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Al Madrigal on why he abhors Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’ “Thrift Shop” | Music | HateSong | The A.V. Club


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The A.V. Club: It’s interesting that this is the one song you don’t like the most out of any song. Why this one?

Al Madrigal: It comes at a weird time because I have a 10-year-old son who is really into popular music and printing out lyrics. So I hate this song for multiple reasons. It’s mainly because I’m having to explain a lot of things.

I just feel, and I always have, that dressing ironically in thrift shop clothing is such a white thing to do. And it is a total disregard for people that have to shop at Goodwill and Salvation Army. Someone walking through and laughing at all this stuff while some people are forced to shop there—I remember, personally, growing up in a house where my first blazer came from the Goodwill. So you never want to go back there; if you actually had to wear thrift shop clothing, you’d be dying to have something new. I would have liked to have a new blazer, and I was embarrassed by that fact.

I know the whole thing is a joke and it’s a very catchy beat he has. I get the Macklemore/Ryan Lewis attraction, but these guys are walking around in shit that they find at the Goodwill, and there’s a lot of funny shit at the Goodwill. You re-watch Napoleon Dynamite, and there’s a lot of thrift shopping that goes on in that movie; there’s a lot of funny stuff. It’s definitely amusing, and paying 99 cents for a samurai sword is amazing. But the song itself is sort of making light of anyone who has grown up in a low-income household who wants things. Plus, I’m sort of a germophobe, and I’d be way too terrified about bed bugs.

But the main reason I hate “Thrift Shop” is all the explaining I’ve had to do because my son printed out the lyrics.

AVC: Until you really look at them, you don’t really realize how dirty they are.

AM: We were listening to the “clean” version of the song on the radio. And, first of all, I had to explain “honky.” “Dad, what’s a honky?” That one I was totally fine with explaining—it’s an insult to white people: cracker, whitey. It’s something mean that a non-white person can say to a white person. That’s annoying, but then the R. Kelly “sheets” thing came up because that’s in the clean version. “Why do R. Kelly’s sheets smell like urine?” Now, if you’re in my position, what do you say to that? You have two different options: You can pretend you don’t know and say, “I have no idea what that means,” and that probably would have been the best way to go; you can tell him the truth, which is crazy. To flex my knowledge of all the mistakes made by R&B singers.

I never saw the song as making fun of poor people. I thought it says it is cool to pay very little for clothes.

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