The 13 Best Songs About Money, Ranked

By July 27, 2018Lifestyle
From the beginnings of pop music, plenty of artists have written songs with the same idea in mind: Money matters.

Snoop Dogg memorably rapped in “Gin and Juice” about having his mind on his money and his money on his mind. Harking back to the beginnings of pop music, plenty of artists have written songs with the same idea in mind.

Why? It could be because, as they say, love makes the world go ’round but money greases the wheel. And when it comes to odes to wealth (or lack thereof), it also makes for loads of clever lyrics.

In general, the songs on this list have been subjectively ranked by their awesomeness, but naturally the most iconic tunes must occupy the top spots. You can take that to the bank.

13) “Moneytalks”
Angus Young of AC/DC performs at the 2015 Coachella Music and Arts Festival in California.

Artist: AC/DC

Writers: Angus Young and Malcolm Young

Released: 1990

Top Billboard Hot 100 position: 23

Surprisingly, the Aussie rockers’ highest-charting U.S. single ever was not “Back in Black,” but rather this raucous tale of chauffeured cars, fine hotels, French maids and big cigars set to a trademark Angus Young guitar riff.

The lyrics equate love with wealth, and the chorus (“Come on, come on, love me for the money / Come on, come on, listen to the money talk”) will stick in your head for days.

Fun fact: Audiences who saw the band on its early ‘90s Razors Edge World Tour were showered with collectible “Angus Bucks” (phony bills plastered with the guitarist’s face) during “Moneytalks.”

Artist: The Notorious B.I.G., featuring Puff Daddy and Mase

Writers: Christopher Wallace, Sean Combs, Steven Jordan, Mason Betha, Bernard Edwards and Nile Rodgers

Released: 1997

Top Billboard Hot 100 position: 1

11) “Material Girl”
The song's campy, “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes”-inspired MTV video was a sensation in 1985.

Artist: Madonna

Writers: Peter Brown and Robert Rans

Released: 1984

Top Billboard Hot 100 position: 2

Whether she likes it or not, the media has forever nicknamed Madonna the “Material Girl” thanks to her 1984 smash in which “The boy with the cold hard cash is always Mister Right.”

Though she didn’t write it, Madonna says the song was simply meant to be ironic and provocative. Many pop critics concur, suggesting the lyrics shouldn’t be taken literally and it’s actually a feminist message, not an endorsement of rampant 1980s materialism.

Whatever your POV, there’s no denying it’s fun to revisit the song’s campy, “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes”-inspired MTV video.

Artist: Ray Charles

Writer: Renald Richard

Released: 1957

Top Billboard Hot 100 position: N/A

Brother Ray’s self-titled debut album contains this track about trying to lure the opposite sex with cash.

Ray’s in town looking for a thrill, and he’s certain “If Lincoln can’t get it, Jackson sure will … on a greenback, greenback dollar bill.”

9) “If You’ve Got the Money (I’ve Got the Time)”
Willie Nelson performs at the US Festival in San Bernardino, California in 1983.

Artist: Willie Nelson

Writer: Lefty Frizzell

Released: 1976 (Nelson’s version), 1950 (Frizzell’s version)

Top Billboard Country Songs position: 1

Country music tends to lean more toward tear-in-my-beer territory than legal tender, but this honky-tonk number finds Willie asking a honey to take him out on the town, on her dime, bringing along her Cadillac and leaving his old wreck behind.

Given the Redheaded Stranger’s infamous troubles with the IRS, you’d think he wrote the song. But you’d be wrong. It was penned and originally recorded by country legend Lefty Frizzell.

8) “First I Look at the Purse”
The Contours, of "Do You Love Me?" fame, recorded their song about gold digging in 1965.

Artist: The Contours

Writers: Smokey Robinson and Bobby Roger

Released: 1965

Top Billboard Hot 100 position: 57

The Contours, of "Do You Love Me?" fame, recorded their song about gold digging in 1965.

The term “gold digger” usually refers to women. Not so when it comes to this finger-poppin’ Motown tune by The Contours (of “Do You Love Me?” fame), in which lead singer Billy Gordon doesn’t care about a woman’s looks.

First he looks at her purse to see if it’s fat with paper.

After all, if a gigolo wants a new car and to look like a Hollywood star, he’s gonna need some “pretty green cash.”

Joe Walsh, shown performing with The Eagles in 2009, made his mark outside that band with an ode to excess.

Artist: Joe Walsh

Writer: Joe Walsh

Released: 1978

Top Billboard Hot 100 position: 12

The history of pop overflows with songs about rock star excess and riches, but perhaps none are as funny as Joe Walsh’s late ’70s hit in which he has so much scratch he lives in hotels, tears out the walls and has accountants pay for it all.

Naturally, he also owns a mansion, but forgets the price. After all, he’s never been there, but they tell him it’s nice.

6) “Can’t Buy Me Love”
The Beatles perform on "The Ed Sullivan Show" in New York in 1964, the year Beatlemania broke and "Can't Buy Me Love" rose to No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

Artist: The Beatles

Writers: John Lennon and Paul McCartney

Released: 1964

Top Billboard Hot 100 position: 1

With a net worth estimated at somewhere north of $1 billion, the irony of Sir Paul McCartney’s lyric “I don’t care too much for money” is not lost on us.

But 1964 was a simpler, relatively less fortuitous time for the Fab Four, when you could actually buy into Macca telling a girl that diamond rings can’t replace the kind of thing that money just can’t buy: love.

5) “Money For Nothing”
"Money for Nothing" writer Mark Knopfler of Dire Straits plays his guitar at the Live Aid concert in London, England, in 1985, the year the song hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

Artist: Dire Straits

Writers: Mark Knopfler, Sting

Released: 1985

Top Billboard Hot 100 position: 1

At the peak of MTV’s 1980s popularity, Dire Straits scored a monster hit with this tongue-in-cheek tune and video about mega-rich pop stars getting “Money for nothin’ and chicks for free.”

The lyrics quote a conversation singer/songwriter Mark Knopfler had with a New York appliance store worker as they watched MTV on the store’s wall of television screens.

To earn a lousy buck, our blue-collar hero gripes about installing microwave ovens and moving refrigerators while the rock star “yo-yos” on MTV simply play guitar and maybe get a blister on their little finger, maybe get a blister on their thumb.

And as we all know, “That ain’t workin’, that’s the way you do it.”

Fun fact: Guest backing vocalist Sting’s famed “I want my MTV” line uses the same melody as The Police hit “Don’t Stand So Close to Me.” Sting’s contribution earned him a songwriting credit.

4) “The Gold Diggers’ Song (We’re in the Money)”
Ginger Rogers sang “The Gold Diggers' Song (We're in the Money)” in a hit 1933 movie “Gold Diggers of 1933.”

Artist: Ginger Rogers

Writers: Al Dubin (lyrics), Harry Warren (music)

Released: 1933

Top Billboard Hot 100 position: N/A

Nearly everyone has gleefully sung this tune when they’ve come into some serious dough. But almost no one knows the lyrics beyond “We’re in the money!” or where this standard originated.

The answer is the Great Depression-era silver-screen musical “Gold Diggers of 1933.

In the movie’s opening dance number, Ginger Rogers dons a showgirl costume made entirely of coins and sings:

We’re in the money!

We’re in the money!

We’ve got a lot of what it takes to get along!

We’re in the money!

The skies are sunny!

Ol’ Man Depression, you are through, you done us wrong!

3) “For the Love of Money”
The O'Jays perform at the BET Awards in 2009, in Los Angeles. Their top-10 hit "For the Love of Money" was inspired by a bible verse.

Artist: The O’Jays

Writers: Kenneth Gamble, Leon Huff and Anthony Jackson

Released: 1973

Top Billboard Hot 100 position: 9

“Money, money, money, money…money!”

On the surface, The O’Jays’ stone-cold classic sounds like a chill, funky jam about the almighty dollar, yet the lyrics are as dark as Ebenezer Scrooge’s soul.

The track’s title is plucked from the Bible verse 1 Timothy 6:10, which begins, “For the love of money is the root of all evil.”

What follows is a funkified polemic about how low some people will sink to get their hands on the “mean, mean green” — from lying and cheating to prostitution and robbing their own brother.

Ouch!

2) “Money”
Roger Waters performs in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 2012. His song "Money" with his band Pink Floyd has been a rock radio staple since its release in 1973.

 Artist: Pink Floyd

Writer: Roger Waters

Released: 1973

Top Billboard Hot 100 position: 13

 

Roger Waters performs in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 2012. His song "Money" with his band Pink Floyd has been a rock radio staple since its release in 1973.

Ka-ching!

The cash register sound effects on Pink Floyd’s “Money” have been an album rock radio staple since this classic dropped.

The song and its parent album “Dark Side of The Moon would launch the band into superstardom, but when lyricist/bassist Roger Waters wrote the lyrics — he’s the sole credited writer, but it’s said his bandmates helped shape the tune — it truly was a four-star daydream about life among the high-fidelity first class traveling set and buying Learjets.

Over to you, Roger: “Money interested me enormously. I remember thinking, ‘Well, this is it and I have to decide whether I’m really a socialist or not.’ 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.”

Thanks, Rog. Your $250 concert tickets now make perfect sense.

1) “Money (That’s What I Want)”
How big was the cultural impact of Barrett Strong's “Money (That's What I Want)”? It's been covered by The Beatles and the Rolling Stones.

Artist: Barrett Strong

Writers: Janie Bradford, Berry Gordy

Released: 1959

Top Billboard Hot 100 position: 50

 

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