This week sees the much-anticipated release of the latest instalment in the world’s most popular space opera series, Star Wars: The Force awakens. It is impossible to avoid such a big release and media saturation is reaching fever pitch as the premier approaches.
When we see a bandwagon of this magnitude the only realistic option is to jump aboard. Luckily space is just as rich a source of inspiration for songs as it is for films. So here, for your listening pleasure, is the top 10 songs about space.
10. The Byrds – Mr.Spaceman
Early Byrds records were dominated by Gene Clark songs and cover versions, until Clark quit after two albums. This left Jim/Roger McGuinn to write the bulk of the songs, including this novelty from their 3rd album in 1966.
9. Pere Ubu – I Hear They Smoke The Barbecue
For a short period in the early 90s Pere Ubu decided to try to be a pop band, with mixed results. This track, about aliens among us, is one of their more successful attempts at being radio friendly.
8. Ash – Angel Interceptor
Ash’s first album, 1977, is very appropriate here as it is named after the year when Star wars first hit cinema screens in the US. ‘Angel Interceptor’ is named after the aircraft in the TV show Captain Scarlet. ‘Girl From Mars’ may have been a more appropriate choice for this list, but this is a better song.
7. Rotifer – The Cosmonaut Who Never Flew
This track is taken from the Vostok 5 EP that was part of an art show about people and animals in space. I could have picked any of the tracks from that EP (they are all pretty great) but this contribution from Robert Rotifer is a wonderful reflection on the Soviet space programme.
6. Sun Kil Moon – Space Travel Is Boring
I’m not a huge fan of Sun Kil Moon, whereas I’ve always loved the work of Modest Mouse. This cover of ‘Space Travel Is Boring’ is great though, and eclipses the original.
5. Robert Pollard – Love Your Spaceman
Superman Was A Rocker was one of Pollard’s least successful solo releases, an overtly lo-fi collection of forgotten songs that should have mostly remained unreleased. However, this is a Robert Pollard album, dig in the dirt and you’ll normally find a diamond. “When Fred says Rock ‘n’ Roll!” indeed.
4. The Beastie Boys – Intergalactic
When the Beastie Boys first hit the scene in the mid-80s it seemed unlikely that they would be releasing critically acclaimed chart topping albums 15 years later, but they were and this track is one of their best.
3. The Star Wars Rap
15 years ago I had no idea what a viral video was, or what a meme was or even what social media was, but I did know that this video was funny. Luke’s whiny delivery, and the slightly odd gin and tonic reference, have stuck with me that whole time. Classic.
2. Hefner – Alan Bean
This was the lead single from Hefner’s “difficult” final album and is one of the band’s most evocative tracks. It tells the story of the 4th man on the moon, who devoted his post-astronaut years to painting pictures of the lunar landscape.
1. Neon Neon – I Told Her On Alderaan
Super Furry Animal Gruf Rhys and Boom Bip collaborating on a song named after Princess Leia’s home planet, on a concept album about the inventor of the DeLorean. Near perfect pop.
Compiled by Dorian Rogers