While I’m cruising down the streets of Mos Eisly in my confiscated X-34 Landspeeder, I like to play my favorite tunes on the radio. As much as I love living in the Star Wars universe, it is sometimes nice to visit other fandom universes as well. Here is a list of my favorite sci-fi tracks that are NOT from the Star Wars franchise. Click on the Spotify samples below to hear a preview.
Movie: The Last Starfighter
Why I like this track: The movie may seem a little dated by today’s standards…and the production crew may have struggled with a limited budget, however, this is one of my favorite films of all time. I love the characters and the storyline. A down-on-his-luck teen living in a trailer park finally realizes that he can bust out of the daily grind and do something important. I still remember how creepy that beta unit was pulsating in Alex’s bedroom. This was one of the first films to pull off some CGI animation, with the help of Atari. Its a little corny, but it was great fun. I loved the chemistry between all of the characters. The main theme song has a very majestic sound with that enormous horn section. Makes you believe you can take on anything that the universe can throw at you!
Song: Outer Space
Movie: The Day the Earth Stood Still
Why I like this track: This film was WAY ahead of its time. It captured the true nature of man…his propensity for violence and destruction. While it may seem dated when compared to today’s effects, the message it delivers is a powerful one. This song is beautiful and eerie at the same time. Perhaps haunting is a good word to describe this track, as it serves as a reminder of the evils of man, and his looming dark future. The message the film conveyed in 1951 is still just as relevant today.
Song: Prologue from “Battlestar Galactica”
TV Series: Battlestar Galactica
Why I like this track: To me, this was the beginning of adventure television. Coming hot off the heals of Star Wars, Battlestar Galactica was a big budget TV series. It only lasted for 1 season, and took some heat for “stealing” some elements from Star Wars. It was fun to have an epic sci-fi series on TV with cool villains (cylons), zippy spacecraft (vipers), a cute half-robot, half-dog pet (Daggit), and some badass pilots. It didn’t last long on NBC, but it lead into a bunch of awesome 80’s TV series, such as CHiPs, Knight Rider, & the A-Team, to name a few. This theme song gave off a feeling of pride, majesty, and the brave men & women defending their right to live in space. The franchise did enjoy a revival in the 2000s.
Movie: Battle Beyond the Stars
Why I like this track: I’m not going to lie…I don’t particularly care for the film. Despite having some big name actors, it just didn’t do it for me. It was a low budget film and the effects are sub-par. I can sometimes look past that given the film’s date and the story that it tries to convey. What I do love, is the theme song from this movie. It is what a space opera them should sound like. It has the brave-sci-fi-hero sound captured in all of its glory. It starts off with some short echoes, giving the listener the feeling of traveling in a spacecraft, watching the stars zoom by. The main theme kicks in and you feel like a laser-wielding super-hero, ready to defeat any evil forces that dare to cross your path. This is happy & heroic sci-fi music at its best.
Movie: Independence Day
Why I like this track: I remember seeing this on July 3rd in 1996 in the theater. This was the beginning of the resurgence of disaster films. One could argue there were some plot holes in Independence Day, but it was just a fun summer action blockbuster period. The story was told from characters in all walks of life. It had everything you could want: action, explosions, effects, character development, humor, romance, and a happy ending. I liked that it had an underlying message, stating that if we put aside our petty differences and work together, there’s no limit to what can be achieved. Call it corny if you want, you have to admit, its fun, and has a lesson to be learned.
Song: Fed Net March/Klendathu Drop
Movie: Starship Troopers
Why I like this track: Again, another movie with a plot hole or two. I don’t care, I loved it. It was over the top, and at this time, special effects were finally starting to come around a bit. The Fed Net March has a bit of a propaganda feel to it. Makes you want to join the Mobile Infantry and fight the bugs. The Klendathu Drop track gets your adrenaline pumping. While listening to this track, you can feel the tension in that dropship as you head down to planet P. Hearing Shujumi give his battle cry as everyone loses their stomachs during the drop. What a rush! These 2 tracks are great if you need to pump yourself up.
Why I like this track: Following Starship Troopers, we have another track from a movie directed by Paul Verhoeven and scored by Basil Poledouris. Robocop had some pretty intense violence, and was almost rated X because of the gore. This was a gritty movie with some nifty technology. Despite being released in 1997, the overlying theme: artificial intelligence, is still a concerning topic today. The film succeeded in balancing out the blood and violence with some humor…albeit on the dark side. You see what I did there? The theme song has a serious and unyielding sound to it, much like Robocop’s character. The theme song definitely matches the protagonist.
Song: Clever Girl
Movie: Total Recall
Why I like this track: I’m a sucker for Arnold Schwarzenegger films. He could arguably be the best action hero of the 80s. In Total Recall, Doug Quaid is on the run throughout most of the film. This track really captures the tension and panic while Doug attempts to evade his pursuers. You can feel the urgency. With all of the recent news coming out about Mars, one cannot help but imagine what a colony would be like up there. Would you be staying at the Hilton? Or hanging out in Venus-ville?
Song: Suite from “Predator”
Why I like this track: Let’s do another Arnold-related track. How about some music from Predator? You can smell the testosterone when listening to this song. All of those 80’s badasses getting dropped into a Central American jungle. It has a very macho feel to it. I loved the story, the characters, and the creature in this film.
Song: Main Title from Alien
Why I like this track: This track is almost a condensed version of the movie. It starts off rather sleepily, perhaps conveying the space travelers in cryofreeze. The song perks up a bit with some bright elements…and then some dissonance, perhaps indicating a problem. Then, some calm strings, the feeling of a lumbering spacecraft drifting through space, and the majesty of man conquering the heavens. Only to end with tension, mystery, and suspense. One of the best sci-fi movies ever, with an outstanding main theme.
Song: Futile Escape
Why I like this track: Another track from the Alien franchise. And another track that captures the overall feel of the film in one song. The Aliens film is dark, its rainy, its confined, its all rock and metal. No happy places here. This track has some military-like snare drums, an eerie drone causing tension, industrial sounding pipe strikes, & slicing strings that give you the heebie-jeebies. Half-way through, the song kicks some ass as Ellen Ripley drives the transport into the desolate colony bunker to save the Colonial Marines. The track is so well done, you can almost feel those xenomorphs breathing down your neck.