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What's a real shame is despite all the connections, there isn't actually any David Bowie music in Star Trek.
I know, right? I was disappointed, but between that or picking Rihanna....
(Well I know who the better actor is! The Labyrinth vs Battleship anyone?)
He might have been an alien as Ziggy Stardust, but guess who beat David Bowie at playing a role in Star Trek?
His wife, Iman! She played as the shapeshifting alien Martia in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country!
It's ok... David Bowie got to play as an alien first in his movie 'The Man Who Fell From Earth'.
Which rumor has it current Star Trek producer Alex Kurtzman is looking to adapt into a TV show.
Soooooo.... that's where we start to see the first major connections of Star Trek and the Thin White Duke. Why? Because it turns out Kurtzman is a big David Bowie Fan. And it's in Star Trek Discovery that we start to see Bowie's influence.
First, there's references in Star Trek Discovery. In the episode 'An Obol for Charon', we find out Sylvia Tilly's favorite song is David Bowie's 'Space Oddity'. She and Stamets sing 'I think I know which way my spaceship wants to go.'
The references doesn't end at Discovery either. Star Trek: Picard also threw in a nod, with the episode 'Stardust City Rag'. I mean, not only was Stardust City a nod to Ziggy Stardust, again one of Bowie's most noticable eras among many transformations. Freecloud, the freewheeling planet Stardust City was on, is a nod to the Space Oddity B-side, 'Wild Eyed Boy From Freecloud'.
But wait, you ask, where's the smeggin' Bowie! You promised music, you say!
Well, as you know, that can be a bit of a problem because David Bowie songs are huge, and Star Trek isn't known for splurging musical rights. In fact, in the case of the TOS theme, they're a cautionary tale involving artist rights and stinginess.
Not to mention David Bowie passed on in 2016, so no new tracks there. Taken well before his time.
But you know who stepped in for the Short Trek Episode 'Children of Mars'?
Former Genesis lead singer and single artist, the Sledgehammer himself... Peter Gabriel!
Peter Gabriel stepped in to do a cover of Bowie hit 'Heroes', providing gravitas and sorrow to a scene to a touching story of schoolyard rivalry paused by the aftermath of a horrific tragedy.
I guess in the end this article is less about David Bowie and more about people's love for the artist, whose influence touched modern Star Trek.
Me? I got my first taste of David Bowie with his collaboration with NIN frontman Trent Reznor when he sang 'I'm Afraid of Americans'.
But his older work's the best. Give me 'Life on Mars'. Heck, give me 'Let's Dance'!
ALL YOU TREKKIES AND TV ADDICTS!!!!
Don't mean to diss, don't mean to bring static, but if you don't know Beastie Boys, and you don't know how they're connected to Star Trek... you need to get out from under that rock and enjoy some old-school New York rap from three very nice Jewish boys from the various burroughs.
All you Klingons in your grandma's house, grab your backstreet friend and get loud as we check out The Beastie Boys connection to Star Trek!
So the lyrics I referenced were from 'Ch-Check It Out', released in 2004 and certified gold by the RIAA. But that's not the only time the Beastie Boys let the beat.... drop with Star Trek references.
You can go back to their megahit, 'Intergalactic', from their iconic 'Hello Nasty' album, when they say, 'Like a pinch on the neck from Mr. Spock'!
And in their 1992 song 'Stop That Train', we hear the lyric 'French trench coat wing tip going to work, pulling a train like Captain Kirk.'
(Jesus Trekucator... keep it PG!)
Ok, how about the song 'Brouhaha', same album, we get an entire stanza dedicated to Star Trek. 'Communcator check one two one two, This is Bones McCoy on a line to Sulu, Set the ******* to warp factor one, Check your tricorder set your phaser to stun!'
So contrary to popular belief, it's four songs, not two, that Beastie Boys drops Star Trek references.
A fifth reference, 'Well I'm Doctor Spock I'm here to rock y'all.', from the song 'So Whatcha Want' is still up in the air, for it might be about Dr. Benjamin Spock the pediatrician.
(But I doubt it.)
But to heck with that! Beastie Boys loves Star Trek, but does Star Trek love the Beastie Boys?
The answer is obviously yes, because the Kelvinverse Star Trek movies drop the classic 'Ill Communication' track 'Sabotage', vintage 1994.
It's one of the major songs used to promote Star Trek 2009, the very song associated with JJ-Trek, and the hot beat that a young James T. Kirk blasts on his stepfather's corvette as he proves he can't drive 55, especially over a cliff.
(I know, that's a Van Halen reference, but it's a good one!)
It gets even better as this 'classical' track was blasted on the stereo system and transmitted to disrupt a swarm of enemy starships during Star Trek: Beyond.
Not only does Sabotage save the day... it's not the only Beastie Boy song played in Star Trek!
That's right, the other reference goes to Star Trek: Into Darkness, as 'Body Movin', also from the Hello Nasty album, was the song played when Kirk was waking up after a night of... debauchery.
Body Movin', official threesome song of Captain Kirk and two Caitians...
That's just unseemly, Jim!
When the crew of the USS Enterprise found themselves short two humpback whales, they take another trip around the sun and land themselves into 20th century San Francisco.
As they navigate their way through the familiar city made unfamiliar through over 300 years of progress, Kirk and Spock make their way through the city on a transit bus, on their way to the Aquarium. There, they meet a punk who annoys the ever loving hell out of everyone on the bus, Kirk and Spock included. When told to turn the damn music down, the punk meets Kirk with a contemptuous gaze and a flip of the bird!
Spock had a better response via the Vulcan neck pinch, much to the cheers and adoration of the bus goers.
So, what's the punk song that played on the punk's boombox, and was it significant in any way?
First, the song is called 'I Hate You' by the band Edge of Etiquette.
Nothing much is known about the band. No one hit wonders. No albums. Not even a mixtape, a b-side, or some found concert footage. Nothing.
Why is that? What happened to Edge of Etiquette?
Well, it's a band that literally lasted a day and a half. I'll explain.
Edge of Etiquette was formed during post production of Star Trek IV. Not convinced a punk rocker would be listening to some new wave song that originally played on the boom box, the actor who played the punk rocker, not to mention the movie's associate producer Kirk Thatcher, thought they could do better. And they did.
First Kirk Thatcher wrote some lyrics...
Just where is our future, the things we've done and said!
Let's just push the button, we'd be better off dead!
'Cause I hate you!
And I berate you!
And I can't wait to get to you!
The sins of all our fathers, being dumped on us – the sons.
The only choice we're given is how many megatons?
And I eschew you!
And I say, screw you!
And I hope you're blue, too.
We're all bloody worthless,...
Kirk roped in Mark Mangini from the sound department. With Mangini arranging the song, Kirk Thatcher on vocals, and some staffers in the sound department filling in the rest of the band slots, Edge of Etiquette was ready to rock!
...in a hallway in the sound studio, using the lowest quality microphones and instruments in their inventory, to get that authentic lo-fi punk rock sound.
The song itself was never released or played on radio. It was exclusive to the Star Trek IV movie....
...and a Frankie Avalon movie called Back to the Beach. Hey, at least Thatcher and Mangini got some royalties off that!
The only time the song was ever released on any format was when the Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home soundtrack was re-released in December of 2011.
Alright! Now we're getting to it! We have a pick of whatever ship we want to attend a dance party. What are you in the mood for? Classical? Jazz? Violin or Trumpet? A band of hippies talking about Eden?
Yeah, that's not much of a dance party is it? While the 24th century was busy putting themselves to sleep, it's good to know that in the 23rd century the USS Discovery knew how to kick it old school! (DIS Season 1, Episode 7, 'Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad')
The Discovery crew knew how to party too! While the Enterprise-D would have a nice sedate party complete with fancy catering and synthahol so nobody was too rowdy, the USS Discovery was breaking out the beer pong and getting their slow dance on with whoever partner was available.
(24th century... what happened to make you so uptight?)
The party would be disrupted thanks to Harry Mudd throwing the Discovery into a time loop so he could steal some Starfleet tech, but that's beside the point.. we're here about the music! What does Discovery play during a night of beer pong in the crew mess hall?
They start with a little Wyclef Jean, former member of the Fugees, producer, and solo artist. Then you team him up with rapper John Forté and Praswell to release a singles track, 'We Trying to Stay Alive'.
Wyclef Jean released the track in May of 1997, where it peaked at 13 on the UK singles chart and made it to 45 on the Billboard Hot 100. The song itself sampled The Bee Gee's 'Stayin' Alive', and though the Bee Gee's gave permission, they were not pleased with the end result. Nonetheless, it was a popular summertime track.
The lyrics are your usual self aggrandizement found in most rap music. Standard fare really. But it's a song for the dance hall, not the music hall.
The second song is perfect for a portion of the dance when a slow jam is called for. Also on the Discovery's jukebox was 'Love and Happiness' by Al Green.
Some of my fellow Millennial may not know Al Green. You're gonna learn today, because nothing's quite as smooth or soulful as 70s soul music, complete with horns and backup singers!
Al Green was an R&B singer with a long and distinguished career spanning five decades, 21 Grammy awards, and induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame! It was also a troubled life that saw love, loss, tragedy, abuse, violence, and redemption as he became a born-again Christian and later the pastor of his own church. His heyday was in the early 70s, when he recorded Love and Happiness.
And it was a nice song to kick off the rest of the dance party...
...or wrap it up as the crew tends to a seasick space whale.
Either way, Discovery knows how to party!
As we take on the first article of the week, we are taken to the first pop music reference to Star Trek, noticing a lack of available pop culture songs. It wouldn't be more prevalent until later series because apparently... the future really loves its Jazz and Classical music.
In the 20th century, people still loved that debased, unrefined noise known as rock and roll!
(Which we wouldn't see any interest until Tom Paris, then later still with Beckett Mariner.)
But believe it or not, Star Trek, or at least one of its characters, has rock and roll roots, and it dates back to the original series, ties to youth culture, and shows that Star Trek isn't always immune to exploiting trends. We're talking about Pavel Chekov, who wouldn't show up on The Original Series until early into Season Two.
In past interviews, actor Walter Koenig made mention Chekov's distinctive mop hairdo was reminiscent of a pop idol, one Davy Jones, the actor and singer of '60s rock band The Monkees, active from 1966 until 1971 (with the occasional revival). That coincides with the existence of Star Trek!
Not so fast, Jack! It's true, there was a connection made between The Monkees' Davy Jones and Gene Roddenberry's idea for a similar looking character. According to the book 'The Making of Star Trek' by Stephen E. Whitfield, Gene sent a message to casting director Joe D'Agosta requesting a 'young, irreverent, English-accent Beatle type', one that looked like the singer from The Monkees.
Some speculate that the Monkees didn't take off at the writing of the letter to D'Agosta, which was September 22nd, 1966.
But when the first episode of The Monkees was aired on NBC ten days earlier... it becomes possible the band already caught the attention of Gene Roddenberry.
And it's no secret Star Trek catered to the youth culture of that time. He might have had his finger on the pulse.
But wait... Chekov isn't British, or a rocker. He's a Russian, and he thinks Russia invented everything. Where'd that come from?
Rumor has it Chekov was the product of forward thinking. As a symbol of showing the eventual breaking down of barriers political and cultural, Chekov was included in the cast, showing even Russians will be a part of an integrated and peaceful Earth society.
Rumor even has it that when Star Trek aired, the Soviet newspaper Pradva complained there were no Russians in the cast. Gene Roddenberry added a Russian just to address this issue, and later wrote them a letter stating what he'd done.
But is it true? William Shatner notes in his memoirs that Gene Roddenberry can be a bit of a tall tale teller, and the result of the Pravda letter may be a fabrication.
But the idea of blending a British pop star and the hope for a better, more peaceful future with a Cold War enemy?
There may be elements of truth in both these stories.
Well hello music aficionados!
This week we've got a treat for you!
Mind you, Star Trek is more known for its orchestral pieces than for anything in the top 40. Doesn't mean Star Trek doesn't occasionally dip its toes into the pop music waters!
We'll look at music, songs, artists, and even references inside the Star Trek series themselves.