As a boy who developed his first crush in the early 2000s, Dido’s “Thank You” will always be my love song. Written about her then-boyfriend Bob, the track first appeared during the end credits of Gwyneth Paltrow’s 1998 rom-com Sliding Doors. One year later, it was featured on Dido’s debut album, No Angel. A year after that, Eminem sampled the tune on his multi-award-winning single “Stan.” By 2001, Dido was “the world’s best-selling female music star” and in April of that year, “Thank You” peaked at No. 3 on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart.
Dido spent the next few years on the road and released her second album, Life for Rent, in 2003. But shortly thereafter, she took a 15-year hiatus from touring and withdrew from the limelight. Now, more than two decades since its release, “Thank You” has taken on a totally new life … as a doomer anthem.
The term doomer was originally coined as a variation of the ever-present Wojak meme. Believed to have originated sometime around 2009, Wojak is a simple MS Paint illustration of a bald man, and he’s pretty famous online. “It’s up there in the pantheon of the most important internet memes of all time,” Don Caldwell, editor in chief of Know Your Meme, told me.
In 2018, a 4chan poster adorned Wojak with a black beanie and hoodie, as well as a cigarette, and called this new character Doomer. He’s depicted as a man in his early 20s, and he’s overcome by loneliness, despair, and apathy. He thinks the world is doomed as a result of greed, pollution, and ignorance. In the simplest of terms, he’s hopeless.
But like many memes, Doomer is a reflection of our reality, and his name has come to describe some growing themes in the human population: Young men are adrift in an ocean of loneliness, the Doomsday Clock is predicting the world’s demise any day now, and according to a 2021 study, 75 percent of people age 16 to 25 believe that “the future is frightening.”
Plagued by pessimism, a barrage of bad news, and a sense that our final days are near, these IRL doomers are understandably uninterested in traditional goals like the American dream. Instead, they numb the pain of existence by drinking copious amounts of alcohol, surfing the web in isolation, and listening to “doomerwave,” a subgenre of music defined by chopped and screwed (slowed and reverbed) remixes.
It’s clear that doomers favor songs from the 1990s and early 2000s, when they were young and life was better. Soundgarden’s “Black Hole Sun,” Red Hot Chili Peppers’ “Californication,” and Radiohead’s “No Surprises” have all been given the doomerwave treatment. In 2021 Thom Yorke even released his very own doomerwave version of “Creep.” But among all the doomerwave remixes, Dido’s “Thank You” is an obvious fan favorite: One edit has nearly 53 million views on YouTube, and a 10-hour version has well over 7 million. It’s also a trending soundbite on TikTok, where it’s often added to unbelievably depressing videos like this one:
Evidently, doomerwave Dido strikes a special kind of chord with its listeners. In the comments beneath these videos, doomers gather and share depressing quotes about sadness, loss, and loneliness. But it’s the edit itself that reveals why doomers relate to this tune. While Dido’s “Thank You” reaches a moment of optimism—a chorus that describes a lover who makes life worth living—the doomerwave version ends early. It simply repeats the first verse, which consists of these lyrics:
My tea’s gone cold, I’m wondering why
I got out of bed at all
The morning rain clouds up my window
And I can’t see at all
And even if I could, it’d all be gray
But your picture on my wall
It reminds me that it’s not so bad
It’s not so bad
The first five lines of this verse are a fairly accurate portrayal of the doomer lifestyle. “One could hardly come up with more succinct, poetic words to describe the life of the doomer,” said Anima Memetica, who runs a meme page of the same name and shares “poetic prose that aims to explore the infinitude contained within the finitude of language” on the Astrotheosis Substack. “He makes his tea but doesn’t drink it because he’s too busy wondering why he even gets up every day. His window of perception sees only gray, almost to a point of blindness. He’s stuck in the dark, gray abyss of nihilism, depression, and sorrow.” (It’s also notable that Dido describes a hangover in the second verse, something that doomers would identify with, given their reported fondness for alcohol.)
But those last three lines are equally key to understanding the doomer experience. While in the chorus Dido describes a person who gives her “the best day” of her life, all the doomer’s left with is a picture. They might have someone they care for—and may even frequent their social media accounts—but those feelings are never directed back at the doomer.
Lyrics aside, music theory provides further insight into the doomer’s attraction to this particular verse. It’s written in the minor key, typically associated with sad feelings. With this in mind, “Thank You” perfectly captures the doomer’s experience and emotions.
But that’s not all: The doomerwave “Thank You” is actually the “Stan” sample, recognizable by a backdrop of thunder and rain. This association is essential to doomers, since “Stan” is about a lonely basement dweller who, in a drunken stupor, kills himself and his girlfriend because Eminem didn’t write him back. Though, as the final verse reveals, Eminem wasn’t purposefully ignoring Stan; it was Stan’s own cynicism that ultimately led to his demise. “Stan himself is kind of the ultimate doomer,” said Caldwell.
It’s this “Stan” connection that helped launch “Thank You” to stardom among doomers. “Stan” is a monumental piece of music and internet history—the term is still used as online slang to describe an obsessive fan—and it’s cemented into “sad boy” culture: The late SoundCloud rappers XXXTentacion, Lil Peep, and Juice WRLD, whose lyrics are conspicuously doomer-esque, were all filmed singing Dido’s section from “Stan.”
With a new perspective and 10 hours of doomerwave Dido under my belt, I must admit that I can relate to doomers, or at least sympathize with their worldview. After two decades, several heartbreaks, and at least a couple of close calls with societal collapse, the love song I knew is darker than it once was.
But doomerwave Dido has also taught me that there’s always hope, even in the darkest crevices of the internet. While the comments underneath these videos are generally bleak, you don’t have to scroll far to find heartfelt words of affirmation, like “It’s a bad moment, not a bad life. Hone your inner Chad and show the world you mean business!” And as Memetica was quick to point out, doomers are only a few lyrics away from reaching the sanguine section of Dido’s ballad and possibly evolving into “bloomers” (another Wojak character who radiates positivity and optimism).
After all, as the original “Thank You” and “Stan” teach us, it’s important to listen all the way through. Who knows? Our cheery chorus could be just around the corner.