The Great Recession may have been long declared over, but the pain continues for many everyday people. For the curious, the bottoming out of the U.S. economy prompted inquiry into what the hell went down. The subject of economics, however, is all too often unnecessarily mystifying.
Its baffling world of jargon can come undone, though, with simple analogies that get to the heart of the matter. With that, the Great Recession and the inherent instability of the U.S. economy can be easily understood by simply listening with attentive ears to LMFAO's 2009 club banging hit “Shots” featuring Lil' John!
First of all, people might be wondering why, in the aftermath the
roughest months of job losses, a song like “Shots” could even be popular
and chart on the Billboard hot 100. A New York University Professor,
Phil Maymin, found, through research of hit songs and hard times, an
inverse correlation between low “beat variance” music and market
instability. The Lil' John produced track certainly fits that criteria
and can even be said to have a low “hook variance” with the word “Shots”
repeated thirty-two times with an “everybody!” thrown in the middle and
at the end!
Ok, so the beat and the hook of the song fit within the Professor's
findings, but where do the lyrics on the verses fit in to the bigger
An alcoholic anthem is perfect for understanding what the Great
Recession was and where we are doomed to go next. Let's start first
with economics and the late Hyman Minksy. Chief among his theoretical
contributions to his field of study was the financial instability
hypothesis that held the U.S. economy to be inherently unstable. In
fact, the great financial crisis was mentioned by many economists as a
Now, let's face the music. I don't know how many active alcoholics you
know, but even the most functional ones hitting the clubs in the spirit
of “Shots” mimic the behavior of market economy in Minsky's outlook. We
all know now that the real estate bubble a couple years ago burst
sending big shock waves and foreclosing homes. This was merely the
symptom, however, of larger financialization trends that have supplanted
production's role in the economy over that past couple of decades.
Looking to Minsky and LMFAO, the economy simply just drank too many shots– “Jaegerbombs Lemondrops, Buttery Nipples”–and they turned into speculative bubbles!
No one at the time, especially Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan,
ever really thought of cutting anyone off at the open bar. The song's
Lil' John intro, “If you not drunk ladies N gentlemen / Get ready to
get fucked up / Let's do it,” marked spirit of the frenzy. Well,
everyone got fucked up alright! The economy seriously dehydrated and
needed something more than menudo to get it through its big hangover–
the Great Recession.[
The misogyny of “Shots, with lyrics implying that women give their
sexuality up in exchange for liquor–(“Their panties hit the ground
every time I give 'em shots”)–fits the “too big to fail” banks
handling of the political establishment! With Wall Street contributions
in the pockets of the two major parties, taxpayer money went to
literally pour liquidity into the dehydrated economy. The Federal
Reserve's recent printing of $600 billion dollars is just the latest
Like a true alcoholic, the U.S. economy, even after all this partying,
never admitted it had a fundamental problem–the growth imperative
profit motive otherwise known as “pour me another drink, I know when
I've had enough!” Without that, it hasn't gone through any kind of 12
step rehabilitation program–real reform, regulation, or revolution.
In defiance, the drunk economy, prompted back up and ready to party
again says in the words of “Shots,” “If you ain't getting drunk get the
fuck out the club / If you ain't takin' shots get the fuck out the
LMFAOnomics, then, is doomed to fumble over itself again in its next inevitable bender…
SHOTS! SHOTS! SHOTS! (X32) EVERYBODY!
Gabriel San Román is from Anacrime. He’s a journalist, subversive historian and the tallest Mexican in OC. He also once stood falsely accused of writing articles on Turkish politics in exchange for free food from DönerG’s!