Here's the thing: Macklemore & Ryan Lewis were an act I had intentionally avoided until this week's Saturday Night Live. It's not that I have anything against the meteoric hip-hop impresario, or that I wasn't interested in the songs that scored him one of the highest rankings on the Billboard charts for an unsigned artist. I do this occasionally with buzzier bands and wait until I have the opportunity to catch a live set in order to love/hate/feel indifferent towards any given performer, as I tend to get all scorned lover-like when a pop/electronic/hip-hop act turns out to be a genius in the studio but one of those lackluster "Here's a pre-recorded track I'm gonna hype the shit out of" musicians onstage. Taking all of this into consideration, I knew that Macklemore & Ryan Lewis would either confuse SNL viewers to high heaven or bowl them over with a memorable, kinetic set -- and based on the cheers that erupted in the room as soon as they threw up their hands after "Thrift Shop," it was clear that the Seattle rapper and his production partner-in-crime were facing the latter.
I just don't happen to agree with the in-studio audience this time around.
See also: Critics Need to Lay Off MacklemoreMore »
By Marcus Arman
Not all rappers need critical adoration to achieve commercial success. Some use negative reviews as motivation, others dismiss them as hate, and a few of them probably don't know what constitutes a review. But it's commendable anytime an artist reaches some level of success. In fact, some of the most popular artists of past and current generations have been critical dwarves. Consider this an ode to the artists who are often the butt of rap-snob jokes. Here's our list of the top five critic-proof rappers.More »
This week the new entries in the Hot 100 attain a near-perfect balance: Two good to great records (Passion Pit and Jerrod Niemann), two terrible ones (Karmin and Macklemore), and a bunch of mediocre stuff in the middle. Over the course of a year, the quality of the Hot 100 usually settles into a normal probability curve, but it's rare to see the entire spectrum in a single week of new arrivals.