In need of some trading inspiration? Well fire up Spotify and plug in your headphones, for here’s a pick of the very best trader songs...
You’ll find songs relevant to trading, those featured on iconic trading films, and ones to provide you with trading inspiration.
9 to 5
Written and performed by Dolly Parton
9 to 5, written for the 1980 Hollywood workplace drama of the same name, is the perfect track to get your trading day going. Not only does the title (roughly) echo typical market hours, but it’s also full of trader inspiration. There is the great chirpy tune and, though the song isn’t about trading, it also has plenty of trading-relevant lyrics, not least getting going with that “cup of ambition” in the morning.
Female traders trying to succeed in what can still be a male-dominated world should find the song particularly encouraging. The film tells the story of how three women come together and, using some unorthodox methods, get the better of their “sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot” boss.
Written by Gerry Goffin and Carole King, and performed by Little Eva
The Loco-Motion appears in one of the most beloved trading movies ever: Trading Places, the story of a quick-witted down-and-out, played by Eddie Murphy, who manages to outfox the financial markets. Appropriately, the song is part of the soundtrack for a series of scenes on a train, where the main characters are trying to plant a fake report on orange juice yields using duplicate briefcases and a gorilla costume.
The film is dated in places, and this scene in particular includes some dubious costumes, accents and attitudes. But Little Eva’s The Loco-Motion remains a great song in an iconic trading tale – and it’s much better than the later, more famous Kylie Minogue version.
Written by Hank Ballard and performed by Chubby Checker
Classic rock-and-roll track The Twist features in Rogue Trader, Nick Leeson’s account of how some of his actions while working on Singaporean futures market SIMEX for Barings helped to cause the bank’s 1995 collapse. Leeson, his then-wife Lisa, and friends dance to the song during what he calls a “dream” Christmas in 1994, just a few months before his arrest.
It’s a fitting symbol of both the outwardly happy and carefree life Leeson was supposedly enjoying before his transgressions came to light – and also of another kind of “twist” he was frantically performing as his trading activities became more and more tangled. “I didn’t want to go back to the world of my 88888 losses,” writes Leeson. “I wanted to stay here and drink and dance like an idiot.”
I Need a Dollar
Written by Aloe Blacc, E. Nathaniel Dawkins, Jeff Dynamite, Leon Michels and Nick Movshon, and performed by Aloe Blacc
Recently used as the theme song for HBO show How To Make In In America, I Need a Dollar is an incredibly catchy song focused around a drive to make money and, by implication, something of your life that should help to keep any trader on track with their goals.
Traders should hope that they are luckier than the song’s narrator, however. He loses his job, and develops a drinking problem, but by the song’s end is on the up again. As is the dollar itself – its relatively good performance relative to other major currencies in recent years makes the song’s title also a excellent Forex trading tip.
Boom Boom Boom
Written and performed by The Outhere Brothers
Fast-paced track Boom Boom Boom is one of over sixty songs to feature in 2013 Oscar-nominated film The Wolf Of Wall Street, which is based on the scandal-packed memoirs of self-made broker and trader Jordan Belfort. It’s one of the songs that best captures the manic energy and relentless pace of the film. It sees Belfort, played by Leonardo DiCaprio, lurch from huge success to massive disaster, with vast amounts of drugs, sex and swearing along the way.
Traders should probably do their best not to emulate most of Belfort’s actions – from illegal dealing to guzzling vintage quaaludes. But we think there’s no reason not to indulge in the music used to help tell his story on screen.
By Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
There are at least two good reasons why traders should consider adding the music from Tchaikovsky’s famous ballet Swan Lake to their trading playlist. First, listening to classical music is thought to bring benefits including increased brainpower and improved concentration, both of which could come in very handy for traders.
Then there’s the ballet’s plot. In a nutshell, Prince Siegfried and his lover Odette, who he had attempted to rescue after she had been turned into a swan by an evil magician, both meet a watery end. This is because they fail to recognise the threat posed by the magician’s daughter, black swan Odile, who seduces the prince disguised as Odette.
It’s a good reminder for traders to heed the advice of former trader and renowned risk expert Nassim Nicholas Taleb and always be ready for the completely unexpected.
Written and performed by Blur (Damon Albarn, Graham Coxon, Alex James and Dave Rowntree)
Here is an another Rogue Trader choice, this time from the 1999 film based on Leeson’s memoir starring Ewan McGregor and Anna Friel. Ominous-then-angry Blur anthem Song 2 is heard playing in the background in one of the film’s many bar scenes.
Its inclusion in the film is slightly anachronistic, as the song was not released until a few years after the events depicted. But the track’s pent-up paranoia giving way to frustrated howling is nonetheless a fitting addition to the story of Leeson’s downfall – and a bit of singing along to Damon Albarn and bandmates would surely be a great way for other traders to let out any of their own loss-related frustrations. Woohoo!
Can’t Buy Me Love
Written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney, and performed by the Beatles
“I’ll buy you a diamond ring my friend if it makes you feel alright” – this catchy Beatles classic might help keep you on track by making you think of some of the things you could buy with your trading profits. If you need more of an incentive, Lennon and McCartney wrote this song while staying at the five-star Georges V hotel in Paris.
It’s also, of course, a good reminder that there are one or two valuable things that “money just can’t buy”. Though, don’t forget one comment McCartney is rumoured to have once come out with: “Somebody said to me, ‘But the Beatles were anti-materialistic.’ That's a huge myth. John and I literally used to sit down and say, ‘Now, let's write a swimming pool’.”