Its hard to imagine life before the internet, but with barely five minutes to spare between work, dinner and all those pressing social engagements, quite often a quick flick through YouTube, etc. is all today’s self respecting genre fan has time for.
Lately I’ve begun to realise just what a trove of sci-fi and fantasy goodness the music scene has provided over the last fifty or so years. One of the great things about music videos is the fast, thrilling combination of sound and vision, making them the ultimate sci-fi quick fix.
So, like a nerdy John Cusack, I present my all time top five, sci-fi/fantasy themed music videos.
Queen - Flash (1980)
What more thrilling soundtrack to a film bursting at the seams with acid-fuelled visuals, ridiculously macho action and Brian Blessed in silver hot-pants than the grandiose yet rocking stylings of masters of Pomp Rock, Queen? The title track is less a re-telling of Flash’s story as a pounding, visceral affirmation of just how thrilling sci-fi at its best can be!
David Bowie - Ashes to Ashes (1980)
‘Ashes to Ashes’, is a funky, era-defining paean to ageing, regret and the inevitability of coming down. The video memorably flashes from bleached out bare sets, to the saturated colours of an alien landscape as layers of reality slowly peel away. The most striking image remains Bowie’s iconic ’Pierrot’ costume, which continues to intrigue audiences to this day, most recently as Alex Drake’s recurring nightmare in series one of ’Ashes to Ashes’(2008). Kudos, Mr. Pierrot. If I was a scary Sci-Fi clown, I’d probably stalk Keeley Hawes too.
Beastie Boys - Intergalactic (1998)
I have friends who could wax lyrical about this video’s loving homage to Japanese cinema, urban culture and even knowing nods to H.P. Lovecraft, but to me, this is quite simply an thrilling story of mad scientists, giant robots and the Beastie Boys at their ass-kicking best, with guest vocals from Patrick Troughton era Cybermen and a cheeky nod to Mr. Spock. This song never fails to lift my spirits and it’s quite possibly my favourite driving song, making me feel like I’m at the controls of a flying saucer rather than a blue Ford Fiesta.
Muse - Supermassive Black Hole (2004)
Having appeared in such genre "greats" as ‘Twilight’ (2008) and ‘Supernatural’ (2009), this song’s coolness factor was spectacularly reclaimed by its inclusion in 2011 ‘Doctor Who’ episode ‘The Rebel Flesh’. That’s what I should say, but darn it, I LOVE the baseball scene in Twilight. Maybe it’s the idea of vampires playing baseball, or maybe it’s the fact that I have a not so secret crush on Alice Cullen. But the video proper is something quite unique in itself. The band, decked out in black robes and freaky masks, wigging out singing about global warming, and very very very large Black Holes. More Pink Floyd than Pink Floyd ever dared to be.
‘Weird Al’ Yankovic - White and Nerdy (2006)
It’s almost impossible to believe that Weird Al is anything other than a dyed in the wool geek and proud. The musical evidence speaks for itself. Not only has Al given us some of the greatest genre parodies in ‘Yoda’ (1985), ‘The Saga Begins’ (1999) and 2003’s Spider-Man homage ‘Ode to a Superhero’, but he even compared falling in love with wife Vanna White to ‘bowling on the Starship Enterprise’. The video, with too many nods and references to genre to list here, is a pitch perfect parody of Chamillionaire’s ‘Ridin’(2006), and perfectly illustrates the huge gulf that exists between some people’s definition of ‘cool’. The scary thing though, is watching this video is realising just how many of Al’s white and nerdy traits I share.
Robert Barton Ancliffe still can’t really decide whether he likes Kirk or Picard more.