Greetings fellow Trekkers, Trekkies, Treknophiles and Fanacs!
Star Trek has had an interesting history when it comes to influencing pop culture. Multiple TV shows have made parodies and references, technological development was spurred on by the speculative devices portrayed in the series, it’s turned fan fiction on its head and made such terms as ‘Slash’ and ‘Mary Sue’ a household name, and everyone knows that a red shirt is bad luck. Star Trek’s influence is pervasive in our culture and influenced many to write their own adventures, make their own props and costumes, set up fan clubs and even create their own episodes. The legality of such fan made material has always been a point of contention with the studio, but it hasn’t stopped fans from throwing in their own unofficial contributions to the popular Star Trek mythos.
Why should music be any different? Ever since Trekkies 2 I’ve been exposed to Star Trek bands, an eclectic bunch that spans multiple genres of music. And still more come out of the woodwork, bringing their own unique spin to the franchise we so love, injecting humour and adventure into every note.
For the sake of this article, and to better play to my general knowledge of fandom since I am a millennial, I’m going to limit my choices to original fan based songs, performers and bands with a specific Star Trek theme from the internet era. Sorry, no Leonard Nimoy renditions of the hobbits of the shire here, and you’ll thank me for sparing you from William Shatner’s singing!
(And if you bring up his rap about Julius Caesar in ‘Free Enterprise’ you can submit it to an article about William Shakespeare inspired playlists. Also, there’s something rotten in the state of that song. You’ve been warned.)
Nope, we’re going with modern stuff, and since Star Trek music is an acquired taste it usually stays indie. With that in mind here is my quick list of Star Trek songs of the internet age.
I’d start with the bands from Trekkies 2, the first being a California sextet called No Kill I. Bouncy, bubbly party packed punk and ska influences propel their TOS bridge crew themed musicians and their Mugato bass player to a high orbit of sonic bliss while their hilarious lyrics entertain. From what I recall they were all musicians from other bands just coming together for limited gigs in the Star Trek vein.
Not to say that you can’t make some sort of mark playing Star Trek inspired music exclusively. Take a look at the most popular Star Trek music act in existence. Warp 11, consisting of Captain Karl Miller on vocals and bass, Chief Engineer Brian Moore as lead guitarist, the oh-so-gorgeous Science Chief Kiki Stockhammer to add spice and vocals and Executive Officer Commander John Merlino on the drums, have been thrashing their punk rock inspired and suggestive supercharged songs since the 90’s. It’s like Captain Kirk’s best shore leave stories retold by Blink 182. They’re a blast to listen to and they’re not just some one hit wonder. They have eight albums and counting!
Also on the list is the Klingon death metal band Sto’vo’kor. It’s a natural match. Grainy, homemade, indie level metal music at home with the earliest demo tapes from Mayhem or Napalm Death, dash in a little Black Sabbath and NWOBHM, but sung by a motley band of Klingon warriors out for glory on the stage and in the stars. I’m a metal fan myself, and though the production levels are pretty low and their only music video is stuck in the 70’s, I can safely say that metal music sounds better in its native Klingon.
But if you don’t know the beautiful language of the Klingons then you’re not left out. Youtuber Marshomeworld created a metal song of his own in the spirit of the warriors of Kahless. Titled ‘A Good Day to Die’, this power metal masterpiece is sung clearly and powerfully, making the patriotic ode to the Klingon Empire easy to sing along. And you will sing along as your ‘heart swells with Klingon pride’. My personal favourite out of the whole mix.
It isn’t all about punk rock and metal however. Electronic music gets a nod from Star Trek fans, and two acts come to mind to represent EDM. S.P.O.C.K. is a Swedish synthpop band consisting of a trio of electronic musicians whom, as well as make their own original works, makes covers and is know for their song 'Never Trust a Klingon'. It's like a 23rd century Kraftwerks with 80’s New Wave in the mix.
For something with a more modern twist that went superviral when it was released, DarkMateria’s ‘Picard Song’ is the perfect example when sampling vocals (that being Captain Picard and his most quotable quotes), out of this world electronica and the cultural zeitgeist collide to create the closest thing to a modern hit. There’s no geek that hasn’t heard it at some point.
Bubblegum pop isn’t even safe from the Star Trek treatment. ‘Star Trek Girl’ by Meekakitty brings you a cutesy singer’s innuendo laced pop ballad about how she’d be the ultimate Star Trek Girl for a very special Trekkie in her life. It’s sweet, it’s sappy, it’s enough to give you diabetes, but do you ever feel giddy after you listen to it. Makes me wish for a Star Trek Girl of my own!
The mainstay of internet Star Trek filks tend to be low brow adult humour, ranging from Voltaire's take on treknobabble to saucy reinterpretations of the Enterprise bridge crew's after hours activities to Commander Data's... fully functional attributes. There's no shortage of fun songs in that vein, but nothing I can put on here without a serious NSFW warning. But if you’re looking for Star Trek humour that’s a bit more family friendly I recommend TymmyD. A former Subspace Radio dj, voice actor and musician, he takes the very specific route of Star Trek Online based filk music. Taking everything from top 40’s to Johnny Cash like the Star Trek equivalent of Weird Al Yankovic, he’s less active in the parody scene but in his prime on STO online radio stations he was the king. His voice was also made for radio. He should be doing the morning news announcements somewhere.
And that is my sampling of modern Star Trek related filk music, from the absurd to the sublime, the suggestive to the egregious. If you want to take a listen you can check out the samples on my Youtube playlist in the link provided. If you have any more suggestions for the play list feel free to contact me. I'd love to hear more to add to the list.