22 geeky references in songs

From H.P Lovecraft to Tolkien to H2G2, nods to geek culture have been infiltrating the lyrics of popular beat combos for decades...

This article originally appeared on Den of Geek UK.

Game Of Thrones is everywhere. Superheroes are scheduled to replace nitrogen by 2030. Geeks have clearly infiltrated pop music from an early age. Weep, my friends, for there are no worlds left to conquer. As proof, I offer you this playlist full of geeky references in titles and lyrics.

Sure, we could mention how the video for “California Love” is clearly a Mad Max homage, or that the sample-heavy “Stingray Megamix” peaked at number 66 in the singles chart, but for this article we’re sticking with lyrics and titles. And do you know we’ve missed some out? I know, it’s a shocking lapse. Please correct this in the comments, but beware that links and videos may require Simon to head to a maintenance shed to reboot the system, and he hasn’t come back from last time yet.

Note: Some of these songs contain rude words and imagery so you probably shouldn’t listen to them.

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Ash – Angel Interceptor (1995)

A single from the album 1977, which is absolutely rammed full of Star Wars references (It opens with the noise of a Tie Fighter, there’s a song called Darkside Lightside, it’s called 1977…). The reason we’re going with this one is that it’s the only Captain Scarlet reference I could find, otherwise I would have gone with Goldfinger – which is obviously a Bond reference and is also a tune – or Kung Fu – which is full of references to martial arts movies and is also a tune.

Basically, this whole album is crammed with nerdy references, and you should buy it immediately.

Radiohead – Paranoid Android (1997)


Well, obviously.

The Wedding Present – Shatner (1987)

The Wedding Present were famous for their frenetic strumming and the tag “Every Smiths fan’s second favourite band.” Here frontman David Gedge implores someone to rid themselves of an abusive partner, and if we’re honest we think he picks William Shatner as a fantasy lover purely because it sort-of rhymes with “matter.”

Feeder – Buck Rogers (2001)

Named after the title character of the popular TV show because a keyboard part on an early demo “sounded futuristic.” Fans of John Peel Festive Fifties may remember Burning Love Jumpsuit’s Cheerleader, which samples Buck Rogers.

The Mountain Goats – Lovecraft In Brooklyn (2008)

More about xenophobia and fear than it is about the Cthulhu mythos. Fortunately there’s a fair amount of Lovecraft referencing stuff out there, such as…

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Deadmau5 – Cthulhu Sleeps (2010)

One of several instrumentals Deadmau5 has named after the works of Lovecraft. Still, it’d be nice to have something lyrically inspired by his works.

Cradle Of Filth – Cthulhu Dawn (2001)

There we go. Thank goodness for Cradle of Filth, who the IT Crowd Wiki describe as “famous for its dark and morbid music which sometimes resembles screaming.”

GeeZer – Among The Cybermen (1997)


This is literally a song about the Doctor Who story The Tenth Planet, featuring the first regeneration and debut of the Cybermen. In 1997. You certainly can’t accuse GeeZer of jumping on any sort of bandwagon.

Marion Call – It’s Good To Have Jayne On Your Side (2008)

Most of Marion Call’s songs are explicitly geeky. The title track from her album Got To Fly is about Battlestar Galactica.

Led Zeppelin – The Battle Of Evermore (1971)

With apologies to fans of Leonard Nimoy’s balladry, this is one of two songs we’ve chosen to represent the vast wealth of Tolkien-inspired music in the world.

Sonic Youth – Schizophrenia (1987)

From Sister, an album inspired by the works of Philip K. Dick, named for his twin sister who died as a baby.

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Eon – The Spice Must Flow (1991)

Eon (Ian Loveday) was an influential dance music producer who used samples from the movies The Outer Limits and Basket Case on his debut album Void Dweller. This Dune sampling track is probably his most famous release.

Cannibal Ox – Gotham (2013)

On the YouTube comments thread for this song, someone has written simply “Mothafuckin’ Bane”.

Saint Etienne – There There My Brigadier (2010)

Recorded for a Doctor Who inspired album in 2003, this instrumental wasn’t released until Saint Etienne did a deluxe reissue of Finisterre in 2010.

The Guild – (Do You Want To Date My) Avatar (2009)

At conventions I cosplay as cosplayers on their day off.

DJ Yoda feat. Scroobius Pip – SEGA RIP (2012)

This seems about as good a way to explain our childhoods as any.

Rush – The Necromancer (1975)


The second Tolkien-influenced track here, this one’s mainly here so Den of Geek‘s notoriously outspoken jazz community don’t get up in arms that we haven’t catered for them on this playlist.

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Grimes – Feyd Rautha Dark Heart (2010)

From Grimes’ 2010 album Geidi Primes, much of which is based on Dune.

Catatonia – Mulder And Scully (1998)

Back in 1998, The X-Files was at the height of its popularity. Images of its cast could be seen in newspapers and magazines. Those were heady days indeed.

McLusky – Lightsabre Cocksucking Blues (2002)

You might have been thinking this list was low on Star Wars references. This has now been resolved, as has the lack of Welsh bands on the list.

Childish Gambino – Freaks And Geeks (2011)

Let’s ignore Donald Glover’s writing and acting career for a second and focus on a song called Freaks And Geeks that mentions Minority ReportBatmanBlack Swan, and The Big Bang Theory.

Also it’s the guy from Community and The Martian throwing out punchlines about his dong.

Geoff Barrow and Ben Salisbury – Inhale (2012)

From the album DROKK – music inspired by Judge Dredd. I thought we should end it on something suitably climactic, and also something that probably wasn’t about penises.

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