20 science songs to beat the lab playlist blues

Music to inspire you in the lab (when “She Blinded Me with Science” won’t cut it anymore)

Mid-year is a time to take stock: check your lab supplies, update your notes, work on your latest grant report, read all those papers you've imported into your reference manager, even get started on a new paper or that grant proposal you've been dreading to write. The work never seems to stop. It's no wonder you're lagging. So what better way to reenergize than with music?

Oh, yeah, but your playlist is stale, too. You've heard "She Blinded Me with Science" (Thomas Dolby), "Sounds of Science" (Beastie Boys) and "Love Is the Drug" (Roxy Music) so many times that now you just tune them out.

Not to worry. Here are 20 randomly ordered recommendations worth adding to your playlist. None are new, but because many are little known (or remembered), you'll earn some serious cred from your lab mates.

The Scientists' (This Is My) Happy Hour/Swampland 71. "Swampland," The Scientists. You have to love a song that includes a formula ("Nine parts water, one part sand").  Other Scientists' songs to consider adding to your spin include When Worlds' Collide and Atom Bomb Baby. Hard to find but so very post-punk cool.

2. "Scientist," The Dandy Warhols. A fabulously affirming song, with lyrics such as "I live on science alone" from one of my all-time favorite bands. Just take care when walking across the lab while carrying something that could spill when this one comes on. The song has a groove that few bodies can deny.

3. "Show Me How This Thing Works," Cracker. All you applied scientists, this one's for you. Takes you back to when you were a kid and loved taking things apart and then putting them back together again. A reminder of why you became a scientist in the first place.

4. "Radioactive," Imagine Dragons. Even though this song spent a record-setting 87 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100 and has become a staple of many television ads (think all those sports promos with this playing in the background), the song is still lush and full. Another good groove.

5. "Girl, You Have No Faith in Medicine," White Stripes. A shout-out to medical researchers. Just don't play it in the presence of your human subjects; you might give them the wrong impression. And calling all mathematicians, check out "Black Math." (Jack and Meg, you rock!)

What's on your playlist?

Share your recommendations in the comments. Your bench mates will thank you.

6. "Science Friction," XTC. From the aptly named Fossil Fuel: The XTC Singles Collection. Fast and fun.

7. "Satellite," Robyn Hitchcock. Clever and irreverent, his lyrics are stream-of-consciousness and his tunes are catchy.

8. "Supercollider," Fountains of Wayne. Witty lyrics and power pop melodies make any song from these Jersey boys worth listening to. A perfect selection for all those toiling in CERN.

9. "She's Electric," Oasis. A song that simply bops. I never get tired of listening to these guys. Never.

10. "Stars Are Stars," Echo & the Bunnymen. My colleagues who know me well know that no song list of mine is complete without a Bunnymen song (or more) on it. Physicists might like to include Friction.

11. "Strychnine," The Sonics. My absolute favorite 60s garage band whose songs don't date. No one has a rock scream like lead singer Gerry Roslie. No. One.

12. "Race for the Prize," The Flaming Lips. Whether in chemistry, medicine, physics or economic sciences, isn't this what it's all about? An avant-garde arrangement from one of the most original bands recording today.

13. "Chemistry Class," Elvis Costello & the Attractions. A discography worth exploring for many other lab playlist contenders, such as "Less Than Zero" and the ever-classic "Pump It Up."

14. "Silent Spring," Primal Scream. For all you environmental scientists. With a nod to Rachel Carson.

15. "Cosmic Thing," The B-52s. Dance around the lab. Go ahead. Dance!

16. "Ultraviolet (Light My Way)," U2. While many purists prefer the older U2 albums (and don't get me wrong, they're great), I am an avowed Achtung Baby fan.

17. "Space & Time," The Verve. When you need to slow the mood down just a bit. Yet this song soars.

18. "Vegetation," Julian Cope. Another artist who graces every playlist I create (and basically dominates my random shuffle). This song-with-a-groove is great for botanists, while you astronomers and astrophysicists out there might add "Sunspots."

19. "Galaxy," War. 70s funk fusion at its best. Ageless, just like the universe.

20. "Nine Below Zero," Muddy Waters & Johnny Winter. When it's time to call it a day, nothing beats this classic rendition from two great blues masters. Find it. So worth it.[divider]

Check out this video by Cracker ...


Elsevier Connect Contributor

Kira CooperKira Cooper is Director of Global Marketing Communication for Academic & Government Research Markets at Elsevier. Her San Diego, California-based team publishes Library Connect and The Academic Executive Brief. Kira has a degree in Journalism from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. She began developing her music tastes while working at the student-run campus radio station.

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