There are lots of great songs about money.
There is ‘Money’ by Pink Floyd, ‘Money, Money’ by Liza Minnelli and even ‘Money Money Money’ by Abba. The list could go on: Can’t Buy Me Love, If I Had $1,000,000, Take the Money and Run, The Gambler, Money for Nothing, Money Talks…
…all great songs about the green stuff, but let’s focus on more recent material.
Here are the ten best musical tributes to money from the last few years:
10. Got Your Money – ODB (1999)
ODB begins Got Your Money by expressing his love for all the “pretty girls in the world,” then backpedals and includes “the ugly ones, too.”
Apparently, both types of women initially show interest in him, and then later express a reversal of those opinions. The song also suggests that women like to imply they are carrying ODB’s child – when, in fact, they are not.
This song contains a lot of nonsensical lyrics, but one thing is clear – ODB is VERY angry over some missing money.
9. Picture of Success – Rilo Kiley (2001)
I’m a modern girl but I fold in half so easily
When I put myself in the picture of success
I could learn world trade
or try to map the ocean
Jenny Lewis, lead singer of Rilo Kiley, sounds pretty defeated by life in Picture of Success – she’s got a lot of hopes and dreams, but for the moment they’re all stagnant because her “bills keep changing colors.”
8. The Ghost of Tom Joad – Rage Against the Machine (2000)
This isn’t your father’s The Ghost of Tom Joad.
No offense to Bruce Springsteen, his version is great, but Rage Against the Machine brings all the frustration, anger and disappointment of this song to the forefront.
The song is based on the novel The Grapes of Wrath, which tells the bleak story of an American family in search of land, jobs and dignity during the Great Depression – and makes our current economic problems seem like a piece of cake.
7. Gold Digger – Kanye West (2005)
If Kanye West wasn’t rich before this single dropped, he definitely was afterwards. Gold Digger hit No. 1 on Billboards’ “Hot 100” in September of 2005 and broke the record for most digital downloads in a single week, with over 80,000 copies sold.
You’ve all heard the song before, so I don’t need to tell you what it’s about. If you need a refresher, try watching the music video.
6. I Will Buy You a New Life – Everclear (1997)
A lot of Everclear’s early songs were about young people trying to get by – and high – without much money. I Will Buy You a New Life is about a young man that would like to buy his lady all the things she wants but, unfortunately, he’s broke as a joke.
Singer Art Alexakis seems to know what it’s like to be penniless:
I hate those people who love to tell you
Money is the root of all that kills
They have never been poor
They have never had the joy of a welfare Christmas
Does the guy in the song ever buy the house and the car for his one-and-only? Probably not, but it’s the thought that counts.
5. 10 Dollar – MIA (2005)
10 Dollar is about dial-a-brides on the Internet and child prostitution in third world countries.
I’ll let MIA elaborate on her childhood experiences:
“So in India, when I was 5-years-old they taught me this song and basically it was about this little girl. She was making roti and she runs out of oil, and then she goes to a shop to buy some oil, but when she’s at the shop she finds out she’s got no money. So when she looks at the shopkeeper she gives him a wink. She’s trying to hustle some free oil. And I can’t believe that’s the song they taught me when I was 5-years-old… Instead of ‘Row, row, row your boat,’ I got to sing about how a little girl has no money when she goes to the shop and she winks at the shopkeeper to get some free oil. And I thought that was really interesting that these children at five get taught to sing this happy little skippy song. So then I was like, okay I’m gonna make a happy little skippy song about prostitution and all these issues that you have in Sri Lanka and Thailand.”
(10 Dollar Wiki, last.fm)
MIA succeeds with creating a happy dance song – until you listen to the lyrics.
4. Mo’ Money Mo’ Problems – Notorious B.I.G. (1997)
If only money could bring you back to life. I guess that was one of Biggie’s “problems”.
The song was released after his death and was his second No. 1 single that year – making him the only artist in the history of Hot 100 to have two No. 1 singles posthumously.
If you scan Notorious B.I.G.’s wikipedia page or read his biography you’ll see a whole lot Mo’ Problems than you’ll see Mo’ Money.
3. Pocketful of Money – Jens Lekman (2005)
Thanks Jens – finally someone enjoying their hard earned cash:
I’ve got my pockets full of money
I’m gonna spend it all tonight
I’ve got my pockets full of money
I’m gonna spend it all tonight
A whole month’s salary
Gonna set it to flames
on some girl, we just met recently
I barely know her name
I can almost guarantee you that Jens did not regret blowing all his money when he woke up the next day.
2. The Big Three Killed My Baby – The White Stripes (1999)
Detroit is known for, amongst other things, the Red Wings hockey team, Motown, the auto industry, and the White Stripes. The latter two are featured in this song by the city’s top garage rockers.
“The Big Three” mentioned in the title refer to the three largest automakers in the 50s and 60s: Ford, Chrysler and General Motors. The song is an attack on them, relating to the fall of the labor unions in the 60s and the ties these companies have with the oil industry.
Jack White says of this song, “That’s why I say [in the song], ‘…don’t let them tell you the future’s electric, because gasoline’s not measured in metric.’ The idea that they won’t make any money if they make a good car. Kind of a shame. That’s where we’re from, that’s what this whole town is about.”
1. Gone ‘til November – Wyclef Jean (1997)
This slow jam from Wyclef Jean showcases a musician at the top of his game. He’s backed up by the New York Philharmonic Orchestra on the song – and if that isn’t enough to impress you, Bob Dylan makes a quick cameo in the music video.
Gone ‘til November is Clef’s love letter to his lady. He’s trying to explain to her why he has to head south for the next few months. It sounds like she would rather he stay home than go chase money in other cities.
This is a guest post by Gary Kohler from the life insurance website LifeCover.ca. Gary has a crush on Rilo Kiley lead singer Jenny Lewis.