The song “Wings” by Macklemore is about trying to fit in with society’s definition of “cool” even though it means going against personal beliefs or personal opinions about how someone should dress or talk. Throughout the song, Macklemore talks about a pair of Nike sneakers that he bought when he was a kid. At the beginning of the song Macklemore is convinced that because he has these new shoes he will finally be considered “cool,” but by the end of the song, he realizes that they are only just a pair of shoes and society makes them out to be much more than they really are. In the fourth stanza Macklemore talks about the struggle to fit the exclusive and expensive mold of society’s expectations. Children today compete with each other by flaunting their material possessions at one another. “So expensive, damn, I just got to flaunt it.” By using the words “expensive” and “flaunt” Macklemore shows that he is proud of his expensive shoes and he wants to show them off to the other kids, so they think he is cool. Society makes one feel the need to have the most up to date product on the market to feel “cool” so that they can fit in and feel comfortable.
“Got to show ’em, so exclusive / this that new shit.” Not only do products have to be expensive, they have to be exclusive. Exclusivity implies there is a sense of irony in exclusivity trying to get what others have to feel special, when specialness implies uniqueness and individuality. “I’m an individual, yeah, but I’m part of a movement.” The obsession with social status has created a movement. The movement shows that many individuals are following this pattern of buying the most expensive things, instead of what they want. “My movement told me be a consumer and I consumed it / they told me to just do it / I listened to what that swoosh said.” Macklemore is recognizing the fact that he is an individual, but his individuality is designed and shaped by the larger group of people he identifies with.
That group dictates what is cool or not, and if he is to fit in, he has to follow along. In the sixth stanza Macklemore starts to reflect back to when he was a kid and his obsession with his image. By buying a pair of expensive shoes a person feels like they are buying a new life in a sense because shoes are used for walking and by buying new shoes, it is like were buying a new path for life. “So much more than just a pair of shoes / Nah, this is what I am / what I wore, this is the source of my youth / this dream that they sold to you.” People become so convinced that these shoes define who one is as a person that the show can start to drastically change ones life. As one reflects on their own past, one will realize some of the foolish things they became obsessed with just to fit in.
“For a hundred dollars and some change / Consumption is in the veins / and now I see it’s just another pair of shoes”. Macklemore realizes that society made people obsessed with consuming these products for ridiculous prices just to fit in but in reality all they were is another pair of shoes that he would eventually just throw away for the next great thing on the market. People become so caught up in the moment that they forget to recognize what they are complying with. People make foolish purchases to fit in for the moment, but when they reflect on some of the choices they have made, they end up feeling foolish for their useless purchases.
Overall, the song Wings is about society trying to convince people what they should be and how much they should pay to be seen as “cool” or “popular” by society’s standards and how as a kid Macklemore was willing to spend basically any amount of money on shoes that would make him “cool”. Once he grew up, he realized that in order to be a leader one cannot just join a movement and conform to what everyone else is doing. The song really opens up ones eyes to the reality that people will do just about anything to be popular.