The Top Five Pop and Rock Songs about Science and Technology
As selected by Bernie Langs
5) Before and After Science by Brian Eno – this is the title of the album and it sets the tone for the collection’s concept and overall feel. It contains some of Eno’s most accessible music, structured within pop parameters and not his usual signature synthesizer experiments and riffs. Stand-outs (from what I can remember on my LP, since it’s not on iTunes), are the fabulous rockin’ Kings Lead Hat (best lines: “the passage of my life is measured out in shirts” and “the biology of purpose keeps my nose above the surface); and the meditative In These Metal Days. Also contains his hit, Here He Comes about “the boy who tried to vanish to another time.”
4) Rocket Man by Elton John: Best line: “And all this science, I don’t understand, it’s just my job five days a week”. This song is a twin to Bowie’s Space Oddity (see below), in that the astronaut is alienated and lonely in his mission. I’ve probably heard Rocket Man a few hundred times since its release and will still listen when it comes up on my iPod or on the radio.
3) She Blinded Me with Science by Thomas Dolby – Best and funniest line, which is spoken by a scientist: “She blinded me with science!” The video to this song was good too, with its picture perfect clichéd scientist lipsynching those words. This was when videos were still fresh and new and MTV was a novel idea.
2) Space Oddity and Ashes to Ashes both by David Bowie – Best lines: “Here am I, floating ‘round my tin can, far above the world” and “My momma says to get thing done, you better not mess with Major Tom.” Space Oddity was written in the 1970s when one of David Bowie’s personas was that of an extraterrestrial. He brilliantly melded his movie role as the alien in The Man Who Fell to Earth with his underrated album Station to Station. It all started with Space Oddity with its dreamy guitars and the disconnected Major Tom manning the space ship. Ashes to Ashes was written in the 1980s and continues the Major’s saga, who is now said to be a “junkie” who is “strung out on Heaven’s high, hitting an all time low.” I always thought the song was about Thom’s Catastrophe Theory – a Major Tom…whatever that is.
1) The Scientist by Coldplay: Best stanza:
“I was just guessin’ at numbers and figures,
Pulling the puzzles apart.
Questions of science, science and progress
Do not speak as loud as my heart.”
As a fan of the Beatles and as a songwriter in their style, I believe that melody is the most important element in composition. The Scientist’s vocal line is chilling and beautiful at the same time. When Mr. Martin sings, “Nobody said it was easy” one is just carried along to that soulful place that music brings us when it is at its best.