ashley dean

I 'm still listening to "Thrift Shop" and I'm not embarrassed to admit it.

Well, maybe I'm a little red in the face. You see, the song and my opinion of it are at a weird point in the novelty hit hype cycle.

Chart-topping hits tend to follow a familiar arc, but songs that have a gimmick are a little different. We just watched this happen with "Call Me Maybe." Rather than a quick rise to ubiquity followed by a slow decline, novelty hits like "Thrift Shop" tend to cause waves of reactions.

This is how it goes, as demonstrated by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis:

OMG have you heard this song?

"Thrift Shop" comes out and if you don't happen to hear it on the radio yourself, someone who does it bound to make you listen. This only hooks you faster because it has your friend's volume-cranking, head-nodding endorsement. That sax hook is hard to ignore. I played "Thrift Shop" for my dad and even he got into it.

Saturation point

Soon, you and everyone you know are gleefully rapping along at least once a day. It's all over the radio and your party playlist. Macklemore's fur coat-draped image is all over Tumblr. A possibly doctored, but plausibly not, photo of a thrift-store sign that reads, "We sell your grandpa's clothes. You'll look incredible," starts making the web rounds.

The backlash


Contrarians declare to anyone who will listen that the song is stupid. A few music journalists furiously compose think pieces on why "Thrift Shop" is yet another symptom of a misguided culture and represents a cheap (heh), illegitimate form of hip hop. Some of the song's first obsessives are the first to get sick of it.

The backlash to the backlash

The response to criticism that the song is stupid is a resounding "duh," followed by, "so what," and "that's why it's fun." Some of us wonder why this even needs to be explained and when it became so terrible to enjoy something that just exists for fun. The think pieces are rejected as ego-inflating rants. Did we really need to tear down a song that repeatedly declares "this is fucking awesome" and label it an embarrassment to hip hop? Chill out.


The "Thrift Shop" memes are still coming and they're getting worse. You hear, "Hey Macklemore, can we go thrift shopping?" and you think, "give it a rest, kid." You know one person -- the type of person who still quotes Dave Chappelle's Rick James sketch with the expectation of big laughs -- who won't let the song go and you make a point of avoiding him for a bit.

Yeah, we're done now.

Finally, we all agree. Sick of the song and maybe a little embarrassed, we quit cold turkey and move on. It will be at least a year until you hear it by chance and get super excited.

Right now, I'd say we're somewhere around backlash and backlash to the backlash. It was just last week that I saw an anti-Macklemore think piece. I can't bring myself to argue back more than saying, "oh, calm down," because I know where this is going. We'll discard "Thrift Shop" like an old coat soon enough and it really won't matter.