Five Songs That Improved Humanity

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Scientists at the University Of South Australia, rockin’ dorks that they are, have discovered that AC/DC’s ‘Thunderstruck’ provides the right sort of vibrations to help them formulate a chemotherapy drug called Camptothecin. A paper entitled ‘Thunderstruck: Plasma-Polymer-Coated Porous Silicon Microparticles As a Controlled Drug Delivery System’ has been published, which is a load of science stuff explaining how the track helps micro-particles of the drug basically head-bang cancer to death (or something). But which other songs have become unexpected boons to humanity? Here’s a handful…

5 Notorious BIG, ‘Juicy’

Medical researchers, presumably when half-drunk on a Friday afternoon, love to analyse music for its health benefits.

4 Sam Cooke, ‘A Change Is Gonna Come’

From Billie Holiday’s ‘Strange Fruit’ to Public Enemy’s ‘Fight The Power’, music played a pivotal role in the development of the rights and freedoms of black people in the US, and perhaps no song more so than Sam Cooke’s greatest moment. Released in 1964 as the civil rights movement was gathering serious momentum, it became the unifying anthem for protesters, a rallying cry of hope and defiance that, quite possibly, changed the world for the better.

3 ‘”Heroes”‘, David Bowie

Ignoring the activities of East German dissidents and years of superpower negotiations, David Hasselhoff will argue his mullet off that his song ‘Looking For Freedom’ helped bring down the Berlin Wall due to the fury of East Germans that the song was banned in their country. Far more feasible. however, is the idea that Bowie’s ‘”Heroes”‘ had a greater impact. “We send our wishes to all our friends who are on the other side of the wall,” he said, intruding the song at a West Berlin show in 1987, within hearing distance of fans on the East side, who began charing “Gorbachev! Gorbachev!

2 Special A.K.A., ‘Free Nelson Mandela’

When Jerry Dammers wrote this simple 1984 protest song it wasn’t the first anti-apartheid anthem – reggae artist Sonny Okosun had tackled Mandela’s plight in ‘Fire In Soweto’ in 1978 and Peter Gabriel had highlighted South African injustice in his 1980 song ‘Biko’ – but it was certainly the most catchy and direct. As a result the slogan put Mandela firmly in the global spotlight and the song played no small part in the campaign to release him to prepare for presidency, crush apartheid and create a free South Africa.

1 The Bee Gees, ‘Stayin’ Alive’

Research has shown that the rhythm of The Bee Gees’ sassy disco destroyer is, at 103bpm, the correct rate at which to perform chest compressions during CPR. ‘Nelly The Elephant’ also fits the bill, but doctors are worried that pumping along to such enjoyable songs mean that the compressions aren’t deep enough into the chest to be properly effective. There are now suggestions that Billy Ray Cyrus’ ‘Achy Breaky Heart’ might work better, presumably because we’d all love to break Billy’s ribs.