From Marilyn Monroe to Beyonce, Paul Simon to Prince, countless artists have found inspiration in the lustrous dazzle of diamonds over the years. Whether they’re using them as a metaphor, singing about the human cost of the trade, or boasting about how big theirs are, the magnetic attraction between musicians and diamonds has provided us with countless classic moments over the years. Here’s our pick of the ten best songs about diamonds of all time.
10. White Diamond – Kylie Minogue
Aussie pop star Kylie Minogue has come a long way since she was begging us to do the locomotion in the ’80s. First featured on the 2007 documentary film, A Personal Portrait of Kylie Minogue, and later included as a bonus track on her tenth studio album, X, White Diamond gives us a moving account of Kylie’s battle with cancer and her fight to return to the stage. A beautifully poignant song that finds the singer comparing the resilience and shining hope that helped her endure her illness with that of a white diamond, it’s a tear-jerker of the best possible kind.
9. Diamonds and Pearls – Prince
The title track from Prince’s thirteenth studio outing from 1991 might well be one of the loveliest love songs ever committed to tape. It’s got diamonds, it’s got pearls, and it’s got Prince serving up spoonfuls of some of the softest, tastiest soul of the early 1990s – what more could a ballad need? Although only a moderate success in the UK, the song was a major hit in the US, reaching number 2 on the Hot 100 Airplay chart and number 11 on the R&B/Hip-Hop Airplay chart.
8. Flawless – Beyonce
It takes a confident woman to compare herself to a diamond, but Queen Bey hasn’t got to where she is by being shy. “This diamond: flawless – my diamond: flawless – this rock: flawless,” she sings. It’s not exactly the humblest starting point for a song, but according to most analysts, Flawless is intended to serve more as an encouragement to other women to follow their ambitions than simply an opportunity for Beyonce to boast about the size of her rocks. Released as a radio single in 2013, the song reached number 41 on the Billboard Hot 100.
7. Diamonds From Sierra Leone – Kanye West
Kanye West choose to sample Shirley Bassey’s iconic Diamonds Are Forever on this song from Late Registration, a decision that made an already compelling examination of the blood diamond trade into an outright classic. After picking up huge praise for its lyrism and themes, the song went on to win the award for Best Rap Song at the 48th Annual Grammy Award. It’s since been certified platinum in the US after selling over 1 million copies. In 2013, Rolling Stone readers named it one of the rapper’s ten best songs of all time.
6. Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes – Paul Simon
This classic tale about a poor boy who’s as empty as a pocket and a rich girl with diamonds on the soles of her shoes helped turn Paul Simon’s 1986 album Graceland into a global phenomenon. To date, the album has sold over 16 million copies, been preserved in the United States’ National Recording Registry as “culturally, historically, or aesthetically important,” picked up more awards than can be feasibly counted, and worked its way into millions of record collections across the world.
5. Diamonds – Rihanna
If you ever need a little reminder to shine bright like a diamond, stick this emphatically empowering hit from Rihanna’s 2012 album Unapologetic on and prepare to sparkle. Released as the album’s lead single, it became one of the singer’s biggest ever hits, topping the charts in the US and eventually certifying sextuple platinum after selling over 3.5 million digital copies in the US alone. Worldwide, it’s sold over 7. 5 million copies, making it one of the best-selling singles of all time.
4. Shine On You Crazy Diamond – Pink Floyd
Shine On You Crazy Diamond was written by Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour, Roger Waters, and Richard Wright as a tribute to Syd Barrett shortly after he was ejected from the band due to spiraling drug use and mental health problems, They’d originally intended the song to be a side long composition, but eventually decided to cut it up and use each half to bookend their 1975 album, Wish You Were Here. It’s since appeared on a slew of the band’s live albums and compilations, with the slow-burning, haunting melody and poignant subject matter making it a perennial fan favorite.
3. Diamonds Are Forever – Shirley Bassey
As billboard.com notes, this iconic James Bond theme became legendary for comparing diamonds to their less reliable counterparts, men, with legendary Welsh singer remaining women every that while “Men are mere mortals who are not worth going to your grave for,” “diamonds linger”. Since appearing on the soundtrack to Diamonds are Forever in 1971, the song has become one of Bassey’s most loved signature songs, with no concert complete with it.
2. Lucy in The Sky with Diamonds – The Beatles
We’ll probably never know whether Lucy in The Sky with Diamonds is really about a child’s painting (as the Beatles always insisted) or about something a little less innocent (as everyone bar the Beatles always believed) but either way, there’s no disputing the psychedelic brilliance of lines likes like “Lucy in the sky with diamonds, follow her down to a bridge by a fountain where rocking horse people eat marshmallow pies.”
1. Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend – Marilyn Monroe
Carol Channing’s performance of Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend during the Broadway show, Gentlemen prefer Blondes, may have been the first, but it was Marilyn Monroe’s version from the film of the same name that captured the heart of the world. Seventy years after it first hit the airwaves, it’s still as dazzling as ever.