Hundreds, nay, thousands of songs have been written about money. It’s been lamented, celebrated, damned and deified through the medium of popular music, resulting in some cracking tunes along the way. We’ve collected 10 of our all-time favourite songs which deal with topics and themes relating to money and wealth. We've even made a Spotify playlist so you can listen to them yourself.
Johnny Cash – Busted
Originally written by country music songwriter Harlan Howard, Cash’s darkly comic take on the song on 1969’s At Folsom Prison live album, full of impotent resignation and despair, is the definitive version. Anybody who’s ever felt themselves drowning in a sea of debt could empathise.
Key line:“I got a cow that's gone dry, and a hen that won't lay, a big stack of bills getting bigger each day, the county's gonna haul my belongings away, but I'm busted.”
The Notorious B.I.G – Juicy
Money – and often displaying it ostentatiously – is a common theme in hip-hop music, frequently because lots of rappers rose from backgrounds where cash was in short supply. Far too often it can descend into tedious boasting. Not here though. Biggie celebrates his newfound wealth and status, whilst recalling days where dosh was much harder to come by.
Key line: “We used to fuss when the landlord dissed us, No heat, wonder why Christmas missed us , Birthdays was the worst days, now we sip champagne when we thirst-ay”
Pet Shop Boys – Opportunities (Let’s Make Lots of Money)
This withering critique of Thatcherite 80s greed, with Neil Tennant adopting the persona of a hopeless schemer, actually backfired. It’s devil-may-care chorus adopted wholesale by the yuppie generation which it was sending up.
Key Line: “I’ve got the brains, you’ve got the looks; let’s make lots of money.”
The O’ Jays – For The Love of Money
“The mean green” can buy you a lot of things, but a bassline this heavy? Fat chance.
Key line:“People! Don't let money, don't let money change you, it will keep on changing, changing up your mind.”
The Flying Lizards - Money (That’s What I Want)
This might have been new-wave experimentalists The Flying Lizards’ solitary hit, but what a hit it was. It’s been used in loads of films and TV series’ (usually to soundtrack big-spending montages) including The Wedding Singer, Charlies Angels, Nip/Tuck and Ashes to Ashes.
Key Line:“Your love gives me such a thrill, but your love won't pay my bills…I want money”
ABBA – Money, Money, Money
Forget about Meryl Streep’s butchering of ABBA’s superb 1976 track in Mamma Mia!– the original, concerning the plotting of a ruthless gold digger positively drips in baroque opulence and melodrama.
Key Line: “All the things I could do, if I had a little money, it’s a rich man’s world.”
Destiny’s Child – Independent Woman Pt.1
Thankfully, by the turn of the millennium, pop songs sung by women concerning money had ceased to be purely concerned with finding a rich chap. Financial parity has seldom sounded so funky.
Key Line: “The shoes on my feet, I've bought it, the clothes I'm wearing, I've bought it, the rock I'm rockin, I've bought it, 'cause I depend on me.”
The Beatles – Taxman
The George Harrison-penned number from Revolver was written in response to the ‘progressive’ taxes of the Labour government of the 60s that saw top earners such like The Beatles paying out massive proportions of their earnings to HMRC. It’s easy to see why they might have been a bit miffed...
Key line:“Should five per cent appear too small, be thankful I don't take it all.”
Limp Bizkit – I’m Broke
By 1999, sports metallers Limp Bizkit had become a baggy-shorted global phenomenon. From the sounds of this, frontman Fred Durst had clearly had enough of sponging hangers-on freeloading off his success. Our man Fred might sound terribly angry, but If you’ve been owed a significant amount of cash and it’s not been forthcoming, then you’ll almost certainly identify.
Key Line:“You said you’d pay me back , you deserve a smacking for slacking.”
Prince & The New Power Generation – Money Don’t Matter 2 Nite
What list would be complete without an appearance from the diminutive purple one? Of course, it would have been very easy for the multi-millionaire funkster to proclaim that "money don't matter" from the luxurious surroundings of his Paisley Park studio. A bit rich, some might say...
Key Line: “Just when u think u've got more than enough, that's when it all up and flies away, that's when u find out that u're better off, makin' sure your soul's alright, ‘Cuz money didn't matter yesterday, and it sure don't matter 2 night”
No doubt we've made some glaring omissions. What are your favourite cash tracks that we've left out?