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'Trek' tunes: Where 'Star Trek' and pop music meet


Eminem isn't one to miss an obvious cultural reference. When his video for "We Made You" was released earlier this spring, it captured the media's favorite shock-rapper dressing up as Spock behind Dr. Dre as Captain Kirk.

In a clip that took cheap shots at Jessica Simpson and Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, Eminem's nod to the four-decade old sci-fi franchise was about the only thing that was relevant, as box office predictors are indicating that the current "Star Trek" reboot will have the biggest opening weekend in the brand's history.

If only Eminem had made his return with a song that had a little bit more of the whimsical, optimistic reflections of the best "Trek" episodes, then he might have been onto something. Instead, he released a tune with a fart noise.

No fear, as plenty of artists have taken inspiration from "Trek" and done more with it than wear a costume. There's the English version of Nena's '80s hit "99 Luftballons," with it's "everyone's a Captain Kirk" lyric arriving at a crucial moment, and becoming a symbol of war posturing. More lighthearted was Spizzenergi's novelty punk riff "Where's Captain Kirk?" -- a geek-rock cousin to the Shapes' "(I Saw) Batman (In the Launderette)."

More recently, one famed Los Angeles act incorporated "Trek's" iconic opening into its lyrics, and used the hopefulness of "Trek" to contrast with a Hollywood wasteland.

The Red Hot Chili Peppers also sneaked in a nod to "Star Wars" (a reference to Alderaan) in its "Californication," where Anthony Kiedis sings, "Space may be the final frontier, but it's made in a Hollywood basement." 

Midwestern power-pop band Semisonic got a bit more specific. The band's piano-laced "Never You Mind" come complete with a spacey bridge and raps with nods to Dr. Leonard H. McCoy and Spock. The "Star Trek" wiki  reminds us that the band is referencing the episode "Spock's Brain," but we all knew that.

This Trekker's personal favorite Kirk and Co.-referencing song belongs to Screeching Weasel's "Phasers on Kill." In two and a half minutes, the Chicago pop-punk band imagines a scenario in which Kirk is ordered to exact revenge on an ex-girlfriend. Meanwhile, the narrator looks through his records.

Taking Back Sunday turned the weapon's setting down a level, but offered a more hardcore song in "Set Phasers to Stun," although there's no discernible "Trek" references beyond the Starfleet-sanctioned tool mentioned in the title. Melissa Etheridge was also smitten with the directed-energy weapon, putting a reference to a phaser in her "Secret Agent." In a rocker dedicated to a deadly femme fatale, Etheridge sings, "Get her phasers on stun / With her toys like the boys." 

Rapper Tay Dizm introduced himself to the world with lead-off single "Beam Me Up," where the transporter nod may or may not be about partaking in illicit substances. Master P went a little further, actually sampling the opening fanfare of the "Star Trek" theme in his "Captain Kirk." We can't link to it due to the lyrical content, but the rapper puts himself at the head of the "ghetto Enterprise," and it's safe to say that woman can't resist the man in charge.

Spock fans shouldn't feel slighted. They had their Vulcan immortalized in the Beastie Boys hit "Intergalactic," where the line "like a pinch of the neck of Mr. Spock" brings the song's big robotic beats to a close.

-- Todd Martens

Photo: Screen shot of Eminem's "We Made You"

Comments () | Archives (13)

The Red Hot Chili Peppers also sneaked in a nod to "**Star Wars**" in its "Californication," where Anthony Kiedis sings, "Space may be the final frontier, but it's made in a Hollywood basement.
(emphasis mine)

Star Wars is not Star Trek. Calling yourself a Trekker might be inappropriate if you can't make that distinction.

I believe the author of this is off about Californication, I think Anthony was referring to the belief of some that the lunar landing was filmed and edited on earth, presumably with "Hollywood" effects

Thanks !!

Conceited much? Star Wars was not made in Hollywood. It was made in Marin County.

what a stupid article.
you get paid for this?

'Space, the final frontier' is said at the beginning of Star Trek shows.

I agree. Anthony Keidis was making a reference to the moon landing with that line. Californication is all about how fake Hollywood is and how it spreads its infection across the world. It has nothing to do with Star Wars.

I believe the line is, "like a pinch on the neck from Mr. Spock"...

Swedish skatepunk band Millencolin recorded an excellent song called Vulcan Ears on their album Life on a plate. The lyrics are as follows:

In a tiny spaceship, with four legs and a pillow and some sheets, that's where my
idols always mee, I'd like to be there now.

Trying every night to see a UFO, but in case I don't, just in case I won't
I've got my fantasy to lean on.

Vulcan eyebrows, vulcan ears, that's what I dream of, no more sorrow
no more tears, can't you get me beamed up?
Vulcan logic, vulcan needs, quite bizarre but still a dream
as I'm waiting for that beam.

Bullshit is all we talk on this planet we call earth
since I'm tired of that I'll take a further step
I think I'll find my way in space.

Not to mention the group S.P.O.C.K, who'se entire catalogue consists of songs summarizing trek-episodes.

The Star Wars reference is to Alderaan, the Princess' home planet. Come on now.

Dang! I've dedicated the last 10 years of my life to playing in Warp 11, a rock band that sings only about sex, Star Trek and Rock & Roll. After releasing 5 albums, being in Trekkies 2 and having our music featured on Comedy Central's William Shatner Roast you'd think Todd Martens would give us just the tiniest little mention. Come on Todd, is it because we're "Northern Californians"?

The Refreshments song "Banditos" has a line about Capt. Picard:

"We'll give your ID card to the border guard / and you're alias says you're Capt. Jean-Luc Picard / of the United Federation of Planets / but they don't speak English anyway"


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