Everyone can claim they do not want more than the fair share they are worth, but they may be complete liars. Songs about greed teach us that there is a lot of greed out there.
While some forms of greed may be more subtle than others, they all have one thing in common; they highlight the darkest side of our human nature.
If you are a religious believer, you would know greed has been with us since the beginning of time when Adam and Eve indulged in the fruit warned against.
The story of human evolution also teaches us multiple stories of greed while, in most cases, there is an abundance of resources to share with all.
Greed is a destructive trait; in most cases, it leads to dissatisfaction and eventual self-destruction. It has led to war, famine, and many more ills. Many religious texts have called against greed, which is considered unethical.
This compilation will explore how greed is portrayed in music over different generations and genres.
21 Songs About Greed That Will Make You Rethink Your Values
There is plenty of material from the oldies to modern pop music. If you are on a path of ethical living and need to set up a playlist to guide you, these songs will do the trick.
1. Money – Michael Jackson
The first song in this playlist is Michael Jackson’s lesser-known song. The composer included this track in his “History” album, released in 1995.
The lyrics address the people who would do anything for money to the point of selling their souls to the devil. The song features Michael Jackson rapping more than singing, which is very rare.
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2. Piggies – The Beatles
Piggies is a song from The Beatles’ White Album. The band used pigs about greed as they are not popularly known to have that trait.
The song directly critiques the ruling class’s suppression of the working class. The term piggy also holds some historical relevance as it was written on the wall after the murder of Sharon Tate by the Manson family.
3. For The Love of Money – The O’Jays
Though this song by The O’Jays is a celebration of getting money, it has stronger themes of warning about the mighty dollar. The song explicitly points out the point people will go to because they need to acquire more.
The songwriters of this piece are Gamble and Huff, and their song has been used in multiple films and TV shows. The track has one funkiest bass line and is quite memorable 50 years after its release.
4. Greedy – Ariana Grande
Out of all songs about greed in this compilation, this piece by Ariana is more light-hearted on the subject matter.
The song’s lyrics talk about how the composer is consumed by greed of wanting more of her partner when in love. This more positive type of greed isn’t necessarily harmful.
5. Material Girl – Madonna
Though the song was released in 1984, it doesn’t get old. The song talks about a woman who loves the finest things in this world and would do anything to manipulate men into having them.
The song’s video re-creates a classic scene from the film, ‘Gentlemen Prefer Blondes’ where Madonna impersonates Marilyn Monroe. The name material girl stuck with the singer for years after the song’s success, and she could not disassociate from the name.
6. Too Much – Dave Matthews Band
This funky piece examines us as a society on how we are obsessed with material possessions and how in the end, it is leading to greed and wastefulness.
It is a powerful tune with an equally powerful message, and you can find the song across multiple music platforms. The track is part of Dave Matthews Band’s “Crash” album.
7. I Like It – Cardi B & Bad Bunny & J Balvin
Other than the catchy tunes of the song and its use of multiple languages to make it unique, the song glorifies consumerism on a greedy level.
The chorus is quite simple and repetitive, making it easier for the listener to capture the intended message from the artist. It pushes for a lavish lifestyle and more, something that most average Joe wouldn’t be able to attain from an honest living.
8. Disease of Conceit – Bob Dylan
Bob Dylan is an influential singer-songwriter with songs such as Blowing in the Wind and The Times They Are A-Changin’. For his contribution to literature through music, he was awarded a Nobel Prize in 2016.
In this song, Bob Dylan presents a scathing criticism of various issues affecting us, greed being one of them. This dark yet powerful piece is the right fit if you want a song about greed to make you think about your moral values.
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9. Bills, Bills, Bills – Destiny’s Child
While most individuals associate the greedy act of gold digging with women, this piece highlights another part rarely discussed. The all-female group utilized this track to point out that men can be greedy to enter into relationships with successful women for material things.
10. Age of Greed – Killing Joke
The angry vocals on the song from the singer are pure emotions about the greedy culture that has become prevalent in society. Singer Jaz Coleman goes on a rant to express his frustrations about classism and many more ethical issues.
The song’s lyrics describe how the elite care less about those below them and the imbalance they create to acquire more wealth as those below them lack.
11. Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend – Marilyn Monroe
This short musical number is part of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes film. It is considered a classic as it has been used by multiple popular singers who subscribe to a similar mindset.
The lyrics show the greed in materialism that some possess and wouldn’t choose love without any financial gain or favor towards them.
12. Price Tag – Jessie J & BOB
This popular collaboration between Jessie J and BOB is a message of hope that there are people in the world that aren’t greed-driven. The song’s lyrics show it is not all about materialism.
Let this powerful tune remind you that there is still some good in the world.
13. Gold Digger – Kanye West & Jamie Fox
Gold Digger is one of the most popular songs about greed that relates with most. This song shows some people’s shallowness because they get into relationships for the wrong reasons.
The lyrics describe a woman who is only interested in someone because of material things.
14. C.R.E.A.M. – Wu-Tang Clan
This epic song has cultural significance in hip-hop across multiple generations. The piece narrates a story of several individuals consumed by greed to make a lot of money illegally.
The lyrics focus on the dangers and difficulties of executing their plan. Combining the piano sample, cold beat, and storylines between the verses will forever make this song iconic. Sometimes you have to be greedy to make it.
15. I Want It All – Queen
While most Queen Fans view this track as the composer’s drive to realize his goals and ambitions, that is not entirely the case, the song’s lyrics show a person whose ambition has gone to the point of greed. The track was released in 1989 and is part of “The Miracle” Album.
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16. Money – Pink Floyd
Money is considered the root of all evil in society, and this is because of our greed to do over and beyond to get it. Money by Pink Floyd is a rant against the evils of the beloved currency.
It criticizes the nature of having too much of it and the ridiculous nature of how it causes materials when it is too much. It opens with the sound effects of notes and coins ripping and juggling to set the premise of the track.
17. Eat The Rich – Aerosmith
Listening to this piece always brings back so many memories as it is woven into the fabric of my childhood. This song about greed protests against powerful individuals who are self-centered and only care about their interests.
18. Opportunities (Let’s Make Lots of Money) – Pet Shop Boys
This song was released at the height of the capitalist boom of the 1980s. The song’s lyrics can be viewed as a materialistic anthem when taken literally. The band used irony in this song to send to greedy individuals who scheme to make money they are doomed to fail.
19. Gold Finger – Shirley Bassey
Gold Finger is the main villain in one of the Bond movies and the subject matter in this song. The villain will stop at nothing to enrich himself because he is filled with greed.
The song by Shirley is a warning for women to stay away from such coldhearted men as they have no love at all.
20. Big Yellow Taxi – Joni Mitchell
While the song’s lyrics focus on taking things for granted and missing them when they are gone, there is a message of greed in it too.
It talks about the human nature of destruction in the disguise of progress for monetary gain. The artist got the inspiration to write the song after visiting Hawaii and saw paradise being destroyed by urbanisation.
21. Greed, Money, Useless Children – Jay Reatard
One of the simplest songs in this compilation is this last piece which is under a minute. The song verses consist of the composer chanting the title and followed by a simple chorus, ‘No! It’s not for me.’
It shows his refusal to greed as he wants only to live a simple life. The simple mantra from the artist can be your guide when thinking about your values.
The songs about greed above have shown that money and power are things that many of us pursue. Most of the tracks tell stories from the composer’s personal life experiences seeing the evil of the greed that comes with wanting more money and power.
The songs also show how society is fixated on materialism and excessive consumerism. These songs’ lyrics warn us against such behavior dominating our lives.
Hopefully, they will encourage you to make better choices and actions that have traits that fill your life with value and meaning.