Money can’t buy you class — at least according to (former) Countess Luann de Lesseps. But you know what it can buy you? Roughly two hours in a recording studio, an out-of-work songwriter, and maybe a producer to churn out a medium-to-low-tier song. Throw in a hint of desperation and a guaranteed slot to launch your bop on Watch What Happens Live! and voilà: You’ve got the recipe for pop-culture magic.
Yup, I’m talking about the many, many songs made by the stars of Bravo’s Real Housewives franchise. Since 2006, these shows have been a tractor beam for anyone who has tried (and, in most cases, failed) to be famous in every other way. From wannabe actresses and singers, to socialites and even dancers — like the legendary Camille Donatacci — we’ve seen it all. And ever since Real Housewives of Atlanta’s Kim Zolciak-Biermann dropped the worryingly catchy “Tardy for the Party” in 2009, the franchise has been a place where its stars can live out their unfulfilled dreams of becoming pop divas. We’ve heard club bangers, tracks with sassy clapbacks to co-stars, and no shortage of love songs about men with, shall we say, checkered pasts. Real instruments and vocal talent may be in short supply, but that hasn’t stopped our girls.
Not all Housewives songs are destined for greatness. Some have more of a novelty factor, while others aim much higher and want to be taken seriously. Some have become memes or gone viral years later on TikTok. It’s a very mixed bag that shares crimes against graphic design in its singles’ cover art.
In Vulture’s official ranking, we have considered only Housewives songs that appeared on the show. So if you’re a fan of pre-Bravo Erika Jayne or Simon van Kempen’s “I Am Real,” sorry, they don’t qualify. But don’t worry, there are still a lot of other songs left. Just like the Housewives themselves, these bops are iconic for being simultaneously good and bad, for bringing chaos and cringe, and for somehow giving the fans nothing and everything they want.
35. “No Drama” — Real Housewives of New Jersey cast
On the latest season of RHONJ, the ’wives (minus Teresa, who was on time-out after throwing drinks at Margaret) headed to the recording studio on a cast trip to Nashville. The scene of their writing and recording the song — complete with auto-tune-free singing and an overenthusiastic himbo co-writer with a guitar — made for viscerally uncomfortable viewing. Honestly, I’m not quite sure whether this song qualifies for this list because it’s not available to download or stream anywhere. But either way, it’s a thumbs-down. Stick to the drama, Jersey Girls!
34. “What Do I Want for Christmas?” — Real Housewives of New York cast
Season 13 of RHONY was, by all estimates, a total disaster. While the latest season might not have had a reunion, the cast did unite for a charity Christmas song — led by Countess Luann at her sultry best. Fans will remember an argument over who would really profit from this song’s royalties; lawyers were even consulted. But let’s just say that probably wasn’t necessary because, just like RHONY’s 13th season, this song is not something fans will be holding on to any time soon. The current cast of Real Housewives of Miami was recently spotted filming its own group song together, so Housewives girl bands feel like a trend. Let’s hope this effort is better!
33. “Unbreakable” — Gretchen Rossi
In season six of The Real Housewives of Orange County, Rossi brought her diary into the recording studio to help make her third single. It’s an upbeat bop with some sassy, inspiring lyrics, which turned out to be a tribute to Slade Smiley’s son, Gavin, who was going through cancer treatments at the time. Unfortunately for our eardrums, however, Rossi’s determination to make music seems to be “unbreakable” too.
32. “The Time Is Now” — Gretchen Rossi
Rossi recorded this soppy love song for Slade Smiley, her beau who was famously behind on child-support payments to his ex. What a catch! In season eight of RHOC, Rossi staged a romantic proposal. (Staged being the operative word here because they still aren’t married and her co-stars seemed pretty convinced it was all for the cameras). This underwhelming song was played to Smiley to kick off Rossi’s extravagant engagement stunt — and it is so heavily auto-tuned he had to ask whether he was listening to his beloved’s voice. True love!
31. “Fly Above” — Kandi
The Real Housewives of Atlanta’s Kandi Burruss begins “Fly Above” by telling us she’s secure in herself and has a shell that is “hard as armor.” Which is just as well because this song kind of sucks. Particularly when we know Burruss — a former member of ’90s girl group Xscape — is responsible for some iconic hits in her previous era. She even won a Grammy in 2000 for co-writing TLC’s “No Scrubs.” This song feels sort of inspired by Keri Hilson’s “Knock You Down” or “No Drama,” by Mary J. Blige, but sadly it never reaches those heights.
30. “Who Gon’ Check Me, Boo” — Shereé Whitfield
Fans were blessed with one of the most iconic Housewives quotes ever in season two of RHOA, when Shereé Whitfield got into a fight with party planner Anthony Shorter. “You better watch yourself before you get checked,” he warned her during the argument. Whitfield clapped back, “Who gon’ check me, boo?” like a badass. In 2011, Whitfield brought the quote back in this diss track about her onscreen nemesis, NeNe Leakes. It’s a classic in the genre of “songs about drama from the show,” but let’s be honest: It isn’t great.
29. “Haven’t Loved Right” — Kandi
This song is straight out of a ’90s rom-com. You know, that bit when the relationship falls apart because of a big secret or misunderstanding and there’s a montage of the protagonist feeling very sad before it all works out at the end. This placement may seem harsh because Burruss’s voice is clearly superior to the other Housewives on this list and “Haven’t Loved Right” is about the death of Burruss’s former fiancé, A.J. Jewell. It’s a “real” song, too, that takes itself seriously. But as with her previous effort, this track feels easily forgettable.
28. “Closet Freak” — Miss Lawrence
After years as a recurring minor character, RHOA guest star Miss Lawrence recorded his first single, “Closet Freak,” in the studio with Kandi Burruss in 2011. The narrative of the song is Miss Lawrence calling out a closeted lover. “You wanna act like you don’t know me when we’re out in public,” he sings. “I’m not your closet freak.” The song’s lyrics haven’t aged amazingly, but the actor and singer did go on to find success, appearing on Fox’s musical drama Star.
27. “The Ring Didn’t Mean a Thing” — Kim Zolciak-Biermann
Okay, so we heard this song only as a demo version on the third season of RHOA. It was a hilariously shady story line in which Burruss — annoyed at Zolciak for apparently not being grateful enough for Burruss penning her prior hit, “Tardy for the Party” — set her up by making the next song incredibly difficult to sing. We got to watch Zolciak struggling to hit the high notes (and the other ones, too) in the studio. It’s a shame we never got to hear the final version, which is meant to be a diss track for Zolciak’s former sugar-daddy fiancé (known only on the show as Big Poppa) because this song was truly coming to save pop music.
26. “Can’t Wait to Grow Up” — Melania
This chilled, mellow song is bound to make longtime Housewives fans feel about 1,000 years old. A 13-year-old Melania Giudice, whom we’ve watched grow up on our screens, struts around the mall and raps about “chasing checks” and not boys. Perhaps I’m too old to really get this song, but the best thing about it is a cameo from Teresa Giudice, the table flipper herself, in the video. Otherwise, it’s easily skipped.
25. “Rockstar” — Melissa Gorga
There are forgettable songs and then there is “Rockstar,” by Melissa Gorga. The RHONJ star pips her niece to the post with one of her many tracks about dancing in the club and living life to the fullest. The song, which she debuted on the show’s fourth season, feels as if it has ambitions to sound like Rihanna’s “Cheers (Drink to That).” But Gorga’s effort sounds like it cost about $1 to make — and sadly, that’s being kind.
23. “Gone With the Wind Fabulous” — Kenya Moore
RHOA’s Kenya Moore follows in the footsteps of her co-star Whitfield by turning an iconic season-five clapback into a bop. This song is very much part of the Housewives musical subgenre of tracks based on drama from the show. The lyrics of “Gone With the Wind Fabulous” aren’t exactly giving Taylor Swift or Shakespeare a run for their money, but it’s a defiant and catchy song. In the video, Moore mocks her onscreen rivals and even gives us a “Single Ladies” parody. Watch out, Beyoncé!
22. “Dreamcatcher” — LOCK
This song may not technically be available to stream or download anywhere — except in my mind, free of charge. But after appearing in season 11 of RHOC, it qualifies. “Dreamcatcher” is unlike most Housewives songs because it’s a full-on rock track. It’s by LOCK (Ladies of Rock) — a band made up of Shannon Storms Beador’s adorable daughters, Sophie, Adeline, and Stella. The song is so catchy it distracted Andy Cohen himself from a performance of Hamilton. Now that’s talent! And it’s good to see these girls inherited their mother’s passion for rock and roll.
21. “Google Me” — Kim Zolciak-Biermann
This song is exactly what the title suggests: a sassy clapback to the haters with narcissism woven into every lyric. The general gist is that everyone is so obsessed with the former RHOA star that they simply can’t stop Googling her. The chorus is pretty catchy — well, as catchy as someone spelling out G-O-O-G-L-E-M-E to music can be. Still, “Tardy for the Party” this song ain’t. Despite its iconic premise and single art, it’s average at best.
20. “Viva La Diva” — Desmond Child ft. Countess Luann
“Viva La Diva” marks a departure for everyone’s favorite ex-countess: It’s her first collaboration with another artist, Desmond Child, and it marks the end of a long run of singles that reference drama from RHONY (more on that later). By this point, de Lesseps’s “Countess and Friends” live cabaret show was already a huge hit, selling out theaters across the country, and this is her most cabaret-inspired single yet. The only thing is, aside from how good her voice sounds (without the robotic auto-tune we’ve been accustomed to hearing on her other songs), this one is pretty underwhelming. Sorry, Countess, “Viva La Diva” is getting skipped!
19. “Love Comes Through” — Me and Mari
In her first season as a RHOA Housewife, Blaque singer Shamari DeVoe and her husband, Ronnie DeVoe (of Bell Biv DeVoe), dropped the first single by their new supergroup, Me & Mari. It’s a romantic, positive track that’s perfectly inoffensive and sounds like it would work at the beginning of an episode of Grey’s Anatomy, while Dr. Meredith Grey is delivering her opening monologue — and I mean that as a compliment!
18. “I Just Wanna” — Melissa Gorga
This club banger sees Gorga do her very best J.Lo cosplay. Here, Santino Noir fills the role of discount-store Pitbull (minus “Mr. Worldwide!”) but ends up sounding more like that weird “rapper” guy who featured on Rebecca Black’s “Friday” and all those other viral tween YouTube songs back in the day. Snark aside, this song is about nothing, and its lyrics are pretty toe curling (okay, still a little snark), but it’s catchy. Against all odds, it does make me want to dance.
17. “Flatline” — Porsha Williams
This song, by one of RHOA’s most controversial stars, is definitely a grower. Dare I say it, there are hints of OneRepublic’s “Apologize” and Jordin Sparks’s “No Air” going on here. Whereas most Housewives songs are about being fabulous, beef from the show, dancing in the club, or love, this is a cathartic breakup song through and through. And while it may not be the best song ever, even in the Housewives musical universe, Williams deserves credit for doing something different.
16. “I See You” — Candiace
This placement may seem harsh because Candiace Dillard’s debut single is a “real song” — it’s not about drama from the show, and it’s not a novelty. It’s a serious, cool, R&B love song dedicated to her husband turned “husbanger,” Chris Bassett, whom she wed in season four of The Real Housewives of Potomac. The thing is, “I See You” doesn’t really go anywhere. It’s inoffensive, but unlike Butter Knife–gate, or Salad Toss–gate, it’s pretty easy to forget. Sorry, Candiace!
15. “Never Let Me Go” — Melissa Gorga
This is a club banger straight out of that era when Rihanna and Kelly Rowland were belting over dance beats. And surprisingly, it works! Here, Gorga delivers a dance song that makes me want to get on the next flight to Mykonos with a gaggle of gays and a suitcase full of jockstraps and start doing shots. It’s not breaking musical boundaries, but it’s a solid track.
14. “Whatever I Want” — OC Realz
This was one of the most bizarre moments in RHOC history — and that’s saying something. In the latest season finale, certified rock goddess Storms-Beador brought the OC Housewives together for a one-off group performance of an original song. And, well, the results aren’t half bad! The song is essentially an ode to girl power: The women sing about letting their hair down and doing “whatever they want,” baby! The star of this track is, without a doubt, former Broadway star and “hexagonal ice” enthusiast Heather Dubrow, who is by far the best singer of the group. All I can say about the rest is thank goodness for auto-tune.
13. “On Display” — Melissa Gorga
By now, we know Gorga loves very few things more than a song about going to the club and dancing. “On Display” was her first contribution to this subgenre, and it’s still her best. She recorded the song in a music studio her husband, Joe, built in their basement, and her first live performance (in the club, of course) was shown on RHONJ. The lyrics are about the perils of being so hot and popular that everyone — including, perhaps wishfully, the paparazzi — can’t stop watching Gorga “do her thing” in the spotlight. Delusional? A little. But is it a bop? Absolutely.
12. “Waking Up in the Morning” — Gia Giudice
Okay, so this may not technically be a real song you can stream on Spotify. But thanks to its viral moment on TikTok last year, it’s probably one of the most listened-to songs on this list. “Waking Up in the Morning” was performed by a 10-year-old Gia in season three of RHONJ. The drama between Teresa Giudice (Gia’s mom) and Joe Gorga (her uncle) had taken center stage on the show. Amid their ongoing conflict, Gia gave a tearful performance of her own made-up song, as she put it, “for my mom and Zio Joe.” After going unexpectedly viral ten years later, it was remixed by a pre-Slap Will Smith, referenced by Cardi B, and became an internet sensation. So Gia’s much-memed song is more than deserving of its spot on this list.
11. “Girl Code” — Countess Luann
No actual saxophones were harmed in the making of “Girl Code” — I promise! It’s the Countess’s sassy clapback to Heather Thomson and Carole Radziwill, who, on the RHONY season-seven cast trip to Turks and Caicos, almost burst in on de Lesseps while she was, ahem, otherwise engaged with a male companion. The fight spawned the infamous quote “Don’t be all, like, uncool” and, some months later, this jazz-inspired song. The Countess debuted “Girl Code” on Watch What Happens Live!, accompanied by her daughter, Victoria, who features on the track.
10. “How Many Fucks” — Erika Jayne
By her own admission, Jayne doesn’t “give a fuck about anyone else but me!” so “How Many Fucks” definitely suits her. (Even if that probably makes it a tough listen for the plane-crash victims her husband allegedly defrauded.) But regardless of all that, it’s still a good song — not Jayne’s best, but the hip-hop-inspired track is still catchy enough to deserve its spot in the top ten. It wouldn’t seem out of place in Gwen Stefani’s L.A.M.B. era.
9. “Coffee & Love” — Ashley Darby
This song shouldn’t work. Darby, who can’t sing, is auto-tuned to the point of sounding like a robot, as if MSN Messenger’s long-suffering SmarterChild had suddenly started singing. “Coffee & Love” is also about her scandal-embroiled ex, Michael Darby, whom she is finally divorcing this year. The lyrics don’t make a whole lot of sense, including a weirdly placed rap verse that ends with “If my heart was a computer, baby, you’d be the password.” But here it is in the top ten. “Coffee & Love” has this infectious happiness, a thumping bass, and (dare I say it?) a slightly reggae dance vibe, which, against all odds, works. It’s also very true that coffee and love do taste best when hot — we stan relatability.
8. “Feel the Rush” — Adriana de Moura
Welcome to Miami, baby! This certified bop by RHOM alum Adriana de Moura has a special place in the Housewives universe because, after its release, it was used as the show’s title intro music — now that’s quite an accolade. This song sounds like Miami (or, more precisely, what people who’ve never been to Miami think the city sounds like). It’s a little bit Shakira, a little bit Jennifer Lopez, and a lot fabulous.
7. “Painkillr” — Erika Jayne
Even though club banger “Pankillr” wasn’t technically released while Jayne was on RHOBH, it did become a plot point when she joined in season six. It’s a song that feels made for circuit parties and muscle gays sniffing poppers in harnesses. In fact, they were probably listening to it on that Puerto Vallarta gay cruise that sank in the middle of the COVID pandemic. Co-written by Jayne herself, the song oozes sex appeal and has been remixed an impressive 22 times by various DJs. (It’s just too bad Bethenny Frankel wasn’t a fan.)
6. “Feelin’ Jovani” — Countess Luann
“Feelin’ Jovani” was born from one of the most iconic moments in Housewives history. During the RHONY season-ten finale, an absolutely furious Dorinda Medley screamed “Jovani!” at de Lesseps during her first “Countess and Friends” cabaret show. (Medley had generously hooked her up with some glittery gowns from Jovani, a fancy NYC boutique, but the Countess didn’t seem very grateful.) “Feelin’ Jovani” is a classic in the genre of “here’s a song based around some drama from the show,” which de Lesseps is a particular fan of. The song tells the story of her spiral into partying and has a catchy, trumpetlike hook. All-Star Housewives Lisa Rinna and Cynthia Bailey guest star in the video alongside Andy Cohen — it’s full-on Charlie’s Angels cosplay.
5. “XXPEN$IVE” — Erika Jayne
Okay, I’ll say it: The subject matter of this song hasn’t aged well. (By now, we all know about Jayne’s legal and financial issues and the orphans and widows who were owed money while she was singing about her flashy lifestyle on RHOBH.) All that aside, “XXPEN$IVE” is an undeniably great song. Jayne (the self-described “million-dollar diamond”) serves a bop that’s as memeable as it is catchy, with a high-production-value video to boot. (In fact, the video looks so “expensive” that she has barely released any music since.) This song is where Jayne’s signature nasal vocals are at their best.
4. “Chic C’est La Vie” — Countess Luann
“Ladies and gentlemen, this is the Countess speaking. We have arrived,” proclaims a heavily auto-tuned de Lesseps, in the style of Madonna, at the opening of “Chic C’est La Vie.” In RHONY season four, Bravo’s cameras took us behind the scenes on the video shoot for the song, when all the ’wives except Jill Zarin and Kelly Bensimon turned down an invitation to star in it. Ouch. The song works because its lyrics are, frankly, completely ridiculous. It’s all about drinking Champagne, eating caviar, limousines, diamonds, and living a fantasy “chic” lifestyle. (At one point, the Countess even pokes fun at Bensimon’s infamous “Scary Island” breakdown while clutching a bag of jelly beans.) Basically, the whole thing is a mess, which somehow works? De Lesseps has experienced her fair share of ups and downs since it was recorded, so one of its lyrics has now become her mantra: “The little things can take you down, so it’s best to brush them off.”
3. “Tardy for the Party” — Kim Zolciak-Biermann
When it comes to Housewives stars releasing their own music, “Tardy for the Party” is where it all began. It was written and produced by Burruss and debuted on the second season of RHOA, eventually becoming a story line over several seasons (lawsuits were served). Due to Zolciak’s, shall we say “limited,” vocal range, the song veers much closer to speaking than singing. But Burruss still managed to craft a bop that is disturbingly catchy, and Zolciak is nothing short of a pop-culture pioneer.
2. “Drive Back” — Candiace
A lot of Housewives songs position themselves as novelties or jokes, but “Drive Back” takes itself seriously — deservedly so. Despite being promoted on season six of RHOP, with the cast (and Candiace’s therapist turned villain mom, Dorothy) making cameo appearances in the video, the quality of the song shines through. It displays Candiace’s clear intention to be a “real” artist: She was involved in the entire creative process, unlike, er, some people on this list. “Drive Back” is the perfect aughts-inspired bop for the nostalgic moment we’re living through right now. It would make the ideal first-dance song for Bennifer, everyone’s favorite chaotic on-and-off couple.
1. “Money Can’t Buy You Class” — Countess Luann
It’s the song everyone associates with the Real Housewives franchise, the song that truly put money and class on the map and that still sounds just as catchy and audacious as it did 12 years ago. The making of “Money Can’t Buy You Class” was rather excruciatingly documented on season three of RHONY. We watched a pre-auto-tune de Lesseps hitting (and missing) the high notes — which truly walked so Gaga’s “Shallow” could run — and living out her childhood fantasy of being a pop diva. But even the Countess herself could never have known that this certified bop, which admonishes men for texting on dates amid lyrics including the words grandeur and panache, would evolve into the pop-cultural force it is today. The title may seem elitist, but the joke is that releasing such a gauche song about money and class (and performing it at Macy’s) doesn’t exactly scream “classy.” And really, its core message is that, for everyone, elegance is learned, my friends.