Lorde's Anti-Bling Anthem Royals Tops the Charts

Lorde performing at the Splendour in the Grass festival in Australia Photograph by Stephen Booth/The Hell Gate/Corbis

In August 2011, the average unemployed person had been looking for work for more than 10 months, housing prices were abysmal, and construction was down 28 percent from its pre-recession peak. Even sales of basic appliances like ovens and stoves had fallen to their lowest level since 1992. Meanwhile, amid the economic malaise, Jay-Z and Kanye West released Watch the Throne, a gold-encased album replete with references to brand names such as Maybach and Hermès.

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