Would you say that going to school made you an intelligent person? Or would you say that school kept you from learning the things you actually wanted to learn? Well, these artists may argue with you on that point, so check out what they have to say about being smart, staying in school, and the things you learn.
5 Second of Summer – Good Girls
In this song, 5 Seconds of Summer describes the typical high school achiever – the one with the straight As and a one-way ticket to Harvard. Her parents are sure she’s spending all of her time studying. But in reality, she knows that she’s a good girl with a bad side because good girls are just bad girls who haven’t been caught.
Lyrics about being smart: Cause every night she studies hard in her room
At least that’s what her parents assume
But she sneaks out the window to meet with her boyfriend
Here’s what she told me the time that I caught her
She said to me,
“Forget what you thought
‘Cause good girls are bad girls that haven’t been caught.
So just turn around and forget what you saw
‘Cause good girls are bad girls that haven’t been caught.”
Alice Cooper – School’s Out
Here’s a song that describes how being smart isn’t just about what you learn in school. In fact, the term “school’s out” means that school is over and it’s time to wise up for the real world. In this song, however, it’s mentioned that school is over because the school has been blown to pieces:
Lyrics about being smart: Well we got no choice
All the girls and boys
Makin’ all that noise
‘Cause they found new toys
Well we can’t salute ya can’t find a flag
If that don’t suit ya that’s a drag
School’s out for summer
School’s out forever
School’s been blown to pieces
Sam Cooke – (What a) Wonderful World
In this song, Sam Cooke admits that he’s not exactly a great student. In fact, he says he doesn’t know much about history, biology, French, geography, trigonometry, or algebra. He is, however, trying to be a better student because he wants to win a girl’s love.
Lyrics about being smart: Don’t know much about geography,
Don’t know much trigonometry
Don’t know much about algebra,
Don’t know what a slide rule is for
But I do know that one and one is two,
And if this one could be with you,
What a wonderful world this would be
Cake – Short Skirt/Long Jacket
This song may not be for everyone, but it does have a point. The fact that the guy in the song mentions how he wants a girl with a short skirt and a long jacket implies that he wants a girl with contradictory characteristics. He doesn’t want just a simple girl, he wants one who’s fast, thorough, and sharp as a tack. He wants a girl with a strong sense of justice but with good money.
Lyrics about being smart: With fingernails that shine like justice
And a voice that is dark like tinted glass
She is fast, thorough, and sharp as a tack
She’s touring the facilities and picking up slack
I want a girl with a short skirt and a long, long jacket
James Brown – Don’t Be a Dropout
This was James Brown’s first attempt at a socially conscious song as he encourages kids to stay in school. The song tells the story of his friend who was told that without an education, he might as well be dead. He sings about the important of education, and even if you dropped out, to get back in there to continue your studies. This song led to Brown meeting Vice President Hubert Humphrey, who was working on a stay-in-school program at the time.
Lyrics about being smart: Now a good friend of mine
Sat with me and he cried
He told me a story
I know he ain’t lying
Said he went for a job
And Mr. Man said
Without an education
You might as well be dead
John Mayer – No Such Thing
Education doesn’t always equate to being smart in the world outside of school, though it does help. In this song, John Mayer goes against the usual teachings of the school (staying inside the lines). He asserts that there’s more to life than getting straight A’s in school and learning what the books say. For many people, becoming an intelligent member of society has more to do with real life experiences.
Lyrics about being smart: So the good boys and girls take the so called right track
Faded white hats
Grabbing credits and
They read all the books but they can’t find the answers
And all of our parents
They’re getting older
I wonder if they’ve wished for anything better
While in their memories
Jimmy Buffett – Smart Woman (In a Real Short Skirt)
In this song, Jimmy Buffet is sick and tired of being in “Bimbo Limbo” where all the girls may be pretty, but none of them are intelligent. He says it’s wearing him thin and he just wants a woman who balance both beauty and brains. He wants a smart woman who can dress seductively, flirt, and think on her own. And while he admits he may not be the macho man the ladies want, it doesn’t stop him from wanting a smart woman in his life.
Lyrics about being smart: I’m looking for a smart woman
in a real short skirt
Smart woman who knows how to flirt
Smart woman got a mind of her own
Smart woman that’ll take me home
Take me home
Baz Luhrmann – Everybody’s Free (to Wear Sunscreen)
Baz Luhrmann’s poetic song is a useful guide for getting through life. It plays like a graduation speech where he starts off by telling everyone to wear sunscreen. Along with that, he gives advice about how to spend one’s youth, how worrying does nothing, how it’s never okay to reckless with people’s hearts, and how the future may not be exactly as you imagine it. While it’s less about intelligence than it is about wisdom, we figured this song is still fitting for this list.
Lyrics about being smart: The most interesting people
I know didn’t know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives
Some of the most interesting 40-year-olds I know still don’t
Get plenty of calcium
Be kind to knees, you’ll miss them when they’re gone
The Undertones – Smarter than You
This song reeks of insecurity as a guy keeps hammering home the idea that he’s smarter than the girl he’s talking to. The idea here is that it’s very likely that he’s just trying to impress a girl even if he’s not that clever.
Lyrics about being smart: I’m a little intellectual
Someone who knows it all
I could be your summer special
You could be my New York doll
Ian Dury and the Blockheads – There Ain’t Half Been Some Clever Bastards
This song is all about being intelligent and cultured. However, it’s not the singer who has those traits as he calls the smart folks lucky bleeders.
Lyrics about being smart: Einstein can’t be classed as witless
He claimed atoms were the littlest
When you did a bit of splitting-em-ness
Frighten everybody shitless
There ain’t half been some clever bastards
Probably got help from their mum
(who had help from her mum)
There ain’t half been some clever bastards
Now that we’ve had some
Let’s hope that there’s lots more to come
Pink Floyd – Another Brick in the Wall
Another Brick in the Wall is a song that protests the controlling environment in boarding schools – from yelling at the kids to telling them how to sit to telling them they can’t have desserts. They’re telling teachers to leave the kids alone with their dark sarcasm in the classroom, as it’s obviously not a conducive environment for learning.
Lyrics about being smart: We don’t need no education
We don’t need no thought control
No dark sarcasm in the classroom
Teachers leave those kids alone
Hey! Teachers! Leave those kids alone
All in all you’re just another brick in the wall
All in all you’re just another brick in the wall
Bowling for Soup – High School Never Ends
There are many of us who think that when high school ends, the real world will be very different. However, Bowling for Soup asserts that it’s the same thing over and over again. The shallowness of being the most popular or most good-looking in school carries over to the adult world. Those who were privileged in school stay that way afterwards. And those who are smart or kind don’t always get a better future because the shallowness of the world doesn’t value those traits as much.
Lyrics about being smart: Four years, you think for sure
That’s all you’ve have to endure
All the total dicks, all the stuck-up chicks
So superficial, so immature
And then when you graduate
You take a look around and you say, “Hey, wait!”
This is the same as where I just came from
I thought it was over, oh, that’s just great
Chuck Berry – School Day
In 1957, high school kids were the target audience for rock and roll artists, so Chuck Berry created this song to appeal to them. In this song, he describes how students just want to get through their day in school so that they can hang out with the person they like.
Lyrics about being smart: Up in the mornin’ and out to school
The teacher is teachin’ the Golden Rule
American history and practical math
You studyin’ hard and hopin’ to pass
Workin’ your fingers right down to the bone
And the guy behind you won’t leave you alone
Boyinaband – Don’t Stay in School
Boyinaband critiques the trivial things we learn in school in Don’t Stay in School. In this song, the singer laments how Shakespeare’s classics and Henry VIII’s wives wouldn’t help him learn about finances or how to vote. Isotopes and wavelengths of light wouldn’t teach him about the law or how to look after one’s health. It’s a long and winding song about how school focus so much on stuffing information in students’ brains while ignoring practical concepts that they’ll actually need in life.
Lyrics about being smart: But I won’t take it
I’ll tell everyone my childhood was wasted
I’ll share it everywhere how I was “educated”
And insist these pointless things
Don’t stay in school
Vitamin C – Graduation (Friends Forever)
Last but not least, we need a song about graduating and what we’ve learned in school. Vitamin C’s hit graduation song is about remembering the good times in school as we all move forward in life.
Lyrics about being smart: Will little brainy Bobby be the stockbroker man?
Can Heather find a job that won’t interfere with her tan?
I keep, keep thinking that it’s not goodbye
Keep on thinking it’s a time to fly
And this is how it feels
So which of these artists have the right idea when it comes to what you learn in school? Share with us what you think in the comments below!