We are celebrating the 50th anniversary of Star Trek this year, and it could not have lasted this long without entering the pop culture consciousness of the world. Even people who have never seen an episode have some familiarity with the franchise, even if it’s just as simple as knowing the phrase, “Beam me up, Scotty” (Something no one on the show ever actually said, at least not in exactly that way.).
The film Galaxy Quest, which I discussed in THIS POST, is practically one giant Star Trek reference, and television nods and parodies abound. Today, though, I wanted to talk about Star Trek and music.
I’m not sure what pop culture property has the most mentions in mainstream songs. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was Superman, considering the number of songs that I can think of right off the top of my head that are either about him or reference some aspect of the character. Star Trek, however, has had its share of mentions in songs ranging from Nena’s “99 Red Balloons” to the Beastie Boys’ “Intergalactic” to even a Jimmy Buffet song, “Boat Drinks.”
My favorite band that used a fair number of Star Trek clips was Information Society, which used several in the songs on their 1988 self-titled debut album, including the biggest hit from the record, “What’s On Your Mind.” You can watch the video, complete with Trek audio clips HERE. WARNING (Or possibly Bonus depending on how you feel): It is so VERY 80s.
All of the references above and really most of the ones that have ended up in popular songs have come from the original Star Trek series. However, Star Trek: The Next Generation has gotten a nod at least ones. In the 1996 song “Banditos,” by The Refreshments, Captain Jean-Luc Picard and the United Federation of Planets are both name-checked.
Outside of mainstream music, Star Trek has had many, many songs dedicated to it. Perhaps the most famous is the comedic 1987 song “Star Trekkin’” by The Firm. And there’s at least one entire band, Warp 11, that does nothing but Star Trek-related songs, most of which have adult content, so be warned. You can see their video for “She Make It So” HERE.
A couple of my personal (and somewhat off-color) favorites are by Aurelio Voltaire, “The USS Make Shit Up” and “Screw the Ocampa.” As you can probably guess from the titles, these songs aren’t exactly serious.
And there are tons more Star Trek songs out there. For an extensive but still not complete list, check out THIS LIST housed at Memory Alpha.
- Alan Decker
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