Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Stellar Interstellar Tunes

by Sara N.

Stellar Four is bringing you some stellar interstellar tunes today.

Outer Space Dog from Etsy seller Curious Portraits
This week, performance art group Public Service Broadcasting released its album The Race For Space, which tells the story of the American/Soviet competition for extraterrestrial superiority that raged from 1957 to 1972. The British duo, J. Willgoose Esq. and Wrigglesworth, layered actual news broadcasts and astronaut transmissions from this time period with electronica dance beats. From the NPR article on the project:
From song to song, this tapestry of source material narrates each chapter chronologically, placing the listener inside the drama of the moment — propelled by futuristic Kraftwerk-meets-Aphex Twin-meets-Daft Punk sounds suitable for a laser show at the local planetarium.
Yes, please. The above-mentioned NPR article has much more information, plus audio files from the album to stream.

If this has whetted your appetite for space-themed tunes, I've listed some of my favorites below:

Space Oddity by David Bowie: Duh. It's the granddaddy of space songs, telling the story of an astronaut, well, dying. (It's also a great Chandler gag on Friends.)

Rocket Man by Elton John: Who was more fabulous, '70s Elton John or '70s David Bowie?

Fly Me to the Moon by Frank Sinatra: Ol' Blue Eyes wants to see what spring is like on Jupiter and Mars, and we want to let him.

E.T. by Katy Perry: Mouths shut, haters. K Perr is flawless, and so is this song.


Black Hole Sun by Soundgarden: What do the lyrics actually say? Who knows! Shut up and watch the Barbie burn.

The Planets by Gustav Holst: That's right. Classic music, bitches. The suite, composed between 1914 and 1916, has one movement for each of the seven plants.

Man on the Moon by R.E.M.: I miss R.E.M.

Across the Universe by The Beatles: Swoony and lovely (and the Fiona Apple version is also a knockout).

Mrs. Major Tom by K.I.A./performed by Sheryl Crowe: This song was new to me when I started researching this list, and it tells the Space Oddity story from the perspective of the astronaut's wife. And it's from William freaking Shatner's album Seeking Major Tom, so it's obviously magic.

Bowie by Flight of the Conchords: The musical weirdos envision Bowie himself in space.

Space Doggity by Jonathan Coulton: As a songwriting challenge from Masters of Song Fu, Coulton reimagined Space Oddity to tell the story of the Russian dog Laika, who died aboard Sputnik 2 hours after it was launched into space. It's a sad, sweet song that,  if I'm being honest, I've only listened to once because it made me FEEL FEELINGS.  If you want to deep dive into the nerdiness, here's John Scalzi interviewing Coulton about the song.

Hearts of Space: The ambient music show, airing on select NPR stations, features slow music for fast times, as the tagline says. It doesn't always higlight space music, although the best episodes do. Those episodes will lull you to sleep in an electronic cloud. (When my NPR station stopped carrying the show a few years ago, I mentioned how much I missed it to the program director, and he said, "Oh, you're the one who listened to it." Way harsh. This is a fantastic program.) Anyway, here's a sample show.

This list from Yahoo! Answers (yeah, yeah, I know) also has some excellent, more obscure suggestions if you want to keep aurally traveling among the stars.

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