Space is the final frontier.
We can only imagine the vastness, the emptiness, and the immensity of space. Yet, painting that black picture in our heads is good as a humbling exercise.
It reminds us we’re just a little gear in the universe’s huge machinery.
These are the attempts humans have made to turn the scary notion of the infinite into a source of beauty and joy all of us can appreciate.
These are some of the best songs about space that ended up being the soundtracks of our Earth-bound lives.
1. Space Truckin – Deep Purple
“Space Truckin'” is part of the critically acclaimed 1972 record Machine Head by British hard rockers Deep Purple. It is the album’s seventh and last song.
- The main riff for the song came to him while he was doing finger exercises around the theme song for Batman, according to lead guitarist Richie Blackmoore.
- The many references such as “Pony Trekker”, “the Borealice”, and “the Canaveral moonstop” make us think of a wild ride through outer space.
- Many years after being recorded, “Space Truckin” made it to outer space as the astronaut Kalpana Chawla took a copy of Machine Head on board the Space Shuttle Columbia.
2. Don’t stop me now – Queen
“Don’t Stop Me Now” appears in Queen’s 1978 album Jazz.
- Sir Brian May wasn’t a fan of the song upon its release and continued to be against it despite its popularity. The reason was that, to May, the song celebrated the risky and hedonistic lifestyle of Freddy Mercury.
- Because it is a Freddy Mercury composition, it is easy to spot the theatrical element with the legato intro building until the song takes off. Once it does, it goes into full-throttle mode taking us on an exciting ride until the end.
- The references made in the lyrics to outer space are truly related to Freddy’s one-of-a-kind life on planet Earth. The singer was going through a great moment despite the dangers of the life choices he made.
3. Black Hole Sun – Soundgarden
“Black Hole Sun” was (and still is) one of the biggest hits of the Alternative Grunge band Soundgarden. It was written by Chris Cornell and released as the third single of the band’s critically acclaimed 1994 record, Superunknown.
- Being the flagship song of a well-known band and making references to snakes, summer stench, and a dead sky, its consistent airplay and uncanny video clip helped cement Grunge’s reputation for being an expression of despair and torment.
- Although specialized media cemented Grunge’s angst and depression around this song (and many others) when asked about them, Chris Cornell just said he was painting a surreal landscape by playing with the words in the title.
- The video clip for this song received heavy rotation and is a timeless classic even today. It shows the vain inhabitants of a suburban area in exaggerated quotidian scenes as they’re swallowed by the black hole the sun has turned into.
4. Rocket Man – Elton John
“Rocket Man” is a timeless classic by Elton John originally released as the lead single for Honky Château on April 17th, 1972.
- The main inspiration for the song came from a book by science fiction master Ray Bradbury. The short story with the same name is part of the book The Illustrated Man. Another big influence for this song came from “Space Oddity”, David Bowie’s 1969 song.
- The song’s lyrics talk about an astronaut that’s Mars-bound and has mixed feelings about leaving his home planet to perform his job.
- During Elton John’s Soviet Union tour in 1979, “Rocket Man” was listed on every program with the name “Cosmonaut”.
5. Space Oddity – David Bowie
“Space Oddity” went on to become a timeless classic after being released in 1969 as the opening track for David Bowie’s second album, David Bowie.
- The song is the outcome of a mix of Bowie’s own feelings of isolation and alienation at that point in his musical career and 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968). This combination gave birth to Major Tom, a fictional astronaut.
- Major Tom made another appearance in Bowie’s songwriting career with the single “Ashes to Ashes” from the album Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps) released in 1980.
- Using a guitar that stays in the station at all times, Chris Hadfield, a Canadian astronaut recorded a version of this song at the International Space Station in 2013.
6. A Space Man Came Traveling – Chris de Burgh
Chris de Burgh released “A Spaceman Came Travelling” as part of his second studio album called Spanish Train and Other Stories, in 1975.
- The original idea for the song is full of imagination and it’s one of the cleverest Christmas songs ever written. In it, Jesus is an extraterrestrial visitor.
- According to specialized media, the song might have been inspired by Erich Von Däniken’s works; especially Chariots of Gods.
- The song conveys a message that is very close to that of most religions around the world. That might be the reason why it became appealing to most cultures around the planet.
7. We are all Made of Stars – Moby
“We Are All Made of Stars” was the first single of Moby’s sixth studio album, 18. It was released in 2002.
- The main inspiration for the song is a scientific principle Moby came across: all matter in the universe is, in its essence, made of stardust.
- Dressed as an astronaut but observing Hollywood celebrities, the video for this song is inspired by the book and movie 2001: A Space Odyssey. It received heavy rotation on all the major music television channels.
- The sense of hopefulness and the mild upbeat groove come from the feelings the attacks on September 11th to the Twin Towers generated on the singer.
8. Contact – Daft Punk
“Contact” belongs to Daft Punk’s critically acclaimed 2013 album Random Access Memories. The band placed this song as the thirteenth and final track of the record.
- Although the song features no lyrics, it is about a journey through space.
- The initial vocals belong to Captain Eugene Cernan, the last man to ever set foot on the surface of the Moon. Moreover, the track begins with a recording made on Apollo 17.
- Another sample that can be heard quite clearly at the beginning of the track is the song “We Ride Tonight” by The Sherbs, an Australian rock band.
9. Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Crafts – Klaatu
10. E.T. – Katy Perry
11. Jupiter Crash – The Cure
12. Andromeda – Paul Weller
13. Intergalactic – Beastie Boys
14. The Alien – Dream Theater
15. Aliens Exist – Blink 182
16. Fly me to the Moon – Frank Sinatra
17. Supersonic Rocket Ship – The Kinks
18. Looking for Astronauts – The National
19. Cosmic Love – Florence and the Machine
20. Starman – David Bowie
21. Space is the Place – Sun Ra
22. Loving the Alien – Velvet Revolver
23. Sail to the Moon – Radiohead
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