Although the sun is setting earlier every day, it just means that the stars have more time to shine. Here are 13 space-themed songs for getting lost in the night sky.
1. “Nights” by Frank Ocean
RIYL*: Tyler, the Creator, Mac Miller
Our first song is not actually about space, but it sets the scene with a musical depiction of a sunset. The first half of “Nights” uses warm synths and electric guitars to paint the orangey hues of the evening sun before a beat switch slows down the tempo, creating a spacey, low-energy atmosphere after the daylight fades away.
2. “Sail to the Moon” by Radiohead
RIYL: Elliot Smith, Coldplay
Singer Thom Yorke wrote this song for his son, giving it a lullaby-like character. A heavy amount of reverb is layered on every instrument, and the root notes of the chord progression follow the whole-tone scale, contributing to the dreamy quality of the track.
3. “It’s Only a Paper Moon” by Ella Fitzgerald and The Delta Rhythm Boys
RIYL: Norah Jones, Billie Holiday
In perhaps the most endearing song on this list, Fitzgerald’s scat vocals playfully bounce over a jazzy piano instrumental. She sings that, if her lover would trust in her, even a paper moon could be made real, making this song a cute choice for stargazing with someone special.
4. “Astronomy” by Blue Öyster Cult
RIYL: Pink Floyd, King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard
“Astronomy” is a hard rock slowburner featuring an eerie organ that plays during the verse, reflecting the supernatural content of the lyrics. The band picks up the tempo for the choruses and finale, complete with driving electric guitar solos that soar towards the heavens. Metalheads may also enjoy Metallica’s cover.
5. “Star Roving” by Slowdive
RIYL: My Bloody Valentine, Ride
The densely layered, reverby electric guitars on this track muddle together to give it a celestial quality perfect for admiring the vastness of the night sky. A lull in the middle of the song puts Rachel Goswell’s gentle vocals in focus, emphasizing the quiet beauty of space.
6. “Is It Really You?” by Loathe
RIYL: Deftones, Deafheaven
Loathe takes the shoegaze sound of artists like Slowdive and tunes it way down, giving it a guitar tone that’s as crushing as it is ethereal. Paired with shimmering synths, singer Kadeem France also departs from his usual, aggressive vocal style as he compares stars colliding to a spiritual connection between two people.
7. “STARGAZING” by Travis Scott
RIYL: Playboi Carti, Post Malone
On the first half of this track, Travis Scott’s pitched-up, autotuned vocals gleam over the instrumental like lights in a dark sky. After a beat switch, racing synths pick up the role of shining lights, mirroring the feeling of watching stars fly by during a nighttime drive.
8. “Moon Dreams” by Miles Davis
RIYL: Chet Baker, Stan Getz
On this track, Davis pioneers the cool jazz sound with trumpet-playing that is simultaneously sensual and sentimental. The grainy recording works to the song’s favor, creating a rosy haze that is best enjoyed while bathing in moonbeams with a glass of wine.
9. “The Moon Song” by Karen O and Ezra Koenig
RIYL: Iron & Wine, Sufjan Stevens
As Karen O sings in the lyrics, the serene, intimate nature of this acoustic ballad conveys the stillness of lying next to someone on the surface of the moon, making it a romantic choice for gazing at the sky. For a more lo-fi sound, beabadoobee and Oscar Lang perform an excellent cover of this song.
10. “Space Song” by Beach House
RIYL: Cocteau Twins, Alvvays
The glimmering, ethereal synths of this track move slowly from chord to chord, conveying the sensation of watching the crest of Earth move while suspended in space. Victoria Legrand’s delicate, subdued vocals express a longing that is compared (by the title) to the infinite expanse of the universe.
11. “Another Space Song” by Failure
RIYL: Soundgarden, Helmet
Set to a foggy guitar riff and a low bassline that rumbles throughout the track, capturing the feeling of slowly drifting through space, the lyrics of this song use the emptiness of the cosmos as a metaphor for isolation and the sense of reaching out for something that you just can’t grasp. Perfect for finals week!
12. “Venus, the Bringer of Peace” from “The Planets” by Gustav Holst
RIYL: John Williams, Claude Debussy
While composing the soundtrack to “Star Wars,” John Williams looked to Holst’s “The Planets” for inspiration. It’s not hard to see why, for the orchestral swells of this movement reflect the titanic size of our solar system’s celestial bodies, and the softer, more emotive moments (like the opening theme) capture Venus’ astrological qualities as the goddess of love.
Recommended recording: Charles Dutoit with the Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal (1987)
13. “All the Stars” by Kendrick Lamar and SZA
RIYL: The Weeknd, Summer Walker
Outside of the swelling of strings during the chorus, the beat of this track is fairly minimalist outside of a looping synth part that twinkles like stars in the sky. In addition to making the end credits of Black Panther memorable, this song is great for bumping in the whip while driving at night.
*RIYL = Recommended if you like