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Looking for ways to better understand the human condition? One way to do so is by listening to songs about greed and materialism.
Today, we have put together a collection of great songs on this meaningful topic.
These songs describe how people become fixated on material things, want more than their fair share, and fall into the trap of excessive consumerism and keeping up with the Joneses.
Their lyrics warn listeners of the dangers of letting greed and materialism dominate their lives.
Are you ready to take a closer look? Let’s dive in.
“Anything, anything for money. Would lie for you, would die for you. Even sell my soul to the devil. Anything, anything for money.”
This unreleased single from Michael Jackson describes the frustration of someone who cannot trust even his closest friends. The person feels that everyone around him is just exploiting him, and that they’re just after his money.
“For the love of money people will steal from their mother. For the love of money people will rob their own brother.”
Here is a song that tells about how greedy people are willing to betray their family and friends just to get their hands on some money.
Getting more money is their main goal and they don’t care who gets hurt by their actions.
“Where do all the cash and the dough and those greenback dollars go? Money’s walkin’, the money’s walkin’. People need to eat, to put shoes on their little baby’s feet. That’s money talkin’, yeah!”
This song tells of the sad reality of today’s society. We simply cannot function without money. From the food we eat and clothes we wear to the roofs over our heads, everything we need has to be paid for.
For this reason, we all have to find ways to get money for what we need. No wonder so many people want to have more of it.
“Laurie’s head is buzzing. Can’t remember what she came here for. Couldn’t keep her promise not to gaze at things she can’t afford. ‘Cause there’s shoes, bags, and silk scarves and dreams of summer days. And now she’s wording a letter to her bosses for a raise.”
Here is a song about excessive consumerism. There are so many products out there that appeal to our desire for nice things. People are often bombarded with ads—on billboards, in newspapers and magazines, on the TV, and online—and feel they need to have the latest gadgets, fashion, vacations, etc.
When people can’t afford what they want, they often develop bad money habits just to keep up with the trends.
“‘Cause we are living in a material world and I am a material girl.”
This song launched Madonna to “icon” status when it was released. It describes how some people will go to great lengths to further their ambitions for power, fame, and money, even by manipulating others.
“Some are willing to murder for a night out on the town. Others hang around you when there’s lots of it around. But worst of all are people who really have no need. They do it for these reasons. In spite and out of greed. Just for the money.”
The lyrics of this song are a bit darker than most on this list. They describe the terrible things people are willing to do for money, such as planning the heist of the century with the possibility of a large number of casualties.
“Money, money, money. Must be funny in the rich man’s world. Money, money, money. Must be sunny in the rich man’s world… All the things I could do if I had a little money. It’s a rich man’s world…”
Money can become the object of obsession. We often witness that in films, and it also happens in real life.
This song is about someone who wonders what it’s like to be very rich. What would you do? What’s the first thing you’d buy if you had a lot of money?
“Greed and gold. Greed and gold. Forever the loneliest road.”
Here is another song telling us about the terrible things some people are willing to do to get what they want. They do not respect boundaries and don’t care about the consequences of their actions, as long as their greed is temporarily appeased.
“Money, get away. You get a good job with more pay and you’re okay. Money, it’s a gas. Grab that cash with both hands and make a stash.”
This song describes how money causes contradictions in people’s lives.
On one hand, we are temporarily happy with the money we earn from our jobs—but at the same time, we dream of having more money so that we’ll be able to afford luxurious things.
“Buy for comfort, buy for kicks. Buy and buy until it makes you sick.”
This song is an anthem for the fear of missing out. It describes how excessive materialism has taken over many people’s lives, to the point that they buy stuff they don’t really need in order to keep up with the trends.
The song also points out that some people define who they are through the stuff they own.
Sad, isn’t it?
“Money changes everything. I said money, money changes everything. We think we know what we’re doing. That don’t mean a thing. It’s all in the past now. Money changes everything.”
Another danger presented by greed and materialism is that people often change when they come into a lot of money.
We’ve mentioned earlier that there are people who are willing to do terrible things because they’re fueled by their love for money.
In addition, as this song tells us, there are people who will leave a loving relationship for a loveless one that offers wealth and material comfort.
“I found everything I ever wanted. And it opened up a door. I took one half look around. There were half a million more. I found everything I ever needed and more and more and more.”
Materialism is when people are never satisfied with what they’ve got. They keep on buying more things to try and satisfy a craving or longing that doesn’t stop. This song describes this unfortunate situation very vividly.
“Buy, buy,’ says the sign in the shop window. ‘Why, why?’ says the junk in the yard.”
And what eventually happens to all the stuff that compulsive shoppers buy? Paul McCartney has an answer.
Sadly, most of those things just end up in the trash.
“I want the world. I want the whole world. I want to lock it all up in my pocket. It’s my bar of chocolate. Give it to me now!”
Veruca Salt in the movie Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory is the personification of greed. She sings this song as a tantrum because she isn’t allowed to have everything she wants in Wonka’s factory.
Her tantrum showed us all what a bad egg Veruca truly is!
“The grabbing hands grab all they can. All for themselves, after all. It’s a competitive world. Everything counts in large amounts.”
Greedy people only care about getting more for themselves. It doesn’t matter if there isn’t anything left for others. As this song tells us, “everything counts in large amounts.”
“They took all the trees and put them in a tree museum. And they charged the people a dollar and a half just to see ’em.”
Joni Mitchell wrote this song after spending a holiday in Hawaii and being disappointed with what she saw.
The song is about how natural wonders are destroyed for the sake of making more money through the tourism industry.
It’s a sad reality that you might notice on your next holiday.
“So give, give, give me more, more, more. I’d like it all.”
Greedy people are insatiable. They only care about their own comfort and pleasure.
This song perfectly captures what must be the inner monologue in greedy people’s minds every day.
“Oh, Lord, won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz? My friends all drive Porsches, I must make amends. Worked hard all my lifetime, no help from my friends. So, Lord, won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz?”
One characteristic of greedy people is that they’re usually jealous of other people’s successes and what others have. They want to have something better.
In this song, a person whose friend drives a sports car asks God for a luxury car, perhaps to one-up the people she calls friends.
“Take the money and run. ‘Cause you found out that it wasn’t hard to take the money and run because you were out of sight.”
This song is from the duo’s second studio album released in 1975. It is about taking advantage of an opportunity—perhaps a financial windfall—and not caring about the consequences.
“Love… is just greed. It’s almost taken me. But now I can see. Love… is just greed. A selfish little need. You follow or you lead. If we really love ourselves, how do you love somebody else?”
Greed does not necessarily mean that someone is trying to become rich at the expense of others. In this song, love is described as a greedy need, where someone is bound to end up suffering from heartbreak.
“All these kids have got affluenza. Going wreckin’ their daddy’s Benz, ah. Crystal liquor cups and designer drugs. They say ‘Money can’t buy you no love’. But a diamond cheers you right up. Give me none of your affluenza…”
Affluenza isn’t an officially recognized medical condition, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. It is also known as “luxury fever,” causing excessive consumerism and consumption, as well as the desire to have more money, possessions, and recognition or fame.
Affluenza also describes how some rich people do not feel any remorse when they cause harm to others, considering themselves above the law because of their financial clout.
In this song, Conan Gray describes how some kids born into affluence make unwise decisions and end up ruining not only their own lives, but also the lives of those around them.
“Think you gotta keep me iced, you don’t. Think I’m gonna spend your cash, I won’t. Even if you were broke, my love don’t cost a thing. Think I wanna drive your Benz, I don’t. If I wanna floss, I got my own. Even if you were broke, my love don’t cost a thing.”
Many materialistic people assume that showering their loved ones with material possessions is the best way to express their feelings. This often causes a great misunderstanding and is a major reason for breakups. [Check out the Steps for Finding Peace After a Toxic Relationship.]
This track is about a woman who gets increasingly frustrated in her relationship because her partner keeps giving her expensive gifts rather than spending time with her.
In the song, she tries to make her partner realize that she’s not materialistic and that she truly loves her partner. If she wants luxuries, she can get them herself.
“I love material things because they light up the emptiness around me. Nothing can hurt as bad as human beings. And so I’m best friends with these.”
This is an honest declaration of a person’s preference to be in the company of material possessions rather than people.
The song describes how this person has been betrayed or hurt by those they trust. Now, they find solace in being surrounded by the stuff they constantly buy because it can’t hurt them.
“I want money, power and glory. I want money and all your power, all your glory. Hallelujah, I wanna take you for all that you got. Hallelujah, I’m gonna take them for all that they got.”
If someone declares their intention to use you and take you for all that you have, as Lana Del Rey does in this song, you should take the warning seriously. The best thing to do is run in the opposite direction.
“Money is the reason we exist. Everybody knows it, it’s a fact. Kiss, kiss.”
Here is another song about greed from Lana Del Rey.
The chorus of this song proclaims the bitter truth about society: Money makes the world go round.
“Beautiful people. Drop top, designer clothes. Front row at fashion shows. ‘What d’you do?’ and ‘Who d’you know?’ Inside the world of beautiful people. Champagne and rolled-up notes. Prenups and broken homes. Surrounded, but still alone. Let’s leave the party.”
Fame and fortune can get into some people’s heads. They are often willing to let go of everything else in favor of their obsession with material things, money, and attention.
This song reveals that being considered one of the “beautiful people” does not necessarily bring happiness. It can even be very lonely and scary.
“But out here in the lap of luxury. Unlimited guarantee for your insatiable need, in the land of endless greed.”
This song describes a place where greed is encouraged.
It is the kind of place where the beauty of nature is destroyed, to be replaced with money-making infrastructure. This is the place where compassion for others is replaced by competition.
“Greed is empty. Greed is lonely. Constant craving. For one thing, only. Greed is guilty. Greed is fakin’. Unforgiving and always taking.”
Ann Wilson describes this as an angry song. It is about people’s insatiable greed for anything, not just money or fame. For her, greed compels people to make bargains that they’ll later regret.
“You think that I’m made of money. You’ve got something coming, honey. This ain’t no land of milk and honey. My accountant thinks that’s funny. Instead of trying to use your brains, you sit round and suck my veins.”
This song is about someone who realizes that their spouse only married them for their money. They suggest that the person start using their brains to earn money in a more honorable way.
“It’s money that matters. Hear what I say. It’s money that matters in the USA.”
This song describes what has become top priority in the US. It is a sad realization that many Americans are spending most of their waking hours in pursuit of money.
“Some people want it all. But I don’t want nothing at all. If it ain’t you, baby. If I ain’t got you, baby. Some people want diamond rings. Some just want everything. But everything means nothing if I ain’t got you, yeah.”
This song describes how some people have outrageous desires that are almost impossible to fulfill. This sometimes happens in romantic relationships, where a person demands expensive gifts as proof that their partner loves them.
However, Alicia Keys wisely chooses true love over diamond rings and three dozen roses. For her, happiness is there as long as her beloved is with her. [Check out some relationship goals couples use to grow their love.]
“I want fabulous, that is my simple request. All things fabulous. Bigger and better and best. I need something inspiring to help me get along. I need a little fabulous, is that so wrong?”
In this song, Sharpay sings about wanting fabulous things. She won’t settle for less—she wants bigger, better, and best.
Wanting the best for yourself and your loved ones is actually a noble goal. However, if getting what you want harms others or puts others at a disadvantage, then that’s greed.
“I wanted everything.”
This is a very direct and honest statement made by greedy people.
Perhaps they started out wanting everything in their childhood and nobody kept them in check. Now that they’re adults, they are determined to get what they want in whatever way possible.
“I eat too much. I drink too much. I want too much, too much.”
Anything done in excess is a manifestation of greed. Here’s a song describing different ways of being greedy—of choosing quantity over quality.
Greed fuels overconsumption and overproduction, which have a negative impact on our economy and the environment. If people don’t keep their greed in check, we will all be reaping the consequences of overproduction and overconsumption pretty soon.
“At first we started out real cool. Takin’ me places I ain’t never been. But now, you’re getting comfortable. You’re slowly making me pay for things your money should be handling.”
Relationships are usually a give-and-take affair. Unfortunately, they can also be a hunting ground for greedy people who are looking for an easy life at the expense of another.
In this song, Destiny’s Child describes a person who mooches off someone they’re in a relationship with.
There you have it—a collection of songs that describe the pitfalls of materialism and greed.
These tracks are a commentary on the human condition. Hopefully they will encourage all of us to consider the choices we make each day and actively choose to do things that fill our lives with meaning and value.
You can check out the following posts for other song collections on specific topics:
Finally, if you want to use these songs to make a lasting change to your life, then check out these 100 LIFE GOALS that can help you wake up each morning with a sense of enthusiasm about making progress toward what’s important..