Money makes the world go round. Well, according to Cabaret. And, um, capitalism. Vix Leyton picks her favourite money spinners of the record variety.
Working in personal finance, I tend to be on the lookout for money talk all the time, and it’s surprising how often the theme of cash creeps into pop music. From daydreaming about marrying a millionaire, to calling out “good for nothing type of brothers” via some universal truths, dirrrty cash cleans up in the music world.
Okay, I’ve cheated here and there are two by one artist, but in my mind they are a pair, and the second one was under new management.
Before Beyoncé talked about watermelons, Becky with the good hair, and lemonade, she and her girls were all about the financial advice. Bills, Bills, Bills is a song now old enough to have sex and learn to drive (I know). Featuring the Destiny’s Children we all forgot – LeToya and LaTavia – it’s an ode to a man who starts off strong, but ends up taking advantage of the woman’s generosity, so rightly gets shown the door.
A year later, LeToya and LaTavia were out the door too, as Michelle Williams joined Queen Bey and Kelly Rowland to form a new unit, with the old message. In 2001, hen party staple Independent Women, Part I (we’re still waiting on part II) was released into the world. The iconic song not only provided my husband with a comedy comeback for every time someone said the word “question”, but was also an anthem to all women making and paying their own way in the world. PREACH.
Madonna – Material Girl
While young Yoncé was still playing with toy money, Madonna was teaching toddler me some slightly more dubious lessons on how to manage my cash. Like Marilyn Monroe before her, Madge basically thought you could keep your slow dances and romances, because she’d rather have something more likely to hold its value.
Throughout my childhood, I was absolutely obsessed with the Like a Virgin album and, specifically, this video. It was a different version of female empowerment, belonging to another time (obviously I do not condone gold digging of this nature).
At the same time, there is absolutely no doubt that she’s the one in control, albeit through age-old, possibly stereotyped, feminine wiles. I wanted to climb into the TV, and be chased around by a group of men in black tie while I flounced around in a pink dress… To be honest, some small part of me still does.
ABBA – Money, Money, Money
Another classic and the one that kept coming up when I crowdsourced views on Twitter about people’s favourite money-themed song. Anni-Frid Lyngstad is all of us when she sings about working her ass off and still having nothing to show for it once the bills are paid (testify, Frida!).
But don’t worry team, she has some thoughts on how to improve her situation. Sit tight, here we go. Her first course is to seek out a rich man to free her from the world of work and keep her in the life she’d like to be accustomed to.
But she is a realist: she knows men like this are hard to find, and picky AF, so she has a plan B. Work hard at a brilliant career? Nope. Her second idea is to go to the casinos in Vegas and win her millions there.
Ah well, it was the 70s, and this is another perfect time capsule to show us how far women have come in sharing their ambitions.
Jessie J – Price Tag
For a while it did feel like this song was EVERYWHERE and that somewhat dulled the quite sweet message of the song. Jessie J sings about jettisoning greed, not selling our integrity down the river for shiny trinkets, taking off our expensive shades (or, in my case, fake cheap ones from Bodrum) and having a good look around at the cost of our rotten materialism. Dark.
She implores us to live the values of bygone days, when it was less about sunglasses and pretension and more about dancing with the world, uniting through music. I’m not quite sure what era she’s referring to, as we’ve already covered the 70s, 80s and 90s and found them rife with materialism. Maybe the free lovin’ 60s? Anyway, the idea is nice and the Pitch Perfect remix fills me with great joy, so she makes the list.
Reel Big Fish – Sell Out
OK, this is a curveball, but stay with… Sell Out is the story of a local band pondering the pros and cons of putting a price on artistic integrity for the sake of fame and fortune.
It was every local-band fangirl’s worst fear that their beloved music gods would be snapped up and spirited away to become a sanitised, remote version of their old glorious selves. Conversely, every local garage band was waiting to be discovered by a roving A&R man who happened to be hanging out in the Cardiff Barfly. This song speaks to both sides.
*Spoiler alert* Ultimately they end up signing a contract they didn’t read and didn’t understand and submit to a lifetime of record company puppetry. A cautionary tale to any musician thinking of filling out that X Factor application form.
The Beatles – Can’t Buy Me Love
It felt appropriate to end on a high with a universal truth. We might daydream of living a millionaire lifestyle, but there are some things that money simply cannot procure – and the main one of those is true lurve.
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Vix is a financial PR and ginabler who lives and works in East London. As a result she long ago lost sight of whether riding a unicycle while wearing a monocle is par for the course on a normal day.