The Space Force has released their new anthem, “Semper Supra”. NPR’s Ari Shapiro sits down with NPR Music’s Stephen Thompson to review it.
ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:
If you want to be a branch of the military, there are certain things you must have. And Space Force has ticked off a lot since its launch nearly three years ago. He has uniforms – dark blue to evoke space. There’s a motto – semper, supra – always means above because, you know, spaces up there. There’s even a logo that looks a lot like the “Star Trek” logo. And there’s one more thing that all the other branches have…
(SOUND EXTRACTION FROM THE EDITING)
UNIDENTIFIED SINGERS #1: (Singing) March, sing our song with the Freedom Army.
UNIDENTIFIED SINGERS #2: (Singing, inaudible).
UNIDENTIFIED SINGERS #3: (Singing) We’re off into the wild blue out there, climbing high into the sun.
SHAPIRO: …A song. These were the official songs of some of the other branches of the military. And Space Force released their song yesterday. NPR Music’s Stephen Thompson is there to lend his critical ear. Hi Stephane.
STEPHEN THOMPSON, BYLINE: Hi, Ari.
SHAPIRO: Actually, I haven’t heard the song yet, so…
SHAPIRO: …Let’s imagine decades from now, you and I are veterans, grizzled old men, reuniting with the Space Force Guardians we served with long ago. And at the beginning of our gathering, we rise. We put our hands on our hearts, and we hear it.
(SOUND EXCERPT FROM AN ARCHIVED RECORDING)
UNIDENTIFIED SINGERS #4: (Singing) We are the mighty watchful eye, Guardians beyond the blue. The invisible front line, brave and faithful fighters.
SHAPIRO: Your first reaction, Stephen Thompson?
THOMPSON: My first reaction is that it’s a pastiche of so much pop culture, isn’t it? Like, you hear the marches, like, kind of march news from, like, 40s news. You hear the Saturday morning cartoons. You hear so many movies in which military marches are invoked. And in that regard, it certainly fits the memoir. I think where it doesn’t work so well for me is in the lyrics. I’ve found out, as someone concerned about the surveillance state, that I’m not sure I’m very attached to a branch of the military where the first line of their march is that we’re the mighty watchful eye .
SHAPIRO: Can we review some of those lyrics? We are the mighty watchful eye, the Guardians beyond the blue, the invisible front line, the brave and stalwart fighters, boldly reaching into space. There is no limit to our sky, standing watch day and night. We are the Space Force above.
TOMPSON: Yeah. And that even that from above is just very, very grand. The job of most Space Force enlistees is to, like, repair, launch, and care for satellites. You are not Buzz Lightyear.
SHAPIRO: I know. I was hoping we would be like visiting the Pleiades, but I guess as Space Force veterans we won’t have been in space.
THOMPSON: We won’t. But we will always be gray.
SHAPIRO: We’ll still be gray. The whole vibe of the song is more John Philip Sousa than Jean-Luc Picard. Do you think they should have tried something more contemporary or more spatial? You know, like, pew-pew, like, laser sounds or something.
THOMPSON: I mean, it depends on what you’re looking for, doesn’t it? Like, I looked, like, OK, there’s a new Space Force song. My immediate thought went to “Team America: World Police”. Do you know this movie?
SHAPIRO: Like, 90s hair rock or something.
TOMPSON: Yeah. Yes exactly. Or something like a “GI Joe” cartoon or something. And, like, they’re not going to do that. It’s a military march. So I don’t know what I expected in terms of, like, this song is heavy and old fashioned. It’s a military march. But also, at the same time, you are called the Space Force. Much of your iconography is so reminiscent of pop culture. They might as well have looked into it.
SHAPIRO: Stephen Thompson is one of the hosts of NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast. Stephen, I salute you.
THOMPSON: Greetings, fellow Guardian.
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