WHY IT’S REALLY ALL ABOUT THE MONEY
Most people like songs that differentiate from the typical pop song formula, at least theme wise. We’re tired of objectifying women, simplifying love, and glorifying violence and drugs so songs that talk about unifying the world and coming together really stick out as power anthems. However, these songs though with good intentions, are really hypocritical and don’t really have much value. Though they seem “better” than songs that just pander are they really that much better or are they actually a lot worse?
I’m going to pick on Jessie J and B.oB.’s 2011 hit “Price Tag” where they sing that they “just want to make the world dance, forget about the price tag, it’s not about the money, money, money.” I don’t know if they or the music company they work with wrote the lyrics but these songs don’t exist in a vacuum. The lyrics went through a lot of people before it was produced and eventually released out into the public for consumption. Did anyone think, “hey if we’re singing about ‘it’s not about the money’ shouldn’t this song be free on i-Tunes? Shouldn’t we have free concerts? Shouldn’t these multi-million dollar singers be paid less or equally to the people who are consuming the song?” Clearly, the music industry is all about the money. The music industry has changed a lot over the years and we’ve all realized that singers make an astronomical amount of money that isn’t fair to the average listener.
Not only that but maybe for them the artists it’s not about the money because they’re getting paid millions to sing a song but for the average person who’s barely making ends meet you’re damn sure it’s about the money. Not to mention all the student loan debt the majority of young people have to deal with. Again, it has good intentions but really misses the mark for me.
I’m not a big fan of the whole idealist phrase, “money can’t buy happiness” because yes, maybe in theory that works but in reality money can buy you good health care and make you feel secure. You don’t have to worry about how much food costs or healthcare or education because you have the disposable income and necessary income to keep you relaxed and financially stable. In a country where we value money so much it doesn’t make sense to me to sing about how money doesn’t matter or that money can’t buy happiness because it’s obviously it does.
We sing about not idolizing money but we look up to people who, yes are talented (and sometimes not) and give them millions of dollars to entertain us while the people in science and research fields, professors and engineers get paid a fraction of what they make. Not to mention these entertainers are the one’s we’re forced to look on and scrutinize but what about the bigger business of entertainment (film, music, TV) and the oil and pharmaceutical and food conglomerates of the world (P&G, Unilever). Teachers, service workers people who don’t have luxuries are told to look at the famous and one day maybe that could be them when in reality it never will be. We have to stop waving this American Dream in people’s faces and think about how money is real and works in our everyday lives and how it should be spread out at least a little bit more evenly.
I (DON’T) HAVE MONEY ON MY MIND
From popular artists like Sam Smith and Sia among others, there is a common theme of love/life above monetary gain. Ideally, I think this is a really nice sentiment. There is much more to life than just being rich, and more money does not necessarily mean more happiness. However, that is largely only true for people who have enough money to comfortably get by.
It is easy to say that money doesn’t mean anything when you are making millions off of singing songs about it. The truth of the matter is, though, money really does mean a hell of a lot. Money may not directly make people happy, but it keeps people alive and healthy. It provides people with the opportunities and securities they need in life to pursue their happiness and feel safe. Money pays for a house, gas to get to work, heat in the winter and a/c in the summer, internet and phones to stay connected, clothing, an education to be self-sufficient, health insurance and doctor co-pays, etc. I really cannot stress enough in one blog post how important being financially secured is. And I am sure many people out there do not need me to tell them that. But it is almost impossible to understand the ramifications that things like growing up in poverty, being disowned/not monetarily assisted by parents, not knowing where your next meal will come from, and not being able to afford the surgery that could end your chronic pain have on people unless you live it or witness it intimately.
See, money grants so much privilege, starting from the moment we are born. And privilege is often invisible to the people who have it. So it isn’t that surprising to me that celebrities sing these well meaning songs without realizing just how hypocritical they are being. Or that people sing along to them on the radio (often from the comfort of their own cars or the speakers of their iPhones) thinking that the lyrics are so relate-able.
Wanting money to pay for necessities in life or for a comfortable living does not make someone greedy. It makes them honest. So maybe we can all be a little more honest with ourselves and inclusive to others by saying that money may not mean everything in life, but it makes most of the other stuff that does possible.
IT’S ACTUALLY ALL ABOUT THE MONEY
By Jesse J has a song that I can’t help not liking it: It’s not about the money. It has pretty good lyrics; it talks about a reality that you would like to be true. It’d be awesome if Jesse J wasn’t actually doing it for the money. But the truth is that she is doing it for the money, and let’s say it, a lot of money. That’s ridiculous how much money these artists make when there are people who barely make a living. Would it be too much to say that it contributes to concentrate income?
What makes angrier is that this is even worse in Brazil, a country where the minimum wage allowed by the government is not enough to support a small family. In order to survive, everyone from the family has to work full time (44 hours a week) to make enough money to be able to have a decent life. Meanwhile, artists make hella money to be shaking their butts on TV. And there are people who still say that’s empowering.
There are even a ton of realities shows that promote the search for new “talents”. I personally boycott these kinds of reality shows. They just create this fake dream that we all have an opportunity to live a glorious life of fame. Not to mention that these realities show hook up a huge audience. While they promote the finding of new talents of the music and acting, people with real talent for science and social science don’t get the same attention and opportunity. My dream is to see on TV a show that promotes new talents and new ideas that are actually useful to improve our messed up society.
Once again, it is even worse in Brazil. Once I thought how I can get people to valorize education more. I thought money is the answer. If you study hard, you can become a successful person and have a good life. So I could motivate people using money. But in Brazil it would not work, because if you go to a favela in Rio de Janeiro, young people have the dream of becoming a soccer player or a funk singer. They don’t need to study to be rich, they just need to play soccer the whole and or write a stupid song that talks about sex. Getting money through soccer and funk is even better than studying, because they would not have to work 44 hours a week to get not enough money and they would be famous.
So we reached a point where it is all about the money. It is so much about the money that young people are increasingly giving up upon studying to have a better life. There are other ways to make more money than you can even spend.