The White Stripes, "Icky Thump"
Riff ’n’ roll pop has been a specialty of the White Stripes, and “Icky Thump” is one of the duo’s best, but it’s also a spirited protest number. Maybe the only protest number with “la, la, la, la” in its lyrics, as well as the first Top 40 song with a buzzy Blue Box-effects guitar solo since Led Zeppelin’s “Fool in the Rain.” The title was inspired by “ecky thump,” an expression from Northern England meaning pretty much “what the heck.” But Jack White’s words were inspired by the debate the conservative US political leadership has sparked over immigration as a smokescreen for the rest of the bullshit they’re trying to get away with. “White Americans — what?” he sings. “Nothin’ better to do? Why don’t you kick yourself out? You’re an immigrant, too.” In case listeners missed the point, the White Stripes backed it up with a video full of Mexican border-town intrigue. Although “Icky Thump” was nudged aside at the Grammy Awards in the Best Rock Song category by the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ latest cheesy ballad, they did take Best Rock Performance by a Group or Duo. With the White Stripes on hiatus after a string of cancelled concert dates due to Meg White’s reported exhaustion, hopefully “Icky Thump” won’t be their swan song.
— Ted Drozdowski
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