Hey everyone! It’s Ryan with another monthly installment of the Playlist Challenge. This should be a fun one so hopefully you guys want to participate on this one. As always, here are the rules. I will post a 20-song playlist on a certain topic complete with explanations for each song. I challenge each of you, Brent included, to do the same. Once you see this, shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and put “Playlist Challenge January” in the subject line.
There’s nothing fun about January. It’s cold and dead. You know what else is cold and dead though? Space!…Okay, there’s basically no reason for a sci-fi playlist in January. It’s got nothing to do with the time of year. That being said, sci-fi is awesome. I’m a huge nerd about everything and sci-fi books, movies, comics, and video games are no exception. I have that in common with quite a few rock musicians too and because of that, I have come to enjoy a lot of science fiction-themed music over the years. That’s what this list is for. So climb in your spaceship, slip this in your tape deck, and rock out as you jump to light speed!
1. It Came Out of the Sky- Creedence Clearwater Revival
We talked about this one just a couple months ago, so I’m not gonna reopen that particular discussion. Ever since our CCR series though,I’ve had this one stuck in my head. That’s probably because it reminds me so much of one of my favorite movies, The Iron Giant. It’s got aliens and cold war paranoia so it belongs right here.
2. Space Truckin’- Deep Purple
The best line-up in Deep Purple history? Check. The best album? Check. Space travel? Check. You are clear for lift-off.
3. I’ve Seen the Lights Go Out on Broadway- Billy Joel
Sometimes science fiction travels at warp 5 into distant space and time, but sometimes it’s more rooted in reality. In the case of this 1976 epic from Billy Joel, we have the latter. Joel described this song as a “science fiction song” that told of a cataclysm destroying New York City. It was rooted in the headlines of the time regarding the economic downturn in New York, but it took on a new meaning in September of 2001. The song essentially describes the US government destroying New York and all New Yorkers fleeing to Miami…kinda like they do now when they hit 65.
4. Godzilla- Blue Oyster Cult
I’ve only ever seen one Godzilla movie in my entire life, but even so I love this song! I feel like in just under 4 minutes, Blue Oyster Cult sums up every single movie…except the ones where he fights other giant monsters. So really they only sum up like two movies. Anyways, this song is awesome and definitely fits the bill for sci-fi. Also, Paul Gilbert’s Racer X did a cover of it which you can listen to here.
5. The Body Electric- Rush
If you were expecting 2112 or either part of Cygnus then I’m sorry, but you can make your own list and send it to us. This is my list and I’m putting Body Electric on it. I love this song.
6. Automatic Man- Michael Sembello
Best song of 1983. Fight me. Fun fact, I own this album on vinyl. How could I not? Also, this video is awesome.
7. Moonage Daydream- David Bowie
For some reason Bowie never performed this song live with as much punch as it had on the record. That being said, this is my chosen song to represent Ziggy Stardust even though I like the title track more. This one just has more sci-fi flavor…and it was on Awesome Mix Vol. 1. Guardians of the Galaxy association will always earn points with me.
8. Space Age Love Song- A Flock of Seagulls
I understand that to most of you this band is nothing but a bad haircut, but their first few albums are actually really good. Especially the first album. Even though I Ran (So Far Away) got more popular, this is the better song. That comes down to the spacey guitar of Paul Reynolds, who unfortunately didn’t do anything else after he left the band. At least he gave us this classic though.
9. Major Tom (Coming Home)- Peter Schilling
Let’s stay in the 80’s for a little bit. This song is positively haunting and I love it. It was also eerily prophetic since it was released a full 3 years before The Challenger explosion. It’s a classic and you all know it.
10. 99 Red Balloons- Nena
Another German with a new-wave crossover hit about then-current paranoia. These two songs came out the same year. I didn’t know that until just now btw.
11. Men in Black- Will Smith
You may have noticed that I’m fascinated by Will Smith’s rap career. I am. It amazes me how many times we allowed him to just rap the plot to a movie and succeed wildly with it. This comes from one of my favorite movies of all time too, so there’s that.
12. Fox on the Run- Sweet
This is my cheat for this month. This song makes the list purely because of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. that said, there’s definitely a spacey quality to this song. And that’s spacey as in pertaining to space, not pertaining to Kevin.
13. Back in Time- Huey Lewis and the News
Straight off the Back to the Future soundtrack, this Huey Lewis song is one of his greatest. I like it more than The Power of Love. Sometime we might have to discuss Huey Lewis on the show. I’m a fan of his.
14. Ghostbusters- Ray Parker Jr.
It’s on a record 3 playlists. Why? Well, that’s because…BUSTIN’ MAKES ME FEEEEEL GOOOOOOOD!
15. Walk the Dinosaur- Was (Not Was)
This is one of the most bizarre hits of the 80’s. It’s got a goofy dance and Flinstones video…but it’s about a nuclear holocaust blasting us back to the stone age. I bet you didn’t know that, did you?
16. Rocket Man- Elton John
No, this isn’t about drugs. It’s about going to Mars. I’m not kidding. The drug interpretation has been thoroughly debunked. It’s based on a Ray Bradbury story.
17. I Am the Law- Anthrax
And now for something completely different. This song is a tribute to a British comic character named Judge Dredd who you may recognize from the Sylvester Stallone movie of the same name, but hopefully recognize from the much better Karl Urban movie Dredd from 2012. Judge Dredd is a sci-fi character so here we are.
18. Intergalactic- The Beastie Boys
It’s barely sci-fi themed, but that’s okay because The Bestie Boys are awesome.
19. Run Straight Down- Warren Zevon
Warren Zevon did a cyberpunk concept album and it’s actually really good. Suck it, Billy Idol!
20. Flash- Queen
Flash Gordon is a treasure we don’t deserve. Much like Queen, only there’s no debate over the actual quality of Queen. This song is awesome though.