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The following is the third in a four-part series examining the lasting impact of Carlos Santana’s electrifying album Supernatural, released in 1999.

Man, it’s a hot one. It’s hard to say exactly why the song “Smooth” by Carlos Santana, featuring Rob Thomas from Matchbox 20, has entrenched itself so stubbornly in a zeitgeist that self-immolates and recreates itself more rapidly every day. There it is, though. Splashed all over Twitter, scoring Olympic dressage events, a Comstock Lode of irony— utilized even, for some reason, by people who weren’t yet alive when Carlos Santana first spread his schmaltz on Rob Thomas’ cracker.

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I don’t so much believe in irony, though. Not, at least, as a method of enjoying things. I think if you profess to enjoy something ironically, that means you enjoy something earnestly, and you’re ashamed of yourself.

I don’t think we ironically love “Smooth” by Carlos Santana, featuring Rob Thomas from Matchbox 20. I think we genuinely love “Smooth” by Carlos Santana, featuring Rob Thomas from Matchbox 20. It’s one of the most popular songs of all time. It spent 12 weeks atop the Billboard Hot 100. It won three Grammys. It appears in the movie Keeping the Faith. This song doesn’t owe any one of us even one goddamn thing, let alone an apology or explanation. This song IS success. Okay. But this song is also bad.

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