Home Depot’s controversial in-store music reflects a shift in suburban ideals

How their paradoxical 90s pop music disrupts the story we tell ourselves

Yuna Shin
4 min readJun 11, 2021


Is it even possible to NOT sing along to Waterfalls by TLC ?

As I concentrate on reading labels in the Home Depot spray paint aisle, I catch myself humming along to the 90s TLC bop Waterfalls. I don’t think much of it until my next visit when I spend an extra 3 minutes browsing the aisles as I mouth the lyrics to Adele’s classic song Someone Like You.

Some feel differently about Home Depot’s in-store music. Van Neistat’s video essay “A Desperate Plea to HOME DEPOT” declares their “god-awful 90s pop music” as cruel and horrible. This controversial in-store music across various store locations in the U.S. has invaded the emotions and spirits of customers in mysterious, indescribable ways. Similar to how it’s hard to describe why our favorite color is what it is. It either compels you to grab your noise canceling headphones (like Van Neistat) or embrace the dust covered aisles as you quietly jam out to the tunes.

I’d argue that combining 90s/2000s pop with the somewhat intimidating hardware-woodwork-construction tone of Home Depot creates a paradoxical nature that can cultivate inclusivity. It broadly shatters who is welcomed to the space and the suburbia fairytales we’ve grown up with of who is to mow the grass. Or who is to utilize the tool box at home.

Which side are you on? Hate it or love it?

In doing further searching, I found playlists devoted to music played while shopping at Home Depot (one includes jazz-pop artist Norah Jones of all people). On Van Neistat’s YouTube video, a thread of comments are left on how the catchy alternative-rock music playing as they shop deeply impacts them. One person commented how the music led them to purchase another drill bit because it made them stay around the store longer.

YouTube comments left on Van Neistat’s video essay “A Desperate Plea to HOME DEPOT.”

Alternatively, there are other YouTube comments and Reddit posts where an overwhelming number of people express how this music is enough to literally drive them insane. It bothers them enough that they…



Yuna Shin

Designer. Seattle based writer who connects the dots between design, contemporary art, & pop culture. yuna-shin.com. Subscribe to my newsletter↓