Friday, 17 February 2017

My Top Ten Science Song Songs Volume 2: Physics

This week's science lesson is on Physics. Take notes in your books; there will be a test.

10. Landscape - Einstein A-Go Go

Let's start with the father of modern physics... and some classic oddball synthpop from 1981.

See also Einstein On The Beach by Counting Crows which you probably won't like as much as Landscape... though I do.

9. Jim White - Objects In Motion

Jim White finds a suitcase full of old love letters floating in a river... and starts getting metaphysical.

From the album Drill a Hole in That Substrate and Tell Me What You See... which shows Jim also has an interest in geology, I guess.

8. The Verve - Space & Time
We have existence and that's all we share...
More metaphysics from Tricky Dicky Ashcroft. Or Mr. Smiley as I like to call him.

This whole album is very evocative for me of '97 / '98, when the world still seemed full of endless possibility... and aching loneliness. I could probably write more about that, but it has very little to do with physics, so I'll save it for another post.

7. They Might Be Giants - Particle Man

Forget Einstein. This is what genius sounds like.

6. Pixies - Distances Equals Rate Times Time

And this is how you create a great pop song in under one minute twenty seconds. 

Missing from my Maths Top Tens because I thought it to do with Physics.

5. Nick Cave - Higgs Boson Blues

In which Nick Cave drives his car down to Geneva to teach you some particle physics.

If I'd had a Physics teacher like Nick Cave, I'd have got higher than a D.

4. Big Audio Dynamite - E=MC2
I like a bit of a cavort.
For years, I thought the dialogue sampled in this song were Michael Caine.

It's actually James Fox from Nic Roeg's Performance.

But you knew that.

3. Ooberman - Physics Disco

The only song I own which actually features Physics in the title. 

Ooberman are one of My Top Ten Unsung Legends of Pop. They should have been bigger than Oasis.

2. Billy Bragg - Qualifications

OK, so the top two songs are only tenuously connected to Physics, but both brag about a qualification in that particular field of science... and both of them make me smile a lot whenever I listen to them.
So what's the point in university?
For three years I read philosophy
Now I read barcodes all day long

Beep-beep-beep sings that check-out song
With my qualifications
Talking bout my qualifications
Would you like to see my Ph.D.?

I gotta First in Physics so I ought to know
If your fries are for here or to go
1. The Undertones - My Perfect Cousin
He's got a degree in Economics
Maths, Physics and Bionics
No wonder he's his mother's little golden boy...

Not the obvious Number One, but indisputably the best song on here. 

 Which one makes you want to get physics-al?


  1. Love the Landscape track, have vivid memories of this - my brother had the album on vinyl.

    I want to pitch an alternative Billy Bragg track though - "Richard", in which Billy sings "when every alpha particle hides a neon nucleus." Now I know he got that wrong - it should be a helium nucleus - but neon scanned better, so...

    Also, what about "Me and Stephen Hawking" by Manic Street Preachers?

    Suppose Newton Faulkner should get a mention too...

    1. I need to dig out Me & Stephen Hawking... I've forgotten that completely.

  2. Physics explains our world and all the stuff that goes on in, and around it.

    They Might Be Giants - Why Does the Sun Shine? (The Sun Is a Mass of Incandescent Gas)

  3. Yes My Perfect Cousin the best song in there and we've all had those perfect cousins haven't we (or in my case the perfect daughter of a friend of the family) - Shame that FS is now a figure of disdain in music blogging circles.

    Worst song of the week award - Olivia NEWTON John with Lets Get PHYSICal! (Although more of a PE lesson song that one.)

    1. I love Physical and did, for a second, consider including it. But it would have involved bending the rules too much. I'll have to find another way to shoehorn it in.

  4. Blimey, who'd have thought Physics could inspire so many? I've always loved that line in My Perfect Cousin - and worthy Number 1 here.
    So glad you didn't test us, I have an aversion to the subject, as it only ever inspired in me the worst exam result I have ever had (28%) after which I promptly gave it up. That said I'm a new convert to The Big Bang Theory so would be happy to have Leonard teach me something Quantum.
    Oh and that's just reminded me- not a song title but a band name with Physics theme, do you remember Quantum Jump's (rather dodgy) Lone Ranger?!

    1. I do... And it's not the only song by them I remember! (Quantum Jump have featured here before, scarily enough.)

  5. One of the (not very good) songs on 'No Thyself', the LP recorder by the reformed Magazine is called Physics.


    1. I liked that... Although the intro did remind me of the Crossroads theme tune.


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