“Rock and roll has always been a genre of rebellion and limitless creativity, and these songs exemplify that spirit. In the world of rock and roll, boundaries are meant to be broken, and conventions are there to be challenged. It’s a genre that has historically celebrated the freedom of expression, the raw power of music, and the unbridled energy of youth.
Now, imagine taking that rebellious spirit and infusing it with the boundless possibilities of science fiction. It’s a match made in the cosmos. These songs don’t just toe the line of convention; they boldly venture where no music has gone before. Sorry, Captain Kirk, but I just had to use that line. Songs with sci-fi themes have helped turn on a certain segment of the population to rock and roll music who may have never given it much thought. It brings together fans of the arts. Rock and roll meets sci-fi. Look how successful Back To The Future was. That was a rock and roll movie in so many ways. Of course, no movie series defined how important rock music can be in the extraterrestrial world like the Guardians of the Galaxy series. This was a fun one to out together.
# 10 – Life On Mars
What better way to open up our list than with David Bowie’s timeless classic Life On Mars? David Bowie’s music book ends our top 10. “Life On Mars?” by David Bowie was featured on his 1971 album “Hunky Dory.” Recorded at Trident Studios in London, the album “Hunky Dory” was produced by Ken Scott, who had worked with Bowie on several previous albums. The recording lineup included Bowie himself on vocals and acoustic guitar, Mick Ronson on piano and Mellotron, Trevor Bolder on bass, and Mick Woodmansey on drums.
“Life On Mars?” is a complex and evocative song that showcases Bowie’s poetic storytelling. Lyrically, it addresses themes of disillusionment, escapism, and the desire for something more meaningful in life. The song’s intricate arrangements and shifts in dynamics create a sense of drama and depth, and Bowie’s distinctive vocals bring the narrative to life.
# 9 – Astronomy Domine – by Pink Floyd
“Astronomy Domine” is a psychedelic rock song by the British progressive rock band Pink Floyd. The song is the opening track on their debut album, “The Piper at the Gates of Dawn,” released in 1967. It stands as one of the band’s earliest works and showcases their innovative and experimental approach to music.
Recorded at EMI Studios in London, the album “The Piper at the Gates of Dawn” was produced by Norman Smith, who had previously worked with The Beatles. The song “Astronomy Domine” features the classic lineup of Pink Floyd at the time, with Syd Barrett on vocals and lead guitar, Roger Waters on bass and backing vocals, Richard Wright on keyboards, and Nick Mason on drums.
“Astronomy Domine” is a sonic journey into the realms of space and psychedelia. The song’s atmospheric and otherworldly soundscapes, achieved through the use of echo and reverb effects, set the tone for the rest of the album. Lyrically, it explores themes of cosmic exploration and transcendence, with the repeated refrain of “Lime and limpid green, a second scene, a fight between the blue you once knew” evoking a sense of otherworldly landscapes and altered states of consciousness.
Critically, “Astronomy Domine” was praised for its groundbreaking sound and its departure from conventional rock music. It marked the beginning of Pink Floyd’s journey into progressive and experimental rock, laying the foundation for their later iconic albums like The Dark Side of the Moon and Wish You Were Here.
# 8 – Space Baby – The Tubes
“Space Baby” is a song by the American rock band The Tubes, known for their theatrical and satirical approach to rock music. The song is featured on their 1975 album “Young and Rich” and showcases the band’s unique blend of rock, humor, and social commentary. Recorded in 1975, the album “Young and Rich” was produced by Al Kooper, who is a favorite here at the site as well as millions of other rock fans who knew how important Kooper was to so many bands. The song “Space Baby” features the distinctive vocals of Fee Waybill, the band’s frontman, who often took on various personas during live performances.
The band’s lineup at the time included Bill Spooner and Roger Steen on guitars, Michael Cotten on synthesizers, Prairie Prince on drums, and Rick Anderson on bass.”Space Baby” is a satirical commentary on the glam rock and sci-fi culture of the 1970s. The song’s lyrics tell the story of a young man who dreams of becoming a space explorer but ends up working in a mundane office job.
7 – Space Truckin – Deep Purple
“Space Truckin'” is a classic rock song by the British band Deep Purple. It appeared on their 1972 album “Machine Head,” which is widely regarded as one of the most influential albums in rock history. “Space Truckin'” itself became a quintessential track in the hard rock genre.
Recorded in December 1971 at the Montreux Casino in Switzerland, “Machine Head” was produced by Deep Purple alongside engineer Martin Birch. The lineup for this iconic track included Ian Gillan on vocals, Ritchie Blackmore on guitar, Jon Lord on keyboards, Roger Glover on bass, and Ian Paice on drums.
“Space Truckin'” is a high-energy rock anthem that showcases Deep Purple’s signature blend of bluesy rock and heavy metal elements. The song’s driving rhythm, thunderous guitar riffs, and Gillan’s powerful vocals create a sonic experience that feels like a relentless journey through space. Lyrically, the song captures a sense of interstellar adventure, with references to flying through the stars and encountering cosmic beings.
# 6 – Waiting for the UFOs – Graham Parker and The Rumour
“Waiting for the UFOs” is a song by British musician Graham Parker and his band, The Rumour. The song was released in 1979 as part of their album “Squeezing Out Sparks.” It’s a compelling blend of rock and new wave influences that reflects the late ’70s music scene.
Recorded in 1978 at Lansdowne Studios in London, “Squeezing Out Sparks” was produced by Jack Nitzsche. The album showcased Graham Parker’s distinctive vocal style and songwriting prowess, and “Waiting for the UFOs” is a standout track that captures the zeitgeist of the era.
The song features a driving rhythm section with Andrew Bodnar on bass and Steve Goulding on drums, while the prominent keyboard work is provided by Bob Andrews. Graham Parker’s heartfelt vocals convey a sense of disillusionment and longing, which resonated with many listeners during the late ’70s.
Lyrically, “Waiting for the UFOs” reflects the frustration and yearning of the time, and it has been interpreted as a commentary on the uncertainties and anxieties of modern life.
# 5 – Planet Claire – The B-52’s
“Planet Claire” is a track by the iconic new wave band The B-52’s from their self-titled debut album, released in 1979. Known for their quirky and offbeat style, The B-52’s combined elements of rock, punk, and new wave create a unique sound ahead of its time.
Recorded in April 1979 at Compass Point Studios in Nassau, Bahamas, the album was produced by Chris Blackwell, founder of Island Records. “Planet Claire” features Kate Pierson and Cindy Wilson’s distinctive harmonized vocals, along with Fred Schneider’s distinctive spoken-word delivery. The track is driven by Ricky Wilson’s surf-rock-inspired guitar and Keith Strickland’s drumming.
“Planet Claire” is a standout track on the album, and its unusual lyrics and infectious melody quickly made it a fan favorite. The song’s lyrics transport listeners to an imaginary world called “Planet Claire,” where the atmosphere is pink and the extraterrestrial landscapes are filled with oddities like a “tree in a bog” and a “rock on a rock.”
# 4 – Rocket Man – Elton John
“Rocket Man” is one of Elton John and Bernie Taupin’s most iconic songs, released in 1972 as a part of his album Honky Château. Recorded at the Château d’Hérouville in France in January 1972, “Rocket Man” was produced by Gus Dudgeon, a frequent collaborator with Elton John during his early career. The song features Elton John on vocals and piano, Dee Murray on bass, and Nigel Olsson on drums. This was the birth of the Elton John band that we came to love.
“Rocket Man” tells the story of an astronaut’s loneliness and disconnection from his family while embarking on a space mission. The song’s melancholic and introspective lyrics and Elton John’s emotive vocals and piano playing create a poignant and relatable narrative. The rocket launch sound effects in the song add a touch of realism to the space-themed composition. Upon its release, “Rocket Man” received critical acclaim and climbed the charts, reaching No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the United States.
# 3 – Space Cowboy – Steve Miller Band
“Space Cowboy” is a classic rock song by the Steve Miller Band from their 1969 album “Brave New World.” Recorded during the summer of 1969 at Olympic Studios in London, “Space Cowboy” was produced by Glyn Johns, who worked with other legendary artists like The Rolling Stones and The Who. The recording features Steve Miller on vocals and guitar, alongside the band’s lineup at the time, including Boz Scaggs on guitar, Lonnie Turner on bass, Ben Sidran on keyboards, and Tim Davis on drums.
# 2 – Starman – David Bowie
“Starman” is a classic rock song by the legendary English musician David Bowie. It was released as a single in April 1972 and later included on his fifth studio album, “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars.” The song holds a special place in Bowie’s discography and the history of rock music.
Recorded in November 1971 at Trident Studios in London, “Starman” became one of Bowie’s signature tracks and a pivotal moment in the glam rock movement. Produced by David Bowie and Ken Scott, the song features a distinctive melody, catchy chorus, and lyrics that tell the story of an extraterrestrial being who serves as a messenger of hope and salvation to humanity.
Musically, “Starman” is driven by Mick Ronson’s iconic guitar work and Bowie’s charismatic vocals. The song’s infectious energy and Bowie’s androgynous Ziggy Stardust persona struck a chord with fans and critics alike. It showcased Bowie’s innovative songwriting and contributed to the glam rock explosion of the early ’70s.
# 1 – Space Oddity – David Bowie
How could this not be number one? It even has a countdown and rocket ship blasting off at the beginning of the song.
“Space Oddity” is one of David Bowie’s most iconic and enduring songs, released in 1969 as a single and later featured on his second album, also titled “Space Oddity.” The song holds a special place in Bowie’s career and rock music history.
Recorded on June 20, 1969, at Trident Studios in London, “Space Oddity” was produced by Gus Dudgeon. The recording features David Bowie on vocals and acoustic guitar, with the renowned session guitarist Mick Wayne adding electric guitar. Herbie Flowers played bass, and Terry Cox was on drums. The song’s haunting melody and lyrics tell the story of Major Tom, an astronaut who becomes lost in space, a theme that would reappear in Bowie’s later work.
“Space Oddity” was released just nine days before the historic Apollo 11 moon landing, and it quickly became associated with the space race and the excitement of the era. The song was initially a modest success but gained significant popularity when it was re-released in 1973. It reached No. 5 on the UK Singles Chart and became one of Bowie’s signature songs.
If ten is not enough, here is a list of about thirty more rock and roll sci-fi-themed songs.
“Intergalactic” by Beastie Boys
“Across the Universe” by The Beatles
“Major Tom (Coming Home)” by Peter Schilling
“A Spaceman Came Traveling” by Chris de Burgh
“It Came Out of the Sky” by Creedence Clearwater Revival
“Alien” by Bush
“The Man Who Sold the World” by David Bowie
“Aliens Exist” by Blink-182
“Outta Space” by Prodigy
“I Am the Walrus” by The Beatles
“Venus” by Shocking Blue
“Space Race” by Billy Preston
“Man on the Moon” by R.E.M.
“Spaceman” by The Killers
“Intergalactic Lovers” by Wolfmother
“No Plan” by David Bowie
“Aliens” by Coldplay
“Starlight” by Muse
“I Believe in a Thing Called Love” by The Darkness
“Space Dementia” by Muse
“We Are All Made of Stars” by Moby
“The Sky is a Neighborhood” by Foo Fighters
“Life in Outer Space” by 311
“Space Age Love Song” by A Flock of Seagulls
“Stratosphere” by Mutemath
“Martian Boogie” by Brownsville Station
“Solar System” by The Beach Boys
“Martian Hop” by The Ran-Dells
“Calling Elvis” by Dire Straits
“Beyond the Invisible” by Enigma
“Rocket” by Def Leppard
10 Cool Classic Rock Songs Fueled By Sci-Fi Themes article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2023
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