Billboard Singles As Indicator of Changing Economic Circumstances, Cultural Priorities

Or, a cultural anxiety reading of Billboard #1 singles, 2003 vs. 2013.


Watch out for the medallion, my diamonds are reckless
Feels like a midget is hangin from my necklace

(Ludacris, ‘Stand Up’)


Hey Macklemore! Can we go thrift shopping?

(Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, ‘Thrift Shop’)


Cristal poppin in the stretch Navigator
We got food everywhere, as if the party was catered

(R. Kelly, ‘Ignition (Remix)’)


I’m living on such sweet nothing

(Calvin Harris ft. Florence Welch, ‘Sweet Nothing’)


If you don’t give a damn, we don’t give a fuck

(Youngbloodz, ‘DAMN!’)


Don’t you worry, don’t you worry, child
See, heaven’s got a plan for you

(Swedish House Mafia, ‘Don’t You Worry Child’)


My flow, my show brought me the dough
That bought me all my fancy things
My crib, my cars, my clothes, my jewels
Look nigga I done came up, and I ain’t changed

(50 Cent, ‘In Da Club’)


They say money make a nigga act nigger-ish
Well – at least a nigga nigga rich

(A$AP Rocky ft. Drake, Kendrick Lamar & 2 Chainz, ‘Fuckin’ Problems’)


Feel on each other and sip on some Hen
One thing leading to another, let the party begin

(Chingy, ‘Right Thurr’)


Let’s make the most of the night like we’re gonna die young

(Ke$ha, ‘Die Young’)


And everywhere we go, the sun will always shine
And tomorrow, we might wake on the other side

(Christina Aguilera, ‘Beautiful’)


This is it, the apocalypse

(Imagine Dragons, ‘Radioactive’)



Jia Tolentino lives in Ann Arbor, has a tumblr.


8 Comments / Post A Comment

questingbeast (#2,409)

The best thing I’ve read since that Bills Bills Bills piece. NEVER STOP!

questingbeast (#2,409)

@questingbeast ( On reflection, I didn’t mean that to sound so Misery-ish. I mean, I just like your articles).

j-i-a (#746)

@questingbeast :) can’t stop won’t stop listening to music from 2003

bgprincipessa (#699)

This is downright poetic.

honey cowl (#1,510)


j-i-a (#746)

I felt weird about writing out the n-word but in my defense some of my best friends are Ludacris

jfruh (#161)

“We got food everywhere, as if the party was catered” is seriously the sweetest paean to innocent excess every committed to music

j-i-a (#746)

@jfruh AGREED

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