reached the pop chart.
A bit of ukulele, a more folk-rock sound, and lyrics that tweak pop fans of a certain age with mention of Mr. Mister and Madonna, has produced a big top 10 pop single for the band. "Hey, Soul Sister" fits neatly with recent hits from Jason Mraz and Colbie Caillat. However, the effortless but arresting vocals of Patrick Monahan, always the group's most distinctive element, do make the song stand out from the crowd.
What can cause the song to wear thin after awhile is the lyrics themselves do sound a bit gimmicky with the pop culture references and lines like, "My heart is bound to beat right out my untrimmed chest." A certain amount of the success of the song should also be credited to the Norwegian songwriting and production team Espionage. They also had a significant hand in the past in Beyonce's "Irreplaceable" and Chris Brown's "With You." Look for "Hey, Soul Sister" to create even more demand for the team's magic as it brings Train back into the mainstream pop spotlight.