Saturday, 13 November 2010

A strange, uncompelling list on a forgotten topic

For a long time during the cultural upheavals of the 1960s and 1970s, fantasy and science fiction literature grew a great deal because the younger Silent and Boom Generations wished to imagine different worlds and civilisations from one they regarded as corrupt, even diseased. Although very few of even the most aware music critics spend that much time on the impact it had on the rock world, there does not exist much doubt that science fiction and fantasy novels of various types and viewpoints did make a major impression of many rock bands. The best-known case - and one that I as a cultural commentator do enjoy emphasising because of how it shows the Sixties counterculture different from that of the “punk” and rap revolutions - is that of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings on Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath. Another well-known case is how Ayn Rand influenced Rush’s “2112” (pronounced “twenty one twelve”).

In this context, it is interesting to see that Paste Magazine have published a list of “The 23 Greatest Sci-Fi Songs of All Time”:
  1. “Space Oddity” by David Bowie
  2. “Iron Man” by Black Sabbath
  3. “Particle Man” by They Might Be Giants
  4. “Many Moons” by Janelle Monae
  5. “Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots” (Part One) by Flaming Lips
  6. “Mr. Roboto” by Styx
  7. “Still Alive” by Jonathan Coulton
  8. “We Will Become Silhouettes” by The Postal Service
  9. “Astro Zombies” by the Misfits
  10. “My Science Fiction Twin” by Elvis Costello
  11. “Concerning the UFO Sighting Near Highland” by Sufjan Stevens
  12. “2112” by Rush
  13. “10,000 Years” by Honeydogs
  14. “Subterranean Homesick Alien” by Radiohead
  15. “Space Travel is Boring” by Modest Mouse
  16. “The Ballad of Davy Crockett (in Outer Space)” by They Might Be Giants
  17. “Spaceship” by Angie Aparo
  18. “Spaceman” by the Killers
  19. “Rapture” by Blondie
  20. “If the Government Could Read My Mind” by The Vandals
  21. “The Humans Are Dead/Robots” by Flight of the Conchords
  22. “Rocket Man” by Elton John
  23. “We Will Robot Rock You” by Daft Punk and Queen
Overall, this is a terribly unsatisfying list and not what one would expect from a serious musical expert or an expert on literary fantasy who might well know about its influence on the rock music world. Most of the choices are either too familiar or with very little justification.

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