Financial themes in the music are nothing new. People sing about wanting money, needing it, the pitfalls of having too much of it, and exactly what it feels like to finally have it. Hip hop reigns undisputed top dog when it comes to the production of money-centric tracks, but we’ve curated a playlist of songs that you might not be quite as familiar with.
1. Barrett Strong’s “Money (That’s What I Want)” — 1960
“The best things in life are free, but you can give them to the birds and bees—I need money. That’s what I want.” Strong’s song couldn’t get any more basic than that. He wants money, and he wants you to give it to him. Now. Led Zeppelin, The Beatles and The Doors all covered this one.
2. The Beatles’ “Taxman” — 1966
When you see your paycheck and you’re a bit peeved you’ve received less than you espected, it’s most likely that extra cash went to governement taxes. We suggest cueing up The Beatles’ “Taxman,” which arose when the band realized it was losing much of its earnings to a 95 percent supertax enacted by Harold Wilson’s Labour Party in the UK in the 1960s.
3. Janis Joplin’s “Mercedes Benz” — 1969
Joplin recorded this famous tune after going for a ride in her friend Bobby Womack’s Mercedes Benz. In it, she asks the Lord to buy her one, plus a color TV and a night on the town. We feel you, Janis.
4. The O’Jays’ “For the Love of Money” — 1973
While this Grammy-nominated track from The O’Jays was meant to finger money as the root of all evil, later music groups like Boyz II Men and Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch used the song to praise the green stuff, skewing the song’s original meaning.
5. ABBA’s “Money, Money, Money” — 1976
This tune tells the story of a hard-working woman who can’t seem to get ahead financially. We’ve been there, too.
6. Hall and Oates’s “Rich Girl” — 1976
If it’s a pay day for you, then you’re definitely feeling like a rich girl—or boy. The song was originally called “Rich Boy” depicting the heir of a giant fast-food chain who lived off his father’s wealth and dated Hall’s ex girlfriend, but that never sounded quite right to the band. They changed the title to “Rich Girl” and the song became one of the duo’s number-one hit singles.
7. James Taylor’s “Money Machine” — 1976
Jaymes Taylor explores the immense influence money has on its owners in this 1970s contemporary classic. It’s deep. You can also dance to it.
8. Donna Summer’s “She Works Hard for the Money” — 1983
A signature 80s anthem from The Queen of Disco herself: Donna Summer. “She Works Hard for the Money” is a testament to blue collar workers everywhere. Treat yourself, ladies—you worked hard for that money!
9. Barenaked Ladies’ “If I Had $1,000,000″ — 1993
We’ve all wondered what it might feel like to win the lotto. The Barenaked Ladies offered their suggestions in their 1990s hit, “If I Had $1,000,000.” They’d buy you a house, a faux fur coat, a llama, a green dress…what would you buy?
10. ‘N SYNC’s “Just Got Paid” — 2000
If this doesn’t get you excited about your pay check, then we don’t know what will. Please, relax and enjoy this video of ‘N SYNC performing in multi-colored old school gangster suits and ridding around in a cardboard cutout of a car.
Have we missed any of your favorites? Leave us a comment below!