?Here is a fact: there have been many, many songs written about women. Even if you counted only romantic songs about women, or just romantic songs about specific women, or even just romantic songs about women of mysterious origins, that still probably leaves you with at least half of humanity’s musical output to draw from. So does it really surprise anybody that there are so many songs about ladies from other planets? The ’50s and ’60s saw an explosion of both science fiction and popular music, so perhaps it makes sense that the two crossed streams many times after that, and continue to do so. This is not a list of the best or worst, but merely a loose collection of the most notable examples.
But what exactly do we mean by “space girl”, you may ask? Well, think of the traditional trope of the beautiful, confident, alluring girl, only transplanted into a loosely defined intergalactic setting. “Freezer guns,” rockets built into their bodies, shag carpet spaceships: as long as she is significantly otherworldly, anything goes. Perhaps the most surprising thing, however, is that spacegirl songs know no single genre or time period, resulting in tunes from all over the intergalactic map. Yeah, it’s mostly the stuff of hokey sixties pop, but there are also examples in ska, folk, even educational children’s music. Don’t believe me? Observe.
8) “Technicolor Lover,” New Radicals
While not explicitly about an alien or space traveler per se, the titular character is described as haling “from a world that is so far out.” It’s a pity that frontman and Mick Jagger almost-sound-alike Gregg Alexander is more interested in making dick jokes than sci-fi references, but there is enough spacey weirdness on display to keep it in league with the others on this list. I especially dig the little screeching noises and manah-manah-esque mouth trumpeting going on. Also, there’s the command “rate my heart” which could perhaps denote some sort of cybernetic body-scanning technology. Incidentally, this is one of the first CDs I ever owned, and thus is shielded in a protective sheen of nostalgia that absolves it of all flaws.
7) “Beautiful Zelda,” The Bonzo Dog Band
A simultaneous spoof/legitimate example of the cheesy pop of its era, this delightful little ditty begins like the opening of some non-existent kitschy TV series. Then come the Mexican horns, echo effects, and goofy backup vocals. Penned and sung by frequent Monty Python collaborator Neil Innes, this is definitely one of the Bonzos’ bubblier and more accessible novelties. And it might not really mean anything, but I have a hunch that the mention of “Galaxy 4” is a reference to the early Doctor Who episode of the same name (and that Galaxy 4 was definitely populated by bodacious spacewomen. It’s possible).
6) “Interplanet Janet,” Schoolhouse Rock
Technically this song is a classic Schoolhouse Rock cartoon, but Man or Astro-Man>’s cover is so good it’s worth not seeing the original animation. A woman/rocketship hybrid scoots around the galaxy and teaches you about the order of planets in our solar system, and also what the sun is made of (which would later be the subject of a popular They Might Be Giants song as well). This was never one of my favorites, but it’s unfortunately quite catchy and will probably stay with you for life, popping into your brain while you’re trying to do your taxes or remember your blood type or something. Oh yes, it’s that kind of catchy.
5) “Space Girl,” The Imagined Village
An intriguing variation on the usual formula, this mellow, wistful ballad tells the story from the opposite point of view: a woman is seduced into a life of space-faring by some sort of alien man (of “the Martian race”). Rather than romanticizing this alien outsider, singer Eliza Carthy turns the whole thing into a cautionary tale, albeit a nerdy one with references to “freezer guns” and use of the word Terran, which just ups the whole thing in my book. What really makes it is the wonderful animated video, which features robots, Egyptian aliens, dinosaurs, and a giant applauding cat, all rendered in a fluid, sketch-like style. Giant applauding cats will always get my attention.
4) “Planet Queen,” T-Rex
All but forgotten to us younger folk is T-Rex, the once-mighty glam-rock band that dominated in the ’70s; their landmark album Electric Warrior is best known for their hit “Bang a Gong (Get It On)”, but it also contains this groovy little number about a queen of some sort of planet (how forgotten? There’s not a single copy of T. Rex’s version on YouTube, so dig this cover by Clem Feld). She invades the speaker’s mind, but he still wants her to transport him to her home planet. Then we get lines like “Cadillac king dancer in the midnight”, and honestly, I don’t even think Marc Bolan knew what that meant when he wrote it. It’s enough to just enjoy this chant-like jam for what it is, preferably in the car on a rainwashed summer’s day. Especially if that car travels through space. And is made out of glitter.
3) “Martian Girl,” The Aquabats
Let me tell ya, whenever you’re in the mood for cartoonish, upbeat ska music made by guys in homemade costumes, The Aquabats are your (perhaps only) friends. “Martian Girl” is yet another perky slice of horn-driven goofiness, even if the lyrics are a little contradictory (how could she be a Martian girl and from planet V? Was she born on Mars and just raised somewhere else? How would the speaker know this?). There’s also a twist here, too, in that the titular Martian girl is both beautiful and decidedly otherworldly, with orange eyes, green skin, and a taste for “people meat.” The conceit is so fun, we’ll forgive MC Bat Commander’s inability to think of anything that rhymes with “meat department”. That’s a tall order, even for a superhero.
2) “Cosmic Girl,” Jamiroquai
You’d be forgiven for thinking, as I did when I first heard them, that Jamiroquai was a revival project for a long-forgotten Donna Summer-esque singer from the ’70s, and not a ’90s British dance group fronted by a man whose name is also his initials. This is a well-produced throwback of a tune that name-checks everything from Barbarella to Star Trek and manages to be disco while not sucking. I only wish they had come up with something a little more exciting for the video than a four minute car commercial, but maybe their budget was still recovering from all those big hats and sliding couches.
1) “Barbarella,” Barbarella
And speaking of Barbarella, we couldn’t possibly make this list without including that film’s legendary opening sequence, a phenomenally, giddily stupid slice of space cheese (be warned that the above sequence, although mostly harmless, is probably NSFW). Maybe the first time you saw this you were so focused on, ahem, other things, you didn’t realize how awe-inspiringly ridiculous this little number was. The lyrics sound like they’re being improvised on the spot by a kidnapped lounge singer and approach self-parody in spots, as does most of this movie (“Shh! Every word we need comes from the sky!/ Can you read my eyes/saying ‘love’?”). But whether it’s supposed to be stupid or not, it’s kind of the Pledge of Allegiance when it comes to songs about women from outer space.
As you might expect, Babs has inspired her share of ditties on her own, most of them eponymous, including one by Scott Weiland and another by ’80s band The Bongos (one can only imagine what Frank Zappa had come up with, had he been signed on to compose the film’s score as was originally planned). There’s honestly nothing like the original, though, and thanks to this hopelessly dated, charmingly schizophrenic mess of a movie and its score, the image of the spacegirl will probably always remain burnt into our cultural consciousness like so many atomic ray gun blasts. God help us.
Because this is what you find after youtube-ing “space girl,” and now you have to watch it too.