“The Purple People Eater” (1958) Sheb Wooley –
Released as a single, written and performed by Sheb Wooley. This song tells of a strange creature (described as a “one-eyed, one-horned, flying purple people eater”) descends to Earth because it wants to be in a rock ‘n roll band. The creature isn’t necessarily purple but rather eats purple people.
“I Hear A New World” (1960) Joe Meek –
This song is the opening title track. The entire album is an outer space music fantasy; a true CONCEPT ALBUM devised and composed by Joe Meek and recorded by a group of musicians he dubbed the Blue Men. The album was released in part in 1960 and in full by RPM Records in 1991. (From the album, “I Hear A New World”)
“Telstar” (1962) The Tornados –
Released as a single. The Tornados swirling 1960 synth classic, ‘Telstar,’ was written and produced, by eccentric indie producer Joe Meek, in his studio in a small flat above a shop in Holloway Rd, North London. “Telstar” sold a whopping 5 million copies.
“2,000 Light Years From Home” (1967) The Rolling Stones —
A majestically dark and doomy cosmic rocker. This song also has some of the creepiest synthesizer effects (devised by Brian Jones) ever to grace a rock record. (From the album, “Their Satanic Majesties Request.”)
“It Came Out Of The Sky” (1969) Creedence Clearwater Revival –
John Fogerty employed a B-movie plot (even the song’s name sounds like a schlocky sci-fi flick) for this track. “IT” is never revealed to be anything; we just hear about what everyone else sees in the UFO that landed “a little south of Moline.” In the chugging rocker, Fogerty explains that scientists seek a natural explanation. The Vatican sees a sign from God, conspiracy theorists blame the Communists, Hollywood turns it into a big-budget film and then-Vice President Spiro Agnew looks to profit from “IT.” (From the album, “Willy and the Poor Boys”)
“Starman” (1972) David Bowie –
Catchy song from the album, ‘The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars’, a concept album about Bowie’s alter-ego: superstar space freak Ziggy. (BTW: I could make a mega-list of over 20 great songs penned by Bowie dealing with Space Aliens and Space Travel.)
“Alien Autopsy” (1985) Reggie Bender –
When a UFO crashed in Roswell, New Mexico, the US Military allegedly took 2 space alien bodies away. One alien was dead (you can guess what happened to that space alien by the songs’ title). The other alien survived and was kept by the military. In this dissonant rocker, Bender manages to sing about the alien autopsy as well as the loneliness, alienation, and grief felt by the surviving space alien who misses his dissected space comrade. (From the album, “Space Aliens Are Here! Run!”)
“Motorway to Roswell” (1991) Pixies –
Written by Frank Black (a.k.a. Black Francis). A tune for all the conspiracy theorists out there, the chugging ‘Motorway to Roswell’ sees Black Francis telling the tale of an alien who ends up accidentally holidaying in Roswell, New Mexico. At least, that’s what I think it’s about – feel free to get in touch to set the record straight, Frank. (From the album, “Trompe Le Monde”)
“Subterranean Homesick Alien” (1997) Radiohead —
With a respectful doff of their caps to Bob Dylan’s ‘Subterranean Homesick Blues’, Radiohead pushed the original song’s narrative and accompanying sonics into a spookier realm altogether. Sounding like an alien on a particularly impressive trip, this song is one of their most compelling moments.
(From the album, “OK Computer”)
“(Drawing) Rings Around The World” (2001) Super Furry Animals –
This Brit pop outfit dream about turning the Earth into Saturn II and hanging out with Tetsuo II. Super catchy song! (From the album, “Drawing Rings Around The World.”)
PS: A difficult list to write: there are other great bands who write excellent songs about this topic: The Flaming Lips, The Gorillaz, Pink Floyd, Guided By Voices.