Pop music needs science and technology: microphones, amplifiers, electric guitars, synthesizers, light shows and dry-ice are all examples of science applied to the world of entertainment.
While scientists and science aren’t what pop groups usually sing about, a few have briefly pushed the boundaries of their genre and namechecked some famous scientists.
Here’s our list of the Top 10 Scientists in pop songs.
1. Galileo Galiliei
Galileo Galiliei was one of the greatest scientists of the Renaissance.
Many people think of him as the father of modern physics.
His name appears in Queen’s biggest hit, Bohemian Rhapsody, perhaps a contribution from the group’s guitarist Brian May, who studied astrophysics at university before quitting academia for the band. Many years later, Brian May completed a PhD in astrophysics.
Galileo has also made it into other tunes, not just in the lyrics but in the title. Amy Grant, Indigo Girls and Celtic Thunder have all issued tracks called Galileo.
2. Isaac Newton
Newton, one of physics’ all-time greats, is a popular figure in songs including Super Pop by Madonna, Revisionism Street by Bob Seger, Sounds of Science by the Beastie Boys, and Man on the Moon by REM.
3. Albert Einstein
Einstein was the 20th century’s scientific superstar. It’s not surprising he was a hit in popular music too.
Several songs feature his name in their titles including Einstein by Kelly Clarkson, Einstein was a Surfer by Jimmy Buffett, Einstein on the Beach, by Counting Crows, The World’s Address by They Might Be Giants, and Einstein A Go-Go by Landscape. The Landscape tune features the ominous lyrics:
“You’d better watch out, you’d better beware, Albert said that E equals M C squared.”
4. Thomas Edison
Edison produced electric lights and his name is remembered in Edison by the Bee Gees, Edison’s Medicine by Tesla, and The Wizard of Menlo Park by Chumbawamba.
5. Alexander Graham Bell
Bell is best known for inventing the telephone and is remembered in the lyrics of Gone to Pieces by Nik Kershaw, Best is Yet to Come by XV, and New World by NAS.
6. Nikola Tesla
The developer of a.c. electricity gets more than a mention in a song, or even a song title. The rock group TESLA took their name from the great man.
Tesla is also a song title from They Might Be Giants, featuring the lyric:
“Brought the AC power to the world
Here is a mind that can see across space
Here is a mind soaring free.”
7. Nicolaus Copernicus
Copernicus, who is responsible for the modern heliocentric view of the solar system is remembered in the title of The Mars Volta song Copernicus. He is also mentioned in The Sound Of the Life of The Mind by Ben Folds Five and The World’s Address by They Might Be Giants.
8. Charles Darwin
Charles Darwin who, along with Alfred Russel Wallace, discovered the concept of evolution by natural selection gets a mention in Man on the Moon by REM and Never Be Moved by Clutch.
The greatest mathematician and scientist of the ancient world is mentioned by Al Stewart in Beleeka Doodle Day.
10. Marie Curie
Marie Curie, the only person to have won Nobel Prizes in both chemistry and physics, is namechecked in Dinner with Gershwin by Donna Summer.