Dec 232011

“We place our trust in the flyer
To deliver us from the fire, we have made.”

Where it comes to the more apocolyptic of sci-fi tunes, few are evocative as the disturbing, yet musically engaging song from Ian Thomas’ 1979 album Glider (which also contains the standout Time is the Keeper.)

“One by one they disappeared, the minds of science, the nation’s leaders.
To meet again at destination, Sweating in their seats, anticipation.”

The song covers the escape from the world by a privilege few reminiscent of the end of when worlds colide (although the destruction of the world is clearly the result of man’s action, even if the actual cause is left vague.) And while the politicians and scientists can get away, the rest of us, well, not so lucky.

“Thru the porthole panic stricken, humanity had been forsaken.
The door secured, the cry was distant But the scratching fingers grew persistent.”

Run the video below to enjoy this evocative jazzy-rock tune, and hope that we are never in the position to act it out in real life.

Dec 212011

“I might as well be on Mars.
Only the stars mean anything to you.”

“I might as well be on Mars.
I’m already that far away from you.”

I will freely admit that The Pukka Orchestra song (not to be confused with the Alice Cooper song of the same name) is at best only metaphorically referential to Science Fiction.  It does however manage enough compelling imagery to make my list.

“We lead such a sweet existence, but I’m reaching out to you in vain
You’re disappearing in the distance, of this alien terrain.”

When it comes to sci-fi in music, Mars is mentioned more than any other of the planets in the solar system, even where the writer is simply offering allegory or mere poetic license, such as how it it used here in this ode to losing love.

“There’s something the matter, it’s just a bad dream
I knew you’d leave me if you knew the truth.”

The video as well, I’ve always found enjoyable in a particularly Canadian low-budget way, with it’s ‘Charismatron’ references and the engagingly accurate air guitar solo performed by the band’s lead guitarist.

Dec 202011

“I met him in a swamp down in Dagobah
Where it bubbles all the time like a giant carbonated soda
S-O-D-A, soda”

Wierd Al’s discography is filled with numerous movie homages, and sometime he takes the parody genre to heights with full song sendups.  Yoda, based on the Kink’s Lola is by far the best of these.  While he has done this more recently with Jurassic Park (MacArthur Park), The Saga Begins (American Pie) and Ode To A Superhero (Pianoman),  these are mostly summaries of the films they refer to.  This one shine’s with more personal and biting character and meta references than he would offer up in those future songs (amusing and occasionally clever though they may still be – with the exception of The Saga Begins).
“Well, I’ve been around, but I ain’t never seen
A guy who looks like a muppet, but he’s wrinkled and green
Oh, my Yoda, Yo-yo-yo-yo Yoda”

In the song, Al starts with the point of view of Luke’s reactions on encountering the titular muppet reflecting the original Lola lyrics wryly.  Eventually though, the song gets meta where the POV is suddenly Mark Hamillish commenting on his future career as Luck Skywalker (Al, however, didn’t prognosticate this well, even if it is funny.)

“Well, I heard my friends really got in a mess
So I’m gonna have to leave Yoda I guess
But I know that I’ll be coming back some day.
I’ll be playing this part ’till I’m old and gray”

“The long-term contract I had to sign
Says I’ll be making these movies till the end of time
Oh with my Yoda”

Al didn’t make a video for this, but luckily there are plenty of fans out there with time on their hands.

Dec 192011

“Try her on She fits like a glove’ 
Too bad she only thinks about The lord above.”

Matthew Sweet was practically the originator of the Anime Music videos when he utilized Space Adventure Cobra and Lum from Urusei Yatsura for two of his videos from his 1991 album Girlfriend, for the title track and I’ve Been Waiting.

"Now if I called you up Do you think you Could deliver my soul?
Won't you take a drink Little darlin' The cup is full"

The song Evengeline, however, came from a related if more North American source, The 1980s comic book of the same name, featuring a renegade Nun on a colonized, somewhat westernish Mars.  yep, Matthew was quite the fanboy (metaphorically filthy lyrics included.)

“Just tell me how you want it We won’t be seen.
You can tell your father It was all a dream.”

The song itself is a is sung from the point of view of the character from the comic, Johnny Six, and is a prime example of the ‘cuddlecore’ rock genre that was somewhat popular at the time (although it got rather steamrolled by the Seattle based Grunge genre.)

“She’s on another planet, she’s in my dream.
She’s some kind of angel, if you know what I mean.”

While the song only aludes to the science fiction subject it’s addressing, that fact that it’s a decent tune as well as about a sci-fi character gets it onto the list.

Again, not much of a video here, but you get the song:

Dec 182011

“I plug you in Dim the lights Electric Barbarella.
Your perfect skin Plastic kiss Electric Barbarella.”

Considering that Duran Duran got their name from a character of the classic wacky French science fiction film Barbarella, they haven’t done  a whole lot of sci-fi themed songs throught their career.  This tune, however, from their 1997 Medazzaland, makes up for this with a tale of sex robot love.

“I knew when I first saw you on the showroom floor, you were made for me.
I took you home and dressed you up in polyester, princess of my dreams.”

This, of course, is a common sci-fi trope that has even shown up several times before in music (most notably in ELO’s 1981 song Your’s Truly 2095.)  Duran Duran, however takes the relationship to the next logical step.

“Emotionless and cold as ice, all of the things I like.
The way you look, the way you move, the sounds you’re makin’”

Along with a coterie of weird electronic sounds I find it to be the most memorable song in their catalog.  The fact that the lyrics are somewhat perverse helps.

“Our private life is subject to investigation, no time to waste.
People say they heard about our deviation, but you never looked so good”

While the video for the song is somewhat racy, It didn’t really come close to breathing new life into the nearly twenty year old band, conidering the catalog of videos that came before it. Still, it is demonstrative of the song, and not bad for it’s era.

Dec 172011

They send the heart police to put you under cardiac arrest.
And as they drag you through the door,
they tell you that you’ve failed the test.

While the landmark Video Killed the Radio Staris what many people think of when they recall the Buggles debut 1979 album, the title track  is an actual sci-fi related gem.  And while the song seems to be more about the effects of plastic sugery, there are still numerous nodds to that being part of a sci-fi like future.

“Every day my metal friend shakes my bed at 6am,
Then the shiny serving clones run in with my telephones”

The song itself concerns our POV character as he struggles to handle the stress of living in his world, where he’s still aging, even if cosmetic surgery still keeps him looking young.

“Living in the plastic age, looking only half my age.
Hello doctor lift my face I wish my skin could stand the pace.”

The song itself borders on novelty with the synths and vocoders played as much for humor as impact. And, as you’ve seen from the lyrics, the song is more satirical than anything else.

Below the original video:

You can also experience the more sonically interesting extended version:

Dec 162011

“Earth below us, Drifting, falling,
Floating weightless, Calling, calling home.”

Major Tom (Coming home) is  most famous song (other than the original of course) to feature David Bowie’s sci-fi character Major Tom. From Schilling’s 1983 sci-fi themed album Error in the System.  A worldwide number one hit, it offers a different take on the original character who escapes the crass commercial world from 1969′s Space Oddity, although far closer to that than Bowie’s later interpretations in Ashes to Ashes and Hallo Spaceboy.

“Trying to relax, Up in the capsule.
‘Send me up a drink.’ Jokes Major Tom.
The count goes on”

The driving rhythm of dueling guitars and synths makes this song an auditory winner.  The songs plot is still drawn from Space Oddity, although it more revolves about Major Tom’s desire not to be in space, or “heaven’s high” as it were, but is ultimately in getting home,  and back to the wife he loves(hence the subtitle.)

“Far beneath the ship, The world is mourning.
They don´t realize, He´s alive.
No one understands, What Major Tom sees.
Now the light commands This is my home… I´m coming home.”

Schilling would make a career out of sci-fi themed music, although none would be as successful as Major Tome.  His next album, Things To Come (the title itself taken from H.G.Wells) had the single, the ominous Terra Titanic (which offered shades of Zager and Evans in it’s lyrical content.)

Recently, of course, the song has been covered, most notably and recently by Shiny Toy Guns in 2009 (you may remember their version from a certain Lincoln MKZ commercial) and by William Shatner for his 2011 Return album.

Dec 142011

Open the door you’ll find the secret, To find the answer is to keep it.
You’ll believe it when you find, Something screaming ‘cross your mind…
Green slime!”

Many sci-fi tunes make their presence known, not on the radio or on records but in movies.  And often the music is the most memorably part of the movie, as is the 1968 Japanese produced Sci-fi cheese-fest Green Slime.  As you’ll be able to see fromt the video embedded below, the Japanese fetish with weird rubber monsters was quite on display in the film.  The song however, a great hard rocking theme sung by surf rock pioneer Richard Delvy, rises above the terrible movie it is found in.

“What can it be, what is the reason is this the end of all that breathes, and
Is it something in your head? Will you believe it when you’re dead?”

Interestingly enough, the original title of the film was to be Battle Beyond The Stars (which would of course be used for the Star Wars meets The Magnificent Seven knockoff produced by Roger Corman in the late seventies.)  As an ode to the horrors of nasty live beyond the Earth, it’s truly unequaled (Although the songs from Jeff Wayne’s War of the Worlds come close.)

“Man has looked out in space in wonder for thousands of years,
sometimes thinking that live could be somewhere, and now it’s here!”

The quasi-psychedelic powerfully rocking tune would later be covered by the Fuzztones, although the long version at the bottom has a killer with a bridge and a  guitar solo that can’t be beat.  But, seriously, the lyrics alone make this song a great one.

here is the longer version:

Dec 132011

Just remember that you’re standing on a planet that’s evolving,
and revolving at nine hundred miles an hour,
that’s orbiting at nineteen miles a second, so it’s reckoned,
a sun that is the source of all our power.”

The Galaxy Song, written and performed by Pythoner Eric Idle is one of those rare sci-fi songs that actually gets the science right while it’s entertaining with a clever ditty.  Eric of course had written most of the best Monty Python songs, along with creating recording with the faux Beatles parody band The Rutles, but this tune for 1983′s The Meaning of life is a high point (although another Meaning of Live song, The Accountant’s Shantys is similarly amusing and nearly as instructive.)

“The universe itself keeps on expanding and expanding
In all of the directions it can whizz
As fast as it can go, at the speed of light, you know, 
Twelve million miles a minute, and that’s the fastest speed there is.”

The song takes us from the Earth to the galaxy the ends of the universe, before bringing us back to the whole, ironic and amusing point.

“So remember, when you’re feeling very small and insecure, How amazingly unlikely is your birth,
And pray that there’s intelligent life somewhere up in space, ’Cause there’s bugger all down here on Earth.”

(Of course the whole point is to have the woman donate her liver while she’s still using it, but that’s another story.)

Dec 122011

And you drive all night and then you see a light 
And it comes right down and lands on the ground
And out comes a man from Mars
And you try to run but he’s got a gun
And he shoots you dead and he eats your head”

Almost as silly as Weird Al’s Slime Creatures From outer space, The Rapture improbably turned into a monster hit for New Wave act Blondie in Early 1981. Yep, 1981 was a good year for this sort of thing.  But regardless of the Man From Mars aspect the song is a pretty weird beast, containing new wave, disco, jazz, pop, and rap music.  It was perhaps the weirdest number one hit since Bohemian Rhapsody. And it was a major breakthrough for the burgioning Rap music scene with Raps first number one single on Billboard.

“Face to face Sadly solitude.
And it’s finger popping.
Twenty-four hour shopping in Rapture”

It doesn’t start out as particularly sci-fi, more with a song featuring drug references that seem to equate being high as experienceing rapture, no it’s the rap portion of the song that simply starts with a bad trip as the Man from Mars and getting sillier and sillier with each lyric, until the Man From Mars is eating everything, at least until he sees a televison.

“And then you’re in the man from Mars You go out at night, eatin’ cars
You eat Cadillacs, Lincolns too Mercurys and Subarus
And you don’t stop, you keep on eatin’ cars Then, when there’s no more cars
You go out at night and eat up bars where the people meet.”

What can I say, despite the general dismissal of sci-fi, the public is still attracted to a catchy scifi novelty song.  And of course, a decent, if a little freaky video.