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Video East Bound and Down - Jerry Reed
East Bound and Down deals with trade and barriers to trade faced by truckers trying to move beer to thirsty consumers.
Video Movin' on Up - the Jefferson's Theme Song
The Jeffersons was a sit com that ran from 1975-1985. It dealt with the rise of an African-American couple who moved on up to a "deluxe apartment" as a result of George Jefferson's entrepreneurial skills. This song, performed by Jeff Barry and Ja’net DuBois is the title song from the show.
Video Lean on Me - performed by Van Morrison
Lean on Me, written by Bill Withers and performed by Van Morrison examines the relationship between people and how people rely on each other.
Video E-Bay - Weird Al Yankovic
E-bay is a Weird Al classic parody song. However, he deals with the efficiency of markets making Weird Al quite the economist.
Video Whatever you Like - Weird Al Yankovic
Weird Al is at it again, putting out great economic content. In this parody he describes how you can have whatever you like.... at least within his budget constraint.
Video Money Talks - AC/DC
Money Talks by AC/DC deals with the role money plays in economic transactions. Money talks - it provides the incentives to get people to do things.
Video Molasses to Rum - from the musical 1776
The musical 1776 tells of the battle in the Continental Congress over signing the Declaration of Independence. The song Molasses to Rum addresses what the south viewed as the hypocrisy of the north regarding the slave trade. It is fairly safe to say that this is the only song ever written about the triangle trade.
Video Why Don't You Get a Job
Why Don’t You Get a Job isn’t your typical get a job song. Someone's girlfriend is free riding off of his earnings. He's had enough and wants her to "go get a job" so she can pay her own bills.
Video Privilege to Pee - from the musical Urinetown
The musical Urinetown presents a greedy businessman who deals with a water shortage by instituting a toilet tax. If you don’t pay, you are banished, hence the “Privilege to Pee”. In this song we see the basics of demand and supply played out and how a monopolist can interfere with the market. Couple this with the indignity of paying for the privilege and you have the Tony winner for best musical score in 2002.
Video Soak up the Sun - Sheryl Crow
Soak Up the Sun deals with the opportunity cost of sunning oneself while the world goes by. Trying to catch rays while they are still “free” makes an economist wonder, does Ms. Crow understand there is no such thing as a free sunbeam?
Video Fidelity Fiduciary Bank - Mary Poppins
The bankers singing the song Fidelity Fiduciary Bank in the movie version of Mary Poppins provide a perfect example of how lending and saving go hand in hand to facilitate investment.
Video The Way It Is - Hornsby / Shakur
A mash up of two songs of the same name, The Way It Is addresses many social issues. Of economic concern are unemployment and discrimination.
Video Material Girl
Madonna's signature song put her on the map in 1984. Materialism is sometimes decried as a significant problem with capitalism, but if people don't buy things the economy would grind to a halt. Does having more stuff make you happier? That's debatable, the economic question of utility attempts to address that question.
Video Cash Machine - Hard Fi
Opportunity costs abound in this song by Hard Fi. Cash machines aren't costless, and neither are the choices we make.
Video Stress - Jim's Big Ego
Jim's Big Ego sings about stress and the pros and cons of it. Stress makes him more productive, but due to everything going on at his job that productivity comes with opportunity costs. Coffee keeps him going through day, and soda into the night, yet there are diminishing returns to that energy boost.
Video Last Hour of the Last Day of Work - Less Than Jake
On what might be the last day of work, Less Than Jake sings about the difficulties of transforming healthy ambition into unhealthy competition. Perhaps what Jake really needs to do is find where his comparative advantage lies.
Video The Horizon Has Been Defeated - Jack Johnson
The Horizon Has Been Defeated is a song that deals with a number of different economic concepts, although not necessarily in a cohesive way. Defeating the horizon involves issues such as time preference, development and the omnipresent opportunity costs.
Video River Runs Red - Midnight Oil
In this song about the degradation of the land caused by pollution, Midnight Oil deals with the implications of negative externalities. Like most songs striking a "green" theme, the economic perspective turns to the costs imposed on third parties.
Video Another Day in Paradise - Phil Collins
Phil Collins addresses a perpetual social issue in this song. While it might not at first seem like an economic issue, the reaction to homelessness centers around some basic economic questions: how do we use our resources to combat it, and what are the incentives being created with public policy? While we would like to eliminate homelessness, the opportunity cost might just be too high.
Video Make that Money - Robbie Rob's Club World
Making money can consume people as Robi-Rob’s Club World reiterates in this catchy number. How you “make that money” depends in large part on what you are using for money (cash, check, or credit) and what type of work you are engaged in.
Video Satisfaction - Rolling Stones
The epic Rolling Stones provide the perfect song about utility, perhaps this is due to Sir Mick’s background in economics.
Video Christmas List - Simple Plan
Not your typical Christmas list song, Simple Plan isn’t asking for world peace. They want to indulge in lots of “ things they don’t need”. Of course as economists, we realize that “a million gifts” is unlikely due to the reality of scarcity.
Video If I Were a Rich Girl - Gwen Stefani
So if you had all the money in the world what would you do? Gwen Stefani would do a lot with it, not just yidle, diddle, didle, didle, day - don’t be fooled by the start.
Video Fast Car - Tracy Chapman
This song details the trap of intergenerational poverty. By failing to improve her human capital, Chapman becomes part of the vicious cycle of low wage, dead end jobs that even a fast car can't outrun.
Video In the End - Linkin Park
How do you view time? Time is one of those resources we never have enough of when we really want it (you’re late for a very important date) and sometimes it seems like we have way too much of it when we don’t want it (think about being bored sitting on the couch, or waiting for Christmas). Linkin Park explains the value of time, the opportunity cost of wasting it, and how we begin to see this more clearly as we age.
Video In the End - Linkin Park
How do you view time? Time is one of those resources we never have enough of when we really want it (you’re late for a very important date) and sometimes it seems like we have way too much of it when we don’t want it (think about being bored sitting on the couch, or waiting for Christmas). Linkin Park explains the value of time, the opportunity cost of wasting it, and how we begin to see this more clearly as we age.
Video Fortunate Son - Creedence Clearwater Revival
In this anti-Vietnam war ballad CCR claims that the less fortunate among us are forced to bear burdens that the children of the well-connected and well-off do not. Do these groups bear different responsibilities or are there actually higher costs for some to join the army than others?
Video Time of Your Life - GreenDay
What makes something memorable? How about making a choice that ends up increasing your utility more than you thought it would. Green Day’s “Time of Your Life”, a classic end of a chapter in your life song, proposes that all the little choices we make can add up to something.
Video Peace of Mind - Boston
Competition is the standard we shoot for in market structure. Consumers are generally made better off as prices fall, output climbs, and new products come to market; however, in this song by Boston, the idea that we compete with others in terms of status may lead to undesirable outcomes. Perhaps peace of mind is more important than a greater piece of the pie.
Video Taxman - The Beatles
No one likes paying taxes, not even the Fab Four. In this song by the Beatles they decry the excessive taxing prowess of the British government. At the time the highest tax rate was 95%. Would you work if your take home pay was 5 cents on the dollar?
Video Big Yellow Taxi - Counting Crows
In this cover of Yellow Taxi, the Counting Crows reprise the lament that “you don’t know what you’ve got til its gone”. Hey Crows, this is one of the fundamental issues in economics! No choice is free. By definition you have to give up something when you make a choice, and in this case when people complain about not having enough parking, something’s gotta give.
Video Downeaster Alexa - Billy Joel
In this ballad by Billy Joel, the Long Island native sings about the life of the fishermen. At issue it seems is that there aren’t any fish to be caught, at least not without trolling far off into the sound. Overfishing caused one of the predictable problems of property that is not owned by individuals. When no one owns a resource, then no one cares about using it efficiently. Thus, the commons problem arises.
Video Secure Horizons - Guttermouth
Planning for the future is tough, since no one knows what the future holds. Guttermouth suggests a pretty good strategy…. diversify. Even then, picking the winners and losers in the market is a tough job. Some of the biggest names in the market can one day be belly up.
Video Big Money - Garth Brooks
How much you get paid depends on how much people want what you make, how productive you are, and in part on how risky your job is. Garth Brooks’ kin made some big money working in risky industries. That was too bad for them, but great for Garth.
Video Whatever you Like - Weird Al Yankovic
Can you really have whatever you want? You can have a lot more if you are buying inferior goods with your limited resources. People have altered their consumption patterns as a result of the economic slowdown and having whatever you want means something a little different than it used to.
Video Boys and Girls - Good Charlotte
Economics say that the pursuit of anything is usually the result of following one’s self-interest. This applies to making money, saving the planet, or finding a date. In this song by Good Charlotte, the group explains that the self-interests of the sexes results in the pairing up of the rich and beautiful. Nevertheless, these matches come at a cost, after all, there is no such thing as a free lunch, or a free date.
Video Ka-Ching - Shania Twain
Consumer behavior drives much of the macro economy so when buyers move en masse, they can move the needle on Gross Domestic Product. But, when does too much spending and not enough saving become a bad thing? Shania Twain’s cynical song addresses this obsession we have with spending.
Video If I Had a Million Dollars - Barenaked Ladies
If you had a million dollars what would do with it? The Barenaked Ladies have a pretty interesting list of wants, and they probably could have afforded them all when the song was released in 1992. However, to buy those same things today would cost far more than $1,000,000 due to inflation.
Video Union Sundown - Bob Dylan
Trade is all about taking advantage of what you do better than someone else. These comparative advantages lead to a reallocation of production resources. Bob Dylan seems to find the outsourcing of jobs to other countries to be a bad thing, and for union members it is. However, this dismisses the reality that low cost labor is the comparative advantage of some places.
Video Baby Girl - Sugarland
So you want to be a rock star? Yeah, you and about a million other people. This industry is famous for chewing people up and spitting them out because there is always another up and comer right behind you. The result is that most people make next to nothing while working horrendous hours and playing in small bars trying to make a name for themselves. For the lucky few who do make it, they won’t be asking mom and dad for money again, just ask Sugarland.
Video Sweetest Girl - Wyclef Jean
Money can make even the best of us go bad. Wyclef Jean describes the transformation of one of his friends from the “sweetest girl” to a life of prostitution. The allure of money, perhaps in an attempt to get out of poverty, perhaps just as a way to make more money changed his friend to someone he never thought she would become. Perhaps the pursuit of self-interest at the time wasn’t all it was cracked up to be?
Video Just to See You Smile - by Tim McGraw
This song, performed by Tim McGraw explains the lengths a man will go to for the woman he loves. some people say that love makes you act irrationally. Actually love is just the reflection of an inelastic demand curve.
Video Thrift Shop - Macklemore
This "rapsodic" hit about shopping at the thrift shop pokes fun at rappers who flaunt their spending. Maklemore himself claimed that this song was an attempt to promote saving. In this contribution to music for econ, Dirk Mateer and James Lang provide a veritable quiz of economic terms that show up in the thrift shop.
Video Cost of Livin - Ronnie Dunn
The backdrop for this video is a Tennessee town that losses its largest employer. The lyrics paint a picture of a military vet who is looking for work. The economics focuses on different kinds of unemployment, some good and some bad. For the vet and the town, things look pretty dire.
Video Skipper Dan - Weird Al Yankovic.
Weird Al is working for music for econ one more time. Now Al is dealing with choice and competition in the labor market in the original song Skipper Dan. Majoring in something like drama might be fun while you are in school, but when the supply of labor far out paces the demand your future job prospects may be pretty poor. That is, unless you win the entertainment tournament. The stars can make big money, the rest of the pack might end up on the Jungle Cruise ride.
Video Take a Walk -
An anthem of the great recession, Take a Walk deals with the financial rise and fall of a man and his family. Bad decisions and events seem to overwhelm this poor guy. Thanks to Dirk Mateer and James Lang for this contribution.
Video Price Tag - Jessie J
Spending money is fun. When you can forget about how much things cost buying things takes on a life of its own. However at some point, no matter how much you try to forget, the bills come due. This is one of the realizations of the great recession of 2008-2009. This is another contribution from Dirk Mateer and James Lang.
Video Billionaire - by Travie McCoy, featuring Bruno Mars
Travie and Bruno both want to be billionaires, and doing so would make them part of a very exclusive club. While those who make lots of money are sometimes vilified, those big money earners are quite philanthropic. Not only this, but most billionaires got rich by providing something consumers want. Being a billionaire isn’t a bad thing. Not for the billionaire themselves, and certainly not for society as a whole.
Video Sittin on the Dock of the Bay
Otis Redding sings about wasting time better than anyone. He doesn't sound happy about it and neither should we. This is a waste of resources which means production will be lower than it could be.
Video I Like Beer
Music video
Video I Need a Dollar
I Need a Dollar is a song about the desperation felt by a man who loses his job. Unemployment and the potential to spiral into depression are poignant themes.
Video Wings$
Wing$ deals with demand and elasticity, with a focus on the market for Air Jordan shoes.
Video Amish Paradise
This video presents the economic concepts that appear in Weird Al Yankovic's song Amish Paradise. There is lots to unpack here including, opportunity costs, inefficiency resulting from the failure to utilize division of labor, exchanges with the modern world, a lack of technology, and even the meaning of a Robinson Crusoe economy.
Video American Saturday Night
How American is your Saturday night? This song about having fun on the weekend explains that as our economy has become more connected, our fun filled Saturday night depends on goods from all over the world.
Video Money
This song discusses the things money can buy you and the passion that making money elicits from many people. You could just try making money in the basement, but counterfeiting is a serious crime so think twice about that choice.
Video Working Man Blues - Merle Haggard
Music video
Video Pennies from Heaven - Frank Sinatra
music video
Video Stressed Out
21 Pilots sing about the things that stress out the insecure lead singer. But this isn't a song about psychology as much as it is about economics. Wake up you need to make money!
Video Can't Buy Me Love
Some things you just can't afford, no matter how much money you have. Even though people have a demand for love and there is a supply of love, markets don't work as well at setting equilibrium in the matter of love.
Video Irreplaceable
Sometimes love doesn't last forever. When you find that you actually can live without someone, they become replaceable. Beyonce wants you to know that her demand for you is pretty elastic because you aren't irreplaceable.
Video Last DJ
The changing composition of how we listen to music and the competitive nature of the radio industry leads Tom Petty to lament the coming extinction of the radio dj.
Video No Man's Land
A growing economy has both good and bad aspects. In this song Billy Joel considers urban sprawl to be a bad thing. But with low supply and high demand you are going to get it anyway.
Video Live Your Life - Rihanna and TI
Living your life is a great mantra, but you have to be able to finance this. Rihanna is chasing the paper to make that happen, but chasing paper entails opportunity costs.
Video Minimum Wage
Most minimum wage jobs are entry level positions providing an opportunity to gain experience and build a resume. Furthering your education and gaining experience can help guarantee that you won’t be making minimum wage.
Video Pretty Good at Drinking Beer
We aren't all good at everything, but usually there is something we can do at a lower opportunity cost than someone else. That means we all have a comparative advantage in something, and maybe its drinking beer.
Video The Other Side - From the Greatest Showman
Can PT Barnum convince Phillip Carlyle to quit the staid lifestyle of man about town and join the circus?
Video Poker Face
Playing poker involves risk ... just like some relationships.
Video Never Enough
This song becomes an allegory for inflation.
Video Santa Fe
Entrepreneurs are vital for a well functioning economy. In this song, we hear about two prospective restauranteurs who want to get out of the rat race of New York City and move west to Santa Fe.
Video Money, Money, Money
When it is a rich man's world, what's a girl to do? Study economics! This clever interpretation of the ABBA classic covers monetary policy and the role of money in an economy.
Video Life Changs
When things don't go the way you planned, you can sulk or you can get on the train! In this pop-country song we see how time preference, opportunity costs, and gumption go together to make life go round.