Forbes this week released its 2012 installment of its “30 Under 30″ list, the finance mag’s annual attempt at getting twentysomethings to feel really bad about themselves. As in past years, the list is divided up into different spheres of influence, and since “Music” is included, we get to see which pop stars the titans of the business world consider the equals of Mark Zuckerberg and Ezra Klein.
On the whole, the list isn’t too surprising, with all the heavyweights you might guess: Taylor Swift, Adele, Justin Bieber, Rihanna, Drake, Kendrick Lamar, Katy Perry, Bruno Mars, Lady Gaga, One Direction, Frank Ocean and the Mumford fellow. That’s pretty similar to the top of our Popdust 40, with the notable and completely unsurprising absence of Chris Brown. Forbes also made time for some under-the-radar choices that we can’t especially complain about: Avicii (only 23—who knew?), Calvin Harris, Benny Blanco and a few industry types.
But what we find a little baffling is the mag’s choice for the headlining artist of the list: With all those to choose from, they went instead with Pittsburgh’s own Wiz Khalifa. Now, Wiz is not a bad rapper, and he had a better year that you might think, but you can’t deny there’s something decidedly B-List about him. (There are smaller artists on the list, like Skylar Grey, but they have the advantage of being young comers still; we can have a sense of optimism about their careers that we don’t with Wiz. They’re Russell Wilson, he’s Joe Flacco.) Khalifa’s had what, three hits in the past two years? Rihanna can get that many in a week.
But maybe there’s something about Wiz that Forbes sees and we don’t. Are all the leading economic indicators saying he’ll have a great year? Or was he just—and maybe we should let the thought go unspoken—the only person not too busy to give an interview?