Top 40

The Big Split
March 14, 2012

In May 2007, when Barack Obama was but an upstart challenger of Hillary Clinton, he attended a gathering of several dozen hedge fund managers hosted by Goldman Sachs at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. It was not a fund-raiser, just a chance for Obama to introduce himself to the investment wizards who had helped turn the hedge fund sector into the most lucrative and alluring corner of the financial universe. And the first question for Obama was as blunt as one would expect from this crowd.

Lykke Li and the Rise of Porn Pop
March 12, 2011

There’s always a strain of porn in pop music—not just sexiness or sensuality, which are different things, of course, but an industrially strategic manipulation of words, music, and images to manufacture desire. Clever performers have exploited this, sometimes upending it to comment upon or to subvert that desire, since Josephine Baker petitioned for African American equity in a snake dance. I grew up with disco and “Push, Push in the Bush” on top-40 radio.

Beck on Top
August 29, 2010

Almost no one who attended Saturday’s “Restoring Honor” rally on the National Mall seems able to cogently explain what, exactly, took place. Was it a thinly disguised political rally? A triumph of Made in America inspirational treacle? A modern-day religious revival? When probed by reporters, happy participants and skeptical observers alike struggled to make sense of the prayerful parade that saw Tony LaRussa, Sarah Palin, and Eveda King take turns at a podium between prerecorded voiceovers about crossroads, awakenings, and miracles.

I Love (Some Of) The '80s
June 22, 2010

I have an odd affinity for pop music that came out from 1982 through 1984. I'm not completely sure why that is. Those were the only years I listened to a lot of top 40 radio. I'm not sure if I like the music from that period better because I was an impressionable kid with immature tastes, or if I'd still like that music if I heard it for the first time today. Moreover, do I like the music from those years because I just happened to be listening to pop music on the radio then, or did I stop listening starting around 1985 because the music got worse?

Future Shock
February 24, 2010

On Tuesday, Intel CEO Paul Otellini delivered a speech at Brookings on long-term economic competitiveness.