Listen to This: NASA and Apple Music’s collaboration is stellar
If Elon Musk’s Mars colony includes a nightclub playing only this collection, count me in.
Jul. 13, 2016
Almost exactly six years ago, the football-sized spacecraft Juno was launched into space. Just this Monday, NASA scientists confirmed that Juno successfully entered into orbit around Jupiter. The robot is designed to get closer to the mystical red-spotted planet than any man-made object before, and it could lead scientists to discoveries about not just Jupiter, but our very own Earth as well.
What does this all have to do with music? You’ll be glad you asked.
NASA and Apple Music collaborated to release eight exclusive singles, each by a different artist, to celebrate the arrival of the Juno spacecraft. The collection is entitled Destination: Jupiter, spans an array of genres and also includes a short film. Before you even listen to the music, you’re given a sensory treat in some of the most gorgeous album artwork ever.
Even cooler? NASA will allow sound data from Juno’s orbit around Jupiter to be used by musicians for more collaborations in the future. Scott Bolton, principal investigator for the Juno mission, described it by saying that musicians “can literally play Jupiter”. Sign me up.
Here’s a song-by-song look at each of the singles you can listen to now either via iTunes or Apple Music.
I was a little skeptical of space-inspired country at first, but this song quelled those fears. Paisley combines electronic bloops with twanging guitar and mandolin into possibly the most American way to celebrate an American achievement in space. Look out, world. NASA and Brad have invented a new genre: experimental country.
Rae’s track was transformed by Shaun Lopez from R&B into an electro-soul jam that would surely be the hottest thing to play at an interstellar night club. Beautiful vocals, a clap-worthy beat and a galactic atmosphere are the perfect combination for your next space rave. (Aside: I want you all to know that I just Googled “space rave” and found this gem with the caption “I got my friend drunk in front of a green-screen. This is an actual hand in for a university project.”)
If you’ve ever wanted to hear the history of the universe as told by a Wu-Tang Clan member, you’re in luck! “The Spark” features GZA the Genius rapping, quite educationally, over a high-pitched guitar and solid beat. I’m taking astronomy online over the summer and can verify that all the information he raps lines up with the textbook. (I like to think this plays in Mission Control a lot.)
This chill alternative song’s high points are the My Morning Jacket frontman’s relaxing tones, the strong bass guitar line and the use of glitchy sounds to enhance the space theme. James and Burrell sing, “the universe can only be as big as my mind” with reverb so deep and long it becomes the underlying drone of the song.
We’re right back in interstellar nightclub territory with this electro-soul jam. The robotic synths and funky beat make you want to grab a martini glass and fill it with star stuff. (OK, so stars are mostly hydrogen, and that’s most of water, so basically just water. You caught me.) As the Apple editor’s notes read, “it’s as though QUIN’s been away from Earth for years.”
I fell in love with Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross’s music back when they made the Oscar-winning soundtrack for “The Social Network.” Their cinematic-meets-electronic style as seen in that soundtrack combines with an eerie, deep space feeling like Hans Zimmer’s score for “Interstellar” in this 9-minute soundscape. If you’re a fan of movie scores, especially if you like either of the ones mentioned, this is most definitely worth a listen. You close your eyes, and you’re right there with Juno.
I love this song. The alternative rock band most well-known for their late ’90s/early ’00s pop punk hits like “Beverly Hills” and “Buddy Holly” serves up a space rock anthem with this track. It’s blatantly patriotic, but in a way that sounds like vocalist Rivers Cuomo is singing it as he sticks an American flag into the surface of a far-off planet. My only complaint with this galactic alt-rock piece is I wish it were longer than 3 minutes.
Mexican rock band Zoé’s contribution to the collection is a broad, reverb-heavy, synth and strings soundscape. From the simple tune at the very beginning to the sweeping electronic chords later in the song, this song represents exactly what I would imagine a robotic spacecraft like Juno would like to listen to while floating through the vastness of space to Jupiter.