Science Fiction in Music.

Science Fiction as a lyrical inspiration in music is surprisingly common, and in the vast majority of music it appears in, is totally awesome. I’m definitely a music nerd, but more the classic rock and heavy metal kind, and less the jazz/electronica/marching band/ royal conservatory kind. So this is my admittedly narrower perspective of SF in music.

Early emergence of SF as a theme included the very “spacey” 1971 Hawkwind album, “In Search of Space,” though mainly the B side alone is really more SF oriented, and overall had a more “spacey” sound than “spacey” lyrics. Even earlier, though perhaps less directly, are acts like the Jimi Hendrix Experience, with “Third Stone from the Sun,” and even less directly, the early noise works of Pink Floyd‘s “The Piper at the Gates of Dawn,” and “A Saucerful of Secrets.” Where it really stars to pick up, is when Black Sabbath released “Paranoid” in 1970, kicking off the band’s love affair with SF from Ozzy, to Gillan (less so), to Ronnie James Dio (RIP), who focused mainly on admittedly pretty stream of consciousness fantasy lyrics in his solo career.

An extra special mention goes to Rush. In 1977, they released their 5th album, “A Farewell to Kings.” And, yeah, it has “Closer to the Heart” and “Cinderella Man” on it, but who really cares (well, a lot of people, really) when there’s an over 10 minute epic as the last track. “Cygnus X-1” is such an incredible song, I haven’t the words for it, really. It’s part of a two song epic, totalling over 28 minutes in length, but it’s Book 1, the “Farewell to Kings” song that is the really masterpiece here. I wish Rush could be this heavy all the time. When the song kicks back in at roughly the eight minute mark, I just want to tear everything apart.

The genre that SF I believe shines the brightest in, is metal. All kinds of metal. On metal-archives.com, a surprisingly concise directory of metal from all over the world, there are over 200 bands that have SF as a lyrical theme. Also, mild warning, most the bands I’m about to mention range from heavy, to really heavy, to incredibly heavy. I pretty much only know how to metal.

Judas Priest paints pictures of SF heroes in “Stained Glass” with the song “Exciter,” and in Painkiller with “Painkiller.” Albums like Sodom‘s “Tapping the Vein.” with lyrics from the perspective of a chemically enhanced solider. Bands that are completely submerged in science fiction, like Obscura, Beyond Creation, Origin, Stargazer, and B.C. band Archspire. More post-modern lyrical content, but still in the realm, are bands like Gorguts, or completely other-worldly bands like Portal, so Lovercraftian that is hurts, who use made-up, “evil sounding” words in later albums. This is barely a scratch on the surface of this incredibly vast topic. Got any other SF music suggestions?

 

5 thoughts on “Science Fiction in Music.”

  1. I’m always looking for music suggestions, so I’m really looking forward to clicking on some of these links! 🙂

    I would definitely point you in the direction of David Bowie, who has a full album about a SF character: “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars.” (I recommend the song “Ziggy Stardust”)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Muh1pk7xc2k

    Two of his other spacy songs are “Life on Mars” and “Space Oddity” (made even more famous by Chris Hadfield!).
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v–IqqusnNQ
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cYMCLz5PQVw

  2. I enjoyed your post very much. I, too, am a great lover of music of almost all genres- particularly older rock and metal. In a subsequent blog I mention Dehumanizer by Black Sabbath, a spectacularly written album.
    You also mentioned Hawkwind, a band Michael Moorcock has been involved in. Moorcock is one of my favourite SF writers- anyone who hasn’t read him, do yourself a favour and check him out. It’s crazy, wonderful stuff. I am most fond of his Eternal Champion series, but other of his works like Behold the Man are fabulous. His characters travel through time and space and across dimensions…. but I digress.
    Here is a link to the Hawkwind album, Warrior on the Edge of Time, with lyrics by Michael Moorcock.

    http://grooveshark.com/#!/album/Warrior+On+The+Edge+Of+Time/2496340

    Wikipedia article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Warrior_on_the_Edge_of_Time

  3. Great post! After reading this the band Kraftwerk came to mind (they’re a really lovely German electronic band from the 70s that I feel has a kind of Science Fiction sensibility both in style and content). Their lyrics are in English and German and often focus on computers, cars, trains or technology of some kind. The German in this song, ‘radioactivity’: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hhBG1ilB3ao can be translated into “For you and me in space comes into being/Sends waves to receiver/When it’s about our future” etc. And then this song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VXa9tXcMhXQ is about robots! Hope you like them 🙂

  4. Kraftwerk! They’re fantastic. I remember watching them in the 80s on Much Music- when it was still a music channel. Thanks for the memories, blogoline. 🙂

    1. no problem 🙂 and i’m with you remembering those good old days, when music used to be played on much music! hee hee

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