As diamond is the birthstone for April, we figured that was something to sing about. So below, JCK gives you five notable “rock songs”:
Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend
Forever associated with Marilyn Monroe, “Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend” was originally sung by the considerably-less-bombshell-ish Carol Channing in the 1949 Broadway show Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. But when Monroe crooned it in the 1952 film version, her rendition became so iconic that Madonna paid it a very faithful homage 30 years later. It is now ranked as the 12th most important movie song ever by the American Film Institute.
Diamonds are Forever-Shirley Bassey
Forget diamonds being a girl’s best friend. This 1971 Shirley Bassey hit argues that the rocks are superior to an entire gender. “Unlike men, the diamonds linger,” goes the theme song to the James Bond film. “Diamonds never lie to me. For when love’s gone, they’ll luster on.” A song with the same name (see below) would make the charts 34 years later, but the message wouldn’t be quite so positive.
Diamonds from Sierra Leone (Remix feat. Jay-Z)-Kanye West
Kanye West’s Grammy-winning 2005 rap hit, also titled “Diamonds are Forever,” marked one of the first—though certainly not the last—attempts to drag the conflict diamond issue into popular culture. While the original track didn’t talk much about the topic, the remix addressed the issue head-on (“These ain’t conflict diamonds, is they Jacob?”) But what made the song, which sampled the original by Bassey, interesting was its non-self-righteousness: throughout, West insists he likes diamonds, just kind of feels guilty about it. (And indeed, he has worn gems many times since.) Still, one wouldn’t term it a jewelry ad: Its video featured brutal imagery from the war in Sierra Leone that jewelers would soon become all-too-familiar with—and made the industry realize that, Kimberley Process or no, the issue of “blood diamonds” wasn’t going away.
Diamonds and Pearls–Prince & The New Power Generation
The title track to the 1991 Prince album, this R & B ballad climbed all the way up to no. 3 on the U.S. charts. Described by allmusic.com as “drippy,” it features the artist soon to be known as the “artist formerly known as Prince” crooning the musical question, “If I gave you diamonds and pearls, would you be a happy boy or a girl?” He never gets an answer. But it’s probably yes.
Bling Bling-B.G. with Cash Money Millionaires
This 1999 rap single is historically significant because it’s the song that popularized—and could have even invented—the term “bling” for diamonds. It may have sparked the bling trend as well, as its lyrics celebrate the joy of wearing big, gaudy rocks. “Diamonds worn by everybody that’s in my clique,” goes one of the few lines that’s printable in JCK. “Man I got the price of a mansion ’round my neck and wrist.”