There are songs about every facet of the human condition, from birth and marriage to divorce and death.
And of course, songs about money.
Money is what motivates much of our lives – the work we do, the clothes we wear, the houses we live in, even sometimes the person we marry.
Money is spread out very unfairly too – the top 1% of households own 43% of the world’s wealth. Ridiculous, but true.
There’s no wonder that money is a prevalent theme in a lot of songs. Struggling artists never have enough of it. And even when they’re famous, hanging on to it isn’t easy (as we see in the The Beatles “You Never Give Me Your Number”).
In this post, we reveal the best songs out there about them greenbacks.
Table of Contents
- Our Pick of the Best Songs About Money
- “Money (That’s What I Want)” by The Flying Lizards
- “Money” by Pink Floyd
- “Money for Nothing” by Dire Straits
- “Opportunities (Let’s Make Lots of Money)” by Pet Shop Boys
- “For the Love of Money” – The O’Jays
- “You Never Give Me Your Money” by The Beatles
- “Money Changes Everything” by Cyndi Lauper
- “Take the Money and Run” by Steve Miller Band
- “C.R.E.A.M.” – Wu-Tang Clan
- “Mo Money, Mo Problems” by Notorious BIG ft. Puff Daddy and Mase
- “Money, Money, Money” by ABBA
- “Material Girl” by Madonna
Our Pick of the Best Songs About Money
“Money (That’s What I Want)” by The Flying Lizards
The song Money (That’s What I Want) was written by Tamla founder Berry Gordy and Janie Bradford and has been covered by numerous bands, including Barrett Strong (marvelous name!), as well a little-known group called The Beatles 😉
This new wave version sprang to life in the late ’70s by the eccentric British band The Flying Lizards.
“The best things in life are free, but you can give them to the birds and bees, I want money”
“Money” by Pink Floyd
It’s impossible to think about money-related songs and not think about Money, by Pink Floyd.
The first track on the second side of Floyd’s best-selling Dark Side of the Moon album (the one with the iconic sleeve), it’s a cynical look at our reliance on money, “get a good job with good pay and you’re okay”
Like much of Roger Waters writing, there’s a scathing criticism of greed, “I’m all right Jack, keep your hands off of my stack”
Interestingly, Waters is the first to call himself a hypocrite.
On the twentieth anniversary of the Dark Side album, he said “I’m still keen on a general welfare society, but I became a capitalist. You have to accept it. I remember coveting a Bentley like crazy.”
You can also see Waters taking out his prized Bentley in the intro to his brilliant Us and Them concert video. Have to admit, it’s a gorgeous car!
“Money for Nothing” by Dire Straits
For many Money for Nothing is the sound of the ’80s. Dire Straits were easily one of the best bands in the ’80s, and their album Brothers in Arms (on which the song appeared) one of the best albums.
The lyrics are an attack on primadonna pop stars from the point of view of two working-class men who are sick of all the work they gotta do “we gotta install microwave ovens, custom kitchen deliveries, we gotta move these refrigerators, we gotta move these color TV’s” while these ‘yo-yos’ “get money for nothing and chicks for free”.
The song reflects the ire of writer and frontman Knopfler who was schooled in the ’70s rock scene. You can see his disdain for all these young punks. It’s also an assault of MTV video music culture, in general, where the music often took a back seat for visuals (the theme also of Queen’s track Radio Gaga).
“Opportunities (Let’s Make Lots of Money)” by Pet Shop Boys
The song Opportunities comes from synth-pop duo Pet Shop Boys’ debut album, Please.
The lyrics are about two losers – one intellectual and educated “you can tell I’m educated, I studied at the Sorbonne, doctored in mathematics, I could have been a don”.
The other guy is good-looking with a bit of ‘brawn’.
The narrator proposes “I’ve got the brains, you’ve got the looks, let’s make lots of money” (like he’s planning a bank heist or something!)
Of course, the song is tongue in cheek and really they’re making fun of this kind of crass obsession with money (remember, the ’80s was the era of the money-obsessed yuppies, characterized by Gordon Gekko in the movie Wall Street).
The narrator knows all this is a facade, finishing with this thought-provoking line:
“All the love that we had, and the love that we hide, who will bury us, when we die?”
“For the Love of Money” – The O’Jays
This soul/funk song by The O’Jays may be more familiar to modern audiences as the theme tune to US version of The Apprentice.
The title comes from a well-known Bible verse (1 Timothy 6:10) which says “for the love of money is the root of all evil”.
“You Never Give Me Your Money” by The Beatles
Written by Paul McCartney (though credited to Lennon–McCartney as was typical) “You Never Give Me Your Money” documents the financial difficulties facing the band in 1969, just before they split.
The lyrics were borne out of frustration with manager Allen Klein “you never give me your money, you only give me your funny paper”
In the second bit of the song, McCartney jumps back to the early days of the fab four “out of college, money spent, see no future, pay no rent, all the money’s gone, nowhere to go”
Funny to think even The Beatles were broke once. Also check out one of their other songs about money, “Taxman”.
“Money Changes Everything” by Cyndi Lauper
Written by ’70s band The Brains, Money Changes Everything is a simple pop song about money, particularly the way money can destroy love.
At first “they shake your hand and they smile, and they buy you a drink, they say we’ll be your friends, we’ll stick with you till the end”
But then money comes into it (she doesn’t explain how exactly) “it’s all in the past now, money changes everything”
“Take the Money and Run” by Steve Miller Band
A little story about two young bandits (Billy Joe and Bobbie Sue). They did nothing but “sit around the house, get high, and watch the tube”.
Then they decided to “cut loose” and headed south “to old El Paso”.
“Billy Joe shot a man while robbing his castle, Bobbie Sue took the money and run”
With Mack the detective on their case, who “makes his livin’ off of the people’s taxes” they manage to escape with the money.
If you recognize the song, Run-D.M.C. & Everlast did their own version in 2001 which you can hear here. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pTr-BH1Dl_s
“C.R.E.A.M.” – Wu-Tang Clan
C.R.E.AM stands for ‘Cash Rules Everything Around Me’.
The words are about teenage poverty and ‘hood life, warning the next generation not to follow in his footsteps.
“Get the money, dollar, dollar bill y’all”
“Mo Money, Mo Problems” by Notorious BIG ft. Puff Daddy and Mase
Success can be a double-edged sword. It’s what most artists strive for, but in rap music, it seems success breeds a lot of jealousy that can cost you your life.
“I don’t know what they want from me, it’s like the more money we come across, the more problems we see”
Mo Money, Mo Problems was a huge hit for the Notorious BIG, featuring Puff Daddy and Mase.
“Money, Money, Money” by ABBA
Swedish phenomenon ABBA knew how to write hit songs, and this one was no exception. As the follow-up to their hit single Dancing Queen.
This line “money, money, money, must be funny, in the rich man’s world” has etched its way into the collective psyche.
It’s written from the perspective of a woman: “I work all night, I work all day to pay the bills I have to pay, ain’t it sad?”
But she’s still broke.
So she hatches a plan to get a wealthy man so she “wouldn’t have to work at all, I’d fool around and have a ball”.
But she can’t find one, and even if she did, she thinks he wouldn’t be interested “if he happens to be free I bet he wouldn’t fancy me”.
Lyrically, it’s very dated. The idea of a desperate gold-digger woman who needs a rich man’s wealth insulting to women and wholly inappropriate.
If you want a chuckle, check out this Alan Partridge medley of ABBA songs.
“Material Girl” by Madonna
At first glance, it’s a song about absolute greed…
“Cause the boy with the cold hard cash, is always Mister Right”, “Only boys who save their pennies, make my rainy day”
But it’s tongue in cheek, of course. She’s not actually saying she’s materialistic.
She’s portraying how some women (Hollywood celebs?) are shallow and only bothered about material possessions.
“She Works Hard for the Money” by Donna Summer
“Billionaire” by Travie McCoy Ft. Bruno Mars
“If You’ve Got the Money, I’ve Got the Time” by Willie Nelson
“Money Talks” by AC/DC
“Money on My Mind” by Lil Wayne
“The Gambler” by Kenny Rogers
“Love Don’t Cost a Thing” by Jennifer Lopez
“We’re In The Money” by Bing Crosby
“Ain’t Nothin’ Goin’ On but the Rent” by Gwen Guthrie
“Money in the Bank” by John Anderson
“Rich Girl” by Hall and Oates
“Got Your Money” – Ol’ Dirty Bastard featuring Kelis
“Bills Bills Bills” – Destiny’s Child
“If I Had a Million Dollars ” by Barenaked Ladies