In HateSong, we ask our favorite musicians, writers, comedians, actors, and so forth to expound on the one song they hate most in the world.
The hater: Just last month, comedian, Parks And Recreation writer, and noted LaCroix aficionado Joe Mande released his first record. Composed of more than an hour of stand-up, voicemail messages from Amy Poehler and The RZA, and guest appearances from Aziz Ansari, Nick Kroll, and Jenny Slate, Bitchface is a genuinely novel spin on the comedy record. Mande managed to fuse his hip-hop fandom with his comedy stylings, putting out the year’s first surprising and refreshing collection of recorded jokes. He’ll be telling those jokes and more at this year’s Moontower Comedy & Oddity Fest in Austin, Texas.
The hated: Macklemore And Ryan Lewis, “Same Love” (2012)
The A.V. Club: Why did you pick “Same Love?”
Joe Mande: Before I say anything, I need to preface it by clarifying that I obviously support gay marriage. Homosexuals deserve equal rights in every aspect of human life.
That being said, I just think it’s a corny song. I said something to that effect a while ago and then a bunch of people on Twitter—his Shark Face Gang, which is what they call his fans—started attacking me, calling me a bigot and a homophobe. It’s so funny to me how close-minded Macklemore fans can be. They couldn’t understand how someone could agree with someone politically and also think he’s super corny.
AVC: Do you think the song is pandering?
JM: I think it’s pandering and it’s sort of manipulative. I think he also is so self satisfied; there’s a gross element of that. He’s super corny, but it’s also a corny song and it’s being devoured by corny white kids who like don’t even listen to hip-hop and already believe in gay marriage, so he’s preaching to the choir, to kids in high school who are in the choir. I know it’s well intentioned and I agree with the sentiment of the song, but I feel the same way about that song that I feel about Bill Maher. I agree with what he’s saying. I just hate how he’s saying it.
AVC: It’s definitely self-congratulatory.
JM: That’s the thing. You can tell just by his voice and how triumphantly he’s delivering the lyrics that he thinks he’s being so brave, but it’s like, “No. It’s 2014 and you’re a white dude with a Hitler-youth haircut.”
AVC: From Seattle.
JM: And you’re from Seattle. I’m pretty sure everyone can tell you believe in gay marriage. I’d be more surprised if he made a song about how he loves gluten. Like how gluten deserves equal rights. I’d be like, “Yeah, that’s really brave of him. That’s so cool of a guy from Seattle to say something cool about gluten.”
He puts himself up on this pedestal like he’s the first rapper to be open-minded and that’s not true at all.
AVC: There’s a way to convey that sort of sentiment without being so damn heavy-handed about it.
JM: Another problematic part of the song is that, for being this anthem, he spends the first third of the song reiterating how straight he is. Like when he was a kid, he was worried that he was gay because he liked to draw, which isn’t even a stereotype. If a kid uses crayons, you better watch out, M.C. Escher. That’s not a thing. “And then my mom told me that I loved getting pussy in pre-K,” or whatever, but he has to keep stressing how straight he is. Just write a song about gay marriage; you don’t have to bring your insecurity or cross-hatching as a kid into it. It can be personal if you’re gay. But if you’re not gay, just say you believe in gay marriage. I feel bad for gay people that they had to adopt this song as an anthem.
I listen to real ignorant hip-hop, pretty much exclusively. Like Migos and Young Thug and French Montana, so take everything I say with a grain of salt, but he takes this Mary Lambert song, which is this sort of precious, nuanced song about a lesbian relationship. He gives that song to Ryan Lewis, and Ryan Lewis puts on a piano riff in the background that sounds like it’s from an auto insurance commercial. Then Macklemore starts triumphantly trying to deliver these lyrics that, seriously, sound like they’d only be acceptable to be read out loud in a ninth grade creative writing class. It’s that bad; he’s going on about how mean YouTube comments are and he has this epiphany that the Bible is antiquated. Like, come on, dude. Are you upset that the cafeteria is all out of chocolate milk too? It’s so juvenile.
AVC: Songs about sensitive topics get too much leeway as far as how shitty they’re allowed to be.
JM: It’s crazy. Shouldn’t we be far enough into the movement of equality where we can say, “Oh that song about gay rights? It stinks! You should write a better song.” It’s like if Joan Baez wrote a song for the civil rights movement, but the first third of the song is about how great the front of the bus is and how she gets sunburned and then she gets into the civil rights movement. Let’s wait for someone to write a better song before we make this our anthem.
AVC: It was honestly surprising this didn’t win more Grammys, since it seems like that sort of “message” material the entertainment industry loves to award. Like Crash and the Oscars.
JM: He won a bunch of stuff, but I think it was for the album. He was winning everything over Jay Z and Kanye and Drake and Kendrick Lamar, and that was a straight-up abomination. I know awards shows are meaningless and I need to remind myself of that whenever anything I’m a part of loses, but I was watching the Grammys and I realized the rock category has a subcategory that’s alternative, you know? I think there should be an alternative category for rap, because songs like “Same Love” appeal to people who don’t listen to rap. This is an alternative to rap. Actual rap fans don’t listen to this. It shouldn’t even be in the same category as the people he was nominated against, in my opinion.
AVC: It’s like a Sir Mix-A-Lot track versus an N.W.A track. It’s not the same thing.
JM: Macklemore is basically a mix of Vanilla Ice and Arrested Development. He has no sustaining powers. We’re going to look back on this and think he’s the Crash of rappers. “He won? That’s crazy.”
AVC: What did you think of his Grammys performance with Queen Latifah?
JM: I felt bad. I mean, I’m happy for all of those people getting married but it sucks that that’s their wedding. They’re going to look back at their wedding album and be like, “Remember Macklemore? He was onstage and Madonna, she was a skeleton in a cowboy hat, and Queen Latifah was onstage and stayed in the closet for some reason even though she’s onstage.”
AVC: How was that not what happened?
JM: It was insane.
I think part of it is that I grew up in Minnesota. One of the first albums I bought was Overcast! by Atmosphere and, to me, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis are such a bastardized, horrifying version of what Slug and Ant have been doing for, like, 15 years.
AVC: And Atmosphere will never get this kind of recognition.
JM: Of course not. And it sucks.
That’s another thing. I’m completely aware of how emo and whatever Atmosphere is, but if people like Macklemore, they should fucking delve a little deeper and find stuff like Atmosphere. Macklemore is just like if Asher Roth got really into Sage Francis. He’s just kind of a dummy and he’s getting so much credit.
I listen to so much hip-hop and I’ve known about Macklemore for years. I heard that song “Wings” like five years ago and I was like, “Well, that was a really preachy song about Air Jordans. I don’t know who this will ever appeal to. Good luck, dude!” Cut to five years later and he’s the most successful rapper in the world. It just doesn’t make sense.