Coldplay’s “The Scientist” Lyrics Meaning

“The scientist” in this song is actually the singer (Chris Martin) himself. In other words, based on the second verse, science seems to be his profession or at least a discipline he is engrossed in.

Meanwhile the addressee is his romantic interest, i.e. his girlfriend. And the underlying implication is that, via his obsession with science, their relationship is now messed up. Or another way of looking at it is that he has neglected her, and now doing so is coming back to haunt him, as in she not wanting to deal with him anymore.

Thus the track begins with him apologizing. “The scientist” then goes on to illustrate how much he adores and needs his lover. And he acknowledges that romantic relationships in and of themselves are challenging. But him not paying adequate attention to her has only added to the challenge.

So now, he wants to “go back to the start”. This reads as if he is saying that he wants a second chance with her. Indeed it is very much possible that he is relating these feelings after already being told, by her, that the romance is over. And he definitely does not want that to transpire.

What Chris Martin says is the meaning of “The Scientist”

In fact Coldplay’s Chris Martin, who is recognized as the primary writer of this song, has stated that it’s “just about girls”. Or more specific to the situation at hand, it is based on the idea that no issue seems to worry a man more than losing the woman he loves. And this is something which “the scientist” has apparently learned the hard way. He preoccupied himself with “numbers and figures”, “puzzles”, “science and progress”. But now that his sweetheart is on her way out the door, all of these matters have taken an indisputable backseat to winning her back.

Lyrics of “The Scientist”

Music Video

In the video, Coldplay’s lead singer Chris Martin is seen driving with his partner as they have an accident in which she dies. He simply walks out of the vehicle, from the scene, into the city. These events however, happened in reverse motion. Meaning though the video was shot normally, it was played in a backward motion. The song is mainly themed on an attempt to analyze and recover a broken relationship.

Jamie Thraves was the director of the video and he revealed to MTV that the idea came up a year before he heard or found the perfect song to match. He wanted to create a video that begins happily and ends happily at the rewind although the story is essentially tragic. Thraves added that the idea originally did not include Chris on set, however the lead vocalist insisted on being on set and was actually excited about the experience. It took about a month for him to learn the song backwards.

Scenes were shot in the streets of North London, and the climax was captured in the same forest that was used as a battlefield in the movie “Gladiator” over a three-day production period.


It is interesting to note that another DVD, includes the video, this time running forward, while the song is played backwards. The video went on to win 3 MTV awards for its use of the reverse narrative. Furthermore it received a nomination at the Grammy Awards and over 700 million YouTube views as of May 2019.

Release Date of “The Scientist”

“The Scientist” was released on November 4, 2002 in Europe as the second single from the band’s album, “A Rush of Blood to the Head”. That album also happens to be their second. The song was however, released in the US on April 15, 2003 as the third single, replacing it with “Clocks” as the second for their American audience.

Chart Performance

The song peaked at #10 in Britain (UK Singles Chart) in 2002. Furthermore, it climbed to #18 on the Billboard Modern Rock tracks chart in the US. The song peaked on the Canada’s official Singles Chart at number sixteen, and number 40 on Australia Singles Chart.

Amidst the positive reception, Rolling Stone placed “The Scientist” at number 54 on their list of the “100 Best Songs of the Decade” in 2009.

Writing Credits of “The Scientist”

The track was written by Chris Martin and his Coldplay buddies – Champion, Berryman  and Buckland. Chris, speaking with the Rolling Stone said he wrote the track after listening to George Harrison’s classic “All Things Must Pass“.


There are numerous versions and covers of “The Scientist”. Artists that have covered the track include:

  • Aimee Mann
  • Kris Allen
  • Natasha Bedingfield
  • Avril Lavigne
  • Miley Cyrus
  • Belinda Carlisle

Appearance in Movies and TV Shows

Being one of Coldplay’s most successful singles, “The Scientist” has been staple in Coldplay’s live set lists. It has also been featured in a many movies and TV series:

  • Season 2 Episode 17 of American superhero series, “Smallville”. The episode aired on 25th February, 2003.
  • 2004 American rom-thriller-drama movie, “Wicker Park”. This movie featured both the original version and a cover.
  • American professional wrestling TV program “WWE Raw” featured Willie Nelson’s cover on its 23rd May, 2011 episode. It was used in part of a tribute video to “Macho Man” Randy Savage. Macho Man had died of a sudden coronary heart disease 3 days earlier.
  • Willie Nelson’s cover of the song was also featured in the closing credits of 2014 American legal drama movie, “The Judge”.
  • In Season 4, Episode 4 of American musical TV series, “Glee”, Finn (Cory Monteith) performs his rendition of “The Scientist” alone. While performing it, he imagines his group mates are performing it with him.
  • Corinne Bailey Rae’s cover was part of 2017 drama movie soundtrack “Fifty Shades Darker”.

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