Thursday, March 19, 2015

Sci-Fi Music (Part 1)

Science fiction began as a form of literature and later moved to other media such as radio, TV, comics, and film.  Musicians have also been inspired to create science fiction.  Here are just a few of my favorite examples.

Janelle Monáe

 Monáe's trio of releases, Metropolis: The Chase Suite (2007), The ArchAndroid (2010), and The Electric Lady (2013)follow an android named Cindi Mayweather as she is persecuted for her love of a human.

As the title of the first one indicates, Monáe was inspired by the 1927 film, Metropolis.  Through the story of androids, Monáe explores issues of difference (racial, sexual, robotic, etc.), discrimination, and acceptance.

Her main form of musical expression is contemporary R&B, but you can hear elements of indie rock, classical, rockabilly, hip hop, jazz, funk, and more.  It's great stuff for fans of science fiction, music, and cool stuff in general.

Listen here and here.  Watch the video for "Tightrope" here.

Rush, 2112

Canadian prog-rockers, Rush, were about to give up on the music business when they decided to go all in with their 1976 album 2112, which is doubly nerdy in proggery and science fictionality.  The gamble paid off, and Rush became the prog masters adored by music nerds today.  Given Rush's weirdness (especially singer/bassist Geddy Lee's voice), their wider popularity among classic rock fans continues to confound me.

As for the album itself, the story involves the rediscovery of music-making in a dystopian society.  I guess there are Ayn Rand influences from lyricist and drummer Neil Peart, but I can overlook a little Ayn Rand to enjoy the awesomeness that is Rush.  Listen here.

Parliament, Mothership Connection

No discussion of science fiction and music would be complete without mentioning Parliment's 1975 album Mothership Connection.  Themes of love and respect for all beings, regardless of their planet of origin, abound in some of the most fun your ears will ever have.  As they say, "Ain't nothin' but a party, y'all!"  

Speaking of aliens, I’m pretty sure bassist Bootsy Collins actually is an alien – the funkiness of those bass lines defies terrestrial origin.

Listen to the title song here.  If you've never heard Parliament before, prepare to have your mind funked up and your life changed forever.

Stay tuned for Sci-Fi Music, Part 2: Metal Edition.

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