Science Songwriting – Yes It’s a Thing
She never needs to use a fist, when facing down a nemesis, she punches by hypothesis, she is a super scientist.
So go the lyrics to Monty Harper’s winning entry Super Scientist in the USA Science and Engineering Festival’s songwriting competition. It won first place in category two:
A song that shows middle and high-school age students how cool a career in the sciences can be.
The first category;
a song that gets kids (ages 2-10) interested in science or engineering
was won by Becky Ferreira for her song I Want To Know. I suggest you listen to both tracks immediately. You’re guaranteed a giggle.
No denying, these songs are upbeat and catchy enough to drive you bananas. The positively puke-worthy enthusiasm they deliver is ever so infectious. But honestly for me, Super Scientist didn’t meet the ‘make science seem cool to high school students’ criteria. Maybe he was going for the so-bad-it’s-good approach? I thought it was too specific, too complex and with the bad beach boy-esque music, plain old knitted-jumper-from-your-nan daggy. Did you like it?
Harper bagged $500 for his little number, (which I like to think he spent on a Newton’s cradle to double as a metronome) and his winning proves he knows a thing or two about science songwriting. Definitely more than myself. If I were to hit up this competition though, I’d use the following tactics;
You’re a poet and now you know it – and if you’re not your song will flop.
Make your lyrics rhyme! Rhyming lyrics are more likely to cement that ever important place in the cerebral cortex of your crowd. If it gets stuck in their head, they’ll be singing it days later – and so will the people around them. Rhyme also makes it appealing to children (great for the first category) who’re taught nursery rhymes from a young age. To them, it’s not a song if it doesn’t rhyme. This is where Super Scientist really excelled. It had great rhyme.
Don’t have too much information or complex science, and don’t make it too long – it’s hard to remember and boring. Keep it simple stupid! Again, it helps your audience memorise your lyrics and will make science as a career seem more attractive. I personally thought lines like “a secret message signals them to form a biofilm and they organize a syndicate, invincible and poisonous” from Super Scientist were too complex. (He did win though, so maybe I’m wrong about this point?)
Repeat after me
Repetition is crucial. Construct a great chorus that rhymes and is catchy, which you repeat throughout your song. The repetition means this is what people will remember most, so putting your main message here is a clever move. Just dot some punchy versus between your chorus and you’ll have yourself a great science song.
I feel my advice wouldn’t be very credible if I didn’t have a go at writing a science song myself – so here it is in all its soppy scientific glory. I’m sure you could all write much better lyrics! Feel free to post some below!
Happy writing my super scientists.
Anna’s Bad Science Song:
From trees and shrubs to bees and bugs, we all have a reliance
Too much CO2
And there’ll be few
We can save them though, with science
As water creeps, and ice bergs seep, we could lose our land
We need to know
The way to go
Science helps us understand
So much unknown so much at risk
Fragile lives, we best be brisk
turn to the work of scientists
so our world will still exist
Global warming, poles are thawing, we all need to cool down
So glad we went
With science so renowned