Why Justin Timberlake Sings ‘May’ Instead of ‘Me’

Think of Mandy Moore’s “Can-day,” Brit­ney Spears growl­ing “oh bay-bay bay-bay,” Gwen Ste­fani chant­i­ng “hey bay-bay hey bay-bay HEY.” The trend to turn the “ee” sound into “ay” con­tin­ued for years, maybe most mem­o­rably in Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy.” (Cray-zay, real­ly.) This isn’t one guy’s vocal quirk: this is a trend, maybe a virus. Why did all these singers change their vow­els in that par­tic­u­lar way?