The Elements Song (Tom Lehrer tune), Super Cute Japanese Version

Remember that fantastic iPad app, The Elements, blogged here around the time of the iPad's US launch? And that cute little easter egg within the app: an animated rendition of Tom Lehrer's "The Elements Song?" Here's a new version to accompany the new Japanese edition of the Elements App, sung by two cute girls who dig science. I love it.

Theodore Gray, the guy behind all of it, explains:

I have a cousin, Thomas Howard Lichtenstein, who has lived in Osaka for the past 20 years making a living as a lounge singer at night and composer during the day. This turned out to be a remarkably useful fact when I decided that, based on the huge success of The Elements for iPad in Japan, I really wanted to record a translation into Japanese of Tom Lehrer's elements song. (The entire rest of the ebook had been translated into Japanese: The only things left in English were the song and the spoken element names.)

I asked my cousin if he could make it sound like a nauseatingly cute Japanese pop song. My exact words were "make me think of cats with big eyes". Which I think he has clearly achieved.

I had planned to locate and hire some kind of B-list J-Pop idol to sing it, but he suggested his daughters give it a try, and they did a fantastic job. So the singers are in fact my twin 13-year-old, half-Japanese first cousins once removed. So there you have it, my contribution to increasing the world's supply of WTF, one song at a time.

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  1. I just played TL’s original for my J’se wife last month and we were trying to figure out some of the element names in her language. Can’t wait to show this to her!

    “twin 13-year-old, half-Japanese first cousins once removed”


    1. The girls are twins, they are first cousins once removed from the the person writing the text.

      Catchy tune!

    1. its autotuned like it was originally ment to be used.. where some people miss it and think it is natural. I think she still sounds like nails on chalkboard because of it though.

      I still have burned into my brain the horrid but catchy ending credits to the educational tear jerker anime Element Hunters – I think they are comparable

  2. They do sound totally autotuned but I love it. It adds to the entire surreal experience. In fact, I’d be disappointed if the heads floating in the black void weren’t autotuned.

  3. For those who don’t recognise the tune, Lehrer quite happily acknowledges that he stole it from Gilbert and Sullivan’s “The Model Major General”.

    Always steal from the best.

    And the girls are perfect: I feel like I almost understand Japanese.


  4. “So there you have it, my contribution to increasing the world’s supply of WTF”

    This is absolutely my favorite quote of the week. Thanks, Xeni.

  5. confess xeni – thats just you reading “die antwoort” lyrics played backwards on autotune.

  6. I kept on waiting for the big gasps for air at the end of each verse. Doesn’t seem quite the same without them.

  7. That’s just pickled!

    I’d love to know how they translated that last verse. We’d recognize ‘Harvard’, if it were in there, wouldn’t we?

    1. Roughly: These are all the elements that have been discovered until now.

      No mention of Harvard…

  8. I like the Polonium icon. . .I’d wear a ring like that for special occasions.

    This song is happy and educational. . .Also being a lounge singer in Osaka sounds really cool: but for 20 years?! That’s quite a lifestyle choice. . .gets respect from me!

  9. Nothing beats starting the day with a big fat smile on my face!

    And I learned what autotune is (always wondered about Cher and T-Pain, just never knew what it was called)

    For twins, they look like An got papa’s genes and Je got all of mama’s …

  10. does anyone has a link to an mp3 version?
    i have gotten a reputation at work for annoying ring tones and this might just be the one.
    also, it would make a perfect alarm clock sound with the introduction part and all…. (talking about big smile day starts)
    any suggestions, please?

  11. @caipirina/no.18 – i figured out a way to get mp3 off youtube (including the option “insane quality”), did some cutting in audacity and voila it was on my nokia :) received two calls and 6 strange looks already.

    but domo-arigato for the offer :)

  12. @19: Japanese does have native words for a few elements (‘suzu’ for tin), but its chemical engineering nomenclature mostly comes from German – e.g. kalium for potassium, naturium for sodium. On the other hand, they use ‘tungsten’ instead of ‘wolfram’.

  13. You’re cousins with Thomas Howard Lichtenstein? That’s awesome! I played many of the early Guitar Freaks / Drummania games (illegally imported into a couple select arcades, but shhhh, don’t tell anyone) and some of my favorite songs were ones he composed and sang in. Primal Soul, Depend on Me, Stop Spinning Me In Circles being my favorites. Glad to see he’s still hard at work doing what he loves. On my behalf, please give him a high-five from an overseas fanboy!

    1. In case you thought Thomas Howard Lichtenstein was Xeni’s cousin, he isn’t. He’s Theodore Gray’s cousin.

  14. Anything with the words ‘super cute’ and ‘Japanese’ is usually enough to make me run away screaming, but that song wasn’t bad. I must be getting soft.

  15. Am I right in thinking there are actually more elements mentioned in this version than in the original? TL’s exit line “There may be many others but they haven’t been disCAAAVAAAD” is no longer true – has the song been updated?

  16. Though the tune behind this ditty is usually attributed to Tom Lehrer, who first performed The Elements back in the sixties, I think some credit should be given to original source of the tune, which is the song “The Modern Major General” from the musical “Pirates of Penzance.”

  17. #28 – no longer true? It will always be true.

    Funny how An got so much of the Eur- genes and Je got so much of the -Asian.

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