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Good Thursday Morning!

Good morning. On this day in 1998, former President Bill Clinton turned everyone’s minds into a pretzel when, during grand jury testimony over his affair with Monica Lewinsky, he mused, “It depends on what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is.”

Truthfully, it’s been a while since preschool and we could use a little refresher. According to Merriam-Webster, the definition of “is” is “the present tense third-person singular of be.” And the definition of “be” is “to equal in meaning.”

Okay, not sure that helped. But hopefully, it made you smile! Carry that smile with you today, and give it away to someone else! Smile because it’s a new day. Smile because the sun is shining. Smile because you woke up this morning and decided to take on the day! Then go out and make someone else smile!


Music execs aren’t behind the songs of summer

Oliver Anthony performing Rich Men North of Richmond and clip from Planet of the Bass

Last summer, a Netflix show about D&D made an ’80s Kate Bush hit a contender for song of the season, but this summer, two of the biggest biggest bops came from an even more surprising place: nowhere.

Eurodance parody “Planet of the Bass” and conservative favorite “Rich Men North of Richmond” are very different songs whose popularity skyrocketed for very different reasons—but both popped off without the help of traditional music labels.

If you’re still humming “Running Up That Hill,” here’s the scoop on these two:

A song about nothing. Brooklyn-based comedian Kyle Gordon (and his alter ego DJ Crazy Times) went viral with three teaser trailers for “Planet of the Bass,” filmed by his brother on an iPhone. Gordon said he has no intention of becoming a pop star, but:

  • The official music video, released Tuesday, already has more than 860,000 views, and the first preview has 110+ million.
  • Gordon performed the song at a Jonas Brothers concert in Boston.

A song about a whole lot. Oliver Anthony’s “Rich Men North of Richmond” was number one on Spotify’s Top 50 chart for the US yesterday, after debuting a little over a week ago on YouTube, where it’s racked up 16 million views. Anthony says he identifies “dead center down the aisle” politically, but the song’s hype owes a lot to conservatives like Marjorie Taylor Greene, Matt Walsh, and Ben Shapiro, who praised its lyrics criticizing high taxes and welfare.

  • Some progressives have accused Anthony of being an “industry plant” to carry the baton of Jason Aldean’s controversial chart topper, “Try That in a Small Town,” or even of having QAnon ties.

Big picture: These two “songs of the summer” became hits without traditional industry help, even as music execs told Billboard they’ve struggled recently to create new superstars the old-fashioned way.


Tour de headlines

That'll do pig

Babe/Universal Pictures via Giphy

 A pig kidney implanted into a human is still working after a month. In a big step toward using animals to help ease the shortage of donated organs, the surgical team at NYU Langone that transplanted a genetically modified pig kidney into a brain-dead man (with his family’s consent) said it continues to function normally 32 days later. That’s the longest such an organ has worked inside a person, and it raises hopes that pig organs can one day help human patients in need of donations. As of March, when the US proposed revamping its organ donation system, more than 100,000 people were waiting for organs.

 An appeals court ruled abortion pills should stay on the market. The US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit yesterday overturned a Texas judge’s ruling revoking the FDA’s decades-old approval of mifepristone. However, the court said the drug should not be available through the mail or prescribed via telemedicine, which would make it unavailable in some states with abortion bans. The ruling will have no immediate impact on the accessibility of mifepristone, because a Supreme Court order keeping it available until the justices weigh in was already in effect.

 Intel calls off $5.4 billion purchase of chipmaker over China delay. Intel said yesterday it had agreed to ditch a deal to buy Israeli chip manufacturer Tower Semiconductor (and pay Tower a $353 million fee) after Chinese regulators failed to conduct a required antitrust review of the acquisition before a crucial deadline. The scuttled purchase comes amid tension between the US and China over technology, especially chips, which the Biden administration has worked to restrict China’s access to.


People are still shopping, just not at Target

Target logo on a balloon with darts going toward it

Francis Scialabba

What’s up? Not sales at Target, which soared during the pandemic but, much like your family’s bonding time, have fallen off since. The company revealed yesterday that sales slumped last quarter for the first time in four years, and despite a profit surge, the retailer cut its profit forecast for the year.

Why the slump? Target said that lower sales last quarter are partially a result of the consumer backlash over its Pride collection…and over its removal of that Pride collection.

But culture wars aren’t the only problem for everyone’s favorite place to accidentally spend $50: With prices for essentials rising, customers only have so much left to spend on seasonal oven mitts. Target is uniquely exposed to discretionary spending categories, which account for 54% of its annual sales, according to the Wall Street Journal. As for things people do need, groceries only make up 20% of Target’s yearly revenue, compared to more than 50% of rival Walmart’s.

And even when customers are buying for fun, they’re hunting for bargains one strip mall over at TJ Maxx, whose parent company reported strong sales and raised its outlook for the year yesterday, instead.

Looking ahead…Target executives are bracing for an uncertain future as student loan payments resume on September 1, likely leaving the chain’s main demographic—millennials—short on cash.


Seems like nobody wants their food delivered anymore

Person declining food delivery

Illustration: Francis Scialabba, Photos: Getty Images

Fast-casual food delivery is becoming less popular as more people get their freaking arses up and opt for takeout or in-person dining.

The dip in delivery is largely because consumers are watching their wallets, analysts say. With pandemic lockdowns behind us, people can no longer justify paying the fees and inflated menu prices associated with clicking “Order” from the couch.

And some fast-casual chains are getting nostalgic for the goblin mode days.

  • Sweetgreen has fulfilled fewer delivery orders and more pickups recently, and the salad chain fell short of overall revenue estimates last quarter.
  • Deliveries for health bowl competitor Cava have similarly declined, with pickups on the up. That contributed to the company’s cautious sales growth forecast for the year (but so did rising gas prices and other universal economic concerns).
  • Chipotle’s delivery revenue dropped 15.8% last quarter compared to the same time last year.

Companies that focus on delivery haven’t all been hit as hard. Uber’s delivery sales increased 14% and DoorDash’s grew 25% last quarter, but Grubhub’s parent company did report decreasing order volumes across North America this year.

Restaurants are trying to adapt: After struggling with delivery for more than a year, Domino’s finally agreed last month to partner with Uber Eats and Postmates.—ML


Key performance indicators

A VinFast electric car

Josh Lefkowitz/Getty Images

Stat: Quick, name a major car company. VinFast, a Vietnamese electric vehicle startup that has yet to turn a profit, probably wasn’t the first to spring to mind. But after it went public via SPAC Tuesday, the company’s stock more than tripled, pushing its market value to ~$86 billion as of the market’s close. That was higher than General Motors ($45.8 billion) or Ford ($47.9 billion). VinFast plunged 19% yesterday as investors weighed the challenges ahead for the company, but it showed the market still has an appetite for EV manufacturers and SPAC deals—even though several of both have stumbled recently.

Quote: “These scientists keep naming critters after me, but it’s always the ones that terrify children. I don’t understand. I spend my free time cross-stitching. I sing lullabies to my basil plants, so they won’t fear the night.”

Despite Indiana Jones’s famous aversion to snakes, Harrison Ford said he found it “humbling” that researchers named a newly discovered Peruvian species after him (the recently christened Tachymenoides harrisonfordi). But the actor, who already had an ant and spider named for him, did question why his moniker never gets applied to cute, fuzzy Ewok-types. He’s in good company, though, according to this extensive Wikipedia list of species named for celebrities.

Read: What happens to all the stuff we return? (The New Yorker)


What else is brewing

  • Barbie is now Warner Bros.’s highest-grossing domestic release ever. It earned more than $537 million, edging out Christopher Nolan’s Batman flick The Dark Knight for the top spot.
  • A Kansas newspaper will get back all the equipment that was seized from it during a controversial police raid last week, because the local prosecutor withdrew the search warrant.
  • Apple has reversed its decision to move the “end call” button and has put it back in the middle of the screen in the latest public version of its next iOS.
  • England will square off against Spain in the Women’s World Cup final on Sunday after beating host country Australia. Meanwhile, the US coach has resigned after the team underperformed in the tournament.


To do list Thursday

 When Zillow is not enough: Satisfy your real estate browsing habit on this site for luxury properties only.

 State of the states: Here’s what AI thinks every US state would look like as a person.

 Bone up on business: Add these books—all in the running to be named business book of the year—to your Amazon cart.

 Pigeons, but make it fashion: This artist’s photos seek to elevate the common birds.


 Why this mascara has over 20k five-star reviews: This award-winning mascara instantly lengthens lashes to mimic the look of eyelash extensions at a fraction of salon costs. Brew readers get 20% off their lusciously long lashes here.*


 Daily dime: Ready for a financial game changer? We worked with Discover® to create a 30-day financial literacy calendar that’ll keep you on track to crushing your money goals and making your wallet happy. Get started.*



The puzzle section

Brew Mini: Delay confronting your work emails just a little bit longer by playing today’s Mini.

Three Headlines and a Lie

Three of these headlines are real, and one is faker than someone telling you to let them know when you’re in town. Can you spot the odd one out?

  1. Cops say ‘aliens’ attacking Amazonian village are men with jetpacks
  2. A Kansas grocery store now has the top podcast on Spotify
  3. Scientists just discovered a ‘strawberry-like’ antarctic invertebrate with 20 arms
  4. Florida village terrorized by peacocks plans to use vasectomies to solve the problem


We made up the one about the grocery store podcast.

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