Love may be the most popular theme when it comes to music, but money comes in a close second. From Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon to the Wu-Tang Clan’s Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers), the music industry and our record collections are flush with artists singing about all things cash. It comes in many names — Benjamins, greenbacks, dough, scratch, scrilla, the list goes on — and though the preferred nomenclature (and even the audio format) may differ from one generation to the next, everybody still wants as much of it as they can get their hands on.
Whether musicians are singing about their awesome wealth or the pains of fame and fortune, there’s no shortage of tunes about money. Here is our handpicked selection of the catchiest and most interesting songs on the subject, from a host of genres. Whereas some are clear-cut picks, others are notorious fan favorites and deep cuts.
If you’re after something other than the best songs about money, be sure to check out a few of our other hand-curated playlists, including the best new songs to stream, the best songs about friendship, and the best movie soundtracks. Also, be sure to check out all the DT Playlists on our official Digital Trends Spotify page.
“I don’t know what they want from me. It’s like the more money we come across, the more problems we see,” chimes the chorus, acknowledging how much more difficult Biggie’s life became as he made more money. Mo Money… is a reference to the people around him wanting in on all the money he’s making. Mase and Puff Daddy take the helm during the first two verses, but it’s Biggie bringing things home with his signature flow toward the end.
‘Money‘ by Pink Floyd, 1973
Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon is a concept album heavily rooted in what can drive the human mind insane — i.e., war, greed, death, time, and money. Obviously, the track Money deals with the latter category, with guitarist David Gilmour singing about its importance in society, along with the superfluous greed that often accompanies it. Though short on lyrics, the song gets straight to the point amid ringing cash registers and a signature bassline nearly every musician knows. “Money, so they say, is the root of all evil today. But if you ask for a raise, it’s no surprise, that they’re giving none away.”
Donna Summer is a Massachusetts icon, the Queen of Disco, and a classic artist. She Works Hard for the Money is an ’80s staple awash in rising synths, Prince-style electric guitar, and belting vocals. It quickly became one of her signature songs upon its initial release, and purportedly chronicles Summer’s actual encounter with a downtrodden bathroom attendant named Onetta. As the title implies, the song is a testament to blue-collar workers, including the aforementioned woman on the album’s back cover.
The yin to Jay-Z’s yang, Nas rarely gloats about spending money and living a lavish lifestyle. Instead, the Illmatic rapper relies on lyrical savvy to get his message across. While not about money in a traditional sense, Find Ya Wealth encourages listeners to find the wealth within themselves. “Look way deep inside yourself,” spits Nas in the chorus, “discover the diamond inside, find ya wealth.” However, he soon segues from philosophical musings to commentary on street economics: “The lifestyle I live is untouchable. So we clutch a few, guns that’ll touch your crew. Cause we learned to do what the hustlers do.”
Only three of the Wu-Tang Clan’s eight (official) members show up on the group’s hit song C.R.E.A.M. but that doesn’t stop it from being perhaps the most iconic money anthem ever. Method Man tackles the main chorus, while Raekwon and Inspectah Deck take the verses to talk about their respective ascents in the rap world. “Cash rules everything around me. Cream! Get the money,” Method Man raps. “Dollar, dollar bill, y’all.”
There’s certainly no shortage of rap and hip-hop songs regarding money, but pop-rock gets in on the fun, too. Enter Hall and Oates’ number-one hit single, Rich Girl. The song actually refers to a fast-food heir who lived solely off his father’s wealth and previously dated Hall’s ex-girlfriend. Hall never thought “rich boy” sounded right, though, so he changed the song’s name to depict a young girl. “You’re a rich girl, and you’ve gone too far, ’cause you know it don’t matter anyway,” begins Hall. “You can rely on the old man’s money. You can rely on the old man’s money.”
‘Billionaire’ by Travie McCoy (featuring Bruno Mars), 2010
Billionaire is an overwhelmingly catchy song in which McCoy and Mars envision what it would be like to be (you guessed it) billionaires. They sing about having a show like Oprah, playing basketball with the president, and gracing the cover of Forbes. Travie McCoy even writes off anyone who is “just” a millionaire, though he vows to never to use his money for anything other than good. “Give away a few Mercedes like ‘Here lady have this,’” McCoy spouts in the second verse. It’s Mars’ hook that’s the standout, though (on one of the tracks that shot him to fame).
The Nappy Roots don’t merely hint at the subject of money in this song. The band talks about it right from the get-go straight through the outro, with a chorus repeating, “Dime, quarter, nickel, penny. Damn, ain’t it funny how we all about the Benji’s?” Different members of the Kentucky-based outfit chime in here and there, talking about turning 25 cents into 50 cents, and how they are going to “cop all them yachts ya got.” It’s probably not the first song you thought of, but hey, the quartet was the best-selling hip-hop group of 2002.
Everyone from Led Zeppelin and the Beatles to the Doors and the Flying Lizards has covered Barrett Strong’s classic Motown hit. However, like most covers, none truly hold a candle to the original. The song features Strong bluntly declaring money is what he needs, more so than love or anything else. It’s simple and straightforward, with Strong repeatedly singing, “Now give me money, (that’s what I want) that’s what I want.” It doesn’t get any more real than that.
The title of The O’Jays’ Grammy-nominated song is ripped directly from the Bible (1 Timothy 6:10): “For the love of money is the root of all evil.” Said line is central to the song, as the tune outlines the different evil acts people perform in an effort to gain money. Unfortunately, later groups like Boyz II Men and Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch used the song to promote money, thus skewing the song’s original meaning and subsequently frustrating the O’Jays.
What would you do with a million bucks? The Barenaked Ladies entertained the question and offered up plenty of their own suggestions in the early-’90s hit If I Had $1,000,000. Lead singer Ed Robertson considers all the things he’d buy his sweetheart if he had $1,000,000 — i.e., a Picasso original, a fur coat, an exotic pet — albeit with a bit of humor. “If I had $1,000,000, I’d buy you a house,” Robertson sings. “If I had $1,000,000, I’d buy you a monkey, haven’t you always wanted a monkey?” Considering the song probably made them a small fortune, it likely served as a brainstorming session for things to come.
‘Gold Digger’ by Kanye West (featuring Jamie Foxx), 2005
If anyone could take a Ray Charles classic about a good-natured woman and put a modern, materialistic spin on it, it would be Kanye West. West’s version samples the 1954 tune throughout the entirety of his track, and even features Ray-era Jamie Foxx belting out the intro and refrain. “She take my money when I’m in need. Yeah, she’s a trifling friend indeed,” Foxx sings. “Oh she’s a gold digger way over town, that digs on me.” West actually originally wrote the hook for Shawnna, but ended up making his own track when she passed on it. Much like Charles’ I Got a Woman, it’s a classic.
There are few better songs to follow Kanye West’s Gold Digger than ABBA’s Money, Money, Money, given both songs detail a woman’s desire to marry a man with a fortune. However, the Swedish pop group released its song 29 years before West and took on the perspective of a hard-working woman who just can’t seem to get ahead. “In my dreams, I have a plan,” remarks Frida in the opening verse. “If I got me a wealthy man, I wouldn’t have to work at all, I’d fool around and have a ball.” Meryl Streep sings this in the ABBA-based jukebox musical Mamma Mia, but it’s the original rendition that deserves acclaim.
Fans of the now-defunct HBO show How to Make It in America are no doubt familiar with Aloe Blacc’s I Need A Dollar, as it played during the show’s opening credits. Blacc sings of the troublesome times ahead for himself while looking for someone to merely spare him a dollar. Blacc’s soulful voice carries the song with genuine despair behind a funky beat, especially when he addresses the encounter in which his boss fires him. “And I said I need dollars, dollars, a dollar is what I need,” Blacc croons. “And if I share with you my story, would you share your dollar with me.”
While not an original NSYNC song — it’s a Johnny Kemp cover — Just Got Paid is an upbeat dance tune about letting loose on payday. The song kicks off with the band harmonizing, “Thank God it’s Friday night and I just-just-just-just-juuuuuuust got paid,” before the rollicking chorus kicks in. Falling in line with the pop-heavy boy-band genre of the time, the song features two members — Justin Timberlake and Chris Kirkpatrick — each individually rapping a different verse. It serves more for nostalgia’s sake than anything else, but sometimes that’s more than enough.
James Taylor’s Money Machine addresses the power and immense influence money endows its owners with. “Now you can measure your manhood by it,” Taylor sings. “You can get your children to try it. You can bring your enemies to their knees.” He even acknowledges he used to sing of Fire and Rain, but no longer as he’s been living in the lap of luxury too long. There’s also a heavy love component to the song, buried within Taylor’s desire for his lover to come home and spend his money with him.
50 Cent isn’t exactly a man who dabbles in subtleties. After making it big with his 2003 debut Get Rich or Die Tryin’, 50 was certainly living large. With I Get Money, the artist basically just spits lines detailing his baller lifestyle thanks to his newly found fame. The song chronicles his early days on the street corner to his escapades as one of the rich and famous, along with his collection of expensive cars and travel excursions.
Rick James’ Money Talks is a funky R&B tune dealing with money’s inherent ability to control all facets of our lives. James points out that, regardless of who you are, a working person may find it hard to eat and must pinch pennies in order to just survive. The song paints a sobering picture of money’s importance, laid over a hip, disco-hall soundscape still lingering from the previous decade. “People need to eat, to put shoes on their little baby’s feet,” sings James. “That’s money talkin’, yeah.”
Jerry Garcia will likely always be the face of the Grateful Dead, and rightly so, but guitarist Bob Weir could belt out a verse like no one else in the band. Originally titled Finance Blues, the song depicts a man whose lover constantly drains him of his wealth. Not only is it a narrative on the power of money, but also the power of love and what it can make people do — in this case, Weir’s lady inspires him to rob a bank and print counterfeit bills so he can maintain her lavish lifestyle. “My baby gives me the finance blues,” Weir croons. “Tax me to the limit of my revenues. Here she comes finger-poppin’, clickety-click. She says furs or diamonds, you take your pick.”
Same Love and Thrift Shop may have taken the rap world by storm in 2012, garnering the Seattle duo a Grammy and international acclaim, but Make the Money is a lesser-known track with just as much clout. Macklemore stays true to his humble rap style in the song, acknowledging the money he makes but insisting fame and fortune were never the reasons he began rapping. The verses detail his meteoric rise in the music industry and his career choices, but the song’s mission statement lies within the hook: “Make the money, don’t let the money make you.”
Andy Samberg’s hip-hop group, The Lonely Island, is best known for their comedic stylings. Diaper Money, the trio’s trademark song from 2013’s The Wack Album, embodies their spirit quite well. The song deals with the merits and duties of being a full-fledged adult, such as marrying and picking out grave plots, along with earning enough money to provide diapers for your children. “I got that diaper money, I got that diaper money, dude. I got that diaper money,” they sing. “I’m a grown ass man.” Touché.
This early-2000s R&B classic reminds us that money isn’t everything when it comes to finding the one you love. Even back then, Jennifer Lopez had plenty of her own green, and she’s got even more now after all of those years hosting American Idol. The song even inspired a romantic comedy film starring Christina Milian and Nick Cannon (admittedly, it’s terrible, but still).
‘$ave Dat Money’ by Lil Dicky (featuring Rich Homie Quan & Fetty Wap), 2015
A hilarious parody of the money-fueled hip-hop culture comes from 2016 XXL Freshman Class member Lil Dicky. The irony of Rich Homie Quan’s name and verse isn’t lost on Dicky, who cuts off his money-focused feature halfway through to — you guessed it — save money. Despite its goofy subject, $ave Dat Money is actually a legitimately good song with some creative wordplay.
This ’90s hip-hop classic focuses on the burgeoning financial empire of P. Diddy (aka Puff Daddy, Puffy, Sean Combs, etc.), whose love of money cannot be overstated. With guest verses from the late Biggy Smalls and Lil’ Kim, the song is evidence of the hip-hop mogul’s immense ability to surround himself with the best — and richest — in the business.
The world of old money is painted in dark hues by indie-pop songwriter Lana Del Rey on this slow-churning jam, with access to wealth and power ultimately not appearing to be enough to make anyone whole. It’s a subject for which Del Rey, a graduate of prep schools, and whose grandfather was an investment banker, is keenly aware of.