Why Does The Sun Shine?

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Music video for "Why Does The Sun Shine?"

Screenshot from the Nickelodeon KaBlam! video for the live version

song name Why Does the Sun Shine? (The Sun Is a Mass of Incandescent Gas)
artist They Might Be Giants
releases Why Does The Sun Shine (EP), Music From Malcolm In The Middle (Leaked Soundtrack), Carmen Sandiego - Out Of This World, TMBG Clock Radio, A User's Guide to They Might Be Giants: Melody, Fidelity, Quantity
year 1993
first played March 4, 1987 (737 known performances)
run time 2:53
sung by John Flansburgh; Spoken parts done by John Linnell (Often reversed when played live)


  • The song states that the sun is so hot that everything in it is a gas; however, this is incorrect. The sun is SO hot that all gases are ionized and turned into plasma, which is gas with the ability to conduct electricity. However, plasma is considered a completely separate state of matter, so the sun is not, in fact, gas.
  • This mellow studio recording of Why Does The Sun Shine? isn't responsible for the song's huge popularity; the rocking live version featured on Severe Tire Damage is. TMBG hardly ever performs the slow-paced version of the song.
  • This is a remake of the song by Hy Zaret And Lou Singer, performed by folk singer Tom Glazer on the album Space Songs (Motivation Records, 1959). MP3s of the song and others from that album and 5 others can be found Here.
  • TMBG have been performing their version since at least 1985, with a performance from this year appearing on the television show Nick Rocks.
  • 93 million miles is the average distance between the Earth and the Sun. Read more info here.
  • The nuclear reactions between Hydrogen, Carbon, Nitrogen, and Helium may be found here.
  • Heard in the Malcolm In The Middle Episode "Malcolm Babysits".
  • In iTunes, the words "Live Version" appear after the song's title, despite the fact that it is a studio recording.
  • In The Simpsons Game, while in the planetarium exhibit in a museum, a voiceover quotes the lyrics to the song, saying, "The sun is a mass of incandescent gas. A giant [sic] nuclear furnace."

Song Themes

Educational, Precious Metal, Questions, Science, Size, Space, Title Not In Lyrics, TMBG Remakes


  • Watch it on Youtube.png - Animated music video for the rocking version of this song, from the Nickelodeon TV show, KaBlam! (circa 1999)

Current Rating

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Why Does The Sun Shine? is currently ranked #361 out of 833. (73 wikians have given it an average rating of 8.30)