Friday, 2 September 2016

My Top Ten Maths Songs (Volume 1: Basic Math/s)

The two essential subjects for all students at the college where I work are English and Maths. As an English teacher, I'm supposed to embed a little mathematics into all my lessons, so I thought I'd try embedding some into this blog. I'll work my way through the various branches of arithmetic (addition, subtraction, multiplication and division) over the next few weeks (though perhaps not all at once), but I thought I'd start with basic maths... or math, depending on which side of the Atlantic you do your sums on.

Special mentions to Maths & Physics Club, Mutemath, and all those weird Math Rock bands I find so very hard to get into.

10. Jimmy Buffet - Math Suks

Now, that's not a very good attitude to start off with, is it, Jimmy? Go to the bottom of the class!

(By the way, your spelling's not all that great, either.)

9. Half Man Half Biscuit - Mathematically Safe

Just about the closest Nigel Blackwell ever got to writing a straight-up love song.

8. The White Stripes - Black Math
Uh uh uh uh uh uh uh uh uh ah...
7. Brad Paisley - You Do the Math

Ah, I just love that happy guitar sound and those cheery (swap they r for an s if you're so minded) lyrics. Long may Brad strut his country stuff.

6. Los Campesinos! - Don't Tell Me To Do The Math(s)

Starts out sounding like Belle & Sebastian, then goes cheerfully mental, like all the best Los Campesinos! records. When Americans miss the s off the end of Maths, Aleksandra, Oliver, Tom, Harriet, Gareth, Neil and Ellen Campesinos! start overusing exclamation marks.

5. Jim's Big Ego - Math Prof. Rock Star

Carmine Infantino was a legendary comic book artist, most famous for an extended run on DC's The Flash back in the 70s and 80s. His nephew, Jim Infantino is the man behind the hugely entertaining alt-rock band Jim's Big Ego, perhaps most famous for their song The Ballad of Barry Allen, about Uncle Carmine's most famous superhero. This is another great song from them, reminiscent of the Fountains of Wayne with added REM guitar.
When he was young he never thought that he would be a
Math Prof Rock Star
And after hours outside of his office, there's a line waiting
Full of girls lining up to ask about their quadratic equations
She leans over the desk and twirls a pencil in her hair
Complains that the grade he gave her was way unfair
And all the professors they laugh about it and wish him well
But the guys in the class are just jealous as hell
Find out more about "the Greatest Band In The History of Recorded Music" here.

4. dEUS - Little Arithmetics

Quick geography test: how many bands can you name from Belgium?

Tougher than you think, and I could only think of one better than dEUS. Any guesses?*

3. Margaret Glaspy - Emotions & Math

Title track from the excellent 2016 debut record by this refreshing Californian singer-songwriter which I took a punt on via eMusic after hearing Cerys play it on 6Music. So far, the gamble is paying off... though the rest of the album isn't as radio-friendly as this one...
Counting all the days 'til you're back
Shivering in an ice cold bath
Of emotions and math
I've gotta get outta this tree
Off of this limb
I'm a woman acting like a kid
A skinny mess
That's breathless from telling you
All the things that I'm gonna do
Phew. I reckon I need an ice cold bath after that one...

2. Idlewild - Close The Door

Always good to hear some classic Idlewild again, and here they are at their's time for the maths test!

1. Cherry Ghost - Mathematics

I saw Cherry Ghost play live around the time this track was big. This was by far their best track, reminding me of the New York romanticism of Dion... which was odd, because Simon Aldred's a gruff Manc. He's made some great music since, but Mathematics is still his finest moment.

*My answer was Soulwax.

But which one wins your maths test?


  1. 'The Magic Number' by De La Soul, please ("without my 1 and 2 where would there be my 3?").

    I didn't know that Carmine Infantino had a famous nephew.

    Yeah, math rock is like jazz metal, isn't it? I have some Dillinger Escape Plan albums but never play them and only really like the tracks that sound like actual songs, rather than people hitting random notes on their instruments and shouting.

    1. I think Carmine's nephew is only "famous" in his own Ego.

      De La Soul will have their moment very soon...

  2. One and one is one by Medicine Head would probably fail the test

  3. Maybe this one... but not next week's!

  4. Radiohead, 2+2=5. Very poor grasp of the basics, Yorke, see me after class.


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