Selections From the Forthcoming Quantum Aesthetics: The Best of The American Journal of Physics’ Music-Review Section.
BY KEVIN EVERS
BLOOD, SWEAT, AND TEARS
Though it isn’t unpleasant, I must take issue with the opening lyric, “What goes up must come down.” Although usually true, it is, in fact, only true in cases when the object in question, assuming it isn’t self-propelled, lacks the required “escape velocity” to propel it out of Earth’s gravitational pull. In such cases, that which goes “up” will continue indefinitely until it encounters another object or a gravitational field, whereupon it may descend to the surface of another body, although this could hardly be considered “coming down” in the same sense. If the object in question is of extraterrestrial origin, all definitions of “up” and “down” are, of course, essentially meaningless. Altogether, I prefer James Brown’s live version from Sex Machine.
“Save the Best for Last”
This saccharine romantic drivel, backed by antiseptic studio production, spouts lyrics that even biblical literalists would find scientifically embarrassing. The line “Sometimes the snow comes down in June,” meant, obviously, to imply something highly improbable, seems to forget that, due to the tilt of Earth’s axis, the Southern Hemisphere is in the midst of an autumn-to-winter transition in June, which makes snowfall quite common, especially at higher altitudes. This, however, pales in comparison to Ms. Williams’s farcical assertion that “sometimes the Sun goes round the Moon,” to which one can only respond with derisive laughter. The Sun never, at any time, from the dawn of the universe on ad infinitum, has or will “go round the Moon,” and implications to the contrary make one cry for the current state of American education.
“The Final Countdown”
These singers are purveyors of hair metal of a quality so low it would be known as “wig metal” if the name of the genre were not already a pejorative term. The truly ludicrous portentousness of the title track of this Swedish quintet’s third album seems almost predestined to pollute the atmosphere of sports arenas for decades to come. It is likely, however, that little will be said about the lyrics that read, “We’re heading for Venus and still we stand tall, ‘cause maybe they’ve seen us and welcome us all, with so many light-years to go and things to be found.” Not to be pedantic, but it seems quite clear that this band, which felt the need to speak for an entire continent, is grossly ill-informed about the distance from Earth to Venus. It takes roughly eight minutes for light from the Sun to reach Earth. This means that the Sun is roughly eight light-minutes away from Earth. This means that, even on the off chance that Venus and Earth are at opposite ends of their respective elliptical orbits, any reasonable route taken from Earth to Venus would be a distance of, at most, 30 light-minutes, but, for the sake of erring on the side of caution, we’ll say that the distance is twice that: one light-hour. With regard to these lyrics, that is like saying that something less than a foot away is “many miles away.” Unless the origin of “The Final Countdown” is extraterrestrial, or the route they’re taking is circuitous to the point of endangering whatever mission is involved, their calculations are clearly way off and they’ll end up far from their desired destination. But I guess Swedish men are no different from the rest of the men on this planet: They just won’t stop and ask for directions.
Fresh on the heels of the blockbuster success of their single “Walk Like an Egyptian,” a song that has no doubt raised the ire of anthropologists and Egyptologists everywhere, this L.A. foursome has given us the ballad that asks the question “Am I only dreaming, or is this burning an eternal flame?” As seems to be the case in many of these instances of pop-lyric questioning, the answer is a resounding no. As stated in the first law of thermodynamics, energy cannot be created or destroyed, only changed into different forms. For a flame to be eternal, then, it would have to transform an “eternal” or infinite amount of chemical energy into thermal energy, which, as stated in the second law of thermodynamics, cannot be changed back into chemical energy. Thus, at some point, this flame would be extinguished, probably in a most unceremonious manner. I do like their almost edgy cover of Simon and Garfunkel’s “A Hazy Shade of Winter,” however.
“Voodoo Child (Slight Return)”
THE JIMI HENDRIX EXPERIENCE
In this song, Jimi Hendrix takes a traditional blues riff, utilized many times before, most notably in Muddy Waters’s “Rollin’ Stone,” and launches it into the stratosphere. Though some may take issue with the line “I stand up next to a mountain and chop it down with the edge of my hand,” I feel confident in saying that the laws of physics do not apply to Jimi Hendrix.
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