We should talk about the Space Force's new official song

AP Photo/Alex Brandon

All of the branches of the United State military have an official (or perhaps semi-official) song that is played during important events. As a sailor, to this day I get a bit of a catch in my throat when I hear the strains of Anchors Aweigh begin to play. We were all forced to learn the song in boot camp and join in with the base chorus to sing it at our graduation ceremony, regardless of our various levels of musical ability. Anyone who has ever seen a war movie is no doubt familiar with the stirring refrain of the Marine Corps Hymn. The Army and the Air Force have their own tunes also. But now that we have a new branch of the military service, the Space Force was going to need its own song as well. This week they released the song for the first time. Its title is Semper Supra (“Always Above”) and its reception by some of the public was… less than enthusiastic. (The Guardian)

The new song, Semper Supra – taken from the Space Force motto: Always above – was unveiled by Gen John “Jay” Raymond, chief of space operations, at a conference in National Harbor, Maryland.

Military.com, the site which said the new tune was “not a banger”, reported that Space Force used a 1901 march by John Philip Sousa, The Invincible Eagle, as a stopgap while the new song was written.

Semper Supra is set to a jaunty tune reminiscent of The Liberty Bell, another Sousa march, from 1893 but now widely known as the theme to the British comedy series Monty Python’s Flying Circus.

I have tried to be very supportive of the Space Force since its inception in 2019. I think it’s mission will become increasingly important as we observe the evolution of what is turning out to be a new “space race” between the United States and China as well as, to a lesser degree at this point, Russia. Countries are experimenting with “hunter/killer” satellites and other technology that may eventually lead to actual battles in space. We need to be ready and thus far we are not. In fact, we’re falling behind China rapidly.

But as to the song, I’m afraid that I have to agree with the folks at military.com who proclaimed it to be “not a banger.” Before continuing, turn on your speakers or earbuds and give it a listen for yourself. It’s mercifully short if nothing else.

I have to agree that it does sound like something that might have come out of a Monty Python movie. The all-female choir certainly sounds enthusiastic and they are clearly talented singers, but the marching music sounds very 19th century for a tune that is supposed to represent our future in space. And the lyrics come across (at least to me) as a combination of pompous and corny. Even the name, translated to “always above” gives off a kind of Big Brother vibe.

Right out of the gate, the song proclaims that the Space Force is the “mighty watchful eye.” The “invisible front line” is described in throwback terms as “warfighters brave and true.” They go on to proclaim that “there’s no limit to our sky.” Really? At the moment your “limit” is pretty much below the level of low earth orbit, isn’t it? Unless you’re counting a couple of NASA rockets and Elon Musk’s hardware.

I just don’t know. Beauty is in the ear of the beholder in this case and perhaps people will like it far more than I did on first hearing it. Or perhaps it just grows on you later. We shall see. But best of luck to the new Space Force and we can look forward to hearing this at your own graduation ceremonies once you’re a bit better established.

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