Macklemore & Ryan Lewis: Is This What Greatness Looks Like?

macklemore ryan lewis

Jordan Teicher at Slate raises a very interesting question about Seattle breakout stars Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’ involvement in a new promo for NBA All-Star week: why is the track “Wing$” being used to score a love-letter advertisement for the NBA?

In the original song, Macklemore’s lyrics interrupt positive associations with the once proud symbol of the Nike swoosh and its “spokes-hero” Michael Jordan. He makes astute observations about how shopping sometimes gets confused for aspiring for something greater; about how materialism corrupts and misleads kids. It’s made all the more compelling because, he admits, he was one of the kids who bought it. All of it.

In this commercial, the song is pared down and twisted conveniently out of context. The volume on Macklemore’s irony and criticism is turned way down. The saccharine sap is turned way up (why does the basketball court look like a church?); the gravitas and celebration of individuality stripped completely out. The angelic choir of kids proudly wear NBA All-Star t-shirts. "This is what greatness looks like" is announced as a basketball player celebrates in slow motion.

Where Macklemore once wanted to take his Nikes off, he now swings them proudly as he sits, mounted on a basketball hoop.

It seems the game looks different when you’re up top.

Is this an unforeseen consequence of teaming up with Warner Music Group, which, NPR reports, is responsible for the hit “Thrift Shop” playing incessantly on the radio across America right now?

Or is this what selling out really looks like?

Moreover, are the writers at Funny or Die prophets?


Meanwhile, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis continue to fly sky high. See them on Saturday Night Live on March 2.