Today is 3/14: Schoolhouse Rock route, which is something we strongly encourage on all days. But since we’re a pop music site, we’ve got a few suggestions of our own, sorted by mathematical subject matter. It’s an incomplete set (pun intended), but hopefully the end product (see previous parentheses) will yield some dividends (yep)!
ARITHMETIC: BEYONCE, “1+1″
Lots of artists riff off one plus one and two plus two, from Brad Paisley to Radiohead to the Spice Girls. But two of those are fleeting lyrics and the other, while a 1984 reference, is still mathematically incorrect. Beyonce’s both made it the title and gotten the math right. Hooray!
Incidentally, this is probably the most unfairly maligned math reference in music in the past few years–which is admittedly a really narrow set (again, pun absolutely intended) of criteria, but still. It’s a direct reference to Sam Cooke’s “Wonderful World,” a classic love song and one you don’t go around poking fun at, you know?
ALGEBRA: JASON DERULO, “ALGEBRA,” HILARY DUFF, “THE MATH” & RIHANNA, “WHAT’S MY NAME”
With so many prospective listeners in high school, where algebra class generally takes place, and with so much songwriting traditionally done in notebook margins (OK, or by crack songwriting teams, but still), it’s little wonder we’ve got lots of algebra songs for you. Sure, they’re not all keen on the concept of algebra:
- Jason Derulo has more problems than an algebra equation. This means he has more than one problem, and we can extrapolate from his current career stage that he’s got fewer than Jay-Z. We can represent this, then, as: 1 < x < 99.
- Hilary Duff prefers more physical things to the realm of analyzing, justifying, quantifying and dividing, although she does get extra points for the sheer range of mathematical references she hits.
- Rihanna’s guest star and sometime fling Drake wants to know whether the square root of 69 is 8. Close enough; it’s actually ~8.31. But this is obviously innuendo, so it gets a pass. (Now, if Drake really wanted innuendo, he’d go look up the way programmers represent this.)
GEOMETRY: KATE BUSH, “PI”
You can’t really put together a Pi Day playlist without at least one song mentioning pi, and if you’re looking for songs that mention pi, might as well go for the one that mentions a bunch of digits (even if they’re not all correct.)
SIDEWAYS MATH: KELLY CLARKSON, “EINSTEIN” & 2GETHER, “U + ME = US”
Sideways math, as defined by the Wayside School series and elsewhere, is just another term for those puzzles you sometimes see where it’s like EGG + EGG = MEAL and every letter represents a digit. (This is a made-up example. I have no idea if it’s solvable.) By this definition, 2Ge+her’s equation is workable. Kelly’s, not so much. But hey–that’s hardly the worst crime against math in the music world. At least the song’s catchy.
Have we missed something? Let us know! And if you’ve got pies to send us, please get in touch.