Anthony Raneri both sings and plays rhythm guitar for Bayside. He also pens the majority of the band's lyrics, "(Pop)Ular Science" included. Raneri has described the song as possibly his favorite of anything he's ever written. For Raneri, the lyrics always come first. Writing songs for him is an almost stream-of-consciousness process, something like a journal entry. By the time he has the lyrics written, he usually has some sense of the melody.
As the song is coming together, the meaning of the words is known only to Raneri. Bayside guitarist Jack O'Shea told us: "We don't really discuss what each song is about at all, really. It's just meant to be what it is for the listener."
The song is a recursive work that discusses the nature of songwriting and music-making in general. Raneri ponders the soullessness of music made solely to sell to a mass audience, and what a song loses when it's written formulaically instead of artistically. Writing songs solely to make money, he concludes, isn't artistic at all - it's scientific.
That's not to say he doesn't appreciate Pop music: when we spoke with Raneri in 2014, he cited the hitmakers Max Martin and Dr. Luke as his favorite songwriters, and explained that there is a pop component to Bayside's sound that isn't always obvious. Raneri has even taken gigs ghostwriting songs for other artists.
"(Pop)ular SciencE" is the closing track of The Wounded Dead, which is generally considered to be one of the band's most complex and introspective works. Raneri explains that on this album he was looking to expand the subjects approached by the band and to express himself as honestly and completely as possible.
The title of the song is a pun. "(Pop)Ular SciencE" refers to both the mechanical aspect of mass-audience songwriting, while slyly referencing it with the paranthesed and capitalized "Pop" and "E": or, Pop Entertainment.