Billboard Singles As Indicator of Changing Economic Circumstances, Cultural Priorities

by Jia Tolentino

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.

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