These bitcoin tunes will get you grooving to the cryptocurrency beat

by | Jun 25, 2015

You’ve heard the bitcoin story. But have you heard the song?

Yes, there is a bitcoin song. In his “Ode to Satoshi,” country singer John Barrett hails the founder of the cryptocurrency as someone who “came to save the day.” He purrs about the inevitability of the currency: “I know you’re going to reign…til everybody knows…your name.” And he buzzes about the political implications of bitcoin and how it will “deliver us from age old tyranny.” Though Mr. Barrett is a talented soloist, this bitcrooner isn’t alone: there are many singers, songwriters, poets, and painters who have mused about bitcoin.

Of course, money has long captured the imagination of artists: from Pink Floyd’s “Money” (1973) and The Steve Miller Band’s “Take the Money And Run” (1976) to The Notorious B.I.G.’s “Mo Money Mo Problems” (1997) and Aloe Blacc’s “I Need a Dollar” (2010).

But then again, plenty of currencies haven’t inspired a creative outpouring. For a currency to flourish, it requires a vibrant and growing community to support and evangelize it — or else it will remain, in the words of monetary theorist Thomas Greco, a “fringe phenomenon.”

In researching my book “Coined: The Rich Life of Money And How Its History Has Shaped Us”, I discovered many alternative currencies that started with promise but failed to garner a large or passionate user base. For example, two currencies were launched with much fanfare in 1999: e-Gold, an electronic currency backed by gold; and Flooz, a specially designed currency for online retailers.

While the technology behind bitcoin is impressive, it would not amount to much without such a fervent community supporting it. After all, new technologies depend on evangelists, salespeople, and sometimes even singers, to spread the gospel.

And though bitcrooners are a small band, their creative endeavors illustrate the passion found in the bitcoin community. To them, bitcoin isn’t just a currency. It represents something larger — a decentralized monetary system, which will free us from the unhealthy alliance between the government and banks, and usher in a golden age of liberty.

While you might think these bitcrooners are silly, their songs capture the spirit of the innovation and educate tens of thousands about this cryptocurrency. Here are three songs that are spreading the bitcoin gospel:

1. ‘Bitcoin Girl,’ by Naomi Brockwell :  On her website, Brockwell notes that only eight percent of people thoroughly understand bitcoin. So she created a catchy educational music video fashioned on Billy Joel’s “Uptown Girl.” It begins with a suitor following Brockwell through New York City. He spies her “mining” coins in Central Park and reading The Economist (bitcoin is for the well-informed). The man has an epiphany, “Because she knows what she wants: it’s finite supply. That’s when I realized it is all decentralized!” He notes that “she’s so over paper money, which has no value intrinsically.” The music video glosses over important technological points but it shows several use cases of how bitcoin may become a medium of exchange — like buying cheap champagne and a red sports car at the same Midtown bar.

2.  ‘Welcome to the Blockchain,’ by Toby + Decap:  
A rap that declares the central problem with money: “power corrupts and money is power.” It laments that inflation is a tax that robs money of its value. The song even decries the contours of fractional reserve banking: “our money is debt / gotta pay it back more than a hundred percent.” Though the stanzas are pedantic, the chorus echoes defiantly with the greater mission of bitcoin: “things are about to change / open up the gates / systems get replaced / bitcoin / decentralize the trust / security, transparency / the network’s run by us.” Period. Full stop. Drop the mic. Walk off the stage.

3. ‘Love You Like Bitcoin,’ by Kryptina:  

Set to Selena Gomez’s pop hit “Love you like a song,” “Love You Like Bitcoin” lists the alluring attributes of bitcoin: “It’s mathematical / no more double spends / it’s encryptable.” But the chorus is tortured to work in a rhyme “I love to earn my digital gravey / I love to spend my bitcoins, matey.” The song culminates with a bizarre rap that warns, “when the world finds out we can’t inflate, you’ll join this party fashionably late.”

These bitcoin songs aren’t likely to make the Top 40, but they might get more folks to tune in to this monetary phenomenon.

[This article was previously published in MarketWatch]


Kabir Sehgal is the author of Coined: The Rich Life of Money And How Its History Has Shaped Us He was a vice president at J.P. Morgan and is a Grammy-winning producer.