Mars: a great place to visit if you like rocks, red sunsets, giant dormant volcanoes and 300-mile-an-hour winds.
But if you’re looking for a little music? Not so great. Not until Tuesday afternoon, when the Curiosity Rover broadcast a song by former Black Eyed Peas frontman and CNN hologram will.i.am — the first song, so far as we know, ever played on an alien planet.
The tune, entitled “Reach For the Stars,” isn’t what you might expect from will.i.am. No pumping beats here — just an uplifting orchestral background and heavy-duty inspirational lyrics about setting our goals higher. Props to will.i.am in particular for destroying that old cliche, “the sky’s the limit.”
In short, it’s a pretty good first track to kick off what we hope will become the first DJ set on Mars. But where to go next? How to let the Red Planet know about the whole magnificent range of human music throughout history?
That’s a problem that confronted the makers of the Voyager spacecraft, who had to figure out what music to put on a playable gold disc that would leave the solar system with the craft. Selected by the legendary Carl Sagan, the tracks included tunes by Beethoven, Guan Pinghu, Mozart, Stravinsky, Blind Willie Johnson and Chuck Berry.
Science writer Lewis Thomas famously demurred from that selection. “I would vote for Bach, all of Bach, streamed out into space, over and over again,” he wrote.
“We would be bragging, of course.”
What music would you play on Mars? Let us know in the comments.