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Space Is The Place

Monday, July 26, 2010 - 10:52 AM

Christine Aguilera, Robyn, and Janelle Monae have all released songs that explore some variant of an old sci-fi theme: the difference (or lack thereof) between humans and robots. 

While it’s odd to have three artists all mining the same vein at the same time (and even odder that they’re all women – sci-fi has normally been the province of geeky guys), it’s not unusual for sci-fi to find its way into music.  From psychedelic freak-outs like “Interstellar Overdrive,” by early Pink Floyd, to… um, other psychedelic freak-outs like “Space Is the Place” by Sun Ra and the Arkestra, sci-fi imagery has driven a wide range of music. 

Still, pop music has been a regular forum for sci-fi themes.  Here are some notable ones:

David Bowie: “Space Oddity” – an early note of dissent about the space race, as Major Tom goes spinning off into oblivion. 

Zager & Evans: “In The Year 2525” – was this really a hit tune in 1969?  A weird, almost formless song and a major bummer. 

Boston: Boston – absolutely nothing sci-fi anywhere on the album… except the cover.  The artwork is clearly inspired by the remarkable series of James Blish novels called Cities In Flight.  Read it. 

Parliament: The Mothership Connection – absolutely everything sci-fi everywhere on this album.  And those live concerts!  Still not convinced that huge Mothership contraption isn’t in some Michigan backyard somewhere…

But the #1 sci-fi song has to be:

Richard O’Brien: “Science Fiction/Double Feature” – the opening of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, wherein O’Brien (composer and also Riff Raff) name-checks dozens of classic sci-fi movies in one 3 minute burst of loving nostalgia.  Or is it sneering disdain?

What’s your favorite moment of sci-fi in music?  Leave a comment.   

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