Last Modified: Thursday, June 26, 2014 10:34 AM
Turn on any radio station in the country and the chances are high that at some point, you’ll hear Pharrell’s feel-good hit of the year, “Happy,” playing across the airwaves. Honestly, it makes sense. The melody is catchy. The lyrics are positive and the song has been No. 1 on countless music charts. It’s also the lead single from 2013’s “Despicable Me 2.”
Over the last few weeks, another version of the song has been in heavy rotation at radio stations all over the region. Sean Ardoin and Zydekool’s version of “Happy” has a little bit of Janelle Monáe’s “Tightrope” and a lot of zydeco spin.
The video for Ardoin’s take on the song has nearly 40,000 hits on YouTube and a video tutorial for a line dance made to Ardoin’s version also has a few thousand views online.
In a music industry where mainstream stations usually shy away from playing zydeco music, Ardoin has found a way into the public consciousness. It all started one day when he was sitting in the car, listening to the radio.
“I was listening to XM radio and I heard the song. This was before the song actually got hot. The DJ said something like, ‘Pharrell has been pushing this song. I like it. It makes me happy, and I hope it makes you happy,’ ” Ardoin said. “People say they hear a higher power or an inner voice. I like to call it the Holy Spirit; you may call it something else. The Holy Spirit told me that if I recorded the song, people will hear me.”
Ardoin was actually out of the music industry at one point for about eight years. He took the sabbatical to focus on his faith. Early on in his return, progress was a pretty slow process. Still, Ardoin said he kept working and making music he actually cared about. That care, that passion is evident in the video for his version of “Happy.”
For a little over four minutes, Lake Charles residents dance to the music of Ardoin’s hit remake. Even Mayor Randy Roach slides in a quick cameo, dancing nonchalantly behind a podium as he shuffles some papers. Ardoin said the key to creating such a city-specific video was relationships.
“We wanted the video to have the Lake Charles culture in it. That’s the important thing, having relationships. I’ve known the mayor socially,” Ardoin said. “I see him often. When I called him with the idea of being in the video, he was skeptical at first. He was like, ‘You want me to do what?’ It was just an idea, something out of character that could let people know that he’s just a regular person, like the rest of us. It worked out great.”
Ardoin is quick to explain his goals for the future when it comes to the song. He wants it to continue to spread across social media sites, eventually grabbing the attention of a television personality or music artist.
“The song has almost 40,000 hits on YouTube, and we’re trying to get it into the six figures. With the population we have here in the Lake Charles area, we should be able to get it there,” Ardoin said. “I want this to be something where we can even get it to Ellen, get her to see it. She’s from Louisiana. I also hope that somehow it’ll get to Pharrell and he’ll invite me to do some shows with him. Maybe we can even work on some music together.”
The song is free to the public, a fact that Ardoin routinely highlights when talking about “Happy.” It also won’t appear on any album. People can text “getkool” to 88704 for a free link to download it, and standard texting rates apply. Information about Ardoin’s new album, “Return of the Kool,” is available at www.zydekool.com. At the end of the day, Ardoin said his goal is to introduce people everywhere to a part of Louisiana bursting with culture and creativity.
“I want to bring the Southwest Louisiana culture to the whole country,” Ardoin said. “We can bring it to the whole world.”