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You’ve seen Top-X song lists before, but we’ll bet very few of them had to do with math, and probably none had to do specifically with what we’re interested in: business and data analytics. Here are the top 5 songs on our favorite topic:

5. Lateralus – Tool

What’s the foundation of analytics? Well, it’s math. Though math has made many different appearances in the history of music (remember this tongue-in-cheek example?), this song by Tool is a particularly cool example of the synergy between music and math. You can read about the entire fascinating story behind the album here, but in short, this titular song incorporates the Fibonacci sequence into both the time signature of the chorus and the lyrics themselves. The Fibonacci sequence is a mathematical “spiral”: 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 5, 3, 2, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 8, 5, 3. Sure enough, if you count the syllables during the verses, it matches perfectly.

There have always been correlations between math and music (especially jazz and classical), and technically all music is just math, but this example of using one of the most interesting math concepts as the core of a song stands out as just very, very cool.

4. Check Yo Self – Ice Cube

(Don’t worry, this is the clean SFW version)

An odd pick? Well, let’s set aside how mathematic the art of rap is in the first place (if you want to know, you can ask the Rappin’ Mathematician) and focus on the theme of the song itself. Mr. Cube implores you to (allow Yahoo! Answers to paraphrase here) “take a step back and examine your actions, because you are in a potentially dangerous or sticky situation that could get bad very easily.” Well, that’s basically what we’ve been suggesting with data quality from the beginning. Unless you “check” that your data is clean from the get-go, you have the potential to “wreck” your business.

So chickity-check yo self before you wreck yo self.

3. She Blinded Me With Science – Thomas Dolby

What sort of science did she blind you with? That’s right: data science.

Yes, we admit, we love the title of the song and it loosely applies to analytics and what this list is about, but we wouldn’t be giving the usual deep level of insight we’re known for if that was all this was. Actually, the term “she blinded me with science” is referring to a colloquial British expression that means “deliberately confusing someone by giving the impression of highly complex knowledge.” Sort of like how we feel when companies rely on Excel for their analytics: it’s confusing, even if the data is simple. We’re all about visualizing data in an easy to understand way. We promise never to blind you with science.

Oh, and Thomas Dolby is Musical Director of the TED Conference. Science!

2. Every Breath You Take – The Police

The anthem of “big data” analytics? Perhaps. We don’t quite identify ourselves as doing big data, but we are interested in making sure all the most important pieces of data that matter to you don’t slip through the cracks. Luckily, it wouldn’t be a creepy mullet-toting Sting (even creepier when you know his real name is Gordon Sumner) watching, but a series of algorithms making sure all your data is monitored at all times.

1. Day-O (The Banana Boat Song) – Harry Belafonte

[Of course we linked the Beetlejuice version]

This, bar none, is the most analytical song ever written. Let’s examine what the song’s about: it is based on a traditional Jamaican folk song sung by dock workers loading bananas onto ships during the night shift. When daylight comes, they get to go home…but only after the bananas are tallied up. In other words, these workers are waiting on their bean (banana?) counters to hurry and perform their analytics so they can go home.

But, watch out, in those beautiful bunches of ripe bananas, there is a deadly black tarantula! A reference to data errors? A deal opportunity that is taking too long and sucking up too much of your time?? Probably. And don’t get us started on the complex regressions in the “six foot, seven foot, eight foot bunch” formula…

Ok, so many we just really like this song.

Got a better suggestion of an analytics song? Let us know! And we’re not just pop critics…

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Samuel Clemens
Sam is founder and chief of product & marketing for InsightSquared. Previously, Sam was VP Product at HubSpot, VP Product at BzzAgent, and on the founding team at Elance.com. His background also includes venture capital with Greylock Partners, the Algorithms group at Amazon.com, and management consulting with Booz Allen Hamilton. Sam has an MBA from Harvard Business School and a B.S. in Applied Math from Yale. In his off time he dives shipwrecks in the New England area.

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