Geek pride, turned up to 11. Mordor…Are You Ready To ROCK?
1. 1. Led Zeppelin – Ramble On
Robert Plant, Led Zeppelin’s lyricist, singer and self-proclaimed Golden God, was also a major Tolkien geek, making references to Middle Earth elements a pretty regular occurrence in the Zep’s musical catalog. “Ramble On” gets our vote for the geekiest, with Plant name-checking Mordor and blaming Gollum himself for stealing his girl.
4. 2. The Eagles – Journey of the Sorcerer
One of These Nights features three of the Eagles’ biggest hits. It also features this proggy, orchestral banjo epic that no-doubt baffled fans looking for more “Lyin’ Eyes.” But sci-fi icon Douglas Adams was no ordinary fan. He hand-picked “Sorcerer’s Journey” as the theme for his Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy radio series, and the song fit the story so well that it was re-recorded for the later TV and movie versions.
7. 3. Black Sabbath – The Wizard (Hobbit)
When Black Sabbath’s self titled debut came out, there was no question that it was dark, heavy and mystical. But dig a little deeper into the lyrics, and the geekdom is there… Sure, “The Wizard” kind of sounds a bit like it might be about a drug dealer, but the band has gone on record to say they were paying tribute to that most legendary bad-ass, Gandalf.
10. 4. Iron Maiden – To Tame a Land
Iron Maiden, one of the most metal of metal bands, were also a big ole bunch of geeks. One of their greatest albums, Piece of Mind, was filled with references to Greek mythology, film, and novels, including this track inspired by Frank Herbert’s science fiction epic, Dune.
13. 5. Fountains Of Wayne — Laser Show
New York power popsters Fountains of Wayne went full-on teen-geek with their ode to planetarium rock ’n’ roll laser shows (and a Pink Floyd/Metallica double-feature at that). And these kids aren’t just going to any laserium, but the Hayden Planetarium itself, Mount Olympus to geek-god Neil deGrasse Tyson, who serves as its director.
16. 6. Flaming Lips – Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots
The Flaming Lips are no strangers to the geek world, staging other-worldy live shows, rolling around in giant plastic bubbles and encouraging their fans to dress up in fetishy stuffed animal outfits. This track introduced our heroine Yoshimi, a black belt in karate who is training to defeat evil robots, which could have been pulled straight out of a Japanese manga series. And true to manga, which often inspires movies and TV series, this particular Flaming Lips album later became a stage musical.
18. 7. Pixies – The Happening
Pixies – one of the most revered alternative rock acts of the ‘90s – were fronted by a slightly UFO obsessed lyricist by the name of Black Francis. Alien references abound on their later albums, and this track from their Bossanova album is a lovely tale about heading to Area 51 to say hi to some “visitors.” I mean, they came a long way to check out Vegas and stuff…
20. 8. David Bowie – Space Oddity
Released in July of 1969, Bowie’s epic tale of an astronaut lost in space takes inspiration from the space programs of the era (and was seen as a dig at the British program in particular) as well as the film 2001: A Space Odyssey. But Bowie, The Man Who Fell to Earth himself, turned Major Tom into a major pop culture icon who turned up in more of his songs, other people’s songs, and even cartoons (Venture Brothers, anyone?).
22. 9. Elton John – Rocket Man
In a post Space Oddity world, Bowie’s fellow Brit (and individualistic dresser) had his own take on the astronaut biz, as he and collaborator Bernie Taupin saw it in a less romantic light, and more of a “guy who doesn’t feel like going to work” sort of way. Yet it was inspired by distant lights in the sky and what they might possibly be, and what is more romantically geeky than that?
24. 10. Thomas Dolby – She Blinded Me With Science
Oh, this one is easy… The guy who broke through with a song and video about a geeky science guy being completely enthralled by a hot science gal went on to score video games, then invented the downloadable file format RMF commonly used in mobile phones, founded a company creating software for mobile phone ringtones, and is now both the Musical Director of the immensely popular TED Conference as well as a Professor of the Arts at John Hopkins University. And so the geeks shall inherit the earth!