Reranking the Billboard Top Ten According to Capitalist Zeal

Lawrence Neil explores the capitalistic underpinnings holding together Billboard's Top 100.
By    September 7, 2017

sheeran

Lawrence Neil already hacked Verrit. 

With the unveiling of last week’s Billboard Hot 100, Luis Fonsi’s “Despacito” made headlines by tying Mariah Carey’s and Boyz 2 Men’s 22-year record for most consecutive weeks at #1. Similarly, Ed Sheeran’s “Shape of You” set a record for most consecutive weeks in the Top Ten.

Huzzah, huzzah.

In all likelihood, pop music is just, kinda, harmless.

But it also might also be a glossy, danceable veneer for all kinds of neo-liberalist capitalist propaganda, so we took a deeper dive into the rest of the Hot 100’s Top Ten to see for ourselves.


10. Imagine Dragons– “Believer”


This song is leftist as fuck.

Want to know how badass Imagine Dragons thinks communism is?

The main narrative thrust of the “Believer” video is Dolph Lundgren knocking ID’s lead singer into fluorescent oblivion. That’s Dolph Lundgren—as in, the guy who portrayed Ivan Drago, a personification of Soviet Russia whose iconic movie moment is literally beating a guy dressed as Uncle Sam to death.

Take that, American values. We’re 0 for 1 in our hypothesis so far.

dolphko

Song is trash, though.

Billboard Ranking: 4
Capitalist Zeal: 16%, Almost Certainly Bernie Bros


9. French Montana– “Unforgettable (Feat. Swae Lee)”


“Pulled out a million cash, told her plank on it.” Bruh.

French, man. If you shoot the video in Uganda, you’ve gotta tuck with discussing M’s in such a frivolous way. Uganda has the fifteenth lowest per capita GDP in the world—that “million cash” would pay a year’s salary for 1600 of those folks and you’re telling your girl to…plank on it. Bad optics.

Better optics: While French was there filming, he actually donated money to build a huge addition to a health clinic that serves 300,000 people. We’re just hoping that it actually gets built and running…unlike the never-completed foreign aid projects on whose rubble this young girl is 👏 getting 👏 it.

uganda

Billboard Ranking: 6
Capitalist Zeal: 40%, Get That Access to Healthcare All The Way Up


8. Charlie Puth– “Attention”


Charlie Puth, a walking frosted tip, attempts to break out of his musical comfort zone in the ‘OkCupid Youtube Pre-Roll Ad’ genre and into the conversation for ‘Edgy Car Commercial.’ He’s pretty successful!

One of the below clips is from a Dodge ad, and the other is from the “Attention” video.

charlie1

charlie2

Honestly, I’m happy for you, Chuck.

Otherwise, Puth doesn’t have too much to say. The inspiration from this song came from a post he saw on his IG Explore, so, you know.

Billboard Ranking: 5
Capitalist Zeal: 60%, Mostly I Just Hope To Never See You Again


7. Ed Sheeran– “Shape of You”


At first listen, you can’t help but applaud Sheeran’s self-proclaimed “thrift.” His embrace of the everyman “bar” and rejection of the bourgeois “club” may have you calling him Comrade Eddie…but his behavior at the buffet quickly gives him away as a laissez-faire opp. Encouraging his partner to surreptitiously “fill up her bag” with food stuffs beyond satiety is a slap in the face of Marx’s foundational edict, “to each according to his need.”

Also, Sheeran’s co-opting of tropical house is a blatant endorsement of free market globalization, but can you really fault him for hopping such a hot trend?

Yeah, of course you can: Free market globalization is Ed Sheeran’s fault.

Billboard Ranking: 9
Capitalist Zeal: 68%, Budding Adam Smith Acolyte


6. Shawn Mendes– “There’s Nothing Holding Me Back”


Mendes has been playing the prudish do-gooder to fellow Canadian Bieber’s spoiled spring breaker for years, but on this track, he reveals his deeper game. The former Vine star (read: guaranteed weirdo) busts out a plucky dance track whose extended metaphor compares a ~free-spirited~ temptress to unbridled capitalism.

When he’s with “her” there’s “nothing holding [him] back.” No inhibitions, no fear, no pesky capital gains taxes to provide subsidies for farmers or universal healthcare. Shawn’s affections are back on the free market, so stay tuned for the follow-up single, “Deregulated Heart.”

shawn and scrooge

Billboard Ranking: 7
Capitalist Zeal: 75%, Thought Atlas Shrugged Was “Honestly, Really A Great Read”


5. Bruno Mars– “That’s What I Like”


Shopping sprees in Paris, beach houses in Miami, trips to Puerto Rico, condos in Manhattan, strawberry Champagne, Cadillacs, diamonds, silk, gold.

Bruno spends the entirety of this song flaunting the excess of, like, an unimaginative Gilded Age industrialist to quantify his affection for a girl. Maybe it’s to be expected from an artist whose tour (24 Karat Magic) is named after a cut of a precious stone that’s driven commodity-centric conflict across the poorest regions of the world.

We’ll hold out the slightest sliver of hope that name-dropping these lavish adornments is a long play by Bruno. I mean, maybe he’s just trying to subtly warn of commodity fetishism and its dangers. Beach houses and condos? Watch out for a housing bubble! Cadillacs? Don’t forget the auto industry bail-out! Is this a sneak play from Bruno? Maybe!

giphy

Billboard Ranking: 8
Capitalist Zeal: 77%, Wishes He Could Go Back To When He Was Your Man-aging Partner of a Global Finance Firm


4. DJ Khaled– “Wild Thoughts (Feat. Rihanna and Bryson Tiller)”


Just an irreverent, playful, unstoppably sexy flip of Carlos Santana’s “Smooth,” right?

*Sigh* We wish it were that simple.

Don’t be distracted by Rihanna’s tantalizing approaches—within four lines, she compares herself to Maytag. You know Maytag—the former Good Union Company Creating Useful Products at Socially Necessary Wages whose merger with Whirpool in 2006 spelled doom for thousands of middle Americans across the Midwest.

Oh, you “can name some things that [you] gon’ do,” Riri? Like sue the United Auto Workers and slash previously negotiated pension and health benefits for retired workers?

Rihanna’s blouse isn’t the only thinly veiled cover-up we’re seeing through.


Billboard Ranking: 2
Capitalist Zeal: 88%, We The Best (At Crippling The Working Class)


3. Yo Gotti– “Rake it Up (Feat. Nicki Minaj)”


At the top of this track, Yo Gotti announces “Rake It Up” as the “strip club anthem” that it is: a bouncy, DJ Mustard-lite beat, dollar bills literally raining in the video, and a sticky Nicki verse to glue it all together. Amidst the hedonism, though, remember what Marx says about exotic dancers: “These labourers, who must sell themselves piece-meal, are a commodity.” Karl, damn, just let us have a good time!

And yeah, okay, fine, Marx doesn’t actually specify “these labourers” as strippers, but it’s an easy inference to make. “Sell themselves piece-meal” is just a rephrasing of Gotti’s cringe-worthy “Pay for the pussy / Pay for the pussy / Pay for the pussy.” If no one’s gonna say it, we will: he probably should’ve saved his money and paid for two more Nicki verses because his own bars are real boring.

Billboard Rank: 10
Capitalist Zeal: 94%, Could’ve Taken A Few More Tips From Castro


2. Cardi B– “Bodak Yellow”


With bold proclamations that paint her as a caricature of every capitalist villain—”I’m a boss, you a worker, bitch”—Cardi the Corporatist had bounded up the charts on the backs of the proletariat, who rue that they, unlike her, must choose between pairs of Louboutins.

An unabashed proponent of the money-over-everything-including-artistic-integrity mindset (“You gotta follow the trends, it is what it is,” she said, reminiscent of Jay-Z in ‘Moment of Clarity,’ in her recent Fader cover, “At the end of the day, you need to be with what sells.”), Cardi scoffs at folks who show up to party without being paid for an appearance. Yikes.

Billboard Ranking: 3
Capitalist Zeal: 96%, Actually is the Invisible Hand


1. Luis Fonsi– “Despacito (Feat. Justin Bieber and Daddy Yankee)”


Honestly, we can’t see anything remotely capitalistic about this.

The song is threaded together with whispered sweet nothings, pithy Spanglish pick-up lines, and sultry guitars. Its Bieber-less video highlights a crew of Puerto Ricans, shrugging off the shackles of the protectorate’s financier-manufactured debt crisis to enjoy communal life together. The romantic interest of the music video is Puerto Rican model and actress Zuleyka Rivera, a former Miss Universe who was married to Dallas Mavericks guard J.J. Bar–

Wait.

Hold the fucking phone. Miss Universe? You mean the pageant that was owned and operated by capitalist vulture #1 Donald Trump for twenty years? And you mean that when DJT walked into the WrestleMania 23 arena to a theme called “Money, Money, Money” and bodyslammed Vince McMahon, the same moment Trump tweeted out in July as a meme with CNN as McMahon, she was right there cheering him on?

God damn you, “Despacito.” We can’t untangle the web of pernicious shit you’re weaving, but this goes all the way to the fucking top.


Billboard Ranking: 1
Capitalist Zeal: 100%, Know what? Fuck this. I’m going to work at Bain.

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