Top Ten Musicians Who Are Smarter Than You Think

Pop stars and rock musicians aren’t exactly renowned for being intellectual giants. You only have to look at the exploits of Olly Murs to realise that we aren’t dealing with Einstein here. Thankfully the majority of modern musicians can get by with some Photoshopped selfies on social media and a generous amount of autotune. 

However, there are a handful of musicians out there who are actually wasting their intellectual prowess by making a living in music. So while most pop stars could do with taking a look at a Linkedin learning review to see how they can boost their grey matter, the following 10 musicians probably don’t need any help tying their shoelaces.

Lana Del Ray

When she’s not dusting off her flower crown, you might find Lana Del Ray flicking through a book on metaphysics. After all, it’s what she got her degree in before she devoted her time to writing profound lyrics like, ‘Take off, take off, take off all your clothes.’

Tom Morello – Rage Against the Machine

Everyone knows about the political firepower in the lyrics of rock band Rage Against the Machine. However, it’s unlikely that the honours grad in political science from Harvard University earned by guitarist Tom Morello had anything to do with lyrics like, ‘F*** you, I won’t do what you tell me.’

Rivers Cuomo – Weezer

This one might not be too surprising. After all, Rivers Cuomo has made an entire career out of being the nerdiest guy in rock. Still, credit to the Weezer frontman for backing it up by getting a bachelor’s degree in English AFTER their first breakthrough album.


With endless songs about partying, partying and partying, you might think that this larger than life pop star might be lacking in grey matter, but Ke$ha is actually super smart. Not only did the LA native ace her SATs, but she was also offered scholarships to top colleges like Barnard College.

Duff McKagan – Guns n’ Roses

You may think that being the bass player in bands like Guns n’ Roses and Velvet Revolver requires you roll around in sewers while snorting whisky through your leather trousers. Well, according to Duff McKagan, it means taking time out to do a course at Seattle University’s Albers School Of Business and Economics.

Paul Simon

When he’s not writing some of the most timeless songs in the American songbook, it looks like you could have once found Paul Simon thinking intellectual thoughts at Brooklyn Law School. 

Sterling Morrison – Velvet Underground

Turns out Sterling Morrison’s spell of playing one-note guitar for Velvet Underground was just a brief stop-off from much nerdier affairs. After all, he studied English at Syracuse University before joining VU, and started postgraduate work in medieval literature not too long after the dying chords of Loaded faded out. 

Brian May – Queen

Not only does Brian May have massive hair, but he has a massive brain too. When he’s not saving badgers, you’ll probably find the Queen guitarist helping NASA out thanks to his PhD in astrophysics.

Colin Greenwood – Radiohead

You have to be pretty nerdy to be known as ‘the nerdy one’ in a nerd-centric band like Radiohead. But it turns out that that’s exactly what Colin Greenwood is. After all, we can’t think of too many bass players who have  studied modern American literature at Cambridge University. 

Ezra Koenig – Vampire Weekend

Not only has Ezra Koenig managed to created some of the most annoying music of all-time with Vampire Weekend, but he’s even shown himself to be smarter than the rest of us by studying literature at Columbia University in New York. Truly annoying!

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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