If the bible is to be believed, greed has been with us since Adam and Eve overindulged on apples in the Garden of Eden. The story of human evolution is littered with stories of greed. And sadly, things don’t seem to be about to change any time soon.
On that positive note, let’s take a look at some of the most famous songs about greed ever written. As long as people have been writing songs, this has been a subject visited again and again by artists from all musical genres. So, here are 12 of the best songs talking about greed for your enjoyment, starting with…
Top 63 Songs about Greed
For the Love of Money by The O’Jays
This Soul/Funk classic from 1973 is a lament to how the quest for money can destroy you. The title of the song comes from a bible verse that we’ve all heard in one form or another, “For the love of money is the root of all evil.”
The O’Jays highlight the lengths people will go to in search of those dollar bills. Lines like, “For the love of money, people will steal from their mother, For the love of money, people will rob their own brother” sum it up perfectly.
Despite the grim subject matter, this is one hell of a catchy song. Plus, it features one of the most iconic bass lines from that era. Many people will have been introduced to this song from “The Apprentice” TV show, where it was used at the start of each episode.
Money by Pink Floyd
Any list of songs about greed simply has to include this rant against the evils of currency from Pink Floyd. Taken from their legendary 1973 album, The Dark Side Of The Moon, this is an all-out assault on the crass nature of materialism gone wild.
Scathing and groovy…
The opening sound effects of coins jangling, combined with a ringing cash register and ripping paper, set things up perfectly for lyrics like:
“Money, it’s a gas – Grab that cash with both hands and make a stash – New car, caviar, four-star daydream – Think I’ll buy me a football team.”
This song crystalizes the ridiculous nature of having too much money. And also the absurd things that the uber-rich end up spending it on.
C.R.E.A.M by Wu Tang Clan
Probably one of the greatest hip-hop songs ever produced. This gem from 1994 isn’t a critique of greed but more of a reflection of reality. The acronym stands for “Cash Rules Everything Around Me.”
It’s about the struggle of raising yourself off the streets and doing whatever it takes to make it. Making it in this scenario means chasing that “dollar dollar bill y’all.”
The sampled hook and killer beat that plays throughout the track is one of the most recognizable pieces of hip-hop production. Strangely, it didn’t perform very well commercially on its release. But, the critics loved this song about trying to make all the money from the start.
Opportunities (Let’s Make Lots of Money) by Pet Shop Boys
This 1986 song from Pet Shop Boys was released at the height of the Thatcherite capitalist boom of the 80s. Taken literally, the song could be construed as a materialistic anthem. However, in reality, the two protagonists’ scheme to “make lots of money” is doomed to failure.
Likewise, some people interpret this song as a satirical send-up of the capitalist culture that was prevalent at the time. This gave the band a reputation as ironists, a tagline that they didn’t appreciate, as it led to their more serious songs being disregarded.
However you chose to interpret this synth-pop jam about making a fortune, it was reflective of a time where greed and money trumped everything else.
I Want It All by Queen
If ever there was an ode to greed, it has to be this 1989 anthem from Queen. The line, “I want it all/And I want it now,” screams impatient avarice from the top of the lungs. We’re not happy with a piece of the cake. We want the lot… immediately!
Guitarist Brian May wrote the song, and he prefers to look at it from a slightly more positive angle. He says that it’s simply an ode to ambition and standing up for yourself and what you want to achieve.
Interestingly, the song is often used by rights demonstrators, particularly during the Apartheid era in South Africa. I guess they agree with Mr. May’s explanation of the lyrics.
Goldfinger by Shirley Bassey
Recorded to accompany the James Bond film of the same name, “Goldfinger” has since become the signature song of Welsh singer Shirley Bassey.
Beware the Midas touch…
Goldfinger is the villain of the film itself and the subject of the song. A man who will stop at nothing to enrich himself. Furthermore, Bassey’s song is a warning to young women to stay away from such cold-hearted men with no love in their hearts.
All they care about is money, and you shouldn’t be seduced by their wealth. As Shirley says, “Pretty girl beware of this heart of gold/This heart is cold/He loves only gold.”
Released in 1964, this song still resonates with audiences to this day. Shirley Bassey is now in her mid-eighties but still performs this song live occasionally.
Big Yellow Taxi by Joni Mitchell
This 1970 recording from Joni Mitchell was written after she visited Hawaii. She was disgusted to see the urban sprawl of development encroaching on the beautiful island paradise. Destruction disguised as progress.
It’s a call to appreciate the wonder of nature over the rampant spread of commercial buildings. So, in effect, it’s very much an anti-greed, pro-environment song. Of course, the most poignant line in the song is, “They paved paradise, and they put up a parking lot.”
Furthermore, the tree museum line in the song is based on a real museum in Waikiki called Foster Botanical Gardens. It houses native tree species of Hawaii, some of which are endangered due to overdevelopment.
If ever a song highlights the cost of greedy developers at the expense of nature, it’s “Big Yellow Taxi.” Likewise, it’s one of the best songs about greedy people stopping at nothing in their pursuits.
Moneytalks by AC/DC
This 1990 hit from the legendary Australian rockers was one of their biggest hits in years. Additionally, it was their first #1 hit in the US since “Back in Black” nine years earlier. As per usual, Angus Young has created a stunning guitar riff to go with Brian Jones’s searing vocal performance.
Listen to the money…
As the title suggests, this is a song about the power of money. In particular, how it attracts beautiful women. However, the song isn’t critical of this type of gold-digging. Instead, it’s more of a celebration that money can bring rewards in life that you might otherwise struggle to attain.
“Hey little girl, you want it all – The furs, the diamonds, the painting on the wall – Come on, come on, love me for the money – Come on, come on, listen to the money talk.”
Lyrics like this show the band is well aware that gold diggers exist, and they have no problem with it. Let’s hope the inevitable divorce settlements don’t cost any of them too much. Although, it would be hard to have any sympathy if this song is to be taken at face value.
Material Girl by Madonna
Another song about the art of gold digging is Madonna’s “Material Girl.” However, this one is from the perspective of the digger.
A reflection of the times…
Released during the economic boom of the 80s, the song is all about a girl who is only interested in men who can provide her with a life of the highest luxury. If you’re not rich and willing to lavish the cash, you need not apply.
These lines from the song sum it up quite succinctly: “Some boys try, and some boys lie but/I don’t let them play, no way/Only boys that save their pennies/Make my rainy day.”
The video features Madonna in a re-enactment of Marilyn Monroe’s character from the movie ‘Gentlemen Prefer Blondes’ singing “Diamonds Are a Girls’ Best Friend.” Rather fitting, isn’t it?
Complete Control by The Clash
In typical Clash style, this song is a fiery polemic against the corporate greed of record companies. As well as band managers who want complete control over everything.
The record company in their crosshairs was CBS Records, the label the band was on at the time. The band was motivated to write the song after the label released their song “Remote Control” without their permission. An act that, understandably, caused much frustration within the band.
A sour taste…
As a Punk band with the ethos that goes along with that, The Clash were experiencing their first taste of corporate reality. And it left a sour taste in their mouths.
Thankfully, this unfortunate situation gave us one of Punk’s most iconic songs. A rallying call against the tyranny of corporations that’s as relevant today as it was in 1978.
Gold Digger by Kanye West
A song with a title so unsubtle it couldn’t fail to make this list. Kanye West’s 2005 hit is just what it says on the tin. A song about a woman who is only interested in him for his wealth and status.
Of course, it must be very difficult for the likes of poor Kanye to trust those around him. Especially any potential romantic interests. Perhaps that’s why he ended up marrying someone as fabulously wealthy as him.
She gonna leave with half…
Demands for a “prenup” litter the song. That puts the ladies on notice that Kanye knows a gold digger when he sees one.
Towards the end of the track, Kanye makes an appeal for ladies to stick with their broke man until he makes it rather than chase another for his money. Maybe he’s not such a cynic after all.
Greed, Money, Useless Children by Jay Reatard
One of the less complicated songs on this list. This wonderful assault on the senses was Memphis-based punk-rocker Jay Reatard’s savage refusal to live a normal life that revolves around amassing wealth.
The verses consist of Reatard chanting, “Greed, money, useless children” relentlessly followed by a chorus of “No! It’s not for me” repeated four times. This is accompanied by militant drumming and thrashing guitars to fantastic effect.
He rams his point home in record time with the song over in 90 seconds flat. Sadly, he very much followed through on his promise, dying from a cocaine and alcohol overdose at the tender age of 29.
Money Grabber – Fitz and The Tantrums
Gimme the Loot – The Notorious B.I.G.
Rich Man’s World – Immortal Technique
Money Maker – Ludacris (feat. Pharrell)
Billionaire – Travie McCoy (feat. Bruno Mars)
Filthy/Gorgeous – Scissor Sisters
Greed, Lust, Hate, & Death – Metallica
Money for Nothing – Dire Straits
Greedy People – Aaron Lewis
Greedy Bastard – Krisiun
Make the Money – Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
Ain’t It Funny – Danny Brown
All About the Benjamins – Puff Daddy & The Family
Money Power Glory – Lana Del Rey
Money Ain’t a Thang – Jermaine Dupri (feat. Jay-Z)
Bad Boys for Life – P. Diddy (feat. Black Rob & Mark Curry)
F*** You – CeeLo Green
Greedy Bastards – Napalm Death
Cashin’ Out – Ca$h Out
Money Longer – Lil Uzi Vert
Money, Cash, Hoes – Jay-Z (feat. DMX)
Gimme the Money – King Princess
Money to Blow – Birdman (feat. Drake & Lil Wayne)
Greedy Little Thing – Skunk Anansie
Money & Fame – Scouting For Girls
Money Don’t Matter 2 Night – Prince
More 25 Songs About Greed
- Take the Money and Crawl – Queens of the Stone Age
- Money’s Too Tight (To Mention) – Simply Red
- Money’s On the Dresser – Lil’ Kim
- Money Over Everything – Ace Hood
- Moneyman – Gorilla Zoe
- The Money Will Roll Right In – Mudhoney
- Riches and Wonders – The Mountain Goats
- Greedy Fly (Rollo’s ‘If I Can’t Have You’ Mix) – Bush
- Money and Run – UNKLE (feat. Nick Cave)
- Money Made You Mean – Flogging Molly
- Money On the Floor – Too $hort (feat. E-40)
- Money & The Ego – Christina Perri
- Greedy Man – The Wood Brothers
- Greedy Girl – Banks
- Money In the Grave – Drake (feat. Rick Ross)
- Money Don’t Grow on Trees – Jake Bugg
- Greedy B*tch – Brody Dalle
- Money Made Me Do It – Post Malone (feat. 2 Chainz)
- Greedy Guts – The Glorious Sons
- Money Talks – T.I.
- Money Can’t Buy It – Annie Lennox
- Money Power Respect – The Lox (feat. DMX & Lil’ Kim)
- Money Changes – Saigon
- Money and Power – Kid Ink
- Money Dance – Rick Ross (feat. The-Dream)
Looking For More Great Songs?
We have you covered. Take a look at our detailed articles on the Best Songs About Cars, the Best Songs About California, the Best Songs About Fire, the Best Songs about Friday, the Best Songs About Magic, and the Best Songs about Fighting for more great song selections.
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Final Thoughts on the Best Songs About Greed
So, there you have it. Twelve of the best songs dealing with greed. This entry on the list of the seven deadly sins is a theme musicians have covered extensively over the years, and it’s a subject we can undoubtedly expect more from in the future.
It’s a shame we humans haven’t managed to get a handle on our lust for power and money. But on the bright side, it sure has inspired some great music by some fantastic artists. And, if we missed any classics, please let us know in the comments below.
Until next time, happy listening.