It’s been a little while since we’ve done a Weekend Playlist feature, which has moved to occasional status as we’ve drifted to various projects. There’s been a whole slew of great geek-related music that’s come out recently, and it’s too good to pass by. For your listening pleasure:
There’s been a bit of a flood of some new geek music on the internets lately, and a roundup is in order!
Here’sa group of songs that are particularly well known from their films. You might hear them on the radio, and when you do, you’re pretty sure you know what movie they’re from, right off the bat. A lot of the top blockbusters are released with two soundtracks: the musical score, and then the soundtrack which typically has songs that are plugged for the ending credits.
Here’s a few science fiction-related and fantasy-related songs that fit this catgeory…
Last week, I was laid up in bed with a nasty cold, unable to do much but prop myself up with a good book. If I’m going to be missing work, I might as well be somewhat productive and take my mind off of the coughing.
When I read, I tend to get distracted. I think it’s the silence around me that makes me more aware of what’s going on; cars and trucks going up and down the road, the neighbors upstairs, or something crashing in the kitchen. To combat this, I’ve got a handy playlist of songs that I put on that helps keep me in the mood. It’s not so much that it’ll be distracting to me, but not quiet enough that I’m either falling asleep or not hearing it.
There’s not a whole lot to say individually, except that I like them quite a bit. Here we go:
…And we’re back! I had a couple of columns for Janauary that I’d been working on, and which were subsequently lost to computer problems. To kick off February, friend of SF Signal (and SciFi Songster) John Anealio just released his latest song, “Steampunk Girl”, which struck me as a great topic for this week: Steampunk.
The Geek Mom Blog, hosted over on Wired’s website, has an interesting piece about Steampunk music. What caught my eye however, was this statement: “When a band selects “steampunk” on that drop-down box, what does that say? And what can a listener expect to hear? Anything really. Rap, rock, folk, trance- I’ve sampled quite a few tracks in this new genre.” In my own explorations with Geek Music, that’s very true: there’s a lot of variety out there.
Happy holidays! There’s geek music from just about everyone out there, and I know that I’m completely sick of it already. (Some radio stations had begun November 1st. Ugh.) Christmas is the dominant holiday, and unfortunately, I don’t know of any geek music songs that really relate to other holidays, but if you know of any, let us know! So, to change things up, here’s what I’ll be listening to for the holidays:
Last week, we looked at music inspired by William Gibson, and it seems only logical to jump to a couple of other modern cyberpunk-ish shows and movies. Coming most readily to mind is Joss Whedon’s fantastic show Dollhouse, and Christopher Nolan’s film, Inception. Both look at the brain and its potential for stories.
This week, we’re going to take a look at something fairly specific: songs inspired by William Gibson’s various works. While compiling my master list, I was surprised at the number of artists who have been specifically inspired by him. In retrospect, it’s an easy thing to see: Gibson’s vision is far reaching, and his formative stories that deal with cyberpunk have many implications in a number of fields.
BONUS: Not all these songs are available in Spotify, but the ones that are can be listed to via this songlist: Songs Inspired by William Gibson
On Saturday, NASA launched Curiosity, a new Mars rover that will explore the red planet, and to commemorate it’s 9 month voyage, we’re looking at songs about Mars this week.
Right now, I’m reading Rob Ziegler’s recently released novel Seed. You’ll have my review in a little while here on SF Signal, but the story has gotten me thinking quite a bit lately about the implications of global climate change and how we’re likely going to respond to it. It’s certainly a hot-button issue in the United States, and while proof that global temperatures are rising, there’s still quite a bit of controversy over the source and response to it. (This isn’t to say that the controversy is warranted.)
One of the things that I’ve loved about music is it’s ability to tell stories, and for this column, I’ve been collecting songs over the years, grouped together into themes that fit together. Individually, few of these really have all that much to do with anything wholly speculative. But, together, they tell a story in and of themselves:
We’re back after an unexpected break! In all of speculative fiction, there’s very little that captures the public’s imagination quite like stories of warfare. There are stories abound, capturing epic stories of good verses evil, heroic characters that fall and eveil that is to be fought, on planets, in deep space, between the forces of good or sometimes just questionable. On this November 11th, it’s a good time to reflect on just what soldiers of every military have done, and to honor their memory. Within science fiction, there are plenty of examples of war, and that’s also translated into a number of songs, either inspired by real wars, characters involved in combat, or just reflecting on what motivates people.
This week, we’re going to go through a timeline of wars throughout the ages.
The first real ‘geek’ musician that I really followed was “Weird” Al Yankovic. His fantastic Star Wars parodies opened me up to quite a bit of new music, and frequently, I’ll hear a song on the radio that I’ll easily recall as a Weird Al song, but can’t think of the original title or lyrics. This past weekend, I got to see him in person – not only from the crowd, but with him right in front of me, on stage:
Surprisingly though, there’s been a small group of musicians who’ve penned songs about the movie. It’s a small number, to be sure (making this a short list), but there are some really good things to listen to.
The first block of music (five weeks, plus a break and reader feedback) saw songs about books, zombies, Star Wars, and more, and with this new block, we’ve got some interesting things lined up.
First up, a group of songs about one of my favorite TV Shows of all time: Firefly. This short-lived television show and movie need little introduction from readers of the site, but something that I found interesting about it is that there’s a growing number of songs about the various characters and the story itself.
The first part of the Weekend Playlist is over, and we’re already up to six weeks! Over the past couple of weeks, we’ve gotten a number of recommendations from people that build upon the lists that we’ve put together, and I’m very happy to see the input. The current plan is to run in five week batches, with something easy in between, and this week, we’re going with the recommendations that you have submitted in the comments. Here’s a selection of what we liked from the comments. (There’s a lot, but here’s some of the best!)
For our first week, where we looked at Songs inspired by SF/F Books, we got a lot of recommendations:
This week, we get to a subject that’s been covered quite a bit, with a good variety of songs: zombies. One thing that I’m continually impressed with is the variety of styles that range from metal to folk, and just about everything in between. It’s no wonder: Zombies have captured the popular imagination by a storm, with numerous films released over the last couple of years, and with zombie walks getting ever more popular in major cities. This week, we’ll take a look at a broad sampling of what’s been released.
To start, Devil Wears Prada is a Christian Metalcore group, something I wasn’t aware existed. In 2010, they released, Zombie EP, following a bit of a zombie kick that the band found themselves interested in. ‘Outnumbered’, the first song off the record, feels very appropriate when it comes to the subject matter. Metal really isn’t my thing, but I think they captured the tone nicely.
Last week, Jonathan Coulton released his latest album, Artificial Heart, his first with a full backing band, produced by They Might Be Giants member John Flansburgh. The album’s the first major album since 2006’s Thing A Week Four, and with a couple of songs in here and there, it’s a welcome addition to the Geek Music field. As such this week, we’re taking a look at Coulton’s career and music this week.
Coulton’s probably one of the more recent influential members within Geek Music, gaining an incredible amount of fame for someone who’s never worked with a major record label, working extensively on the grassroots level: viral marketing at its finest, as he sang about a whole, awesome range of geeky things, from computers to monkeys to robots. Hailing from Colchester CT, (a town who’s motto inspired the name of his second album), where he played music throughout school before being hired in the software industry.
Coulton’s first album was 2003’s Smoking Monkey, which didn’t go as well initially, as he wasn’t as well known at the time of its release. One of my favorite songs off of the album is “Ikea”:
Welcome to The Weekend Playlist, a regular look at science fiction references and popular music and a mix tape of music for you to tide you over until next week. This week, we’re looking at songs that are based relating Star Wars. Unlike the last couple of weeks, which generally saw music written because of a book or game, there’s more songs than usual that are parodies of other songs, incorporating in George Lucas’s universe. That being said, there’s plenty of other songs that go to A Galaxy Far Far Away for inspiration:
One of MC Chris’s recently released free singles, Han Solo is a great Nerdore song that’s probably one of my favorites from the artist. It’s a great piece of music that has a good flow and beat, and nice, lyrical retelling of Han Solo’s story. As a bonus? He’s an honorary member of the 501st Legion. (Also, today’s his birthday.)
Welcome to a new feature here on SF Signal, The Weekend Playlist, a regular look at science fiction references and popular music and a mix tape of music for you to tide you over until next week. Over the last couple of years, I’ve amassed a lot of songs that reference the genres that I really love, and am continually surprised at how much music is out there that is inherently geeky. This week, we’re looking at songs that are based relating to gaming of all types:
This was probably the first Who song that I really listened to when I was a kid: it’s certainly the one that I remember the most. Off their album Tommy, Pinball Wizard a song where I see a gamer, far before the age of video games. There’s obsessiveness, practice and perfection implied here, something that I generally associate with most hardcore gamers. It’s a lighter song amongst a pretty dark album.