Are we alone in the universe? Is Earth the target of a violent alien takeover, or are these possible invaders friendly? Maybe extraterrestrials already walk among us. The truth is out there…or so says the tagline from The X-Files. Although none of the following songs provide any answers to these tough questions, they do show how vivid the imagination can be when it comes to UFOs. From little green men to just being an outsider, even Spooky Mulder would want to hear these eight alien-centric songs.
With space on the minds of everyone in 1969, it’s fitting there’s an extraterrestrial-inspired song on Creedence Clearwater Revival’s album Willy and the Poor Boys that came out that year. CCR tell the story of a farmer in Moline, Ill. who finds a UFO in his field and becomes famous for his discovery. In real life, a UFO was spotted and even caught on film by Moline citizens in 1967, which is likely the inspiration behind this song.
For this song from his classic album Illinoise, Sufjan Stevens was inspired by a different Illinois-based UFO sighting. On January 5, 2000, a Black Triangle UFO was spotted across towns in southern Illinois, causing a frenzy amongst its citizens and alien enthusiasts. Being the master of lyricism he is though, Stevens’ song connects the belief of aliens with the belief of God—something Mulder and Scully sure like to talk about.
Given Tom DeLonge’s enthusiastic lyrics in “Aliens Exist” from Blink-182’s 1999 album Enema of the State, it is not surprising that DeLonge is actually a believer. In 2015 he talked extensively with Paper Magazine about his numerous encounters with extraterrestrials, including a weird Area 51 experience and government cover-ups. So even though he’s given up on Blink-182, he has not given up his search for the truth.
In “Zero Zero UFO,” The Ramones tell a bizarre tale of another UFO crash, this time in a field in Idaho. Their narrator, the witness of the crash, describes a “strange man” exiting the UFO and claims “the Queen’s on the alien’s side.” A strange trip to say the least.
David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust relays a message to earthlings from an extraterrestrial by the name “Starman” in this 1972 hit. Amongst Bowie’s own “hazy cosmic jive,” we learn that Starman waits in the sky to visit Earth but makes appearances on the radio and television. With Bowie’s recent passing, it’s hard not to equate Starman with Bowie himself, whose bright light has now returned to the sky.
Thanks to Blondie, and the ‘80s in general, a disco song about what would happen if a gun-toting, car-eating man from Mars came to Earth reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Underneath its funky groove, “Rapture” questions destructive human behavior and what happens when our luxuries are taken away from us. It’s a surprisingly heavy sentiment for a song that includes a cringe-worthy rap verse.
If aliens do exist, it’s likely they’re a much more advanced species than us. By the sounds of Radiohead’s alienated narrator in“Subterranean Homesick Alien,” it would seem that the band thinks so too. Eager to break out of the monotony of daily life, Radiohead’s narrator hopes to be taken “on board their beautiful ship” and to be finally free. A hope many of us can relate to.
This quirky little Ella Fitzgerald number from 1951 is outwardly the most playful on this list thanks to its swinging melody. But a closer listen reveals that these “two little men in a flying saucer” who think Earth is an “awful menace” that’s polluted by politicians and commercials and is not a place worth sticking around for. Ella presents very reasonable assessment for why Earth may not have been invaded yet.