Songfilter: Sci-fi themed cabaret songs
December 20, 2010 1:57 PM   Subscribe

Help me, Mefi, you're my only hope! I need song suggestions for a science fiction cabaret!

So, inspired by my friend's performance in a cabaret competition last night, I'm thinking about writing a new cabaret.

For something a bit different, I'm think that I'm going to make it science-fiction themed. The problem is, that there aren't a lot of sci-fi musicals flitting around.

So, Hivemind, give me your best sci-fi song suggestions.

They don't have to be musical theatre numbers, although those would be the easiest to do. Pop and rock are fine - extra points for ease of conversion to solo piano. I haven't decided whether this will be a solo show, so possible duets and trios are welcome.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts to Media & Arts (52 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
The Simpsons did it. More specifically, they had a few short numbers from a "Planet of the Apes" musical.
posted by mhum at 2:02 PM on December 20, 2010 is probably going to be a good resource for you as well.
posted by verbyournouns at 2:04 PM on December 20, 2010

Ziggy Stardust - the whole album.

Also, here is an article on sci-fi themed concept albums - lots of potential grist for the mill here. ( I think this showed up at some point previously on the Blue.)

And if you can work in the weirdo jeremiad "In The Year 2525," sir or madam, I salute you.
posted by Pickman's Next Top Model at 2:08 PM on December 20, 2010

Maybe you're looking for filk music? 2nding JoCo too, e.g. The Future Soon, Skullcrusher Mountain, Re: Your Brains, I Crush Everything, and Still Alive.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 2:09 PM on December 20, 2010

Grandaddy's Everything Beautiful Is Far Away would probably work really well.

I'd also recommend listening to some Masters of the Hemisphere and also maybe some 70s Hawkwind, particularly the poppier stuff written by Robert Calvert or Nik Turner.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 2:12 PM on December 20, 2010 [1 favorite]

Well, you definitely need Burt Bacharach's theme song to The Blob
posted by neroli at 2:12 PM on December 20, 2010

Response by poster: Wow, I love you guys. Keep 'em coming.

And Pickman's NTM, I'll do my very best, although that number is really long...
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 2:12 PM on December 20, 2010

Lexx had a musical episode:
It was very musical theater-y.
posted by chocolatepeanutbuttercup at 2:15 PM on December 20, 2010

And there's the great Queen song, '39, which is about space colonization and time dilation.
posted by neroli at 2:23 PM on December 20, 2010

Flash! Aaaa-h!
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 2:25 PM on December 20, 2010 [1 favorite]

Buffy Once More With Feeling, Rocky Horror Picture Show, Little Shop of Horrors, Repo! The Genetic Opera, The War of the Worlds are all SF-tinged musicals.
posted by Leon at 2:25 PM on December 20, 2010 [1 favorite]

Anything by the band S.P.O.C.K. would probably be a great in a sci-fi musical. Song titles include: Romulan Ale, Astrogirl's Dilemna, Out in Space, etc. YOu can check out their stuff on myspace at
posted by desl at 2:27 PM on December 20, 2010

For a little humor injection, there's always Weird Al's The Saga Begins (based on Phantom Menace), and goth artist Voltaire has a few Star Trek-themed numbers, most notably The USS Make Shit Up.
posted by Gator at 2:32 PM on December 20, 2010

Peter Schilling, Major Tom:


posted by chocolatepeanutbuttercup at 2:33 PM on December 20, 2010

Something by Stovokor, the death-metal band made of Klingons who sing only in Klingon?

Surely GWAR have something that would work as well.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 2:35 PM on December 20, 2010

"Robot Parade" by They Might Be Giants. "Four of Two" would work too ... actually they're sort of geek heaven; I'm sure there's plenty in their work that you could use.
posted by johnofjack at 2:39 PM on December 20, 2010

Interplanet Janet comes to mind. It's entirely possible that there are other Schoolhouse Rock! songs that apply, as well.
posted by Sara C. at 2:46 PM on December 20, 2010

maybe doris daytheearthstoodstill
posted by various at 2:47 PM on December 20, 2010

Oh, Great Space Coaster!
posted by Gator at 2:53 PM on December 20, 2010

Maximum Accelation and I Want To Be A Machine by Ultravox.

Interplanetary Private Eye by Robert Hazard.

Damn you, I've got work I should be doing....
posted by chocolatepeanutbuttercup at 2:54 PM on December 20, 2010

Leon has some great musical theatre suggestions.

Return to the Forbidden Planet is a sci-fi musical, but possibly the only song worth lifting from it is Robot Man by Connie Francis, and only because it's gently dirty.

Other musical theatre options include Starmites, Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog (particularly the song "My Freeze Ray") and (because it's Sci-Fi in terms of plot) We Will Rock You.

The song Still Alive from the video game Portal might also be a great choice, as Monsieur Caution noted. (Points to my lovely and talented flatmate for that suggestion.)
posted by sueinnyc at 3:12 PM on December 20, 2010

Aquaman's Lament by Mark Aaron James, the entire "Our Bodies, Ourselves, Our Cybernetic Arms" album by the aforementioned Jonathan Coulton. On a more serious note, Northeastern Wind by Immaculate Machine is about a sort of post-apocalyptic cityscape and If You See Light [preview, couldn't find an easily linkable full track] by the Mountain Goats is about being a Frankenstein-style monster hiding under a table while villagers storm the house.
posted by NoraReed at 3:27 PM on December 20, 2010

Red Dwarf featured the song "Tongue Tied", although the song isn't particularly science-fictiony, so people will have to get the reference for it to make any sense.

Wierd Al "I think I'm a clone now"? Not his best work, IMHO.

Seconding the Queen song. I love that song. Brian May proves that he really is a big nerd (and he sang lead vocals on that, which I did not know).
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 3:27 PM on December 20, 2010

You should clearly start your show with Guided by Voices' classic "I Am A Scientist."
posted by amelioration at 3:51 PM on December 20, 2010

I hate to differ, but if I were you I'd open with Richard O'Brien's hymn to the B-Movie genre, Science Fiction: Double Feature.

It's the song over the opening credits of Rocky Horror; link is to a slightly more rockin' cover version by Me First and the Gimme Gimmes.

Other songs I instantly thought of include In The Year 2525; Telstar (instrumental); Rocket Man (link is to another Me First cover).

Oh and Gonzo, of course.
posted by Pallas Athena at 4:00 PM on December 20, 2010 [1 favorite]

"Science Genius Girl" by Freezepop might be perfect (science + girl!)
posted by Rock Steady at 4:09 PM on December 20, 2010

How has "She Blinded Me With Science" not been mentioned yet?

Also, The Aquabats' entire oeuvre should be consulted.
posted by Sara C. at 4:09 PM on December 20, 2010

The Foundry Field Recordings album Prompts/Miscues is a concept army about a clone/robot war that is hauntingly beautiful.
posted by nulledge at 4:14 PM on December 20, 2010

A couple add ons:

Benson, Arizona from Dark Star.

Beautiful Zelda by Bonzo Dog Band. (Actual song starts at about :29)

Space Oddity (and possibly Ashes to Ashes) by David Bowie. (Weird that someone brought up Major Tom but not the songs to which that's an homage.)
posted by j-dawg at 4:15 PM on December 20, 2010

The Star Blazers theme.
posted by Gator at 4:24 PM on December 20, 2010 [1 favorite]

Aphex Twin has a pretty solid remix of the Star Wars theme that I used to love.
posted by jbenben at 4:40 PM on December 20, 2010

You might want to take a look at Tim Burton's "Charlie and The Chocolate Factory" sequence where the kid disappears into the tv screen. That sequence tributes Videodrome and 2001 in a most hilarious way.
posted by effluvia at 4:44 PM on December 20, 2010

Time Warp Again?
posted by IndigoJones at 4:58 PM on December 20, 2010

Best answer: Marian Call's entire album Got To Fly was inspired by Firefly and Battlestar Galactica.
posted by bondcliff at 5:28 PM on December 20, 2010

Best answer: What's weird and wonderful is the music of Sheldon Allman [WFMU link]. See if you can find the Folk Songs for the 21st Century album. It's got a song called "Space Opera," which you simply can't do without if you're going to put this together properly.

Then, of course, there's Into Outer Space with Lucia Pamela, which I love all out of proportion to its quality. Please find a place for this in whatever it is that you're doing.
posted by .kobayashi. at 5:45 PM on December 20, 2010

Sun Ra!!!

Rocket #9 taking off for the planet Venus!
posted by ian1977 at 6:15 PM on December 20, 2010

Jinx kobayashi
posted by ian1977 at 6:16 PM on December 20, 2010

Dr. WhoooOOOOoo, HEY!
posted by ian1977 at 6:17 PM on December 20, 2010

Response by poster: The response here leads me to believe that people would actually come watch a scifi cabaret. This is heartening, as its the only good idea for a show that I feel like I've had in a while.

These are all great. I'm going to spend some time going through it all. Thanks for the suggestions, people. Keep'em going.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 7:13 PM on December 20, 2010

Has no one mentioned Weird Science yet?
posted by duvatney at 7:25 PM on December 20, 2010

Best answer: How has no one mentioned:

"Beyond the rim of the starlight
my love is wand'ring in starflight.
I know he'll find in starclustered reaches
love, strange love a starwoman teaches..."

It's the theme song for Star Trek, the original series!! It's soooo incredibly cabaret! I know it by heart, but no one ever asks me to sing it!
posted by amtho at 8:19 PM on December 20, 2010

In addition to She Blinded Me a lot of other Thomas Dolby is SFnal. His other songs are more moody so they might not be good cabaret songs, but I wouldn't know. A lot of it would work as steampunk.

In addition to the other great suggestions:
  • The Darkest of the Hillside Thickets do a bunch of Lovecraft and spooky-SF songs. I like their 20 Minutes of Oxygen, but The Innsmouth Look might be more cabaret-like.
  • Melora Creager, especially her album Perplexions.
  • Anime theme songs? I don't think there's anything awesome you can't do with Tank! (the opening music from Cowboy Bebop).

posted by hattifattener at 8:30 PM on December 20, 2010

Janelle Monae has an album of songs about a robot girl.
posted by bq at 9:05 PM on December 20, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: amtho, I had no idea that the Star Trek theme had lyrics. That's pretty awesome.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 9:22 PM on December 20, 2010

oh and how could I forget longtime Seattle band Blöödhag?
posted by hattifattener at 10:52 PM on December 20, 2010

Response by poster: You guys are all awesome. Thanks for all the help.

I'm totally going to do this again the next time I have a show idea.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 2:04 PM on December 21, 2010

If this goes anywhere, I hope you'll come back and share the results with us!
posted by Gator at 2:05 PM on December 21, 2010

Response by poster: Gator - i most certainly will, but there's a lot of development that needs to be done. See you in a couple of months!
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 8:37 PM on December 21, 2010

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