For a certain rarefied group of pop stars, the charts are something to live and die by. Success is marked not just by album sales, downloads, or accumulation of wealth; it’s also by how high singles can chart. Well, if these automakers were pop stars, they’d be some of the most successful entertainers in the world.
Analyzing the 280 songs that have cracked the top 20 on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart since 2014, Bloomberg found an astonishing 212 brands were mentioned. And almost overwhelmingly, the most popular companies mentioned were automakers. In hip-hop, repping your favorite brands has long been a common practice. But once that trait crossed over into mainstream pop, this phenomenon has kicked into overdrive. The result? Product placement that brands don’t have to pay for on virtually every pop station in the world.
Unsurprisingly, most of the car brands mentioned are about as aspirational as it gets. But they’re fascinating insight into what our idols — and our society as a whole — see as marks of success. These are the eight automotive brands that have topped the charts over the past three years.
Of all the cars you see on the road on a regular basis, none of them exude a sense of class and taste like Mercedes. With their chrome grilles and no-expenses-spared luxury interiors, the cars are shorthand for wealth and taste — two things that pop stars love to convey. Unsurprisingly then, Mercedes has been mentioned in five top 20 songs in the past three years.
Next: This brand is synonymous with luxury.
Cadillac may have had its ups and downs, but its name will always be synonymous with luxury. Whether its about any number of classic luxury cars or its current stable of formidable import-fighters, the American brand will always be shorthand for class. It’s been mentioned in five top 20 pop songs in the past three years.
Next: This company is the embodiment of speed and class.
In the 21st century, Bentley has reinvented itself as a builder of cars that are both stately and brutally fast. From the mansion-on-wheels Mulsanne to the 200-plus mile per hour Continental, there are plenty of ways to say “I made it” with a Bentley. Because of this, the British-German brand has cracked the top 20 five times since 2014.
Next: This car company is synonymous with outrageous.
If there’s one brand in the world that screams “look at me” it’s Lamborghini. Its loud, fast, and outrageous wedge-shaped cars are impossible to ignore. And their palette of highlighter colors means you can see one from a mile away. Naturally, fast, loud, and attention-grabbing Lambos are irresistible to young pop stars. As a result, they’ve been mentioned in top 20 hits six times in the past three years.
Next: A car company everyone can relate to
Pop song lyrics are at their best when they convey one of two things: something completely relatable or something fantastic. And if there’s one car brand that offers that, it’s probably Chevy. Chances are you or someone in your life has owned one. But with cars, such as the Camaro and Corvette, there’s still a lot at a Chevy dealership to daydream over. Because of its universal appeal, songs dropping the Bowtie Brand have cracked the top 20 seven times in the past three years.
Next: This German brand has long been synonymous for cool.
Porsche has always conveyed a unique kind of glamor. James Dean met his end in one. Steve McQueen had a fondness for 911s. So did Michael Jordan. So unsurprisingly, they’ve showed up in quite a few songs over the years. In the past three years alone, the Porsche name has been dropped in seven top 20 songs.
Next: This Italian supercar company is popular on the charts.
Ferraris are fast, expensive, and exclusive. Everyday schlubs don’t drive them. They’re expensive to run and maintain. And increasingly, invitations are needed from the company to buy certain models. More than most other cars, Ferraris are symbols of serious wealth. The Italian supercar company was mentioned in nine out of the 280 top 20 songs.
Next: Nothing says rich like this brand.
Let’s face it: When you think filthy rich, you think Rolls-Royce. You do, your parents did, and probably your grandparents, too. More than sports cars — which can telegraph anything from “spoiled rich kid” to “guy having a midlife crisis” — a Rolls exudes class, opulence, and exclusivity. So naturally, they’re shorthand for making it. Rolls was mentioned in 11 of the 280 songs that have cracked the top 20 in the past three years.