Blake Shelton debuted this song on NBC's New Year's Eve TV special during the countdown to 2021 alongside Carson Daly. The singer explained that he'd written it about his love for his fiancée, Gwen Stefani.
During the song, Shelton sings of how his love for Stefani is all he needs in life. He sweetly tells her:
You can make a one bed room apartment
Feel like a house up on the hill
You can make my truck out in the driveway.
Roll like a cleaned up Cadillac
One lyric provoked a backlash on social media.
Your love is money, your love is money
Yeah, your love can make a man feel rich on minimum wage
Music fans called out Shelton on Twitter for being insensitive, particularly for debuting the song at a time when numerous businesses are shutting down and many have lost their jobs because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Social media users also said that as both the country star and Stefani are multi-millionaires they know little about struggling on a low wage.
Gwen's Stefani's younger brother Todd directed the music video. Todd Stefani also filmed the "Happy Anywhere
" clip featuring Shelton and his fiancee.
Despite getting pushback for the perceived tone deaf lyric, Blake Shelton officially released the song on January 15, 2021. He said that those criticizing the song weren't really listening to its message. "It's literally a love song about how if times are tight and you ain't got much money, as long as you have love and you're happy, at the end of the day, that's all any of us can really hope for. You got it if you got that. That's all that matters," he explained. "And if that's offensive to you, then we'll just have to agree to disagree."
Corey Crowder, Jesse Frasure, and Nicolle Galyon wrote the song. Shelton told CMT that "Minimum Wage" resonated with him because before he became a famous country star, he struggled for a long while to get by. After graduating from high school at 17, he moved to Nashville to pursue a singing career. To make ends meet he painted and roofed houses, worked at a music marketing and management company, and sang demos. Though those times were hard, he said he wouldn't trade them for anything. "Those really were some of the best days of my life that I still think about all the time," Shelton explained.
Though Shelton is earning much more than minimum wage now, the song takes him back to his early days. "I have a lot of great memories playing dive bars in Nashville and then driving back to Oklahoma to play a gig," he recalled. "I gravitate toward songs that feel like the stories of where I've been and where I am currently in my life, and I've got a lot of happiness and joy in my life these days."
Shelton told Radio.com's Katie Neal that when he first heard the song, he thought, "Wow, that is me! I mean, I literally have lived that song for a longer period of my life than I can even believe," adding, "I just instantly had a smile on my face. Fell in love with it."
"The tough times I've had coming up... the jobs. I roofed houses for two years for probably less than minimum wage, but I didn't care," Shelton continued. "I just wanted enough money that I could pay my rent and go play guitar all weekend. That's what I did for the first half of my life and those are my favorite memories."