ground control

I now realize everything I thought I knew about music was wrong.

Thank you, Quincy Jones.

Then again, I had already experienced some doubt. For one thing, I do not consider Justin Timberlake’s new album to be the worst atrocity ever inflicted on peoplekind. Don’t ask me to make a list, y’understand, but I can think of worse things. Heck, that Say Something is rather catchy, in its way.

But if the merits of the latest effort by North America’s second-favourite Justin have generated discussion here on Earth, mixed reviews are also likely coming from denizens of outer space. Barely 72 hours after an alarmingly limited playlist exited our world bound for nowhere in particular, one can imagine the average extra-terrestrial rolling its unimpressed eye in response to the incessant Bowiefication of a universe previously comfortable in its Chuck Berry complacency.

There has been some confusion since the launch of Elon Musk’s souped-up wheels over the identity of that one song, which has variously been reported by the press as StarmanLife on Mars? and Space Oddity. It seems Starman is the name of the mannequin at the would-be controls. Life on Mars? reflects the mission’s intended target and can be heard as the soundtrack to the live feed. Space Oddity is the song being played to whomever/whatever is out there.

Couldn’t be clearer.

Of course, such an obvious choice of song arguably does not speak well for the imagination of us humanoids. Moreover, it does little to alert the listening lifeform to the source of the material and/or the supersonic rocketship. In that regard, surely Duran Duran’s Planet Earth would have been a better (and more current) selection, lest someone should wish to respond to sender.

I will concede, however, that an endless loop of Planet Earth would likely increase the probability of alien attack, if only to force us to take them to our program director.

A better choice, then, might have been Sun Ra’s Space is the Place. After all, Mr. Ra may well be among the heavy heavy rocket’s listeners.



Oh well, maybe next launch.

Granted, as someone who once inserted a dollar into the jukebox at a San Antonio bar to play Is Anybody Goin’ to San Antone? and drove through the PEI countryside blasting Bud the Spud from the car stereo, I may not be in a position to deride the practice of stating the obvious, musically speaking. Sometimes, you just can’t resist.


So sure, let Space Oddity ring throughout the galaxy. Better that than, say, the new Justin Timberlake album.

Or so I have read.

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