On the UK music show Later With Jools Holland (June 1, 2007), Jack White explained that he had heard his British wife, model Karen Elson, use the expression "Ecky Thump," a Northern English phrase that means "What The Heck." He changed it to the more American sounding "Icky" (meaning disgusting) so that teenagers would get it, citing how Led Zeppelin dropped the "A" in "Lead" for the same reason. Jack liked the expression and wrote the song around it with his bandmate Meg White.
The song is a commentary on immigration, and how immigrants are treated unfairly in America.
The lyrics, "I'm gonna sing around the collar" is a play on "Ring around the collar," which refers to the tough-to-remove sweat and dirt stains on the inside of shirt collars. It is typically used in laundry detergent commercials.
Candy cane is a traditional American red and white striped Christmas candy. The White Stripes use only these colors (often in stripes) and black in their sets and costumes.
The "Dry Ice" mentioned in the lyrics refers to solid carbon dioxide, which is typically used in horror films to create artificial fog.
Bertrand - Paris, France, for above 3
This was voted by the Rolling Stone magazine readers as their favorite song of 2007.
This won a Grammy for Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group With Vocals. The album won for Best Alternative Music Album.
Jack White mentions all three of the band's colors in this song: Redhead Senorita, One White Eye, and Black Rum.
Alix - Pinkerton, MI
"Icky Thump" invites American bigots to "kick yourself out - you're an immigrant too." White told Mojo magazine the song's lyrics about white Americans, Mexico and immigrants became even more pertinent during Donald Trump's presidency.
"It's funny how much that ended up relating to Trump," he said. "We started selling T-shirts that said 'Icky Trump,' and they became our best-selling T-shirt ever. The song became completely relevant at that moment, even though it was written in another time period. But there's always some ridiculous notion of immigration in America, and yet the whole place is built on immigrants."