Creativity, Science

Mix Tape #1: Best Songs About Science


The future of science lies in collaborations! And it is in the spirit of scientific collaboration that the blogging couple – a.k.a NotNicolaJames and her ScienceBoy – have joined forces to bring to you this collection of Best Songs About Science.


Let’s start with the blaringly obvious:

Coldplay – The scientist (2002)

“I was just guessing at numbers and figures/
Pulling the puzzles apart/
Questions of science, science and progress/
Could not speak as loud as my heart.”

Scientist or not, Coldplay sing a love song – no surprises here! But they could have learned from Josh Ritter how it really works:

Josh Ritter – Stuck To You (1999)

“It it’s not Love,
that makes the flowers grow./
But a complex electron transfer process known as photosynthesis when chlorophyll reacts with the light of day.”

Josh, thank you so much for clarifying this. That had me confused for ages! New Model Army have understood it, too, but protest that something is still missing:

New Model Army – White Coats (1987)

“Well, we know what
makes the flowers grow/
But we don’t know why/
And we all have the knowledge of DNA/
But we still die/
We perch so thin and fragile here/
Upon the land”

Another well-known science-titled song from the same period is this one:

Beastie Boys – Sounds of Science (1989)

“I’ve got science for any occasion/
Postulating theorems formulating equations/
… /
Dropping science like when Galileo dropped the orange”

Science and its method have creative proponents in They Might Be Giants, who also have the cutest videos in the whole list – probably because they are from an educational children album called Here Comes Science:

They might be giants – Science is real & Put it to the test (2009)

“And when a theory emerges/
Consistent with the facts/
The proof is with Science/
The truth is with Science.”
“Don’t believe it ’cause they say it’s so/
If it’s not true, you have a right to know/
Put it to the test (put it to the test)/
Yeah, test it out (put it to the test)”

Not so enthusiastic defenders of a Popperian world-view are System of a Down, who delight their fans with new-age inspired lyrics and a kick-ass video:

System of a Down – Science (2002)

“Science has failed our world/
Science has failed our Mother Earth/
Spirit-moves-through-all-things/
Spirit-moves-through-all-things/
Spirit-moves-through-all-things”

And somewhere in the middle – probably close to Feyerabend’s Anything Goes principle – is the following Berkeley combo:

We are scientists – rules don’t stop (2010)

“If we are breaking the rules it’s fine/
I disregard this kind of problem all the time/
It’s not as if it’s gonna kill anyone/
If there’s no victim then there’s no crime”

A strong influence on their name must have been the expressive We Are Scientists by Cap’n Jazz. But enough emo, let’s get back to the beginnings … of everything:

Barenaked Ladies – History of everything (2007)

“Religion or astronomy/
Descartes or deuteronomy/
It all started with a big bang/
Music and mythology/
Einstein and astrology/
It all started with a big bang/
It all started with a big … BANG!

Which reminds me of Sheldon, who might be the only person being able to sing along to Tom Lehrer’s lyrics without a cheat sheet:

Tom Lehrer – The elements (1959)

“These are the only ones of which
the news has come to ha’vard,/
And there may be many others,
but they haven’t been discavard.”

Oh, no wait! Sheldon’s not the only one. Daniel Radcliffe can do it too! Never mind, chemistry is also essential for the next one:

Chemical brothers – Galvanize (2005)

“The world, is holdin back…/
The time has come to…/
Galvanize!/
C’mon, c’mon c’mon….”

But don’t think that science is necessarily natural science. Especially electronic music always had great affinity to computer science (kudos Holger):

Bruce Haack – Program Me (1970)

“My heart beats
Electrically
My brain computes
Program me-“

In case this might seem too un-emotional to you, here is a classic about knowing only the essential things:

Sam Cooke – Wonderful World (1960)

Don’t know much about history./
Don’t know much biology./
Don’t know much about a science book./
Don’t know much about the french I took./
But I do know that I love you!

And last – but in ScienceBoy’s opinion certainly not least – the unavoidable ’80s contribution! Oh, the glory of the ’80s! Welcome to the Home for Deranged Scientists:

Thomas Dolby – She blinded me with science (1982)

“Mmm – but it’s poetry in motion/
And when she turned her eyes to me/
As deep as any ocean/
As sweet as any harmony/
But she blinded me with science/
And failed me in geometry.”

Look up the tag mixed tape for a list of all science-themed music collections at Scientific B-sides.

Nici and Florian

Other lists:

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14 thoughts on “Mix Tape #1: Best Songs About Science

  1. Blackalicious “Chemical Calethenics” should be on a future mix tape:

    There’s a lot of “ambient” music that is science related as well. About half of Vangelis’s output, for instance, is directly about science. I recommend “Albedo 0.39.”

    Also Brian Eno has a number of science themed musical pieces.

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