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Space oddities: aliens, futurism and meaning in popular music

  • Ken McLeod
Abstract

Despite the rampant popularity of space, alien and futuristic imagery in popular culture, little scholarship has recognised the impact of such themes on popular music. This article explores the complex relationship between the numerous uses of space, alien and techno futuristic themes in popular music and the construction of various marginalised identities. Arranged roughly chronologically from early 1950s rock and roll to late 1990s techno, I discuss how many artists, such as Bill Haley, David Bowie and George Clinton, have used such imagery to promote various nonconformist ideologies and identities ranging from African-American empowerment to Gay and Lesbian agendas. This article also relates developments in scientific space research and popular science fiction culture to corresponding uses of space and alien imagery in various forms of popular music. In general, popular music's use of futuristic space and alien themes denotes a related neo-Gnostic withdrawal and alienation from traditionally dominant cultural structures in an attempt to unite us with a common ‘other’ that transcends divisions of race, gender, sexual preference, religion or nationality.

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Popular Music
  • ISSN: 0261-1430
  • EISSN: 1474-0095
  • URL: /core/journals/popular-music
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