First Hit #1: February 2, 2013
Never explain the joke. At one point in Thrift Shop there is a line about “Smelling like R. Kelly’s sheets.” That’s actually not a bad line, considering the rather outre sexual history of R. Kelly. But then immediately after there’s someone saying “pisssssssss” with no music behind it, just in case you didn’t get the reference, and it kills the line. It’s not funny because it assumes you don’t get it, and once you include an explanation it just isn’t funny.
That’s not the only problem with Thrift Shop, a song about buying out of style clothes for cheap. The lyrics could have done with another pass, especially the chorus which starts really well and then you get to “fucking awesome” which is not the most musical of phrases. It will have some clever lines about thrift song finds and fashion, but then it’ll throw in something really awkward and poorly phrased – there’s a Gucci t-shirt line that’s a major clunker surrounded by some lyrics that actually flow well, and it seems like it was just in there until he could figure out a better way to link the thoughts. It feels like a lark, a last minute bit of silly improvisation that somehow became a hit.
Of course, it has a highly amusing video and this was immediately after Billboard incorporated Youtube into their calculations. That certainly didn’t hurt it.