Tuesday, January 02, 2007


SF Rock

The other day, Scalzi listed his favorite albums of 2006, which included Muse's Black Holes and Revelations, which fills his need for a "Vaguely ridiculous and sf-obsessed rock band whose sheer force of operatic musicality overwhelms any feeling they've watched too many episodes of Doctor Who for their own good." That got me thinking about SF-inspired music in general, and the associated music videos in particular.

Before Scalzi reminded me of their existence, I'd seen only a brief clip from Muse's "Knights of Cydonia," but watching it again now it's clear that I didn't stick around half long enough (I didn't get to the holographic band in the saloon, much less the female lead decked out like Wilma Derring in Buck Rogers). Check it out, and I'm sure you'll agree with Scalzi about Muse's bonafides.

My personal favorite SF-inspired bit of music video would have to be Blur's "The Universal." There's bits of A Clockwork Orange in here, but beyond any specific reference, it just feels like a future from an earlier era, like yesterday's vision of tomorrow.

And while not properly science fiction, there's something sfnal about Bjork's "Bachelorette," which may be my favorite video of all time. The discomforture of the boyfriend at the play when he realizes what's happening reminds me of Claudius watching the Murder of Gonzago, not in "Hamlet" but in Tom Stoppard's Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead. I'm pretty sure the stage direction isn't in the original play, but in Stoppard's filmed version, during the performance of the play Claudius is watching, the character of the king in the dumbshow is shown a puppet show, a bit of isomorphic mapping in which the levels of reflection keep cylcing down. I feel the same bit of queasy unease watching this video, as the characters push further and further away from reality into deeper layers of fiction, the copies becoming more abstract with each iteration.

So what other sf-inspired music videos am I forgetting? Anyone have any particular favorites?

Personally I am shocked and appalled that you somehow managed not to include this classic of the sf rock video genre:


I can only hope that the science fiction gods will find it in their hearts to somehow forgive you. SOMEHOW.
Okay, I see your Bop Til You Drop, and raise you one Human Touch:

But I can't believe I'd forgotten about all of the post-apocalyptic videos of the early to mid-eighties. Post-Mad Max, it seemed like everybody would end up consigned to entertain the last lingering mutants in a saloon in the middle of a radioactive desert. Tom Petty did it, as did INXS if I recall correctly, the Police got into the act, and I have vague memories of those Duran Duran pretty boys roaming around in tattered lycra at some point. It was a booming subgenre for a while there.
I call your Human Touch and raise you Major Tom --


-- which jams together 60s NASA stock footage, 70 sci-fi glam inspiration (via David Bowie) and 80s future synth cheese all in one unbeatable package.

And just to seal the deal, let me throw in Why Me --


-- by the Planet P Project. Planet P! You can't beat that.
Bonnie Tyler. No, wait. Actually, no, do go if you want to, it's pretty cheesy. If I recall correctly, a themed video collection, post-apocalyptic, where she's in charge of a night club, with mutants and stuff. I think it includes 'If you were a Woman and I was a Man' and 'Loving you's a Dirty Job'. I haven't seen it for decades, and it's either hilarious or just kind of paff.
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