Considering that geeks are the driving force behind technological and scientific advancement, and such avid consumers of sci-fi and fantasy TV shows, movies, computer games, novels, comics and all their associated merchandise, it is difficult to fathom the reasons why geeks and their areas of interest are so under-represented in the music industry.
Where are all the geeky songs about science, computing, gaming and sci-fi?
Well, the good news is that they do exist, and that there are even artists making a whole career out of geeky songs!
Here is a small selection of some of the best and geekiest geeky songs we know.
Geeky Songs About Science
While there are plenty of well-known artists that might mention science in a song or two, it is often in a very ungeeky way. Thankfully there are a few seriously scientific geeky artists out there who aren’t afraid to express their scientific knowledge in song. Here are some of our favourite geeky songs based on science.
They Might Be Giants
They Might Be Giants are such a band. For in excess of 30 years, TMBG have been a prolific surreal alternative band with a fondness for science. In 1994 they released Why Does The Sun Shine? (The Sun Is A Mass Of Incandescent Gas), an uptempo and verbatim cover of a 1959 song from a Tom Glazer album, Space Songs, which described in basic terms the science of the sun (at least as far as was known at the time the lyrics had been written).
Due to advancements in scientific knowledge the lyrics became obsolete, so in 2009 on their fourteenth studio album (and fourth “children’s album”) Here Comes Science, TMBG included the song again, but this time followed it with a new song on the same topic, entitled Why Does The Sun Really Shine?
Johnathan Coulton is a geeky singer-songwriter who releases all of his geeky songs under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial license rather than being signed to a label, allowing anyone to use it in their own noncommercial works. This approach has spawned numerous unofficial music videos for his songs that have gone viral on YouTube.
At the start of his career he spent some time as an opening act for They Might Be Giants live shows, and was famously involved in a dispute with American TV show Glee.
The story goes… In the Glee show, there was a cover version of the Sir Mix-a-Lot song Baby Got Back, but using a melody and adlib lyrics that Coulton had written himself for his own cover years before, without any acknowledgement to Coulton or permission to use his rewritten parts of the song for commercial use.
After receiving an insulting response from the show’s lawyers, Coulton rereleased his own version of the song, renamed Baby Got Back (In The Style Of Glee), which he described as being “a cover of Glee’s cover of my cover of Sir Mix-a-Lot’s song, which is to say it’s EXACTLY THE SAME as my original version” and vowed to donate a certain amount of the proceeds to two Glee-related charities.
Here’s JoCo performing one of his geeky songs, That Spells DNA…
A Capella Science
A Capella Science is is the brainchild of Tim Blais, a physics masters degree graduate who creates science-based geeky songs using only sounds that he makes with his mouth – all drums and other “instruments” that you hear are all just his voice (albeit overdubbed).
With a wealth of science-based geeky songs to choose from, it’s hard to pick only one for a list like this, but everyone likes Bohemian Rhapsody, right? What about Bohemian Gravity?
Obviously Monty Python need no introduction, having graced our screens since the 1960’s with their original, revolutionary, and oft-since-copied brand of surrealist comedy that forged the careers of members John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Michael Palin, Terry Jones and the late Graham Chapman.
Python caused a bit of a stir with their 1979 movie Life Of Brian, the story of a Jewish man born on the same day as Jesus in the building next door, who is subsequently mistaken for the Messiah. The movie was banned in a number of countries including Ireland for eight years and Norway for a year, and also by many town councils in the UK. Some of those UK bans extended into the 21st century, such as in Torbay in Devon, where the ban was only lifted in 2008.
This is Galaxy Song, performed by Eric Idle, one of Python’s more geeky songs, which first appeared in their 1983 movie, The Meaning Of Life…
Geeky Songs About Gaming
Gamers, like science geeks, have every right to feel aggrieved at the music industry for the distinct shortage of gaming-related geeky songs available in the mainstream. Thankfully the Nerdcore Rap genre has its fair share of representatives of this topic, and a few of the bigger MMO games have such large and dedicated communities that music about their favourite games have become subgenres in their own right.
Andrew Volpe is the vocalist/guitarist in alternative rock band Ludo. In 2012 under his own name he penned this geeky song for gamers, Gaming Ain’t No Game, expressing the passion that many of us have for this so frequently misunderstood pasttime…
No geeky songs list would be complete without some MC Frontalot, the Godfather of the Nerdcore Rap scene, and his practically inimitable style of highly punctuated geeky rap.
With six studio albums to his name and lyrics covering geeky topics from retro gaming to TV and movie references, computing, science, role-playing, philosophy and the zombie apocalypse, Front has been at the fore of the geeky music scene since the release of his debut album Nerdcore Rising in 2005.
It Is Pitch Dark is a satirical and philosophical song with heavy references to the Zork text-adventure game series from the earliest days of home computing. Watch out for the cameo by legendary game designer Steve Maretzky…
MMO Fan Music: EVE Online
EVE Online in a space-based MMO created by Icelandic software company CCP. The game is infamous in MMO circles for its steep learning curve, providing a level of difficulty that separates the geek from the chaff to cement a dedicated global nerd-heavy fanbase.
Such are the levels of commitment from the playerbase, an entire underground genre of geeky songs has arisen, created by EVE players purely for EVE players.
I could fill an entire article like this one with just EVE-referencing parody cover versions of famous songs, let alone original songs by fans and CCP staff alike. such is the wealth of EVE-related music available on the internet.
Cearul is one of the artists at the forefront of the EVE-fan-written geeky songs scene, having created a number of professional quality parody cover versions of famous songs set in the EVE game-world of New Eden.
Like many aspects of the game itself, the ingame references in the lyrics are almost certain to fly over the heads of anyone that isn’t a hardened EVE player, but even non-players will be able to appreciate the time and effort that have gone into creating geeky songs about this most geeky of online multiplayer games…
Geeky Songs About Computers And Programming
Computers have rarely been seen as sexy topics for songwriters, except for perhaps in a few key moments in the history of the industry. Still, one or two artists have written some pretty geeky songs about the internet and even about coding, like these…
Jesus Jones were an indie/alternative band that were most famous in the late 80’s and early 90’s, who weren’t afraid to utilise the latest music technology into their rock-guitar-laden sound. One of their earliest hits was the geek anthem Info Freako, a musical manifesto of the singer’s endless desire for more knowledge.
The following song, Zeroes And Ones from their third album Perverse (1993) is one of their more geeky songs, and is a statement of wide-eyed wonder at the birth of the internet and a prophetic vision of how computers were about to change the world forever…
Dale Chase arrived on the geeky music scene in 2010 with his eclectic album Limit Break, and is known for his in-depth coding-related lyrics and geeky songs that cover a number of geeky topics from TV show Breaking Bad to online content management system WordPress.
Here are a few of Chase’s geeky songs for programmers…
I could hardly write an article about geeky songs without at least giving a mention to Star Wars. There have been so many geeky songs written about the Holy Trilogy (and those other three movies that we try not to talk about) that the list of songs that reference the Star Wars universe that can be found on one particular Star Wars wiki site is longer than this whole article, and that list doesn’t even mention the wonderful grunge track Chewbacca (What A Wookiee) by Supernova…
“Weird Al” Yankovic
Last but not least, the legend that is “Weird Al” Yankovic. With 14 albums to his name, Weird Al has been prolific in his three decade career of covering famous songs but changing the lyrics either in parody of the original song or to make reference to some hilarity-inducing aspect of modern times.
Occasionally, Weird Al has written some pretty geeky songs, none more so than in the exceptional The Saga Begins, a play-by-play retelling of the story of The Phantom Menace from the point of view of Obi Wan Kenobi…