The Year 2020: Seven Songs About Living in the Future
A soundtrack for dealing with post-Blade Runner future shock, featuring The Faint, De La Soul, Wilco, and more.
Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner is set in 2019. We now live in the year 2020—which must mean the future is here. While the world grapples with the inevitable future shock, we’re taking the opportunity to look back at some musical ruminations on what comes next from the sage visionaries we call songwriters. We may not have flying cars yet, but technology is getting cheaper every day. Enjoy the ride!
The Flaming Lips, “Your Face Can Tell the Future”
Wayne Coyne and company are in prime existential form in this mood-shifting look at living in the future by way of the lines on someone’s face. Originally an outtake from At War with the Mystics, the song would debut on the fourth volume of the True Blood soundtrack. Bittersweet, melancholy, and classic Lips.
The Fixx, “Built for the Future”
The Fixx’s gleaming electro-rock always had the sheen of futurism, so it makes sense that they tested the band’s collective meddle with this 1986 Walkabout album track. Little did Cy Curnin and the crew realize at the time, but they had already literally crafted a future soundtrack.
The B-52s, “Song for a Future Generation”
Athens’ finest were at their camp and kitschy best on the third single from their 1983 album, Whammy! The tune imagines a world where great figures throughout history meet up to create a future utopia. The group cheekily throw themselves into the mix with individual “personal ads” sprinkled throughout the song.
Alice Cooper, “I Am the Future”
The shock-rock legend was in full “blackout” mode when he recorded his 1982 album Zipper Catches Skin (as in, he smoked so much crack cocaine during the recording that he doesn’t even remember making the record). Somewhere in the drug-induced psychosis, he cranked out this bracing post-punk power ballad demanding that listeners take a look at his face to see the future.
Wilco, “In a Future Age”
Few songwriters can twist a phrase with the dexterity of Jeff Tweedy. This short but impactful track from summerteeth makes a strong case for taking a chance on life and creating the future you really want to see. Imagine that.
The Faint, “The Geeks Were Right”
Listening to this 2008 track from Nebraska’s goth ambassadors is a scarily prescient glimpse into what is and what could very well come. But hey, you can dance to it!
De La Soul, “The Future”
De La opened their 2004 album The Grind Date with this hopeful view of the future. Featuring production legend J Dilla on the beat, it’s an ideal beginning to one of the Long Island crew’s finest (if oft-underrated) full-length efforts.