The best money songs of all-time and what they really mean. An academic study

Anna Allgaier
23.06.22
3 minute read

I’ll bop to anything you stick a beat on. I’m pretty sure you would too. But have you ever stopped for a second, in the middle of the dancefloor, to truly appreciate and respect the lyrics of that foot-tapping, booty-shaking-inducing tune? Have you ever tried to find the truth beneath those catchy, catchy words? I’ve only ever really done that to Adele lyrics when I felt like crying over something (a boy, always a boy), but that’s not important.

What is important, is that I’ve taken a look at some of the most notorious money songs out there and deeply examined what the artists behind the songs were actually trying to communicate. So please, come on a lyrical journey with me as I put my serious hat on and channel my uni essay vibes.

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Gold Digger - Kanye West (Ye)

A true classic, the artist formerly known as Kanye West, now preferably referred to as Ye, created this much-loved ballad in the year of 2005.

The song featured fellow composer, Jamie Foxx. The well-circulated pop rap song details the journey of a young man who has entered into a relationship with a woman who intends to benefit from his funds.

While he does not seem pleased with this, he is happy to further pursue the relationship, and would like for her to “get down” which we have translated to mean something we are unable to record within this study.

As the song continues, we discover that the woman not only wants to exploit his financial situation, but has also committed adultery, having produced offspring with another partner, thus forcing him to raise the child as his own.

The man then advises that all those who wish to enter into an official union, should consider negotiating and signing a prenuptial agreement before the ceremony takes place. Wise financial advice indeed.

Please note, this song cannot be taken to be a reliable source, as it only showcases one side of the argument.

Perhaps the woman’s intentions and actions were quite misunderstood altogether. We must never assume. For when you assume, you make an ass out of u, and me.

Mo Money Mo Problems - The Notorious B.I.G.

Christopher George Latore Wallace, known as The Notorious B.I.G., Biggie Smalls, or simply, Biggie, was born in 1972 in the heart of Brooklyn, New York. His masterpiece “Mo Money Mo Problems”, however, did not enter public circulation until the year of 1997, July 17th to be precise.

The song walks us through the pilgrimage of a man who has risen from lesser means, and acquired mass wealth. While he is now “hot” and bears jewels and design-wear such as Italy’s Dolce & Gabbana, he is faced with more trials and tribulations than expected.

Discovering that financial gain also leads to a series of problems that would not be there were he not to have money.

However, while there are disadvantages, he also revels in the fact he does not need to “spend dough on the booty.” Christopher then goes on to call himself the “D to the A to the D-D-Y” suggesting he has been lucky enough to bring life into this world.

While this is good news, it is also worrisome as he seems confused. We are able to make this assumption based on the disorientated state conveyed within the below lyrics:

    “What's goin' on? What's goin' on? (Somebody tell me) What's goin' on?
    I don't know what they want from me
    It's like the more money we come across
    The more problems we see.”

Money, Money, Money - ABBA

Formed in 1972, the Swedish pop group ABBA is made up of the talented Agnetha Fältskog, Björn Ulvaeus, Benny Andersson, and Anni-Frid Lyngstad. If you look closely, it will come to your attention that the group’s title is an acronym, using the first letter of all of their first names.

The group are renowned for an abundance of vocal treats, but their 1976 hit, “Money, Money, Money” achieved widespread popularity.

Within the song we are told the story of a person who spends the vast majority of their time working in order to pay their bills. Despite working away tirelessly, they are still unable to afford luxuries for themselves, thus living paycheck to paycheck simply to make ends meet.

Their lack of financial security even plagues them in their dreams, but they have a plan. To relieve their burden, they will go on a hunt to find “a wealthy man” allowing them to “fool around and have a ball”, suggesting they would like to retire early. Perhaps this is the woman Kanye West refers to in Song 1 of this study.

While their plan does seem flawless, their dilemma furthers as they realise that “a man like that is hard to find.” We are not informed as to whether or not their mission was successful.

Bi*ch better have my money - Rihanna

The well-known Barbadian singer, actress, businesswoman and fashion designer, Robyn Rihanna Fenty NH, released the anthem, “Bi*ch better have my money” in 2015.

The song highlights the frustration of a woman who was kind enough to lend money to a friend. Despite the kindness shown by said woman, her friend has failed to repay the loan. In fact, the friend was even seen purchasing an alcoholic beverage with the money that was leant to them, after the debt was due to be paid.

The stress of the situation later pushes the woman to take matters into her own hands with extreme actions, such as holding her friend's wife hostage in the back seat of foreign automobile.

The friend attempts to act as though they had forgotten about the money entirely, however, the woman is not fooled by their dishonest display.


This publication is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to cover every aspect of the topics with which it deals. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content in this publication. The information in this publication does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from TransferWise Limited or its affiliates. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.

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