December 2, 2022

The Official Space Force Song Has The Internet All Saying The Same Thing

Every branch of the U.S. military has its own song. The U.S. Army has the jaunty “The Army Goes Rolling Along,” according to the Library of Congress. The Marines have “The Marines’ Hymn,” whose famous first lines bringing the listener to “the halls of Montezuma” and the “shores of Tripoli,” according to The Kennedy Center. The Air Force has its eponymous “The U.S. Air Force” that is also known as “Wild Blue Wonder” after its evocative first line, according to Tradition In Action.org. And while “Anchors Aweigh” is only the U.S. Navy’s unofficial song, the U.S. Naval Academy claims it’s “one of the most recognizable melodies in the world.” To their point, it did lend its name to a 1945 movie musical starring Frank Sinatra.

A similar fate is not likely in store for the latest musical offering from the U.S. military. The Space Force, the sixth military branch split from the Air Force by former President Donald Trump in 2019, announced its official song on September 20, 2022, The Guardian reported. The song is titled “Semper Supra” after the Space Force’s motto, which means “always above” in Latin, according to the Space Force website. In this case, the motto is a bit of a lie, however. If military songs were ranked on musical charts, the new song would not be at the top. The internet has convened and decided that the song is “not a banger,” in the words of a Military.com headline. 

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Semper Supra

“Semper Supra” was the work of two former service members: former Air Force band at the Air Force Academy member James Teachenor and Chief of Space Operations Gen. John “Jay” Raymond, according to the Space Force website. Teachenor, who is also a singer/songwriter, was the leading creative mind behind the music and lyrics. The song was then sent out to military bands to develop the instrumentation, and Teachenor reviewed 12 potential arrangements with chief musician, U.S. Coast Guard Band trombonist, and staff arranger Sean Nelson. After listening to the different options, Nelson added 30 different instruments and the song was finalized with the help of the Coast Guard band. The entire process took three years. “The song was a long work in progress because I wanted it to encompass all the capabilities that the Space Force offers and its vision,” Teachenor said after the song was officially released at the 2022 Air, Space and Cyber Conference in National Harbor, Maryland.

The song’s lyrics refer to the fact that members of the Space Force are known as Guardians whose primary function is to launch and maintain satellites, according to The New York Times. “We’re the mighty watchful eye, Guardians beyond the blue, The invisible front line, warfighters brave and true,” the first four lines read, according to the Space Force website. 

To boldly flop

Unfortunately for the Space Force, it doesn’t look like the song is going to help the youngest branch of the military be taken more seriously. The internet has already mocked it for the fact that its logo bears an uncanny resemblance to the Starfleet Command logo from Star Trek, as The Guardian reported at the time. Now, its new song contains the lyric, “Boldly reaching into space” (via the Space Force website). “‘Boldly'” steals from Star Trek (again.),” Defense One Executive Editor Kevin Baron tweeted in response to the new song, referring to the lines “To boldly go where no man has gone before,” which opened each Star Trek: The Original Series episode. And Baron didn’t limit his criticism to plagiarism. “These lyrics are the verbal word salad version of a bad Air Force painting,” he concluded. 

Many Youtube comments responding to the song were equally full of humor and pop-cultural references. “This feels like a parody song,” wrote one. “Captain America on tour vibes. You can’t take this seriously,” wrote another. Musical experts also weighed in with their critique. “I don’t want to use the word ‘laughable,’ but come on,” Queensborough Community College in New York professor emeritus of music Raoul F. Camus told The New York Times. “It’s really pushing patriotism to a degree that I wonder: Do people believe that?” However, State University of New York at Fredonia musicology professor James Davis was more favorable, saying the song fit well with other service hymns.