“M” is for “Murphy’s Law” and “Music”

Murphy’s Law says “anything that can go wrong will go wrong.” So says Merriam-Webster.  Other dictionaries contain similar definitions, but not all agree with the actual words. The Wikipedia article gives a convoluted history of similar sayings dating back to 1866. OK, so there’s no agreement on the actual words; surely, someone named Murphy originated it. The same Wikipedia article (tl;dr) doesn’t bring a “Murphy” into this history until circa 1949.

In a nutshell, Edward Murphy developed devices to measure human tolerance for g-forces during testing of rapid deceleration at what is now Edwards Air Force Base. The devices failed, and Murphy allegedly tried to deflect blame onto an assistant, claiming “if that guy has any way of making a mistake, he will.” Others on the project mocked Murphy’s excuse, eventually calling it “Murphy’s Law,” using words other than Murphy’s or Webster’s. Murphy, of course, and his son on his behalf denied ever mouthing those words. Both Murphys, however, agreed that the saying did originate with Murphy’s blaming his assistant for his failure. Ironically, the words they put into Murphy’s mouth are essentially a long-winded version of “Murphy’s Law.”

For sh*ts and giggles, and if you have a lot of time for a rabbit hole, visit the Murphy’s Laws website for a plethora of Murphy’s Law trivia, mostly tongue-in-cheek. According to Wikipedia’s “disambiguation” page, Murphy’s Law has been used as the title of television series (British and American), a novel, a film, a punk band, several albums and songs, and a 2016 Disney XD series. (Whatever an XD series is, that’s one rabbit hole I’m not going down.)

My favorite Murphy’s Law is none of the above. It’s a 2020 video I stumbled across on YouTube called, you guessed it, “Murphy’s Law.” This one has an actual Murphy — Irish singer-songwriter/record producer Roisin Murphy. This Murphy has been active on the UK/Irish/European music scene in one capacity or another since 1999. Her style is electropop/disco/hip-hop/dance club/art-pop type music. It’s hard for me to describe, but if you know anything about some of the idiosyncratic performers she credits as influences — Iggy Pop, Siouxie Sioux, Grace Jones, Bjork — you can get a sense of her style. Here’s the video: