If I Were a Rich Girl: Gwen Stefani featuring Eve

Pop sensation Gwen Stefani and her frequent collaborator Eve star in this 2004 music video. Sampling heavily from Teyve’s Fiddler solo “If I Were a Rich Man,” the video portrays these female singers as swashbuckling pirate queens on the hunt for fame and fortune. According to Alisa Solomon in her 2013 study of Fiddler entitled Wonder of Wonders, “If I Were a Rich Man” succeeds as one of the show’s most charming numbers in its ability to subvert the classic “I-Want” song that appears in so many other musicals. While songs of this type generally let the audience in on what desires motivate a given character, in Teyve’s song we hear the ironic daydream of a man we know will never attain his wealth and, in fact, is motivated more by a wish to provide for his family than by the promise of riches. In a certain respect, Teyve’s plea is less about money and more about achieving the American Dream: a goal his descendants and his audience writ large have already accomplished.

In Stefani’s 21st century reinvention of the song, the tune is no longer about security and well-being, but rather the endless accumulation of luxury and power. Almost as an afterthought, the chorus sneaks in a line that “lovin’ is better than gold,” although the consistent return to the list of extravagances and the refrain that “no man could… impress me” indicate that romance, in the fantasy world of these seafaring celebrities, is secondary to cold hard cash.