"The Scientist" is the second single from British alternative rock band Coldplay's second album, A Rush of Blood to the Head. The song was written collaboratively by all the band members for the album. It is built around a piano ballad, with its lyrics telling the story about a man's desire to love and an apology. The song was released in the
as the second single from A Rush of Blood to the Head and reached
number 10 in the UK Charts. It was released in the United Kingdom as the third single and reached number 18 on Billboard's Modern
Rock Tracks. United States
Vocalist Chris Martin wrote "The Scientist" after listening to George Harrison's "All Things Must Pass." In an interview with Rolling Stone, Martin revealed that while working on the band's second album, A Rush of Blood to the Head, he knew that the album was missing something. One night, during a stay in
Liverpool, Martin found an old
piano that was out of tune. He wanted to work on Harrison's song, "Isn't It
a Pity", but he could not manage to do so. When the song came to Martin,
he asked that the recorder be turned on. He concluded by saying that he came
across this chord sequence and noted that the chord was "lovely".
Martin recorded the vocals and piano takes in a studio in
When asked about the development of the song, during a track-by-track reveal, Martin said: "That's just about girls. It's weird that whatever else is on your mind, whether it's the downfall of global economics or terrible environmental troubles, the thing that always gets you most is when you fancy someone." The liner notes from A Rush of Blood to the Head, on the other hand, states that "The Scientist is Dan.", with Dan referring to Dan Keeling, the A&R man who signed the band to Parlophone.
Christopher Anthony John "Chris" Martin (born 2 March 1977 in Whitestone, Exeter, Devon) is an English singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, and is the lead vocalist, pianist, rhythm guitarist and one of the founders of the band Coldplay.
Martin is very vocal about his love for Norwegian new wave/Synthpop band a-ha. In 2005 he stated the following in an interview: "I found myself in Amsterdam the other day and I put a-ha's first record on. I just remembered how much I loved it. It's incredible songwriting. Everyone asks what inspired us, what we've been trying to steal from and what we listened to as we were growing up – the first band I ever loved was a-ha." Martin has also performed live together with Magne Furuholmen of a-ha. In November 2011, he stated that "back when we didn't have any hits of our own we used to play a-ha songs."
The popular music video for "The Scientist" was notable for its distinctive reverse narrative, which employed reverse video. The same concept had been previously used for Spike Jonze's 1996 music video for The Pharcyde's "Drop." The reverse video style had first been seen in 1989 for the video for the song "The Second Summer of Love" by Scottish band Danny Wilson. In order for Martin to appear to be singing the lyrics in the reversed footage, he had to learn to sing the song backwards, which took him a month. The video was filmed at various locations, including
and at Bourne Woods in London Surrey, before the first leg of the A Rush of Blood to the Head tour. It
was directed by Jamie Thraves. The video premiered on 14 August 2002.
The video opens, looking down on Martin who is singing, as he lies on his back on a mattress. As the camera shot pulls back, the mattress is revealed to be outside. A cyclist cycles past in reverse and Martin leaps up from the mattress. He walks in reverse through a city, out into the suburbs and eventually crossing a railway line and into woods, picking up his suit jacket as he goes. Upon arriving at his car, a black BMW, he gets in and briefly passes out. His girlfriend, at first shown lying dead on the ground in front of the car, is shown flying back in through the shattered windscreen of the car. The car rolls back up a hill in the woods and through a broken fence, which mends itself as the car passes back through it. As the video closes, the couple is shown driving back up the road. It is revealed that Martin's girlfriend had removed her seat belt, in order to put her jacket on, just before the car accident, causing her death. Irish actress Elaine Cassidy is featured as Martin's girlfriend.
In 2003, "The Scientist" won multiple MTV Video Music Awards for Best Group Video, Best Direction, and Breakthrough Video. It was also nominated at the 2004 Grammy Awards for Best Short Form Music Video but lost to Johnny Cash's video for "Hurt".
In 2011, Willie Nelson covered it for a Chipotle Mexican Grill-sponsored short film titled "Back to the Start", highlighting the problems of Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations.
I wrote about that song in the past. Here is the link to that post: