5 Famous Songs That Prove Musicians Don't Understand Science

Songwriters like to use metaphors in their lyrics, and the natural world lends itself easily to prose. It's so much more effective at tugging the heartstrings to compare your relationship to a volatile chemical or the listener to a colorful pyrotechnic display than to say what you mean straightforwardly. Of course, we don't expect our musicians to moonlight as physicists -- hell, we're lucky if they finish high school. So sometimes they get their science wrong.

Incredibly, laughably wrong.

#5. "Promise of a New Day" by Paula Abdul

The Stupid:

Eagle's calling and it's calling your name
Tides are turning, bringing winds of change

Paula sings of changing the world and loving one another, evoking progressive imagery such as the Earth moving under her feet, being singled out by the bird of freedom, the winds of change being churned out by the tides ...

The Science:

In fact, it's the wind that causes the waves when it blows upon the surface of the water, not the other way around.

Much like hot girls in swimsuits, wind is prevalent near large bodies of water. Unlike hot girls in swimsuits, this is because water absorbs heat, and the warmer air over the land rises above the cooler air over the water. (The girls are there to tan and stuff.)

#4. "Perfect" by Hedley

The Stupid:

Falling at 1,000 feet per second
You still take me by surprise

The Science:

Actually, an object falling through space will accelerate until it reaches a maximum speed, called terminal velocity, that will remain constant until the object is stopped. This maximum speed depends on a number of different factors, most prominently the surface area of the object, which causes drag and slows the object, and its weight. (Heavier objects fall faster.)

Let's apply this to an average-sized human: "A free-falling 120-pound woman would have a terminal velocity of about 38 meters per second," says Howie Weiss, a Penn State University math professor. For an object to reach a terminal velocity of 1,000 feet per second, it would need a mass of thousands of kilograms while keeping its surface area, among other factors, sufficiently low. Hedley must like their women like their black holes: incredibly dense.

#3. "This Kiss" by Faith Hill

The Stupid:

It's that pivotal moment, it's a feeling like this
It's centrifugal motion, it's perpetual bliss

The Science:

Did you ever ride the Gravitron when you went to the carnival? That was the ride where you stood against the walls of a circular room that spun around and around at a dizzying rate. Do you remember how your body held tight to the walls even as the room spun around you, pressed stronger and stronger as the room spun faster? Bam, centrifugal force.

What's hilarious about these lyrics is that they're not just wrong, but describing a force that is the opposite of what centrifugal force does: push an object outward from the center. Faith Hill is basically saying that she feels repelled from her lover.

Or, more likely, she actually means centripetal force, which is the "center-seeking" force required for an object to accelerate along a curved path. We're sorry to do this to you, Ms. Hill, but we're going to have to release the angry nerds.

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Winston Rowntree

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