21 Musicians Who Are Smarter Than You

They're hot, talented, rich—and they're also smarter than you. How's that fair?

Everyone, please report to your homeroom. School is in session (or almost) and it’s time to hit the books. Betcha didn’t know artists like Shakira and Madonna are secret brainiacs, both holding IQ’s over 139 which qualifies them as legit “geniuses.” So the next time you’re listening to “Hips Don’t Lie” – give it some serious analysis. Shakira might have slipped in some secret algorithms or something. Check out the full gallery below to find out which 21 musicians are nerding out.

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    [Photo Credit: Photo Finish Records/Sarah Cass]
    3OH!3

    This electropop duo from Boulder, Colorado is best known for their single “Don’t Trust Me.” But what you might not know is that the boys met in physics class in college, where they both held close to a 4.0 GPA.

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    Alicia Keys

    This singer knows the Key to success! In high school she was valedictorian, graduating at age 16 with a full scholarship to Columbia University. However, she never used it and instead chose to pursue her career in music. Smart choice?

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    Art Garfunkel of Simon & Garfunkel

    Art Garfunkel has a masters in mathematics from Columbia University. That’s pretty smart… do the math!

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    Greg Graffin of Bad Religion

    Greg has got quite the resume. A few years after forming his band at the age of 15, Graffin was accepted to attend UCLA. He earned a B.S. in zoology and an M.S. in paleontology, all while doing field research in Mexico and the Amazon Basin. In 2003, he was awarded a Ph.D. from Cornell, where he is currently teaching classes in evolution.

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    Andrew Dost of Fun

    Andrew Dost graduated from Central Michigan University. A 2005 alumni with a degree in journalism, his life has taken a bit of turn from journalism. He could have aspired to write about the music scene… now he’s the one crafting it.

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    John Legend

    John Legend was reportedly offered scholarships to Harvard University, Georgetown University and Morehouse College, but chose to attend the University of Pennsylvania where he studied English. Legend graduated in 1999.

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    Ke$ha

    Ke$ha says herself, she’s not just a pop moron. She scored a 1500 out of 1600 on her SATs! Not to mention, she used to listen in on classes at Belmont College about the Cold War just for kicks.

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    Lady Gaga

    This eccentric pop star has a pretty impressive background. At 17 Gaga was accepted early admission to NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts where she studied art. Guess the title of her “Pop Art” album makes more sense now…

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    Madonna

    We knew the Queen of Pop had a smart sense of style, but we didn’t know she was just plain smart. Madonna’s stellar high IQ makes her Mensa-worthy. In fact, they’ve branded her a certifiable genius with an IQ of 140.

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    Marilyn Manson

    Marilyn Manson is known for his freaky stage personality some might call terrifying. But underneath the makeup lurks brilliance. He’s a musician, actor, painter, multimedia artist and former music journalist. Not to mention, he is one heck of an eloquent speaker. Watch him in an interview and you’ll see what we mean.

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    Mike Posner

    Posner graduated from Duke University in 2010 with a degree in sociology and a booming 3.59 GPA. He began making music when he was still in college and released “A Matter of Time” in 2009. The hot mixtape topped the iTunes U charts that year.

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    Colin Greenwood of Radiohead

    Colin might be the nerdiest member of Radiohead, boasting an unbelievable downloaded book collection (We’re talking library-status) and a serious literary degree. That’s right, he studied modern American literature at Cambridge. The bookworm is reportedly a fan of authors including Thomas Pynchon, V.S. Naipaul and Delmore Schwartz.

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    Tom Morello of Rage Against The Machine

    Morello was born into a family of intelligence – his Kenyan father was the country’s first ambassador to the United Nations. Aside from that, he was accepted into Harvard and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in political science.

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    Shakira

    Shakira is known for hot hip shakin’ but she’s more than a pretty face. She speak three languages: Spanish, Portuguese and English plus a lil’ Italian, French and Catalan. AND she’s a genius… fer realz. According to MENSA international, her 139+ IQ gives her a seat in the Genius club.

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    Dexter Holland of The Offspring

    Brian Holland, later Dexter, was high school valedictorian. He went to the University of Southern California on a premed track, earning degrees in molecular biology. He put his studies on hold when his band started to gain steam, but in recent years earned his pilot license and is now a “Captain.” Aye Aye.

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    The members of Vampire Weekend

    Ezra Koenig, Rostam Batmanglij, Chris Tomson and Chris Baio aren’t brainiacs simply because they graduated from Columbia and write songs about proper punctuation – they can play loads of instruments. Batmanglij, for example, can play guitar, piano, keyboards, harpsichord, VSS-30, drums, synth, sampler programming, organ and chamberlin. Just to name a few.

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    Rivers Cuomo of Weezer

    This lead singer/guitarist is an Ivy League rocker! He graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Harvard after earning a bachelor’s degree in literature. Maybe it took him 10 years after on-and-off classes, but hey, he got the job done.

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    “Weird Al” Yankovic

    This fantastically flamboyant singer graduated as valedictorian of his high school at just 16 years old. Think that’s weird? Yeah, we do too.

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    Brian May, the guitarist of Queen

    When he helped create Queen in 1971, May had already earned a bachelor’s degree in math and science at Imperial College London and was starting work on his doctorate (he planned to study the mysterious properties of interstellar dust). In 2008, May was awarded a Ph.D. in astrophysics. He’s the doctor of rock.

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    Huey Lewis of Huey Lewis And The News

    This front man is one smart guy. He was accepted into Cornell University’s School of Engineering in the ’60s. But after attending the Ivy League for six short months, he chose to follow his true passion: rock and roll. We can’t say he made a bad decision – the man has done pretty well for himself.

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    Lisa Loeb

    The brunette beauty with the infamous cat-eye glasses is a Brown University graduate! And just a few years after earning her degree in comparative literature, the lady had a hit single with her song “Stay.” In fact, she made history with it. She is the only artist to ever have a number one single before being signed to a recording contract. Smart gal.