Literally the Best Thing Ever: Musical Conspiracy Theories

I want to believe!

John Lennon and the number nine

There’s another Tupac-related conspiracy theory, about the number seven. It’s complicated, but it goes something like this: Tupac was shot on September 7, and he died seven days later. His first posthumous album was released seven months after that and was titled—GET THIS—The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory. Oh man.

A similar number-based theory has sprung up around the life and death of John Lennon. Lennon wrote a lot of songs referencing the number nine: My favorite, of course, is “#9 Dream,” but there’s also “Revolution 9” and “One After 909.” But things really start cooking when you notice that Lennon was born on October 9 and that his first address was 9 Newcastle Road. Whoa, what? As if that’s not freaky enough, there have been a ton of random occurrences related to that same number throughout Lennon’s life, including people’s names (McCartney, as in PAUL, has nine letters) and important dates (the Beatles broke up after nine years together). Things start to really stretch (I know, you’re like, “Uh, Brittany, it was a stretch from the moment you started writing this”) when you realize that even though Lennon died on December 8, 1980, in New York City, the moment he passed away it was technically December 9 in his hometown of Liverpool, England.

The John Lennon #9 theory is one of those rare conspiracy theories that don’t have a point beyond acknowledging a number of weird occurrences. It doesn’t offer an explanation to anything, but it gives you a map to a fun scavenger hunt through Lennon’s life.

Paul McCartney is DEAD!

This is where I start to get spooked: There’s a theory out there that Mr. Nine-Letter-Surname himself has actually been dead for decades and that a double has taken his place. This is definitely the biggest Beatles-related conspiracy theory out there, one that the band has acknowledged and poked fun at since it began.

The story goes that Macca died in a car crash in the mid-’60s, but the band didn’t want people to find out, because then they’d know that…I guess that the Beatles weren’t really the Beatles anymore? So they installed a replacement Paul, who has been living as Paul McCartney ever since.

There are tons of clues to this mystery in the band’s music and visuals. Some people believe that certain Beatles songs, when played backward on a turntable, reveal strange messages like “Ha, ha, Paul is dead” (in “I Am the Walrus”)

Other people, seeing the fun that the “Paul is dead” theory provided for the band and its fans alike, have started rumors about other famous artists over the years, including Miley Cyrus and Andrew W.K. To be honest, these are all much too terrifying for me to think too hard on, but let’s just say that all of the above are alive and well and exactly who their birth certificates say they are!

The Illuminati

The Illuminati is another terrifying theory, mostly because when people bring it up, you can never tell if they actually believe it or are just fucking with you. Basically, the Illuminati is the mother of ALL conspiracy theories because apparently this shadowy secret society is responsible for the way our entire society works, from those “suspicious” celebritydeaths” we talked about earlier to the fame of Blue Ivy Carter and Willow Smith to national tragedies, elections, and the economies of several countries.

I am so freaked out by the idea of a secret society of celebrities and politicians having reign over literally everything that happens in the world that I’ve chosen to believe that every person who brings up the Illuminati is indeed totally fucking with us.

Beyonce was never actually pregnant!

Speaking of Princess Blue Ivy, there’s a semipopular theory out there that her mother, the Queen, did not give birth to her but rather hired a surrogate and faked her pregnancy to escape the physical hardship of carrying a child to term. As with all good conspiracy theories, there’s a hearty amount of semi-plausible “evidence” connected with this one, including a pretty strange video of her stomach folding in on itself as she sits down for a TV interview:

I don’t believe this theory at all, but I admit that my faith briefly faltered when I saw this video! It seems totally weird, right?! But in actuality, I think this whole thing comes out of people’s anxiety about successful women, successful black women, and the idea that women can’t “have it all” (a job, a family, and happiness). It’s also kind of shitty to suggest there would be something “wrong” with Beyoncé or anyone else choosing to use a surrogate to have a child, for any reason at all. In any case, I consider Bey’s BARE PREGNANT BELLY sufficient proof that she spent nine glorious months with possible Illuminati ruler Blue Ivy.


Gangsta rap was invented to fill prisons.

This one is a lot easier, for me at least, to believe. It started when an anonymous letter was floated around that stated that in 1991, a bunch of record executives who had stock in the prison system had a secret meeting to figure out how to use rap music to make that stock more valuable. Totally the normal way you’d try to make money on the stock market, right? They decided to push the genre in a crime-glorifying direction, which would influence kids (especially black kids) to commit more crimes, which would get tons and tons of them arrested, which would make all these alleged prison-system investments pay off BIG TIME.

I KNOW this is totally ridiculous and paranoid, but what isn’t either of those things is the characterization of the majority of record-label executives, especially in the late ’80s and early ’90s, as greedy and soulless. And it’s not like the people in charge don’t have it in for black youth. Young black men are much more likely to be incarcerated than any other group out there, and when an epidemic like crack or AIDS hits a black neighborhood, the government doesn’t seem too quick to lend a helping hand. (Kanye probably explained the government’s attitude toward people of color best here.)

I’m getting the chills just thinking about this one, which is a sure sign, as far as I’m concerned, that it might be true! And that, despite the gruesomeness of this or any other conspiracy, is not an unsatisfying feeling. Because even though, factually speaking, I definitely don’t have all the answers to these stories or anything else, pretending like I might possibly know the secrets of the universe (which are clearly all hidden in messages throughout pop music, obvi) is a lot of fun, and plus, when Tupac comes back this year to freak out his enemies, as the Machiavelli/Makaveli theory predicts he will, I won’t be the one who looks like a fool! ♦


1 2


  • Nadifa July 3rd, 2014 12:34 AM

    These are awesome. I love reading about creepy things!

  • painting_the_roses_pink July 3rd, 2014 2:28 AM

    My boyfriend totally used to believe that Tupac faked his death and he still believes in the Illuminati. Bless his heart. I loved reading about all these theories though! I should start preparing a party for Tupac’s return! Who’s coming?

  • herdinthehalls July 3rd, 2014 9:58 AM

    My favorite musical theory, which combines urban legend with actual music history, is Robert Johnson. Robert Johnson was a blues pioneer in the 1930s. He died when he was 27 due to poisioning. The myth is that he sold his soul to the devil for the ability to play guitar well. The weird part is that he actually couldn’t play guitar, until one day he comes out of nowhere and knocks everyone’s socks off. A lot of his music mentions the devil, which adds to the mystery.

  • itssabine July 3rd, 2014 12:05 PM

    Love this post so much! I’m sort of addicted researching weird/creepy stories, because they are this strange mix of fact and fiction and complete madness.

  • SGemini July 3rd, 2014 12:37 PM

    I’m a sucker for a good conspiracy; besides musical ones I’m obsessed with all conspiracies related to Disney. The only problem I have is with the Illuminati which takes away the credit many of these artists deserve for their success. And though I’ve seen Illuminati conspiracies for every major artist, PoC seem to be targeted most by these theories.

  • Rowen July 3rd, 2014 1:59 PM

    I almost half-believe the Tupac and prison theories because of the Machiavelli thing and…capitalism. I remember a rumour that went around my school five years ago that Beyoncé had been kidnapped by leaders of the Illuminati and replaced by a lookalike. Apparently it was obviously true because ‘Beyoncé’ suddenly “looked tired”.

  • AidaA July 3rd, 2014 3:09 PM

    Conspiracy theories are kind of my guilty pleasure and this is going to sound so weird but the Paul Is Dead conspiracy is my ‘favourite’. It’s so spooky. Like if you look at the cover of Abbey Road, Paul has no shoes on to symbolise death, Lennon is in white: the priest or angel, Ringo is in black: the undertaker and George is the gravedigger. Conspiracy theories occupy me for hours! awesome post!


  • too old for this July 3rd, 2014 10:38 PM

    Cranberry sauce!

    • Me_Magalloway July 4th, 2014 5:39 PM

      I refuse to accept that explanation. I don’t think it sounds like that at all. (Inner conspiracy theorist speaking, sorry)

  • mylittle-honeybee July 4th, 2014 7:57 PM

    my number is 9 and John is my love