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From Rolls-Royce To Grey Poupon, A Look At Brand Mentions In Chart-Topping Songs

One recent example of a musician prominently mentioning a brand in a song: Kendrick Lamar with a jar of Grey Poupon in the music video for "Humble."
One recent example of a musician prominently mentioning a brand in a song: Kendrick Lamar with a jar of Grey Poupon in the music video for "Humble."

Product placement is everywhere these days — including in our music. This fact struck pop culture reporter Kim Bhasin at Bloomberg recently when he was listening to "Bad and Boujee" by Migos and Lil Uzi Vert.

With its references to Instagram, Klout, Segway, Subway and more, "Bad and Boujee" mentions 19 brand names in all.

So Bhasin and data journalist Lance Lambert decided to pore over all of the top 20 songs in the past three years. They found 212 different brands mentioned — either by name or otherwise.

"We had to look up a lot of slang words to make sure we didn't miss anything," he says — like a "frog," for example, which refers to a Porsche.

A Bloomberg feature collects Bhasin and Lambert's findings. Eight of the 10 most mentioned brands were fancy cars — the top one being Rolls-Royce — along with alcohol and other things favored by the rich and famous.

Of course, sometimes musicians reference brands for reasons beyond lyricism or simple appreciation. Take the song "Forever," by Chris Brown: It was released as a regular song in 2007 — but chewing gum company Wrigley later revealed that the song is actually a longer version of a jingle for Doublemint gum.

Nevertheless, "there's a ton of unexpected brands that get mentioned in music that you don't realize until you sift through all of these songs," Bhasin says.

Bloomberg's analysis revealed nods to KitKat, 7-Eleven, Crock-Pot, Rolaids, A.1. Steak Sauce and even Band-Aid (see "Bad Blood" by Taylor Swift).

"Who knows how they pick these brands," Bhasin says. "A lot of times they like it — or it works as an analogy in their lyrics and it makes sense to make that reference."

Web intern Karen Gwee contributed to this story.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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