In her cheerful yet poignant song, Price Tag, Jessie J helps shine some light on our society's obsession with money. In an age of endless encouragement to buy things, it is refreshing to hear a musical artist reminding us there are simpler, priceless aspects of life.
Some of Jessie J's understanding comes from her own life, being diagnosed with a heart defect at the age of 11 and suffering a stroke at 18. She's experienced earlier than most the "life-is-hard" lesson, and uses that to help us do our own exploring about what is really important in life – about things more priceless than money.
[Here's an alternate video of Price Tag on YouTube by Trojan Lazo, with some good interpretive images.]
While her lyrics "It's not about the money / Forget about the price tag" are powerful, they are perfect dark mirrors of what we really need to keep in mind:
1) That for almost everyone in western culture, too much of life *is* about money, stuff, and our own needs, and
2) We need to see the bigger, long-range price tag of our excessive consumerism, including:
- Unmanageable personal, business and national debt, which cause us to pay so much interest that we become long-term prisoners of previous purchases.
- Making decisions in our lives that focus on ourselves rather than others, robbing us of the joys of community, sharing and helping others.
- Polluting our wonderful planet, encouraging companies to make things we don't need, and people discarding useful things just to get a new thing.
Perhaps the most telling lyric of Jessie J's song is the revealing phrase: "Got your shades on your eyes". She's not just talking about expensive sunglasses.
The marketing machine works feverishly, every day, telling us what we "need" – what we should want – and trying to convince us that life just won't be good unless we own whatever thing, goo or food that they want to sell us. We need to wake up, and be aware of how advertising is working against us.
The truth is that life can be good without a focus on money, and without owning so much stuff. In fact, life has always been better when it is about your friends, your family, and your community – when we've focused on trying hard, being kind, and sharing time.
Please do some thinking about the moments when you are really happy – like when you're sharing a laugh with friends – when you're figuring something out at work – when you've helped someone and they smile in thanks.
And when you stand in the blinding beacon of marketing, and you're being sold false joy – put on your sunglasses – and see through the advertising glare to the costs of caring too much about stuff. Don't forget about the price tag.
(By Jessie J, featuring B.o.B)
Okay, Coconut man, Moon Heads and pea
Seems like everybody's got a price,
I wonder how they sleep at night.
When the sale comes first,
And the truth comes second,
Just stop for a minute and
Why is everybody so serious?
Acting so damn mysterious?
Got your shades on your eyes
And your heels so high
That you can't even have a good time
Everybody look to their left (yeah)
Everybody look to their right (uh)
Can you feel that (yeah)
We're paying with love tonight
It's not about the money, money, money
We don't need your money, money, money
We just wanna make the world dance,
Forget about the price tag
Ain't about the (uh) Cha-Ching Cha-Ching
Ain't about the (yeah) Ba-Bling Ba-Bling
Wanna make the world dance,
Forget about the price tag.
We need to take it back in time,
When music made us all unite!
And it wasn't low blows and video hoes,
Am I the only one getting tired?
Why is everybody so obsessed?
Money can't buy us happiness
Can we all slow down and enjoy right now
Guarantee we'll be feeling alright
Well, keep the price tag
And take the cash back
Just give me six strings and a half stack
And you can, can keep the cars
Leave me the garage
And all I, yes all I need
Are keys and guitars
And guess what, in 30 seconds
I'm leaving to Mars
Yeah we leaving across
These undefeatable odds
It's like this man
You can't put a price on a life
We do this for the love
So we fight and sacrifice
So we ain't gonna stumble and fall
Waiting to see a sign of defeat
So we gonna keep everyone
Moving their feet
So bring back the beat
And then everyone sing
It's not about the money
[Jessie J ‒ Outro]
Forget about the price tag
(Lyrics from azlyrics.com)