Time again to delve into an area I’ve touched upon before but in different ways. Back in the distant past I’ve looked at songs about space (/Tuesday Ten/079), and robots (/Tuesday Ten/063), but remarkably I’ve never looked in general at science-fiction in music. So, time to right the wrong, and go boldly beyond…
/Science Fiction – Double Feature
A quick explanation for new readers (hi there!): my Tuesday Ten series has been running since March 2007, and each month features at least ten new songs you should hear – and in between those monthly posts, I feature songs on a variety of subjects, with some of the songs featured coming from suggestion threads on Facebook.
Feel free to get involved with these – the more the merrier, and the breadth of suggestions that I get continues to astound. Otherwise, as usual, if you’ve got something you want me to hear, something I should be writing about, or even a gig I should be attending, e-mail me, or drop me a line on Facebook (details below).
/Dr McCoy – Classic
/Another Piece of the Action: The Best of the SubSpace Years
…and end up starting with perhaps the only band that has been devoted to Star Trek (and other science fiction films too) to this degree. This is synthpop, but not as we know it. Most characters get a mention somewhere, and I vaguely recall the enormously enjoyable last-minute set at Infest many years ago, but their return to my attention came with the release of the quite great Another Piece of the Action: The Best of the SubSpace Years, which included amongst other glorious songs, a retooled version of Dr McCoy that proved itself a popular dancefloor tune again almost instantly!
/Get Your Ass To Mars
/How To Enlist In A Robot Uprising
The industrial-dance project Memmaker were – and still are – something of a breath of fresh air in the scene, entirely unconcerned by fashions followed by their peers, and were all the better for it. Rather than being overly serious, or adding deep, meaningful vocals, instead, their so-far only album was dedicated solely to pioneering sci-fi classic Metropolis, but this fantastic album did in the event look elsewhere for inspiration. And on this track, it was looking at…Total Recall (the Arnie version, of course).
/The Ballsy EP
Arnie’s other sci-fi films have had songs about them, too. Well, Arnocorps were devoted entirely to songs about “Austrian Folk Tales” about Arnold Schwarzenegger films, or, in their own words:
“With powerful anthems including Terminator, Commando, Predator and Total Recall, the band has been singularly responsible for restoring integrity to the many Austrian tales that have been bastardized for cinematic exploitation in big-budget Hollywood blockbusters” [source]
I’m sure you get the gist. Either way, they are hilarious and fantastic live, and even while spreading their wings a little in subject matter, they remain the ballsiest band in the world. (Note: Spotify has another of their Terminator songs).
They weren’t the only band to draw on the work of Arnie to a big degree. Sean Payne confirmed in an interview with this website a few years back that the Terminator 2 theme, in particular, was, pretty much, the beginning of his route into industrial music (and I’m sure not many others can say that). But rather than just riffing on it, he ended up producing this stonking rebuild of the legendary theme, so good that it works brilliantly as a dancefloor filler, whether said dancefloor is full of rivetheads or not.
/B-Mashina (Iron Sky Prequel)
/Iron Sky – The Original Film Soundtrack
Not all sci-fi needs to be serious, though, something that the (admittedly divisive) Iron Sky proved last year. Perhaps it was always doomed to fail to meet expectations after the lengthy build-up had got everyone so excited. After all, who didn’t want to see a film where Nazis colonize the moon and invade earth? What made the film for me, though, was the spectacular use of Laibach for the soundtrack, who in the main created new material, but in a few cases used some appropriate older material, and none was more fitting than this, the amazing, martial-orchestral war-chant that opened their most popular album WAT ten years ago, and when used in the trailer for the film managed to sound like it was written especially for the film…
From this past week’s start of the crowdfunding for the sequel, by the way, it has also been confirmed that Laibach are apparently already agreeing to do the soundtrack for it too.
/Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness
This entry is one song that absolutely isn’t about science fiction – it’s a lush, sweeping song about taking on life with both hands, but somehow never manages to verge into the overly-saccharine, something I can’t say about all of the parent album! – but the video that resulted for the song absolutely is. You see, the video, and indeed the visual stylings of the whole album, are based upon the first known science-fiction film, Le Voyage dans la Lune (remarkably released in 1902).
/Rocket Man (I Think It’s Going to Be a Long, Long Time)
I can’t say that I can recall ever having featured Elton John in my Tuesday Ten series, but there’s a first time for everything. Anyway, like the kinda-related Space Oddity, both songs examined what at the time was probably the most famous and desired job in the world – that of an Astronaut. After all, just a couple of years before this, mankind had landed on the moon. But the crucial point about this song (and Bowie’s) was that they weren’t out-and-out celebrations of what had happened, instead peering behind the curtain into the hopes and fears that the momentous events away from Earth brought to bear. In Elton John’s case, it was pondering what would happen if space travel became routine, a boring job like anyone else could have. And that is, of course, where science-fiction comes in. Even forty years and some beyond those events, it is still anything but routine, and those men in space are still something to be celebrated, as Chris Hadfield has proven just recently.
/Knights of Cydonia
/Black Holes and Revelations
Not many bands are truly “out there” nowadays, but Muse has grown into exactly that kind of band, thinking that much bigger and outlandishly than any of their peers, in their music, their videos and their live shows (the latter of which I really ought to get ’round to seeing, one day). But this track – and the astonishing video that accompanies it – was the first real sign of how big they were really thinking. A six-minute space-rock epic about fighting for your own destiny, the video is a classic spaghetti western with a (big) twist – it appears to be set in an alternate future, where the world has started again, but there are laser guns, robots, and awesome holograms of live bands in bars. Apparently live this track is something else, and YouTube videos aren’t exactly going to show just how awesome, I suspect…
/I lost my heart to a starship trooper
While disco may have had some utterly awesome, peerless moments (most of Chic’s peak period, for a start), there wasn’t half some cheap tat released, too, and this falls into that latter bin. A track that presumably reeked of cash-in at the time – capitalising on the huge success of films like Star Wars, the lyrics in this riff on all kinds of sci-fi film moments, all to a standard, dancefloor-slaying disco rhythm. I can blame this being in our consciousness at present thanks to a friend’s (admittedly brilliant) routine at Barelesque recently.
/Science Fiction – Double Feature
/The Rocky Horror Picture Show: Music From The Motion Picture
Finally, where else could I go but this to close the list out? The opening credits song in the legendary, still deeply-odd musical, while sending up – as the film does – most of the sci-fi and horror films that came before it, it also strikes me as something of a love-letter to the shlocky films and the B-movie stars that surfaced from them. Now, can we get Hollywood to stop re-making the damned things? It’s probably good enough that Hollywood have never dared to remake this film, I guess.