The Scientist



The Scientist” is the second single from Coldplay’s sophomore album, A Rush of Blood to the Head. Regional singles included UK/Europe, the Netherlands, Germany, and Canada. Promos were released for the UK and U.S.

The song is a piano-driven ballad; Chris Martin opens the song and is joined by the rest of the band after the first chorus. Martin was inspired to write “The Scientist” after listening to George Harrison’s “Isn’t it a Pity” on the album All Things Must Pass. The song also shows strong allusion to the short story “The Birthmark” by Nathaniel Hawthorne; where a scientist forgets about the love of his life due to his devotion to science. He then realizes his mistake when it is already too late, as her death now haunts him.

The song was covered live by Aimee Mann and released on a special edition of her album Lost in Space. Natasha Bedingfield covered the song on Jo Whiley’s Live Lounge radio show. Also, Belinda Carlisle did a live rendition on the ITV1 reality show Hit Me Baby One More Time. The television show MAD TV also did a parody of the video called “The Narcissist.”


The single cover features drummer Will Champion, art-directed by Sølve Sundsbø.

Music video

“The Scientist” music video

The music video for “The Scientist” was very popular with its reverse narrative. A similar concept was previously used for Spike Jonze’s music video for The Pharcyde’s “Drop”. This reverse style can also be seen in Enigma’s, “Return to Innocence”, Jack Johnson’s video for “Sitting, Waiting, Wishing” and also Beyonce Knowles’ video for Me, Myself and I. It took Chris Martin a month to learn the lyrics backwards.[1]

The video was filmed at various locations including London and Surrey before the first leg of the A Rush of Blood to the Head Tour. It was directed by famed director Jamie Thraves, best known for his work on Radiohead’s enigmatic “Just” video. Though it was filmed in England, the car driven in the music video features a Wyoming license plate which had a design that was in use from 1983 to 1988 (although the car itself is right-hand drive). The vehicle in the video was a BMW E28 5-series, manufactured from 1982 to 1988.

Irish actress Elaine Cassidy is also featured in the video.

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 Grammy Awards for Best Music Video:Short Form.



Chris Martin on “The Scientist”: “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.” [2]

However, inside the cover to A Rush of Blood to the Head it is stated that ‘The Scientist is Dan.’ Possibly relating to Dan and relationships, or alternatively, a reference to the Beatles’ “The walrus is Paul” quote.

Chris Martin comments on the official site (19th June 2007): “The video for the scientist – made Jamie Thraves, a clever and lovely man. Was pretty good. But every time I see Simon Pegg he teases me about it, so now I can’t watch it. He wonders why somone after a car crash would go into a town and have a nap. He can fuck off. cm.”


The chords to this song are replicated by Sum 41, in their song “Pieces”

The Oracle on The Scientist

February 4, 2013 – submitted by Grace, Australia

Q. Hi beautiful Oracle,

I was wondering is this the original version of The Scientist, that Chris took a month of to practice backwards?

Thank-you almighty Oracle Xx

The Oracle replies:

No, Grace. The person that posted that is being sarcastic (a sense of humour regular readers of The Oracle will recognize).

What you hear is simply The Scientist reversed. The video was shot forwards but then reversed.

This is a version of the original video matched with the song in reverse thus showing that Chris did indeed sing it backwards in the original filming.

It did take him about a month to learn but there were a few (backwards) lyrics written on boards in case he needed them for reference.

January 30, 2013 – submitted by Paul

Q. Hi Oracle,

The Scientist is my favorite song and has been for years and years and years.

I always wondered what the lyrics “Coming up tales” meant, and I had a thought today: is he referring to “coming of age tales” or something of that sort? Is he saying that he is growing up or something?


The Oracle replies:

It’s the other tails; not tales. It’s not the rear end of an animal’s body either.

“Coming up tails” refers to heads or tails. It’s the flip of a coin which also explains the next line of the song – “heads on a science apart”.

September 23, 2010 – submitted by Frances, Mexico

Q. Hi Oracle :B


My question is… is the girl from the Trouble video the same of The Scientist video ?

thanks for answer !!

The Oracle replies:

As mentioned before Elaine Cassidy is the actress in the The Scientist video. As I am sure you know there are two video for Trouble; there isn’t a girl in the original video and Elaine didn’t appear in Tim Hope’s alternative U.S version so the short answer is no.

June 12, 2009 – submitted by Julie, United States of America

Q. Dear all-knowing Oracle

I heard a rumor that The Scientist by Coldplay (obviously) was going to be on the New Moon soundtrack. Is this true?

Peace, luv,

Julie <3 The Oracle replies:

It’s very likely that Coldplay will be approached to appear on the soundtrack to the Twilight sequel given that Stephenie Meyer has credited Coldplay, amongst others, on the inner sleeve for “being instrumental in staving off the writer’s block”.

May 6, 2009 – submitted by Matt, United States of America

Q. Did Coldplay really have to learn to play “The Scientist” backward for the music video?

The Oracle replies:

The band didn’t have to play any music backwards for the video. However, the reverse video did require Chris to lip synch backwards. It took him around a month to learn it and on the day of the shoot there were boards with the lyrics written on, just in case.

May 4, 2009 – submitted by Meli, Argentina

Q. Who’s the girl in the scientist video? Is she famous in England or something like that?

I’ll appreciate an answer 🙂

I have mentioned her before but she’s quite a well known actress called Elaine Cassidy.

April 22, 2009 – submitted by Corey, United Kingdom

Q. I have been told that The Scientist was written in dedication to one of Chris Martin’s girlfriends who died.

The Oracle replies:

Nope, a friend of the band who had broken up with his girlfriend inspired it.

February 23, 2009 – submitted by Luisa, Venezuela

Q. Hi Oracle,

I was wondering… What happened with the girl form The Scientist video?… Is she dead?… Thanks, and sorry for my English…

The Oracle replies:

In the story within the video yes, we can assume she died in the accident. The actress Elaine Cassidy however is alive and well!

February 16, 2009 – submitted by Jean, Canada

Q. Respected Oracle,

During the Twisted Logic tour, at the conclusion of “The Scientist”, one could hear an added part that was, in fact, a recording of “The Scientist” played backwards. If you take this recording, and play it backwards, it sounds exactly like “The Scientist” from the album. Can you explain how Coldplay pulled this off?

The Oracle replies:

I’m not sure how you mean pulled this off? Basically what you heard was, as you say, the track played backwards, not the band playing live.
As the video (by Jamie Thraves) was a reverse narrative, Chris did actually have to learn the song backwards. There’s a version of the video available on The Scientist DVD single that plays it running backwards.

January 12, 2009 – submitted by Durl, Canada

Q. Hullo, kind Oracle!

I have recently discovered that Coldplay’s beautiful video ‘Yellow’ was shot with Chris alone because Will’s mother’s funeral was scheduled on the same day of the shooting. But as for one other beautiful Coldplay video, “The Scientist”, I am quite unsure as to why Chris is alone in it. What was the reason?

By the way, with or without fellow band members, these videos are extremely stunning.

Thank you, all knowing Oracle. 


The Oracle replies:

Jamie Thraves directed The Scientist and he said, “Originally it was just a story with a character not featuring the band, but Chris is a really great performer it made sense to use Chris”.

August 22, 2008 – submitted by Mollie, United States of America

Q. Who’s the girl with the short dark hair thats in The Scientist video and she’s also in one of the Tim Hope-made videos?

The Oracle replies:

That’s Elaine Cassidy.

August 19, 2008 – submitted by Kate, Australia

Q. Was The Scientist a song for a friend of Chris Martin’s from university? Oh please shed some light on this, oh great one.

The Oracle replies:

No, the song was actually inspired by someone close to the band who was going through a bad time after a relationship break-up.

July 30, 2008 – submitted by Cindy, Canada

Q. Some of Coldplay’s popular videos are filmed backwards, which must make the process of filming quite difficult. Should we expect to see any more of these original videos?

The Oracle replies:

Actually Cindy there is only one video that uses a backward technique in its entirety. The Scientist was shot (by Jamie Thraves) in the usual way but then reversed. This meant Chris had to learn the lyrics backwards so that when the video was reversed, it would appear he’s saying the words correctly as if filmed forwards.


Come up to meet you, tell you I’m sorry
You don’t know how lovely you are

I had to find you
Tell you I need you
Tell you I set you apart

Tell me your secrets
And ask me your questions
Oh, let’s go back to the start

Running in circles
Coming up tails
Heads on a science apart

Nobody said it was easy
It’s such a shame for us to part
Nobody said it was easy
No one ever said it would be this hard

Oh, take me back to the start

I was just guessing
At numbers and figures
Pulling the puzzles apart

Questions of science
Science and progress
Do not speak as loud as my heart

Tell me you love me
Come back and haunt me
Oh, and I rush to the start

Running in circles
Chasing our tails
Coming back as we are

Nobody said it was easy
Oh, it’s such a shame for us to part
Nobody said it was easy
No one ever said it would be so hard

I’m going back to the start

External links