As Ludacris once rapped, “If you ain’t talkin’ money, we ain’t talkin’.” It probably comes as no surprise that the tune’s title is, you guessed it… Money Maker!
We all need it, and most of us want it. Money is how we pay for our food, the roof over our heads, our electricity, and all the things we love to fill our homes with or put on our bodies. Without it, life is dull and difficult.
It’s no wonder so many musicians sing songs about money!
Are you searching for the best songs about money to listen to this year? Check out this list of epic money songs and the stories behind them.
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1. U Don’t Know by Jay-Z
The 1990s and 2000s are hot right now, so it’s no surprise this 2001 hit is being added to all the Gen Z playlists.
The standout song lyrics about money in this tune are, “Put me anywhere on God’s green earth/ I’ll triple my worth.” While lots of Jay-Z songs are about money (getting rich, being the best rapper around, giving away money because he has so much of it…), these two lines are pretty much the stars defining ethos.
2. Money (That’s What I Want) by The Flying Lizards
What a name! This band gets points simply for their naming creativity. But, of course, this is a list of songs about money. And they certainly made their name on that.
American singer Barrett Strong actually sang this song first, way back in 1959. Tons of bands have covered it since, from the Beatles to the aforementioned The Flying Lizards.
Of course, their synth-pop version sticks in our minds, perhaps due to the purposefully bland vocals of Deborah Evans-Stickland or the fact it was included in the cult film Empire Records.
3. Taxman by The Beatles
Would any list of music on any topic be complete without a song by the Beatles? We think not! And here, we have a left-of-field entry for money songs: Taxman.
This was written by John Lennon and George Harrison right at the time the band members discovered they were verging on bankruptcy. It was, in fact, written as a protest song. The band wanted to call out the UK’s progressive tax system.
Even though they’d started earning a lot of money from their performances and releases, they felt they were losing too much of it to an unfair tax rate.
4. C.R.E.A.M. by Wu-Tang Clan
If you don’t know this song, you’ve likely been living, well, in a parallel universe. It’s arguably one of the most famous early hip-hop tunes on money.
The song’s name, C.R.E.A.M., stands for “Cash rules everything around me.” Of course, you’re probably even more familiar with the final catchy line of the chorus: “Dollar dollar bill, ya’ll.”
This song had a lasting legacy in hip-hop culture because, after the song’s release, “cream” quickly became slang for money.
5. Money, Money, Money by ABBA
This iconic song about money lives in the memories of almost everyone living today, despite being released in 1976. (Can you believe that’s almost half a century ago now?)
The character in this song is a woman who’s found herself in a lot of debt, despite working really hard. She comes to the conclusion that the only way to dig herself out of this hole is to marry a rich man (“in a rich man’s world”) or, later in the song, win big at the casino.
Whether right or wrong, this scenario is one that many people find themselves in. What would your decision be?
6. Got Money by Lil Wayne (Featuring T-Pain)
This tight rap/hip-hop tune was released in 2008 on Lil Wayne’s album Tha Carter III. Like a lot of rap from the time, the lyrics talk about how Lil Wayne can afford pretty much anything he wants due to his fame and his position as one of the world’s most popular rappers.
He was only 25 years old when he released Got Money. But he already “had money”—and a lot of it—at that point. After all, he signed on with Cash Money Records at the startling age of 12!
7. Money by Pink Floyd
Money by Pink Floyd is probably one of the first songs to pop into your mind when you’re asked to make a list of famous songs about money.
Perhaps it’s because of the divisive opening lines: “Money/ Get Away.” Maybe it’s due to the cash registers ringing and loose change jingling in the background. Either way, Roger Waters obviously wanted listeners to understand exactly what this song was about.
On the surface, this song seems to praise money for what it can buy you. However, it’s actually a critique of the way money corrupts, leading to greed and inequality.
8. Money for Nothing by Dire Straits
Fast forward a decade, and another band was releasing an equally well-known song about money. And that band was none other than Dire Straits.
It was the middle of the hedonistic 80s when the shoulder pads were enormous and an appetite for capitalism even more so.
The story goes that Mark Knopfler, lead singer and guitarist for the band, was in a TV store. A rock band was playing on the screens.
He overheard some delivery staff discussing their dissatisfaction with their pay. They were complaining that they work so hard yet get nothing for it, yet rock stars hardly do anything and get millions. He collaborated with Sting to put those feelings into song, and Money for Nothing was born.
However, before you go playing this song on repeat, note that debate rages over whether the tune is homophobic.
9. Money Trees by Kendrick Lamar
Money Trees is a 2012 song that looks at both sides of the coin.
Rapper Kendrick Lamar acknowledges that the pursuit of riches often leads to greed, corruption, and even poverty. However, he also admits his gratitude for money since it afforded him and his family a comfortable life.
Lamar is celebrated for his political motivations. He’s rhymed about everything from police brutality and mass incarceration to poverty and racism. His songs also promote female empowerment.
10. It’s All About the Benjamins by Puff Daddy & The Family
We’re taking it way back to the 1990s with this one!
It’s All About the Benjamins held the top spot on the Billboard Hot Rap Songs for an incredible six weeks in 1997. And it’s no surprise, either. The song has a killer chorus, a signature guitar hook by Marc Solomon, and (uncredited) Missy Elliot vocals. Plus, it talks about everyone’s favorite subject: making lots of money.
There’s not much deep meaning to this song; to its core, it talks all about how to get more money, what to spend it on… you get the idea.
11. Moneytalks by AC/DC
Ah, Acca Dacca. The band that churned out more pub classics than perhaps any other. And Moneytalks is no exception.
This song was released right at the start of the 90s—1990, in fact. It became an instant hit, their biggest since Back in Black blasted out of radios a decade before.
Fun fact: On the cover of the single, singer Angus Young peers angrily from the middle of a cash bill. The band took advantage of this for promotion, producing real-life copies and throwing them out to fans at shows. Fans responded by calling them “Angus Bucks.”
Now, these rare faux money bills sell for hundreds of real dollars on eBay and other collector sites.
12. For the Love of Money by The O’Jays
If there’s one song that’s been played in more TV shows and film soundtracks than any other, it must be For the Love of Money by The O’Jays.
This song is part of the collective consciousness of most English-speaking nations. It’s also been sampled by tons of musicians, from Erroll Starr to the Backstreet Boys.
That’s probably mostly because of the insanely catchy opening: “Money, money, money, money… MONEY!” But also due to the iconic, deceptively cheerful funk beats.
However, if you really listen to the lyrics, the song is actually pretty dark. In fact, the song’s money comes from a Bible verse about the evils of money.
13. Money Changes Everything by Cyndi Lauper
This song had an interesting history—and a bit of a lesson about how money really does change everything—before it made its way to Cyndi Lauper.
It was written by Tom Gray of the New Wave American band The Brains in the late seventies and included on the band’s only album, also called The Brains. However, the band failed to get a long-term label and failed to “make it big.”
But Tom Gray was about to get a lucky—and financially rewarding—break. Cyndi Lauper came across his song at the height of her fame and included it in her 1983 album She’s So Unusual.
14. Money Don’t Matter 2 Night by Prince and the New Power Generation
Here’s yet another money song from the 1990s! What was it about this decade that had us so fascinated with money?
Anyway, despite being endlessly rich, Prince decided to create a song all about not letting fame and fortune change you.
Money don’t matter 2 night
It sure didn’t matter yesterday
Just when you think you’ve got more than enough
That’s when it all up and flies away
That’s when you find out that you’re better off
The song suggests people stay humble, focusing on cultivating your soul instead of a big bank account.
15. Make the Money by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis
Make the Money was included on Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’ most famous album, 2012’s The Heist. It is far from the most famous song on the album. However, it has quite a bit of meaning embedded in the lyrics.
The chorus says it all: “Make the money, don’t let the money make you.”
While both artists have made a lot of money in the industry, this song is a cautionary tale about letting money go to your head. Sure, it can help you get out of sticky situations and make your life better, but it can also lead you down dangerous paths.
16. Formation by Beyoncé
Formation was released in 2016 and quickly caught the attention of the public.
Lines like “I’ll grind ‘til I own it” make it clear this song is about all the money that fame brings. But there’s so much more to this Grammy-nominated tune, as implied in lines like, “Earned all this money, but they never take the country out of me.”
The song proudly talks about Queen B’s humble origins, heritage, and family and how she wouldn’t have become the mega-successful performer we all know and love today without all that.
Plus Formation arguably has one of the most iconic music videos in recent rap history.
17. Take the Money and Run by Steve Miller Band
Take the Money and Run is one of Steve Miller Band’s most enduring songs. Even today, you’ll hear it blasting out of cars at the beach or playing at house parties. And it was released way back in 1976!
It tells a tale of a teenage couple, Billy Joe and Bobbie Sue, who break into someone’s house, shoot the owner, and steal some cash. Bobbie Sue goes on the run with the bounty, only to later reunite with her lover.
Despite its enduring popularity, there’s no denying this song has a morally questionable story, as pointed out by numerous critics.
18. Opportunities (Let’s Make Lots of Money) by Pet Shop Boys
“I’ve got the brains, you’ve got the looks/ Let’s make lots of money.” That’s the opening lines (and the catchy chorus) of Opportunities by 80s synth-pop band Pet Shop Boys.
The meaning might appear pretty obvious at first—work hard and get rich. However, the song’s meaning is actually more complicated and surprisingly more political than that. It was actually meant as a hit back at the music industry and the hyper-capitalism of the 1980s.
The song’s core lyrics were inspired by Neil Tennant, the band’s frontman, after a stint as a reporter at Smash Hits magazine. While there, he got an eye-opening look at how the music industry actually worked.
Listen to These Songs About Money Today
Whether you’re looking for wealth inspiration or debt commiseration, these songs about money can help you. Sometimes, we just need some words of advice from someone in a similar situation to us to get us on the right path. That’s the unbelievable power of music!
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