Ready for Blast Off: Bangin' Songs From Outer Space
No place has been home to such fantastical wanderings as outer space, and when songsters take their tunes upwards, the videos turn out to be a great deal of fun. We had a healthy debate here, deciding whether we would include songs about space (like "Destination Venus" by Man or Astro-man?), or just videos that actually take place in space. Fortunately, Bowie's "Space Oddity" happens to be both. The amount of songs that merely mention space are tremendous, so we listed only our favorites featuring, taking place in, or adventuring towards the orbital and cosmic. Enjoy our top 14 tunes about blasting off!
"Calling Planet Earth," Sun Ra
There's crazy. And then there's Sun Ra. The afrofuturist jazzman, after all, used to go around claiming he was part of an "Angel Race," hailing from Saturn. But like many insane people, Ra was also a genius -- as evidenced by this video, in which he and his Arkestra embark on a deep space, visualizer-esque voyage. One small step for Ra, one giant leap for recreational LSD users everywhere.
"Satellite of Love," Lou Reed
What if there was a third country involved in the great space race between the Russians and the Americans? And what if that country was the Nation of Love? Would communism or capitalism stand a chance against peace signs and flower power? Former Velvet Underground mastermind and walking anti-drug commercial Lou Reed entertains the counterfactual in this Playmobil-like video. And answers with a stylized, "No."
"Next Year," Foo Fighters
"North American Scum," LCD Soundsystematrocious lyrics we've ever heard, but at least the video is entertaining enough to distract us from them. Man-behind-the-band James Murphy escapes into space to have disco battles on the moon and to relive the ending of '2001: A Space Odyssey.' For a band that takes so much inspiration from dance music of decades past, the cheesy yet vintage special effects make perfect visual sense.
"I Miss You (But I Haven't Met You Yet)," Björk
From her micro-tonal voice to her embrace of experimental and electronic music, Björk has always been a forward-thinking musician. And having John Kricfalusi (a.k.a. John K, creator of 'Ren & Stimpy') animate a music video for you? That's just great taste.
"Walking on The Moon," The Dream featuring Kanye West
What says "space" better than beautiful models scantly clad in snow-white duds? Nothing really, unless you put said babes in a steely, sterile environment. The Dream's lyrics describe a love so fiery and a passion so fierce that he'd walk straight through the sun for his lady. Now that's hot! But not nearly as hot as the verse that guest MC Kanye West drops near the end of the song.
"You Only Live Once," The Strokes
"Music Is Math," Boards of Canada
We're not sure if this is a fan-made video or not, but it completely complements the Boards of Canada's aesthetic. BoC's classroom filmstrip look and sound, melded with acid-trip ambiance, is a perfect soundtrack for this archival footage of the 1939 World's Fair, retro rocket launches, and deep sea diving. (Beware the slightly NSFW underwater scenes.) We feel like we're back in 3rd Grade, seeing the future through a blurry Super 8 projector.
"Space Oddity," David Bowie
Well, we couldn't rightly make a Space Video roundup without including Ziggy Stardust himself. Quasi-alien Bowie appears in this low-budget, ethereal production as Major Tom and is accompanied by some Twiggy-esque waifs, but he still looks pretty melancholic about floating through the galaxy. As the Ground Control operator, he borders on looking like Tilda Swinton meets John Lennon, but that didn't stop the BBC from broadcasting "Space Oddity" during its coverage of the Apollo 11 lunar landings.
"Power of Love," Deee-lite
"Astronaut," Amanda Palmer
We make no secret about our love for nerd-rocker Amanda Palmer. In her sometimes literally explosive ode to a loved one that is an "astronaut, flying in the name of science." She pounds the ivories while rockets take off in the background. The video tells the tale of someone left behind, while a sorely missed beloved spends their time in 'outer space.'
"Tonight, Tonight," Smashing Pumpkins
A clear tribute to 'Le Voyage dans la Lune' by George Méliès (since the featured ship is the SS Méliès), the Pumpkins take a group of turn-of-the-century, wide-eyed travelers into space, where they face baddies and then rocket back to earth for an underwater adventure. Complete with paper cut-out waves and scratched film stock, this video looks backwards to illustrate the magical awesomeness of space travel today.
"Interplanet Janet," SchoolHouse Rock
This little pop-rock piano ditty is, at least theoretically, educational. "Interplanet Janet," our protagonist, flies through the solar system naming all of the planets and painting images of them with vivid lyrics such as: "Mars is red, and Jupiter's big." Thanks, Janet. For even more space-loving goodness, check out the Man or Astro-Man? cover from the 'School House Rock! Rocks' compilation.
"Bowie's In Space," Flight of the Conchords
The king of space songs is David Bowie, so it only makes sense that when Flight of the Conchords decided to take a potshot at Ziggy they focused on the final frontier. But, like any good song, "Bowie's in Space" poses poignant questions: "Isn't it cold out in space?" "Does the space cold make your nipples go pointy?" "Do you want to borrow my jumper?" That's deep.