Aliens on aux: A playlist for your next space odyssey

Illustration of a person working at a desk while listening to music, represented by vibrant colors
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Tired of living on planet Earth? Wishing you could escape to the cosmos? We at the Clog share the same sentiment. Plus, it seems like if there’s ever a year likely to bring about an alien invasion, it’s 2021. Maybe it’s because I spent winter break binge-watching Rick and Morty, but I find myself staring up at the stars quite often nowadays, wondering if this is all some sort of sick reality TV show for an alien planet. If you feel ready to explore the cosmos and find out, this playlist is for you.

“Starman” by David Bowie 

Producing more space-related songs than perhaps any other artist, Bowie (or at least his mind) was already in the sky long before humans had ever set foot on the moon. “Starman” is a song of hope, as Bowie delivers his belief that caring and compassionate aliens are watching over us. The song was featured in the 2015 movie “The Martian,” starring Matt Damon.

“Man on the Moon” by R.E.M. 

This song is about both a comedian and the moon landing, and it evokes feelings of doubt, conspiracy and nostalgia. In typical R.E.M. fashion, the lyrics make very little sense and seem to be coming straight out of a dream. Lead vocalist Michael Stipe struggled to write the lyrics, and time was running out. Legend says that Stipe disappeared for three days before emerging at the recording studio, singing the song in one take and then leaving without a word.

“Space Oddity” by David Bowie 

Not so much a song as it is an experience. The listener follows an astronaut, Major Tom, who ventures into space and never returns. In 2013, at his son’s suggestion, Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield recorded a cover of “Space Oddity” while aboard the International Space Station. He made a few changes to the lyrics to give the song a happier ending — after all, what astronaut wants to sing a song about dying in space? Bowie himself remarked that it was “possibly the most poignant version of the song ever created.”

“Champagne Supernova” by Oasis 

Members of a band known for fervently worshipping John Lennon and fighting amongst each other on stage, brothers Noel and Liam Gallagher gifted the world with Champagne Supernova. After Noel wrote the lyrics and melody, Liam went into the studio, knocked it out in one take and then went to the pub for a drink, leaving his brother with the rest of the work. The lyrics were met with skepticism by producers, but Noel stood his ground, stating, “Are you telling me, when you’ve got 60,000 people singing it, they don’t know what it means? It means something different to every one of them.”

“Across the Universe” by The Beatles 

Regarded by John Lennon as perhaps his most poetic song written, Lennon came up with its first line, “words are flowing out like endless rain into a paper cup,” while in an argument with his first wife. Lennon never thought the song received the attention it deserved, specifically blaming Paul McCartney for not putting in enough effort. Either way, this song is perfect for nights spent staring up at a winter sky, wishing more stars were visible from Berkeley.

“Rocket Man (I Think It’s Going to Be a Long, Long Time)” by Elton John 

Created from the dream duo of Elton John and lyricist Bernie Taupin, the song tells a story of an astronaut who misses his family. John performed the song at the launch site of the space shuttle Discovery in 1998. This song gave him the nickname “Rocket Man,” which would later be the title of his biopic.

“Drops of Jupiter (Tell Me)” by Train 

Pat Monahan, the lead singer of Train, wrote this classic following the loss of his mother to a long battle with cancer. He dreamed that his mother’s spirit became free to travel anywhere in the universe and imagined her dancing her way through the cosmos. But she returns to tell her son that heaven is overrated and that he is better off making the most of his days on Earth. 

“Major Tom (Völlig losgelöst)” by Peter Schilling 

Peter Schilling, a German artist, is dedicated to Bowie’s lead character from “Space Oddity,” Major Tom. Major Tom meets the same fate, but this time it is an ‘80s pop song that sees him off. It is the sequel we all crave after listening to “Space Oddity,” and its existence speaks volumes of Bowie’s influence on music. 

“Venus and Mars” by Wings 

Wings were formed by Paul McCartney after the Beatles’ breakup. Similar to the Beatles’ album Abbey Road, the songs on the album Venus and Mars link together through an overarching melody. The album cover is a pool table with red and yellow balls against the dark background like planets against the night sky. “Venus and Mars” is a melancholy and thoughtful song, and it feels reassuring.

“It Came Out of the Sky” by Creedence Clearwater Revival 

John Fogerty wrote this song about the discovery of an unidentified object that came from the sky to be discovered by an Illinois farmer named Jody. The lyrics jab at politicians and religious officials, who attempt to use the discovery to fit their own agenda. At the end of the song, the only winner is Jody, who sells the object for millions of dollars. And, of course, the alien species laughing at our foolishness from above.

Happy listening, fellow Earth dwellers!

Sarah Siegel is the deputy blog editor. Contact Sarah Siegel at [email protected].