From This Might Be A Wiki
Tesla music video with remixes
Nikola Tesla, aged 34

song name Tesla
artist They Might Be Giants
releases Nanobots, Idlewild
year 2013
first played March 3, 2013 (82 known performances)
run time 2:04
sung by John Flansburgh, John Linnell backs


  • Nikola Tesla was a prolific engineer known for his wealth of contributions to the scientific community, in particular his work with alternating currents and X-rays, as well as his curious eccentricism. This song accurately enumerates some of the advancements in technology made possible by Tesla's work, in addition to some of his own patented inventions. Other lyrics from the song also accurately describe Tesla's life, including his obsessive-compulsive tendencies, his proposed teleforce device ("death-ray"), and his death at the New Yorker Hotel.
  • Though this song received its first album release in 2013 on Nanobots, it was in the works as early as 2008 according to Flansburgh in a Spare the Rock, Spoil the Child interview and may have initially been intended for the album Here Comes Science.
  • An official video for the song was created by the Office of Paul Sahre and released on May 27, 2014, in promotion of the Idlewild compilation. It features the original album version plus seven different remixes and two other compositions (Happier, Crazier and Studio Cat).
  • Mr. Sahre said that some of the Tesla video segment concepts preceded the music[1]
I recruited some of my design students at the School of Visual Arts, along with my design assistant Erik Carter and videographer Joe Hollier... and we started thinking about what we could do with the song. There were so many good ideas we decided to do nine of them and convinced the band to create a different remix of the song for each video.
  • The segment that includes the studio version features Matt Villaverde skateboarding around New York City dressed as Tesla, captured on 8mm film by Joe Hollier. In the video suite this segment is represented by an image of a moustache over a skateboard.
  • In a 2014 Tumblr post, John Flansburgh mentioned alternate versions of the song:
There are actually a few different versions of Tesla, and the upcoming video has some really unusual remixes of the song as well. There was a “rock” version but it never had a finished vocal, and another alternate that seems to have been lost in the ether. Neither were that successful, so I don’t think they’ll see the light of day.

Song Themes

Animals, Death, Educational, History, Hotels, Insanity, New York City, People (Real), Plans, Science, Skulls, Space, Weapons


  • Watch it on Youtube.png - Official music video with remixes
  • Watch it on Youtube.png - Slideshow video

Current Rating

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Tesla is currently ranked #728 out of 910. (63 wikians have given it an average rating of 7.37)