Where strange fact and stranger fiction collide
I love songs that tell a story. Maybe it is because I am the child of two folk singers. Maybe it is that history degree, or I just see the musical medium as having more potential than just “Hey baby…”. And of course I am a big sci-fi nerd. So I love a good sci-fi tune. Videos can help emphasize a story and are a natural with visual effects and canturn any song in to a space opera. The master of the science fiction songs is of course David Bowie, I have done a whole post on his science fiction woks in song and screen.
Here are some of my favorite science fiction tunes. It is by no way a complete list, you may notice it is missing Rush’s 2112, or Styx’s Mr. Roboto, so feel free to add your favs at the bottom of this post.
Nerf Herder: Mr. Spock.
Nerf Herder, is most famous for the opening song to Buffy the Vampire Slayer and they got their name form an insult in Star Wars, so of course these dudes are geeks. This song is as much about that famous Vulcan and his wagon train to the stars as it is about a girlfriend afraid of commitment.
Peter Shilling: Major Tom (Coming Home).
A sequel to the Thin White Duke’s Space Oddity. The English version of German Synth-poper Peter Shelling, made it to number two on the US dance charts in 1983. This is where I got my opinion that Major Tom was an alien all along just impersonating a human. And can you get any more 80’s than a space-heaven full of short skirted skating car hops?
Moby: South Side (Featuring Gwen Stefani)
I know Moby has publicly said that he wrote South Side about gangs in Chicago, but I am sure when it came out he said he was inspired by cyber-punk books. Even if I remembered it wrong this is a perfect back ground song when I re-read Nueromancer.
Zager and Evans: In the Year 2525 (Exordium and Terminus)
These one shot wonders brought us the ultimate science fiction story song. It is a warning of technology surpassing our spirituality and a rocking 60’s anthem to boot.
Billy Joel: Miami 2017 (Seen the lights go out in Broadway)
You know I heard this song like a dozen times, before I got what Joel was describing. He wrote this self-styled science fiction song in 1975, (He released it later on) when it looked like New York was going to heck on a bob sled. He was in LA and speaking with some other Big Apple expats on the fate of NYC. In ways this is cyberpunk 8 years before Neuromancer. And well when I look at some of the political candidates and think about 2017, well maybe the Piano Man is a prophet.
Joan Jett: Science Fiction Double feature.
Yes, yes, I know the song was in Rocky Horror Picture Show first. But hate me, because I like the punk princess’s version more. (Sorry NIN fans I also like Johnny Cashes version of Hurt more too) This song is about a love affair with B movies. Growing up in the 70’s and 80’s you had to watch the classic B movies after school because you could only watch so many Bugs Bunny and Speed Racer reruns. Now with so many options in new media this generation missed the campy fun that is Roger Corman and company.
The Rolling Stones: 2000 Light Years from Home.
I just found this one today, doing research for this post and honestly, I am not too impressed. I just added it to show you that one of the world’s greatest rock bands isn’t beyond the pull of sci-fi.
Ella Fitzgerald: Two Little Men in a Flying Saucer.
OK, this one predates rock and roll, but work with me on this one. On the surface it is a novelty song about two aliens that are not impressed with Earth’s culture of the Brooklyn Dodgers and westerns. But when you think of it as a black woman in the 50’s criticizing white male cultural dominance, it becomes revolutionary.
The Carpenters: Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft
A cover of the band Klatu’s song (The word Klatu comes from the movie The Day the Earth Stood Still) This song became the official song of World Contact Day, the day we were also supposed to psychically reach out to our space brother and sisters. I admit there is something eerie about seeing giant space heaven Karen carpenter.
David Bowie: Blackstar
And I leave you with this released a few days before Bowie died.