Icky Thump (song)

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"Icky Thump"
IckyThump single.jpg
Single by The White Stripes
from the album Icky Thump
Released April 26, 2007
Recorded 2007
Length 4:17 (Album Version)
3:50 (Radio Edit)
Label Warner Bros. (U.S.)
XL Recordings (Europe)
Songwriter(s) Jack White III[1]
Producer(s) Jack White III[1]
The White Stripes singles chronology
"The Denial Twist"
"Icky Thump"
"Rag and Bone"
"The Denial Twist"
"Icky Thump"
"Rag and Bone"

"Icky Thump" is a song recorded by the American alternative rock band The White Stripes. Written by Jack White, it is the first single released from their sixth and final album of the same name.[2]


The name of the track comes from the Northern England exclamation "Ecky Thump;" The phrase was popularized in an episode of the British sketch comedy series The Goodies. The album title was then changed to "Icky" so that "teenagers would understand it better back in America."[3]


Music video[edit]

The music video for "Icky Thump" premiered on AOL.com at midnight EDT on May 23, 2007. The video was co-directed by Jack White and the Malloy Brothers.

The video was filmed in Nashville, Tennessee, though it is set in Mexico. The video also features Spanish subtitles acting as a translation of the lyrics.

The video for "Icky Thump" debuted on MTV's Total Request Live on July 17, 2007. This marked the first time a White Stripes video was ever on the countdown.

Release and reception[edit]

The single was made available online through the United States and Canada iTunes Store on Thursday, April 26, 2007.[4]

"Icky Thump" reached number 26 on the Billboard Hot 100 and became the group's only Top 40 single on that chart.[5] The song also reached number one (for three weeks) on the Alternative Songs chart and number 11 on the Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks chart.[5]

Third Man Records/XL Recordings also released CD and vinyl versions of the "Icky Thump" single on June 11, 2007 in the UK.[4] It is to date the duo's biggest UK chart hit, debuting at #13 in the UK Singles Chart via download sales alone and peaking at #2 the following week, marking their first UK Top 3 single and was kept off the #1 spot by "Umbrella" by Rihanna featuring Jay-Z. However, it very quickly dropped out of the charts, spending only seven weeks there.

The song was #23 on the Triple J Hottest 100, 2007.

This song was #17 on Rolling Stone's list of the 100 Best Songs of 2007.[6] On December 6, 2007, "Icky Thump" was nominated for two 2007 Grammy Awards: Best Rock Song and Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal. "Icky Thump" won the 2008 Grammy award for Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals.[7]

The song also ended the 15-week run of "What I've Done" by Linkin Park at the top of the Modern Rock Tracks chart when the song rose to the top of that chart in August. It is the second song by the White Stripes to top the chart, after "Seven Nation Army." The song is sandwiched between the 15 week run at number 1 of "What I've Done" and "The Pretender" by Foo Fighters' 18-week run, separated by only the 1 week appearance of "Paralyzer" by Finger Eleven. It ended up being certified both Gold for physical shipments and Platinum for digital sales in the US.[8]


The song was featured in the special footage clip of Warner Bros. Pictures' Justice League shown at San Diego Comic-Con 2016.[9]


Though grounded in straightforward garage rock to a greater degree than the Get Behind Me Satan singles, the song differed radically from previous White Stripes singles in its unusual construction: angular tempo-changes, stream-of-consciousness lyrics, and chaotic improvised snake-charming solos, played on a Univox synthesizer.

The song deals with the topic of immigration to the United States.[10] The song itself criticizes contemporary American immigration policy, something seen also in the video. It is thus the first political White Stripes track since "The Big Three Killed My Baby," off The White Stripes.

The lyrics talk about someone (perhaps Jack White himself) taking a trip to Mexico in a wagon, easily crossing the border to Mexico, as opposed to the difficulties illegal Mexican immigrants face while crossing northwards. It then mentions a Mexican lady giving him a bed to sleep in, then tying him up, assaulting him and holding him hostage. When finally able to escape, White decides to start doing his own house chores (referring, most likely, to the hiring of illegal immigrants as very low paid house servants). In the video, when White escapes the lady's house and crosses back to the USA, he passes by Mexican workers building a wall, likely the so-called Great Wall of Mexico.

The defining verse against immigration policies comes near the end of the song:

White Americans
What? Nothin' better to do?
Why don't you kick yourself out
You're an immigrant too.

Who's using who?
What should we do?
Well you can't be a pimp
And a prostitute too.


Left alone
I hit myself with a stone
Went home
And learned how to clean up after myself

Track listings[edit]

7" white vinyl (companion to the NME-distributed record that was given away with copies of the magazine on stands June 6)[4]

  1. "Icky Thump"
  2. "Etching" (no audio)

Standard 7" [4]

  1. "Icky Thump"
  2. "Baby Brother"

Promo CD single

  1. "Icky Thump" (Radio edit)
  2. "Icky Thump" (Album version)

CD single [4]

  1. "Icky Thump" - 4:18
  2. "Catch Hell Blues" - 4:16


Chart (2007) Peak
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 26
U.S. Billboard Modern Rock 1
U.S. Billboard Mainstream Rock 11
UK Singles Chart 2
Belgium Singles Chart 49
Denmark Singles Chart 4
Australian ARIA Singles Chart 46
Irish Singles Chart 21
Canadian Hot 100 9


  1. ^ a b CD liner notes: Grammy Nominees 2008
  2. ^ FM96 Radio, Tuesday April 10 2007
  3. ^ "Interview with Jack White". Later with Jools Holland. Retrieved 2007-06-01. 
  4. ^ a b c d e "News page". White Stripes web site. Retrieved 2007-04-25. 
  5. ^ a b "The White Stripes: Charts and Awards". Allmusic. 
  6. ^ No byline (December 11, 2007). "The 100 Best Songs of 2007" Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2007-12-21
  7. ^ (February 9, 2008). "2008 Grammy Award Winners and Nominees" "New York Times". Retrieved 2007-01-12
  8. ^ "American certifications – Icky Thump". Recording Industry Association of America. 
  9. ^ Warner Bros. Pictures (2016-07-23). "Justice League Special Comic-Con Footage". YouTube. Retrieved 2016-07-23. 
  10. ^ "Icky Thump : White Stripes :Review :RollingStone". RollingStone. Retrieved 2007-09-22. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
"What I've Done" by Linkin Park
Billboard Modern Rock Tracks number-one single
August 4, 2007 - August 18, 2007
Succeeded by
"Paralyzer" by Finger Eleven