Friday, 10 February 2017

My Top Ten Science Songs Volume 1: Chemistry

Last year I did a number of posts about Mathematics. I thought I'd follow that up with some musical science classes. You see, I finally started watching Breaking Bad. Yes, I know, I know, I'm nearly ten years behind the curve. Ironically, I've already watched the first two seasons of Better Call Saul, and I've been meaning to watch BB for ages, but... you know, time.

Anyway, for Walter White, we have to start with Chemistry...

Special mentions to The Chemical Brothers and My Chemical Romance.

10. Rush - Chemistry

Because I love Spirit Of Radio, I bought the Best Of Rush. I can do prog in small bursts before it all gets a bit pompous for me. I'm always impressed by the guitar work on records like this... but I prefer Yes though, mainly because Jon Anderson's voice is a thing of wonder.

9. Interpol - Rest My Chemistry

There are three types of chemistry songs. The first: where chemistry is a metaphor for the spark between two people. The second: where chemistry is a metaphor for drugs. The third: where it's both.

This, like our Number One, belongs the third category, I think.

8. Blur - Chemical World

The way Damon dances around in the countryside in this video... seriously, if you were out for a nice Sunday afternoon walk and you bumped into him, you'd turn swifty in the opposite direction.


7. Dan le Sac Vs. Scroobius Pip - Development

If you potter about on youtube, you'll find a number of songs where people have tried to rap the Periodic Table. When Scroobius Pip gets into his own attempt at that, about halfway through this song, I just wish he'd carried on till he got all the way up to Oganesson.

6.  Emma Pollock - Chemistry Will Find Me

Ironically, despite being on Chemikal Underground and writing this song for her 2010 album The Law Of Large Numbers, Emma Pollock studied Physics at university...

5. John Otway - Bunsen Burner

John Otway's fans helped him celebrate his 50th birthday by getting this into the Top Ten in 2002.  He even made it back onto Top Of The Pops. Brilliant.

4. Esiotrot - My Chemical Romance Saved My Life

This one's a bit of a stretch, I confess, since it's obviously about the band mentioned above and not really anything to do with chemistry... but they're my rules, I can break them if the song is good enough. Great lo fi indie, made even better by the inclusion of a mournful trumpet.

Plus they're Tortoise backwards, so there's that.

And finally, any song which includes the line...
We define ourselves by our record collections
Well. You know.

3. Semisonic - Chemistry

One of those late nineties / early noughties guitar bands it's never been cool to admit to liking... so, obviously, I think they're great.
I remember when I found out about chemistry
It was a long, long way from here
I was old enough to want it but younger than I wanted to be
Suddenly my mission was clear
So for awhile I conducted experiments
And I was amazed by the things I learned
From a fine fine girl with nothing but good intentions and a
Bad tendency to get burned
They lose points for that silly CD single cover (above) though.

2. Elvis Costello - The Element Within Her

The obvious choice is Chemistry Class from Armed Forces, but much as I love that album, I love Punch The Clock more. I have in the past observed the cliché that artists in love don't always make the best records and that heartbreak and misery make for much better songwriting partners. This is often the case, and you'd expectit to be true of the gleefully cynical Elvis Costello more than most. And yet, and yet... Punch The Clock is full of shiny, exuberant love songs, and it's brilliant. 
It's the element within her
Something under her skin
That is shining out through the face of the girl
Two sapphires and couple of rows of pearls
1. Suede - The Chemistry Between Us

Having led the Britpop charge, Suede went full on anthemic pop band on their third album, Coming Up. Although it does have a soaring chorus, sumptuous strings and plenty of la-la-las, at over 7 minutes in length, The Chemistry Between Us was never going to be a hit like the FIVE Top Ten singles this album produced. As with many of Suede's earlier hits though, it is obsessed with drug culture, although Brett Anderson claims the lyrics are anti-drugs, about people who can only make connections when they're high.
Oh, Class A, Class B...
Is that the only chemistry?

Look at that: I can still do indie and guitar pop! Funny how the subject matter led more to those kind of bands... 


  1. Replies
    1. The Chemicals Between Us -

    2. Yeah - I always liked that it was almost the exact same title as the Suede song. (which is also great btw - isn't it one of very few Suede songs (if not the only one) that credits Neil Codling as a co-writer.

    3. Just double checked and he had two credits on Coming Up, but more later.

      With regards to Bush, I think I gave them a bit of credit for a) ripping off the Pixies and b) having artwork by Vaughn Oliver /v23

    4. I suppose you'll be watching The Voice now then?

    5. I understand Gavin Rossdale has taken the "cool" seat over from Ricky Kaiser Chief.

  2. Diana Ross - Chain Reaction

    arguably, you could have
    These BOOTS Are Made For Walking

    or anything from the Fatboy Slim album Better Living Through Chemistry

    1. Think I'm saving Chain Reaction. For my Top Ten Innuendo Songs...

  3. Ridiculously good, Rol, and I know all of the songs this time. Not sure that has ever happened before. Love Punch the Clock too, but better than Armed Forces?!? Bold statement, my friend.

    1. I like to swim against the tide.

  4. Good to hear you're watching the show as one we really enjoyed - As ever a very clever list of song choices and as ever, not familiar with most of them. No matter but when I did a BB post it covered Crystal Blue Persuasion by Tommy James and the Shondells (which actually featured in the show) and Hooked on a Feeling by Blue Swede although not really relating to Chemistry per se but WW's new occupation.

    1. Both great songs. I could listen. To Hooked On A Feeling every day for the rest of my life and never get bored of it.

  5. Reasonable choices for the most part. Will highly recommend 'Happiness Is Chemistry' by Cats On Fire


  6. Ah yes, I remember how much you love burning cats. He does like to sing like Morrissey, doesn't he?


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