deguspice: (Default)
[personal profile] deguspice
The theme for the crossword puzzle in Sunday's Boston Globe is pop songs from 2013. I don't listen to pop music any more, so I had no idea what any of them are. So when Ann and I found that the answer for the "#1 Billboard song in 2013" is the song "Thrift Shop", I pulled it up on my phone to listen to it.

Hey, Macklemore! Can we go thrift shopping?

What, what, what, what... [many times]

Bada, badada, badada, bada... [x9]

I'm gonna pop some tags
Only got twenty dollars in my pocket
I - I - I'm hunting, looking for a come-up
This is f**king awesome

Another popular song in 2013 is Lorde's "Royals", another song about not having much money.

My friends and I—we've cracked the code.
We count our dollars on the train to the party.
And everyone who knows us knows that we're fine with this,
We didn't come from money.

This got me wondering, what's changed in the pop song world, that songs about being broke are making it to #1?

Edit: I think people misunderstand my questions. It's not "Is this tread of singing about being broke new", but why have pop stars recently switched from writing hedonistic songs about:
"Cristal, Maybach, diamonds on your timepiece.
Jet planes, islands, tigers on a gold leash."
to performing songs about being broke?
(it's seven years since the start of the recession)

Date: 2014-10-13 01:51 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I... hear there's been a bit of a recession on?

Date: 2014-10-13 03:46 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I don't know which came first rap stars buying Cadilacs or them rapping about them, but now Caddys are cool.

There's a whole industry of marketing people providing high end products for free to rappers with the hope that they'll mention them in a song or use them in a song. But in Lorde's song "Royals" she's going against that trend.

"But every song's like gold teeth, grey goose, trippin' in the bathroom
Blood stains, ball gowns, trashin' the hotel room,
We don't care, we're driving Cadillacs in our dreams.
But everybody's like Cristal, Maybach, diamonds on your timepiece.
Jet planes, islands, tigers on a gold leash.
We don't care, we aren't caught up in your love affair."

So why are these songs hitting #1 now and not five years ago?

Date: 2014-10-16 06:12 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
When were these songs written? Or others like them? What sort of songs were being written/released 5 years ago?

It might be a chicken and egg situation, where art is imitating life imitating art...

Date: 2014-10-13 02:23 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Art imitates life.
I can go on at length about what it feels like to have a panic attack in the supermarket when you're wondering if you can afford to buy food if you really need more than that.

Date: 2014-10-13 02:53 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I don't thing it's new…

Dire Straits was "install[ing} microwave ovens" in 1985.
The Bare Naked Ladies were enjoying Kraft Dinner in 1993 and breaking in "to the old apartment" in 1997.

I'm sure there are more examples, but those were the first two to leap to mind.
Edited Date: 2014-10-13 02:57 am (UTC)

Date: 2014-10-13 04:30 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
They both had Billboard #1 songs, but neither became the Billboard #1 song of the year.

The Bare Naked Ladies had one Billboard #1 song, "One Week", but that isn't a song about being broke.

Dire Straits' "Money For Nothing" became their only Billboard #1 song. While the song is from the point of view of a working class person (who's job is to "install microwave ovens"), the song is not about being broke.

Date: 2014-10-14 03:21 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
It goes back earlier than that, too - Billy Joel, 'Uptown Girl,' 1983.

And even further - Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, 'Dawn,' 1964.
"Think what your family would say,
Think what you're throwing away,
Think what your future would be with a poor boy like me...."

Date: 2014-10-13 12:48 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
If the economy is in recession, then pop songs will reflect that.

"Brother, Can you Spare a Dime" was a popular song in the 1930s.

Date: 2014-10-13 06:17 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I think there's always been a good mix of topics. 9 to 5 is probably a classic in the genre of barely making it. I tend towards folk and country though, so I think of lack-of-money as being a standard song topic. Rhinestone Cowboy fits well, too, but it's more "poor dreaming of being rich."

Bad, Bad Leroy Brown drove an Eldorado so I'm guessing Cadillacs had some cache back then.

Date: 2014-10-13 07:03 pm (UTC)
totient: (default)
From: [personal profile] totient
Don't have to buy me diamonds and pearls
Champagne, sables or such
I never cared much for diamonds and pearls
'cause honestly, honey, they just cost money

That's from the Billboard #1 hit for 1954.

Date: 2014-10-16 12:24 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Songs about being poor are somewhat empowering for those who are less off currently, or who have *ever* been poor or working class. Thrift shop has some lines about going to a club and seeing everyone wearing $50 t-shirts, and how much of a rip-off that is. It's a stupid t-shirt, but people are paying $50 for it. Right now I'm fortunate enough to *have* that kind of money to spend on a t-shirt, but I still think it's ridiculous. (I'm sure there are things I spend money on that other people think are ridiculous....)

Date: 2014-10-16 12:29 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
What does it say about 2010 that "Tik Tok" by Ke$ha was the #1 hit? Or "Yeah!" in 2004, or "Low" in 2008? Many of these songs have layers of musicality, beyond the lyrics.

Also, there's an entire hype machine behind pop music. For reference, "Thrift Shop" and "Yeah!" are great songs IMO. :D


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