Ka-ching, bling bling, ching ching - women sing about money

What are female pop stars saying about money?

Catherine Redfern, 15 March 2003

Well the best things in life are free - but guess what you can do with them? You got it. Sure, it must be funny in a rich man's world - but who cares about rich men, it's the women who are singing about money money money these days. What they think of it, what they spend it on, how they earn it. So what are they saying?

Love don't cost a thing

First off, any man hoping to understand "what women want" will have to have been living under a rock not to get the message loud and clear: women can't be bought by men. The artist formerly known as Jennifer Lopez told us loud and clear in Love Don't Cost a Thing: "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"

Pink reckons that Most Girls are impressed by rich blokes, but she's different: "Most girls want a man with the bling-bling / I just want real love / Most girls want a man with the mean green / Don't wanna dance if he can't be everything that I dream of, a man that understands real love"

"All that matters is that you treat me right" states J.Lo, "Give me all the things I need that money can't buy .../ Baby, credit cards aren't romance / So you're tryin' to buy what's already yours / What I need from you is not available in stores"

But no-one says it better than the urban goddess Ms Dynamite, in the now classic line from It Takes More: "Now, who gives a damn about the ice on your hand? / If it's not too complex tell me how many Africans died for the baguettes on your Rolex? / So what you pushin a nice car? / don't you know there's no such thing as superstars / We leave this world alone / so who gives a fuck about the things you own?"

If ever there's a song to make you want to stand up and applaud, it's that one.

Women are singing about money more and more these days. Material girls are everywhere now, but the one thing they all seem to want to stress is that unlike Madonna, for whom "only boys who save their pennies" make her "rainy day", being dependent upon a man for cash is a faux-pas of gargantuan proportions. The most well known expression of this independence is Destiny's Child's Independent Women Part 1 in which Beyonce and her gal pals celebrate their earning power (come on, sing along, you know you want to):

The shoes on my feet
I bought it
The clothes I'm wearing
I bought it
The rock I'm rockin'
I bought it
'Cause I depend on me
If I wanted the watch you're wearin'
I'll buy it
The house I live in
I bought it
The car I'm driving
I bought it
I depend on me

Pink isn't averse to a bit of flashyness herself either. In Get the Party Started, she brags (tongue in cheek I think): "We'll be looking flashy in my Mercedes Benz... I got lots of style got my gold diamond rings." You go, girl!

But how come this issue is coming up these days anyway? When Independent Women was at its height a couple of years ago, a bemused male friend asked me what the "women-earning-money" thing is all about - "is this some kind of major feminist issue at the moment?" he asked me. I frowned. "Um... well... maybe in the Seventies...?" Why, wondered my friend, were women suddenly crowing about their ability to buy their own shoes when women have been entering the workplace in droves for over thirty years? What's so special about being independent in this day and age when it's expected for both men and women to get jobs? Can you imagine a song called Independent Men? Nope, me neither. I could see his point; certainly amongst my peer group, a woman who claimed she wanted to be totally dependent on men would be pitied and viewed as a bit of a weirdo. It's not as if we didn't know that being totally financially dependent on your boyfriend/husband is crappy.

All the women who are independent
Throw your hands up at me
All the honeys who makin' money
Throw your hands up at me
All the mommas who profit dollas
Throw your hands up at me
All the ladies who truly feel me
Throw your hands up at me

But I think this song is partly a reaction to the type of men described by J.Lo, who think they can buy women. This song is saying you can't buy me with stuff, because I don't need you, I can buy my own. If I want to spend time with you, I will because I want to not because I have to. And you gotta admit there's something a teensy bit radical in the statement: "Tell me what you think about me / I buy my own diamonds and I buy my own rings .../ I pay my own bills / Always 50/50 in relationships." Now that is girl power in a world where women are still encouraged to wait for men to buy the rings. Diamonds may still be a girl's best friend, but at least now we can buy them ourselves (okay, some of us).

Shorty can pay her own rent

Other female singers find it vital to stress they earn their own dosh. Pink again: "Got my own thing, got the ching-ching / I'm not every girl, and I don't need no 'G' to take care of me / Cause shorty's got a job, shorty's got a car / Shorty can pay her own rent." J.Lo expresses the same sentiment: "Think I wanna drive your Benz I don't / If I wanna floss I got my own"

Not entirely sure what dental hygiene has got to do with it, but hey, I'm glad she can buy her own.

The female members of Big Brovaz in OK sing: "if you've got a job and money in your pocket let me hear you say OK .../ gotta get your own / gotta have your home / get your phone / getting money from your man that's a no no."

What's especially worse is if the cash you flash ain't yours to begin with, say Destiny's Child: "How'd you like this knowledge that I brought / Braggin' on that cash that he gave you is to front / If you're gonna brag make sure it's your money you flaunt / Depend on no-one else to give you what you want."

Similar statements are expressed by Ms. Dyanamite in It Takes More with characteristic frankness: "I could talk bout how my press could pimp man's dough / Get the keys to his ride and his home / But I looked it up and that would make me a ho / Little sisters now I really gotta let you know / Real women ain't sexin for no man's dough / Real women work hard to make their dough."

Ladies, it ain't easy being independent

There is acknowledgement that money takes hard work from the others, too. Beyonce admits: "I worked hard and sacrificed to get what I get / Ladies, it ain't easy being independent." J.Lo, on her favourite subject again in Jenny from the Block tell us she worked hard for her money, dammit: "Went from a little to a lot this year / Everybody mad at the rocks that I wear .../ It take hard work to cash checks / So don't be fooled by the rocks that I got, now assets / You get back what you put out."

Ok, so women earn their own money and they can't be bought. Women are not that impressed by men with money - what really matters is love, baby. Fair enough. HOWEVER. Important point, here: should you fail to keep up your end of the 50-50, you're in major trouble, boy.

Destiny's Childs' earlier track Bills, Bills, Bills was often misunderstood as a whiny plea to get one's boyfriend to pay one's own bills. Not true! It's very clear what's going on in this situation: "You're slowly making me pay for things your money should be handling / And now you ask to use my car / Drive it all day and don't fill up the tank / And you have the audacity to even come and step to me / Ask to hold some money from me until you get your cheque next week."

Almost sounds like parents nagging a teenager doesn't it? But nope, she's talking to a "trifling, good for nothing type of brother" who's basically stealing from her. And we all know what that type of guy is, don't we ladies? Yep - a scrub. "Also known as a buster" say TLC. Well, that's a new one on me, but I'll take their word for it:

A scrub is a guy that thinks he's fly
And is also known as a buster
Always talkin' about what he wants
And just sits on his broke ass

So.... although money's not important, there are some minimum standards of wealth which must be adhered to:

If you don't have a car and you're walking
Oh yes son I'm talkin' to you
If you live at home with your momma
Oh yes son I'm talkin' to you
Wanna get with me with no money
Oh no I don't want no scrubs

Men who live with their mums are pretty low on the pecking order in these songs. Big Brovaz again: "now for the men / gotta ditch your friends / gotta meet your ends / so you can drive a new Benz / move out your mum's / gotta fix up be a real man"

The omnipresent mummy's boy pops up again as the dodgy character who's been avoiding paying his Bills, Bills, Bills: "And then you use my cell phone calling whoever that you think at home / And then when the bill comes all of a sudden you be acting dumb / Don't know where none of these calls come from when your mama's number's here more than once"

What a git.

So, women love to earn our own cash, we're not impressed by men with the bling-bling, but we do have some minimum standards. And now, a new development! Women are beginning to let us know that money is not necessarily all good. Guess who's standing up now to let us know how evil money is? Shania Twain, Ka-Ching!

We live in a greedy little world
that teaches every little boy and girl
To earn as much as they can possibly
then turn around and
Spend it foolishly
We've created us a credit card mess
We spend the money we don't possess
Our religion is to go and blow it all
So it's shoppin' every Sunday at the mall

You can't fault her sentiment, but it's a little bit rich hearing a wealthy international superstar singing about the evils of money and how it's bad that: "all we ever want is more / A lot more than we had before .../ You'll live like a king / With lots of money and things / Ka-ching!"

Celebrities who moan about the evils of money leave a little bit of a nasty aftertaste. As the Good Charlottes sang recently: "Lifestyles of the rich and the famous / They're always complaining, always complaining / If money is such a problem, Well they got mansions / Think we should rob them"

Hell yeah! Refreshingly honest isn't it?

Always see it on TV
Or read it in the magazines
Celebrities who want sympathy
All they do is piss and moan
Inside the Rolling Stone
Talkin' about
How hard life can be

By a happy coincidence, this song was being played on the radio round about the same time as the Catherine Zeta-Jones and Michael Douglas vs. Hello case hit the headlines.

I have to say though, the most recent and brutal repudiation of the celebrity/money lifestyle has come not from a woman but from a bloke I've never much cared for: Robbie Williams. The video for his most recent single, Come Undone, is frankly disturbing. It shows him waking up after a stereotypical coke-fueled piss-up/orgy at some trendy celebrity pad. As he staggers around looking like shit, we see flashbacks to the party and the horror of the empty celebrity lifestyle: women vomiting into toilets, people snorting coke, the shallow mindless destruction, the fake smiles and so on. The images come faster and faster and we see maggots, rats and cockroaches running over the party-goers and crawling out of their glossed lipsticked mouths. As our boy begins to drunkenly snog a hapless reveller, we see snakes crawl from under her skirt.

What is he singing as this is going on?

I am scum
I am scum
I am scum

You can say a lot about Robbie Williams, but you can't say he isn't self-aware.

So write another ballad
Mix it on a Wednesday
Sell it on a Thursday
Buy a yacht by Saturday
...Do another interview
Sing a bunch of lies
Tell about celebrities that I despise
We sing love songs so sincere
I am scum

About the author

Catherine Redfern

Catherine Redfern knows she should floss more than she does.

Author's Articles | Author's Website

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