Inspiring songs about Space and Space Travel
March 19, 2013 6:17 PM   Subscribe

I am looking for inspiring songs about being in Space, or Space Travel, or even just Science! in general. I want to make a playlist. The only songs I can think of right now are Space Oddity and Rocketman, both of which are awesome songs but also completely depressing. I'm looking for songs that are more uplifting and inspirational. Please help.
posted by sandraregina to Media & Arts (77 answers total) 31 users marked this as a favorite
"Fly Me To The Moon" - Frank Sinatra

"Interplanet Janet" - from Schoolhouse Rocks. There was a 90's alt-rock cover on the Schoolhouse Rocks tribute album that came out around '95, if you can track it down.
posted by Sara C. at 6:22 PM on March 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

It also occurs to me that there's got to be a song from The Rocky Horror Picture Show that would fit.

Have you heard any of Janelle Monae's stuff? She has a whole sci-fi concept album about an android on the run for the crime of falling in love with a human, called The ArchAndroid. It's a sequel to her EP, Metropolis. Somewhere in there, there's gotta be a great song for your playlist. The two singles from The ArchAndroid were "Tightrope" and "Cold War", but neither of them are really explicitly sci-fi oriented.
posted by Sara C. at 6:30 PM on March 19, 2013

"She Blinded Me With Science", of course.

Sorry, this is way too fun.
posted by Sara C. at 6:31 PM on March 19, 2013

Obligatory Enterprise opening and original Faith of the Heart.
posted by gregoreo at 6:31 PM on March 19, 2013

You also might want to check out the songs Julie Brown did for the film Earth Girls Are Easy. I think a lot of them are more about Southern California culture in the 80's (there's one about a makeover, and another called "I'm A Blonde"), but I'm pretty sure there's at least one space travel one in there.
posted by Sara C. at 6:32 PM on March 19, 2013

Just about the entire album "Here Comes Science" by They Might Be Giants would qualify.
posted by Captain_Science at 6:34 PM on March 19, 2013 [2 favorites]

...Don't stop me now (Yes I'm having a good time)
I don't want to stop at all

I'm a rocket ship on my way to Mars
On a collision course
I am a satellite I'm out of control....
posted by sparklemotion at 6:34 PM on March 19, 2013

Not a song, but the soundtrack to From the Earth to the Moon.
posted by lharmon at 6:35 PM on March 19, 2013

broadcast - arc of a journey.
posted by subtle-t at 6:35 PM on March 19, 2013

Nervous Norvus - The Fang
posted by pompomtom at 6:39 PM on March 19, 2013

Oooh, speaking of Queen, you might want to check out their soundtrack to the 70's Flash Gordon movie.

posted by Sara C. at 6:39 PM on March 19, 2013

Space Girl!
posted by asperity at 6:42 PM on March 19, 2013

How about an entire album based on Russian cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova, the first woman in space? Kurt Swinghammer's Vostok 6. It's great, by the way.
posted by davebush at 6:43 PM on March 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


-Space Doggity
-I'm Your Moon
-Chiron Beta Prime

there are probably others. <3 JoCo.
posted by Medieval Maven at 6:44 PM on March 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

Lemon Jelly - Space Walk (it samples the recording of Ed White taking the first spacewalk by an American!)
posted by sigmagalator at 6:45 PM on March 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

Lupe Fiasco's Day Dreaming features a city block sized robot.

Flight of the Conchord's The Humans are Dead is sung by robots.

And to round out the AI: GladOS's Still Alive is very uplifting, from the right point of view.
posted by sparklemotion at 6:47 PM on March 19, 2013

There's also this weird little ska band from the last 90's called The Aquabats. They wrote a lot about science, and have at least two songs that could work for you, on the 1997 album The Fury Of The Aquabats.

One is called "Martian Girl!" and is, yup, about falling in love with a Martian girl.

The other is called "The Cat With Two Heads!" (all their songs end in exclamation points) and is about a budding mad scientist.

The general tenor of their oeuvre implies that there might be more Aquabats songs out there that fit your criteria more strictly. They wrote about science, space travel, aliens, robots, etc. a lot.
posted by Sara C. at 6:48 PM on March 19, 2013

Shonen Knife - Riding On A Rocket (”I Am A Cat", from the same album, also contains some spacey fun.)
posted by egypturnash at 6:49 PM on March 19, 2013

Destination Venus (Man or Astro-Man? is almost entirely space-themed, but most of their tracks don't have vocals audible to our puny Earth ears.)
posted by asperity at 6:53 PM on March 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

Everything on the Cowboy Bebop soundtrack makes me think of space, but The Seatbelt's What Planet is This? is probably most accessibly happy and spacey.
posted by sparklemotion at 6:57 PM on March 19, 2013

Rasputina - Girl Lunar Explorer
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 6:57 PM on March 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

Daniel Johnston - Rocket Ship, or K. McCarty's version if you want something more polished.
posted by hydrophonic at 7:00 PM on March 19, 2013

B-52's: "There's a Moon in the Sky (Called the Moon)," "Planet Claire."
posted by Sys Rq at 7:01 PM on March 19, 2013

Lucia Pamela - Walking on the Moon
Stereolab - International Colouring Contest
posted by hydrophonic at 7:03 PM on March 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

Le Tigre - "Phanta I"
posted by Sara C. at 7:06 PM on March 19, 2013

Wait, did no one mention '39 by Queen yet?

It's about space travel. Hint: When he mentions milky seas, he's not talking about actual seas, and there's a reason (and that reason is time dilation) why the song is about leaving your homeland and coming back a year later and many years have passed for the people back home.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 7:08 PM on March 19, 2013

There was a lot of space themed funk/disco. A few that spring to mind-
Dexter Wansel - Life On Mars
Jimmy Castor - Space Age
Parliament - Mothership
posted by p3t3 at 7:15 PM on March 19, 2013

Joanna Newsom - Emily
posted by hydrophonic at 7:27 PM on March 19, 2013 [2 favorites]

My favorite album in this genre, and one of my favorite albums of all time, is Codebreaker's Spacecamp Luxury. But I'll be damned if I can find samples of most of the songs online, which is somewhat depressing in this day and age. They do have one song up, though: the more downbeat Memoirs of the Marooned Astronaut.

See also many of their later tracks: What Is This Earth Love? and Riviera on the Moon.
posted by eschatfische at 7:27 PM on March 19, 2013

Kind of cheating, maybe, but you know about Symphony of Science? It started off with A Glorious Dawn.
posted by curious nu at 7:38 PM on March 19, 2013

Try poking around in the world of filk, aka the music of (some parts of) sci-fi fandom. Filkers are all about the space travel songs. I've seen Hope Eyrie, about the Apollo 11 mission, referred to as "the anthem of filk music," to the extent that there is such a thing. I find it bombastic, but lots of people seem to find it inspiring--maybe you'll be one of them.

30 seconds of googling gave me this 90's-tastic list of filk songs about space, but I bet a more thorough search will give you more contemporary examples.

Also seconding the suggestion of "Here Comes Science" by TMBG; be sure to check out the adorable accompanying video series. My favorite is Put It To The Test.
posted by ActionPopulated at 7:44 PM on March 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

Marian Call: Good Morning Moon
The fantastically comprehensive Hobbyspace site has a page devoted to music.
posted by Sophont at 7:55 PM on March 19, 2013

In a similar spirit to "Major Tom", the entire Planet P Project album is space themed. Two to get you started: "Why Me?" and "Static on the radio".
posted by autopilot at 8:06 PM on March 19, 2013

We are all connected - Symphony of science

Perhaps also Our Place In The Cosmos
posted by anonymisc at 8:10 PM on March 19, 2013

Further along the filk track, there was To Touch the Stars.
posted by eruonna at 8:25 PM on March 19, 2013

Burns Carpenter, Man of Science by Airport 5. I'm having a hard time finding this on Youtube, but I promise it exists.
I am a Scientist by Guided By Voices

Bonus: They're actually the same band!
posted by Polyhymnia at 8:30 PM on March 19, 2013

For a little classical inspiration, try The Planets by Gustav Holst. At the other end of the spectrum, there's Year 3000 by the Jonas Brothers (I'm embarassed to even mention it, but the song is pretty catchy).
posted by kbar1 at 8:40 PM on March 19, 2013

The Physics Chanteuse is a cabaret-style musical act produced and performed by physicist and chanteuse Lynda Williams for scientists at conferences and meetings
posted by Sophont at 9:48 PM on March 19, 2013

Space Songs is a classic kids album, several of which are covered by the aforementioned They Might Be Giants. Search youtube for the individual songs.

Also, this absolutely fantastic song about the exploration and colonization of Mars, called "The Settlers" by Piñataland.
posted by Sunburnt at 10:10 PM on March 19, 2013

All of Rush's 2112.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 10:40 PM on March 19, 2013

Also, a lot of the Flaming Lips deals with sciency inspirational topics, in an ambiguously ironic/earnest way, particularly Race for the Prize.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 10:43 PM on March 19, 2013

A bunch of the songs from Spacehog's Resident Alien might fit.
posted by oulipian at 10:45 PM on March 19, 2013

2nding "Destination Venus," and Man or Astro-man? in general (I swear they just came on my random music player as I type this). They're mostly instrumental surf rock, but some songs incorporate sound clips from old sci-fi B-movies, and their albums all have awesome retro-sci-fi artwork.

They have a sort-of-compilation album, Destroy All Astromen!, which also includes a cover of the MST3K theme song.

And the song itself isn't exactly space-related, but Foo Fighters' "Next Year" has a geektastic Apollo-inspired music video. And the lyrics fit in well enough with the theme.
posted by TheSecretDecoderRing at 11:01 PM on March 19, 2013

MC5 - Starship
Galaxie 500 - Moonshot
Caetano Veloso - O Pulsar (concrete poem by Augusto de Campos, in Portuguese)
Air - Kelly Watch the Stars
David Bowie - Starman
The Tornadoes - Telstar (instrumental)
Arthur Russell - This is How We Walk on the Moon
posted by hydrophonic at 11:33 PM on March 19, 2013

I see "Space Songs" has been mentioned already. May I specifically recommend Beep Beep (about a satellite) and Zoom a Little Zoom (about space travel in general).
posted by themanwho at 12:18 AM on March 20, 2013

Arthur Russell - This is How We Walk on the Moon

Oh, duh... "Walking on the Moon" by the Police.
Also, "Swinging on the Star", Bing Crosby version
And kinda sorta, "Intergalactic" by Beastie Boys
posted by TheSecretDecoderRing at 12:24 AM on March 20, 2013

Prism - Take Me To The Kaptin

Take Me To The Kaptin (1977)

The planet dies and no one cries
So hard to believe
If there was somewhere else to go
You know I'd be the first to leave

I don't mean to sound ungrateful
But I'm afraid that I just can't stay

I had a dream the other night
And as the dream unfurled
I took a trip in a rocket ship
And I found another world

They told me about their Kaptin
Then I asked him "Could I stay?"

I said: Take me to the Kaptin and tell him why I'm here
I want to stay in your world while my world disappears

Won't you take me to the Kaptin and tell him why I'm here
I want to stay in your world while my world disappears
posted by InsertNiftyNameHere at 12:27 AM on March 20, 2013

autopilot: "In a similar spirit to "Major Tom", the entire Planet P Project album is space themed. Two to get you started: "Why Me?" and "Static on the radio" ."

Gotta second "Why Me?" I've been jamming out to that song since 1983. It has a line in the lyrics that goes, "I won't be back this way 'til 2010" which completely freaked me out when I was randomly listening to it late one night when I realized that I was actually living in the year 2010! 2010 seemed so far away in '83.
posted by InsertNiftyNameHere at 1:00 AM on March 20, 2013

Grateful Dead - Dark Star, Standing on the Moon, Mountains of the Moon (bonus footage of Jerry Garcia talking to Hugh Hefner).
posted by knile at 1:06 AM on March 20, 2013

"Space Truckin" by Deep Purple
posted by TheSecretDecoderRing at 1:36 AM on March 20, 2013

Don McGlashan wrote not just one but two songs addressed to Comet C/2006 P1 (McNaught).
posted by pont at 1:38 AM on March 20, 2013

Hail Bop by Django Django makes me so happy, whole album is math and science. Mercury winners Alt-J are also very math-y

Stars by Ulrich Schnauss, also happy we are all made of stars type vibe
posted by BAKERSFIELD! at 1:39 AM on March 20, 2013

The Sword's Warp Riders is a concept album about space pirates and such.

Also, The Final Countdown.
posted by St. Sorryass at 3:42 AM on March 20, 2013

Holy cow people. Post a question, go to bed, wake up with a massive amount of information to sift through. Thank you all!
posted by sandraregina at 3:47 AM on March 20, 2013

posted by Chairboy at 4:21 AM on March 20, 2013

Also Bowie's Moonage Daydream, and Moby's We Are All Made of Stars.
posted by troywestfield at 6:59 AM on March 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

An instrumental, but one of the earliest...Telstar by the Tornados
posted by Gungho at 7:27 AM on March 20, 2013

Derailleur's Trippy Space Trip (Through Drug Space)
posted by COBRA! at 7:46 AM on March 20, 2013

Clutch - Spacegrass (specifically, it's about getting really high and going through space, but it both a) counts and b) rocks)

Blackalicious - Chemical Calisthenics (a chemistry lesson nestled in a hip-hop groove)

Lustmord's album 'The Place Where the Black Stars Hang' (more of a dark ambient composition representing the terrifying void of a bleak and uncaring universe, great if you're into that sort of thing)

Hanzel und Gretyl - 9D Galactic Center (along with most of their early works, very space and sci-fi oriented 90s-era electro-industrial)

Hypocrisy - most everything off their album 'The Arrival' was about aliens, space, and general sci-fi wackiness. 'Eraser' is about alien abduction, specifically. There was an odd stretch in metal history about a decade or so ago where 'aliens' briefly became the new 'satan' as far as subject material goes... it was kind of strange to see/hear.

Would Dr. Octagon's 'Earth People' count? It's about being a crazy alien and travelling through space, among other things - as much as any Kool Keith composition can be said to be 'about' anything.

Zlad's 'Elektronik Supersonik' is absolutely about travelling through space, and may be the best song ever written about that subject. Possibly the best song on ANY subject.
posted by FatherDagon at 8:10 AM on March 20, 2013 [3 favorites]

Depending on how fussy you are with your definitions, the Deodato version of Also sprach Zarathustra never fails to make me happier.
posted by knile at 8:53 AM on March 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

I have to make a disclaimer of affiliation, although I don't play on this particular song. (I play on other songs on the album):

Try H2O on Mars by the delightful Kid Kazooey and the Ballroom Roustabouts.
posted by spbmp at 9:12 AM on March 20, 2013

Paul McCartney - Venus and Mars
Beatles - Across the Universe
posted by Billiken at 11:01 AM on March 20, 2013

Styx: Come Sail Away
posted by tracer at 12:19 PM on March 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

Aw man, I forgot Tom Lehrer earlier! Specifically The Elements and The Wild West is Where I Wanna Be, which may not be uplifting but is pretty funny.

If you want to expand your parameters to include songs about famous scientists and mathematicians, throw in Lobachevsky and Wehrner Von Braun too.
posted by ActionPopulated at 3:47 PM on March 20, 2013

Somewhat peripherally, "Beep Beep" by Louis Prima. Not the same "Beep Beep" as above.
posted by Sunburnt at 5:04 PM on March 20, 2013

Spider Robinson's "On the way to the stars" seems pretty on target. (The link goes directly to a free download of the mp3 from Robinson's website.)
posted by tragedy_and_comedy at 8:58 PM on March 20, 2013

I am suddenly surprised nobody has mentioned Hawkwind.

Spirit of the Age is a dude bitching that his girlfriend will be dead when he returns to earth because her father wouldn't let her get frozen. All their music is immensely nerdy; they collaborated with Moorcock on a concept album about Elric. I'm pretty sure you'll find more songs explicitly about SPACE! in their catalog.

Also, no space playlist would be complete without a flyby of a Supermassive Black Hole, or even a trip through Cygnus X-1. You might even meet up with a Little Neutrino.

More whimsically, you might enjoy Raymond Scott's And The Cow Jumped Over The Moon. (And its entertainingly elliptical companion piece, And The Dish Ran Away With The Spoon.)

You may find Elton John's "Rocket Man" terribly depressing, but the Red Elvis' Rocketman is a joyous piece of space surf. (And while I'm talking about space surf… none of the music of Man… or ASTRO-MAN? has lyrics, but it's peppered with samples from 50s sci-fi movies, and the band members claim to be aliens from space. One of the few tracks they did with singing was a cover of Interplanet Janet, which was mentioned in the first reply.)

Perhaps you might want to flirt with The Waitress In The Bar Orbiting Io on your way out of the inner system.

And when you're waaay out in space, take a moment to pause and look around at the Cosmos.

But be careful. You don't want to ever learn The Terrible Secret of Space.
posted by egypturnash at 11:58 AM on March 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

…and if you're feeling a little melancholy, you might want to look out the window and reminisce when you use your Ticket to the Moon. But you probably don't want to, because the narrator of ELO's album "Time" is generally full of sadness and nostalgia.
posted by egypturnash at 12:09 PM on March 21, 2013

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