Editor’s note: This post originally published in 2013.
Space. The final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Little by Listen, where we explore deep into the galaxy for the best space songs of all-time. Alfonso Cuaron’s brilliant and frightening new film Gravity inspired this list, which got us thinking about the surprising surplus of great galactic tunes. So without further ado, our voyage begins.
10. Afrika Bambaataa – “Planet Rock”
Hip hop pioneer Afrika Bambaataa took a sample from the ultra-spacey “Autobahn” by Kraftwerk combined with a funky old-school hip hop beat to make a groovy trip over to Planet Rock.
9. Moby – “We’re All Made of Stars”
In 2002, “We’re All Made of Stars” was really a shooting star: it had its glorious moment in the spotlight, but I completely forgot about this song until we made this list. If for no other reason, I am happy this list reminded me of this sparkling gem.
8. Harry Nilsson – “Spaceman”
Todd and I pushed hard for Harry Nillsson’s “Spaceman” to which he replied “Who Is Harry Nilsson?” To which I responded there is a documentary of the same name. Who Is Harry Nilsson? covers the highly respected 70’s songwriter, his mystery, and imprint on rock culture, and for that he is just like a spaceman.
7. Oasis – “Champagne Supernova”
Don’t act like you don’t love this song. All it leaves me asking is what in the world is a champagne supernova? The answer is seemingly nowhere to be found, except in Noel Gallagher’s mysterious details about it being “somewhere in the sky” and “caught beneath the landslide.” The world may never know.
6. Radiohead – “Sail to the Moon”
Between “Subterranean Homesick Alien”, “Black Star”, and “Planet Telex”, Radiohead had plenty of songs that fit the bill for this list, but we went with “Sail to the Moon”, since it is the most alien and haunting.
5. M83 – “Moonchild”
This song in my mind would make the perfect soundtrack for an alien abduction, making an abduction actually sound like a good thing.
4. Lou Reed – “Satellite of Love”
The inimitable Lou Reed gets in on the space game with “Satellite of Love”, an all-time classic that also fits our theme like a glove. It doesn’t hurt that the song ends with backing vocals from the space oddity himself, David Bowie.
3. Elton John – “Rocket Man”
Few songs have ever lifted off into orbit quite like “Rocket Man”. It’s one of those undeniably infectious songs you can’t deny singing along to since that first piano chord strikes.
2. Pink Floyd – “Eclipse”
The closer to psychedelic space odyssey Dark Side of the Moon, “Eclipse” serves as the perfect exhale and trip home from the wild ride to the moon.
1. David Bowie – “Space Oddity”
Who else could we have gone with at #1 than the original spaceman himself. David Bowie is so obsessed with space in his songs he even inspired the Flight of the Conchords’ parody “Bowie’s in Space.” This is as iconic a space song as it gets, and it’s taken to a whole new level with this freaky deaky dream of a music video.
Austin – Lil’ Wayne – “Phone Home”
The idea of Lil’ Wayne doing a song about being an alien sounds like a surefire disaster, but surprisingly “Phone Home” is one of the best Weezy songs around.
Todd – “Muse – Supermassive Black Hole”
U.K. stadium rockers Muse sleekly slip you into the blackhole on this groovy rocker, which might be the best in their catalog.
Wes – Air – “Surfing On a Rocket”
I pulled a last second audible on my miss, going from Bat for Lashes evocative “Two Planets” to Air’s “Surfing On a Rocket”, a killer title and song to go with an under-appreciated band.