The news that NASA's Curiosity space buggy has landed safely on Mars has got every one of us thinking we're really droll quoting David Bowie lyrics on Twitter. So it's as plain as a red spot in the sky that music and our nearest interplanetary neighbour are inextricably linked – or lots of pop stars have sung an unspeakable amount of tripe about Mars – and here are our top five red planet songs.
There was no getting away from this one. As soon as we heard that Curiosity was looking for evidence of life on Mars, we weren't going to start singing 'Loving The Alien', were we? Actually, we could've done. The Dame has always been big on space, Mars, extra-terrestrial spiders and all that. He feels a kinship, you see, because he's the weird-eyed chameleon of pop, always slotting into his surroundings, never fixed in his identity. The Man Who Fell To Earth penned a right old load of beautiful gibberish for 'Life On Mars?' but the mix of the surreal, the apocalyptic and the fearful is an appropriate metaphor for our mysterious cosmic buddy.
Back in the day, Macca had better things to do than lead mass sing-a-longs of 'Hey Jude' in Olympic velodromes to the acute embarrassment of his wife and daughter. Yes, he devoted that downtime to writing charming little folk ditties recasting the planets as the gender divide, a precursor to any number of self-help books for people who can't understand their girlfriend/boyfriend. A dubious legacy but a typically pretty McCartney melody.
"The chances of anything coming from Mars are a million to one, he said". But lo and behold they bloody well turned up anyway. Jeff Wayne's epic re-telling of HG Wells's Earth invasion sci-fi horror story is therefore immutable proof that Curiosity is not only going to find evidence of life – it's going to let that life hitch a ride on a return shuttle and lay waste to our planet. Well, that was silly, wasn't it?
The Neptunes just had to write a song about space travel because their music sounded like The Future. It now sounds like 1999-2001 but this standout cut from Kelis's debut album 'Kaleidoscope' holds up as a shard of futuro-R&B with that familiar Kelis blend of sweet soul and harpy shouting, and space-age (yeah, c.2000) electronica. "Wake up and send your black ass to Mars," Kelis yells as she reveals a love so powerful it's actually forcing people to evacuate the planet. Mars – so romantic.
However you take 'Girl From Mars' – a teenage lad making up a girlfriend (who smoked Henri Winterman cigars!) to impress his mates; a flickering, dreamy romance that can never be bettered – it's another example of Mars as a metaphor, if you will, for the insubstantial, the almost unreal, the unknowable, the blink-and-you'll-miss-it as it fades in and out of the night sky. Mind you, if Curiosity finds a girl up there we've all got a lot of apologies to make to Tim Wheeler.