A sequel to Record Store Tales Part 148: Navigate the Seas of the Sun
GETTING MORE TALE #747: Top 11 Rock Songs About Aliens
UFOs, life on other planets, first contact…these are subjects rarely explored in lyrics, right? If you start digging, there are actually more songs about it than you know. Make a list of songs about aliens, not human astronauts like “Space Oddity” or “Rocket Man”. (Both great tracks indeed, but not about alien intelligence.)
I also left off “Hanger 18” by Megadeth, even though the video is a landmark for aliens in rock music. The lyrics deal mostly with Area 51, a military base, with only a few lines about aliens. “Foreign life forms inventory, suspended state of cryogenics.”
Do you have a favourite alien song? Check out the list below. You’ll find one alien-related subject among them that dominates the rest. Can you guess what it is?
11. Judas Priest – “Abductors”
Key lyric: “They come at night and they infiltrate you, they paralyse and they mentally rape you.”
When Rob Halford left Priest, Glenn Tipton took over writing the lyrics. Tipton is…well, he’s not a poet. “Abductors” is at the bottom of this list because the words are just a list of metaphors for maiming someone. That the maiming is done in an alien abduction seems secondary.
10. Van Halen – “Love Walks In”
Key lyric: “Some kind of alien, waits for the opening.”
This one has a tenuous connection with aliens at best, but I wanted to include it because it’s such a well known song. Sammy Hagar believes he has been abducted by aliens. That alone makes this song a significant entry. The lyric “Contact, asleep or awake,” can easily be interpreted as being about alien contact.
9. Dio – Magica (album)
Key lyric: “Now we understand. All traces of Magica must be eliminated. Infection. Infection. Delete, delete…”
Ronnie James Dio only lived long enough to make one concept album of a planned trilogy. It was a sci-fi fantasy epic called Magica. The saga takes place on another planet called Blessing, which is visited by alien explorers centuries later. The fantasy elements are dominant, while the alien setting serves more as a bookend.
8. Fu Manchu – “King of the Road”
Key lyric: “Under forty over is UFO, hell bent stacked in rows, the galaxy is lined with hundreds more, small town you bet we’re sure.”
“King of the Road says you move too slow!” goes the panicked chorus. Fu Manchu’s lyrics are usually vague, and more about setting a scene. This one involves a chase and a repeat abduction. “All through my head it’s happenin’ over again.”
7. Bruce Dickinson – “Abduction”
Key lyric: “Are you the truth to sit in judgement on my sins? Evil laser gadgets come to penetrate my skin.”
Bruce Dickinson makes the impression of a well-read science fiction fan. “Abduction” is one of his most blatant lyrics on the subject. He does a considerably better job of it than Judas Priest.
6. Helix – “Billy Oxygen”
Key lyric: “The ship’s landing gear was down, people started to gather round. The door slowly started to open, people were ready to listen. He said my name is Billy Oxygen, and I am the mission commander.”
Written by guitarist Brent Doerner, this Helix song was a little different than the usual rock fare. Yes, Helix are known for writing about “Women, Whiskey & Sin”, but sometimes aliens too! Billy Oxygen is the commander of the ES-335 (actually the model number of a Gibson guitar), and all he really wants to do is get high with some aliens. Why not? But he’s only got 14 days to fly!
5. Blue Oyster Cult – “Take Me Away”
Key lyric: “Strange shapes light up the night, I’ve never seen ’em though I hope I might. Don’t ask if they are real, the men in black, their lips are sealed.”
Blue Oyster Cult get major points for singing about the men in black, long before Will Smith was doing it. Clearly the B.O.C. guys (or at least Eric Bloom) know their conspiracy theories. An earlier version with lyrics by Aldo Nova was called “Psycho Ward”.
4. Ace Frehley – “Remember Me”
Key lyric: “Well I’m staring down from Venus in the dead of night, my mind is thinking back to when the world was right.”
Of course, Ace has quite a few songs about space, but they’re mostly double entendres like “Rocket Ride” (by Kiss). “Remember Me” is a little more thoughtful. An alien is watching from nearby Venus, a common theme from the golden age of science fiction. He laments that Earthlings continue to wage war instead of feeding the starving. The alien goes to Earth with a message: make peace, or you’re not gonna last! Very similar to Klaatu’s message in The Day the Earth Stood Still.
3. Steve Vai – “Little Green Men”
Key Lyric: “You look-a real keen, even though you are green, With those big, large heads, something off of the movie screen.”
Steve has a few titles about aliens, but some are instrumental. “Little Green Men” is a comical song that quotes the musical theme from Close Encounters of the Third Kind! Thank you, John Williams.
2. Barstool Prophets – “Thrusters”
Key lyric: “Just as I rise to leave, I hear the old familiar sound, of thrusters pounding atmosphere.”
There’s a loner out there in a field looking up at the sky, waiting to see something — anything. “I have spent many nights, Staring at the sky, All the distant stars that shine, How I’ve longed to make them mine.” Then he finally hears the sound of the ships returning. “I knew that they’d come back for me.”
1. Blue Rodeo – “Cynthia”
Key lyric: “And you stood in their beam of light, and they showed you the bones on the moon, Well I hope I get to go there, With you real soon.”
Here’s a real curve ball for #1. Did you expect Blue Rodeo to be on the list?
Greg Keelor is in love with Cynthia, who tells him stories of being abducted by aliens. “So you saw that Fire in the Sky, well I think that’s so cool,” says Greg, referencing the film. He doesn’t think she’s crazy. “You are nobody’s fool,” he sings. “Cynthia” is unusually upbeat and happy song about aliens, though really it’s just about that crush of new love. Greg’s so head over heels, he’d follow her anywhere. “Cynthia won’t you take me to Pyramid Lake with you. We could watch the space ships, Maybe they’d take us on a trip, to that never ending sky.” Incidentally, Pyramid Lake is near Jasper, Alberta, and lakes are common areas for UFO sightings. One wonders if “Cynthia” is based on a real person that Greg may have met.
At least six of these songs are about being abducted by aliens, using the word “abducted” in a broad sense, even if the person goes willingly. “King of the Road” is open to interpretation. Ace Frehley’s is surprisingly one of the more thoughtful songs, with its classic message of “make love not war” brought by an alien intelligence.
It’s Blue Rodeo who have the best tune about aliens. By framing it in a love story and using vibrant lyrics, “Cynthia” is the winner.