No-one buys records any more, the recession is biting, so people aren't going to as many gigs - these are tough times to be a mega pop star. But expectations have never been higher: if we don't see a music video with the production values of a Hollywood epic, then we're going to complain, so how are they supposed to provide one?
Step forward the murky world of product placement; while most have managed to put subtle, appropriate references in where necessary - to up the budget a bit - these have just gone the whole hog, shoehorned in a load of products and paraded their naked capitalism in front of our faces.
Here are the 11 most crass examples of product placement in music videos.
Avril Lavigne - Rock N Roll
What's the most un-rock 'n' roll thing ever? Opening your video with the phrase "oh, my new Sony phone is ringing!" Clearly, Avril was trying to go for the 'make-it-so-blatant-that-it's-ridiculous' angle, but to us...it's just ridiculous.
Jennifer Lopez - Live It Up feat. Pitbull
This one, arguably the pinnacle of bad-taste product placement vids, includes plugs for: Swarovski, Nokia, Ice Watches and Beluga vodka. You're still just Jenny from the block though, right? Used to have a little, now you have a lot..of free gifts from corporate machines.
Britney Spears - Hold It Against Me
Apparently Britney received $500,000 for the products she endorsed in this video (we can spot Plenty of Fish, Make Up Forever eye shadow and Sony...lots of Sony...everything Sony produce). Poor lamb though, she probably needs it after her stellar fifteen year career, million-selling records and sell-out tours. She must be practically on the breadline, so it's understandable.
Lady Gaga - Telephone feat. Beyonce
The daddy of product placement epics, this had just about everything in it: heartbeats earphones, Virgin mobile, Diet Coke (hard to miss that one), HP, Plenty of Fish (again), Chevrolet, Polaroid, Wonderbread and Miracle Whip. No wonder it was so long, it must have been tough fitting a story arc around that many products.
Ke$ha - We R Who We R
There's a reason for that dollar sign in her name. Jack Daniels (given airtime in Tik Tok of course), Casio and Plenty of Fish (but of course!). Just what is it with all these popstars - why are they all so unlucky in love? Poor souls.
The Saturdays - Missing You
One of the most beautifully gratuitous examples of product airtime on this list, at 0:24 a full-screen close up of an Ice Watch gets a full, lingering, two-second shot of action. Just watch it. A-ha.
Diddy/Chester French/Clinton Sparks - Cîroc Star
Less a music video than a full-scale advert for some brand of vodka (we forget the name). This song actually contains the lyric "From the back of the cop car to a Cîroc star, the world's best premium vodka." We repeat, that was an actual lyric.
Autograph - Turn Up The Radio
Just to prove that product placement isn't a new thing, here's a fantastic clip from 80s hair-metallers Autograph. And, given their name, it was wholly appropriate that they were plugging a Papermate retractable pencil throughout. Don't laugh, those things were futuristic in the 80s.
Lune - Leave The World Behind feat Swedish House Mafia
Again, this is not really a video, more a full scale four-minute Volvo commercial. At least they're all Swedish, they're just bigging up one of their home country's products. They should have stuck some IKEA furniture in the boot while they were at it.
Miley Cyrus - We Can't Stop
Three seconds in and the Beats Pill gets a thorough plugging. We can't stop taking money from big brands, eh?
Britney Spears - Work Bitch
And last, but not least, comes our old friend Britney again with the disappointing-musically, but very-rewarding-financially Work Bitch video. Seen within are Britney's very own Fantasy Twist perfume, Planet Hollywood, the Beats Pill (again), Maserati, Bugatti and Lamborghini. It's a genuine shame that the director didn't get confused and put some Lambrini in instead.