Atlantis Wake-Up Music So Far: Ranking the Good, the Bad & the Ugly on the Last Shuttle Trip
They recruit artists to record messages that are played after the song, because the first thing you want to hear as you struggle out of a fitful zero-g sleep is Paul McCartney giving a chipper Liverpudlian morning greeting.
The music has gotten a lot better than the early days of "Hello Dolly" and the Carpenters' "We've Only Just Begun," but the generally tame selections rarely reach the bizarro heights of the Apollo-Soyuz mission's "Up Against the Wall, Redneck Mother" by Jerry Jeff Walker.
How is Atlantis doing so far as the final touchdown looms? Let's rank `em, from worst to first, with NASA video provided:
11. Song: "Rocket Man," by Elton John
Played: Flight Day 6
Taped Greeting: "Good morning Atlantis, this is Elton John. We wish you much success on your mission. A huge thank you to all the men and women at NASA who worked on the shuttle for the last three decades."
Review: Huge, huge points deducted for unoriginality. We realize it's probably a favorite among the NASA engineer types, but Atlantis marks at least the fourth mission where the song has been used.
Possibly Irrelevant Lyrics: "And all this science, I don't understand / it's just my job, five days a week."
10. Song: "More," by Matthew West
Played: Flight Day 5
Taped Greeting: None
Review: Matthew West!! WOOHOO!! Or, to be more accurate, "Who?" It turns out West is an earnest Christian lite-rocker whose song, Atlantis mission specialist Rex Walheim informs us, is "a great description of the beauty of this earth and a wonderful reminder of God's love for us," if you're into that sort of thing.
Possibly Irrelevant Lyrics: God, in the form of Matthew West, sings "More than you can fathom / I love you more than the sun," so take that, stupid sun.
9. Song: "Celebration," by Kool & the Gang
Played: Flight Day 10
Taped Greeting: From "employees at NASA's Stennis Space Center in southern Mississippi," which is way, way hipper than hearing from Kool. Not to mention any of the Gang.
Review: Ugh. Did someone just win a mid-`80s NBA championship?
Possibly Irrelevant Lyrics: Fully 90 percent of the lyrics seem to consist of either "celebrate" or "celebration," so we guess people celebrate waking up? Coma victims, maybe, but overworked astronauts?
8. Song: "Viva la Vida," by Coldplay
Played: Flight Day 2
Taped Greeting: It was from "employees at NASA's Marshall Spaceflight Center in Huntsville, Alabama," so who cares?
Review: Well, you either like Coldplay or you don't. Atlantis pilot Doug Hurley apparently does, since he requested this. Interestingly, Joe Satriani famously claimed the song rips off his "If I Could Fly" from the album Is There Love In Space, which would seem more appropriate.
Possibly Irrelevant Lyrics: Given the dicey employment situation in a post-shuttle NASA, this might cut a little close to the bone: "I used to rule the world / Seas would rise when I gave the word / Now in the morning I sleep alone / Sweep the streets I used to own."