Overplayed Song of the Week: Macklemore & Ryan Lewis ft. Wanz, ‘Thrift Shop’

Weeks on Chart: 15

Peak: No. 1 on Billboard’s R&B/Hip-Hop Songs, January 22

Current Radio Play Frequency: No. 17 on KIIS FM’s Playlist


Someone had to be America’s rebound novelty song after “Gangnam Style” left us breathless and exhausted from too much horsey dancing. Time to bounce back with another rap song whose humor comes from its insanely specific subject matter. Macklemore & Ryan Lewis are a duo from Seattle whose video for their breakout hit, “Thrift Shop,” has racked them up 62 million YouTube views. The annoying thing about “Thrift Shop” isn’t the song itself, which is charming, but the sheer number of people who are going to ask you if you’ve heard it yet. It’s the type of song everyone thinks they personally stumbled onto, as if they scored it from the Goodwill vinyl bin.

Ryan Lewis (sunglasses) and Macklemore (onesie)

Production notes: The janky klezmer beat (by Ryan Lewis, with horns by Owuor Arunga) and catchy chorus give “Thrift Shop” a lot of replay value. It shares DNA with A Tribe Called Quest’s “I Left My Wallet in El Segundo” and the party-on-the-cheap ethos of uh, Ke$ha. The video plays up the song’s inclusive vibe, and reminds you how much fun aimlessly browsing thrift stores can be. Here are some of the people we meet there:

Air Macklemore

This lady and her friend are feeling it

A superhero

Also feeling it

As long as Wanz got his suit and tie

A dude in a Kurt Cobain shirt (SEATTLE!)

This guy just won the thrift store

Lyrical notes: Kinda like the Big Tymers’ classic “Still Fly,” with the gator shoes and all. Macklemore knows he looks awesome in a grandpa sweater. Macklemore gets a pass for knocking R. Kelly since he’s referencing the Chappelle’s Show sketch. (Does anyone else really want R. Kelly to just sample “Piss on You?” Maybe a remix?) “Thrift Shop” gets points for being smart without being smug. It captures the lazy thrill of browsing at the thrift store and finding the perfect secondhand stuff.

Misc: “Thrift Shop” harks back to ’90s underground rap, when it was OK to just be a goofball for a few verses over a dollar record beat without having to get all party rock about it. Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’s album The Heist debuted at no. 2 and sold 78,000 copies in its first week, which is even more impressive considering they aren’t signed to a label. Meanwhile, artists who have label money and muscle (with the accompanying blog hype) are bricking left and right. Macklemore has a point: In a recession, why flagrantly spend what you don’t have on things you don’t need when you can spend wisely on products of proven quality and look fresh doing it instead? With the leftover cash, you can still spring for that broken keyboard at Savers.

Filed Under: On Repeat, Viral Video

Molly Lambert is a staff writer for Grantland.

Archive @ mollylambert