Album: Need Your Light (2016)


  • On January 28, 1986 the NASA Space Shuttle orbiter Challenger broke apart 73 seconds into its flight, leading to the deaths of its seven crew members. Ra Ra Riot use here their childhood memories of the Challenger disaster as a narrative device. Bassist Mathieu Santos explained to Artist Direct:

    "I think it just felt like an interesting metaphor to us, like the fact that it seems like humans don't really have much business shooting themselves into space. And you know I think we do, but it's just the idea of launching yourself into space that seems kind of crazy, and the fact that it could be a disaster doesn't stop people from trying anyway. The fact that there was a civilian on board just made it even more personal, like, why was a teacher going on a rocket ship into space? And why not?

    The fact that it blew up didn't deter anyone, as horrible as it was. Those people were kind of martyrs for this idea of trying to reach beyond our own limitations and to go to something that was previously unimaginable. So I think taking that and turning it into this super positive kind of, 'Let's do it, why not? Might as well try while we're alive' kind of thing. So that's more of what that song was about but there's some references to having gold fever as it were, and a silver bullet in the sky and riding into the sun, and those kinds of things."
  • Other references to the Challenger space shuttle disaster in popular music include:

    "Silent Key" by Frank Turner (about Christa McAuliffe, the social studies teacher who died in the Challenger disaster)

    "January 28, 1986" (A short interlude about the disaster)

    "Sign O' the Times" by Prince (The lyric "When a rocket ship explodes and everybody still wants to fly" refers to Prince's surprise that people would still be interested in space travel after the incident)

    "Ron's Piece" by Jean-Michel Jarre (Part of this song was scheduled to be recorded on the Challenger. Ron McNair brought his soprano saxophone on board to do the solo, but never had the chance as the Challenger exploded. After the explosion, Jarre changed the title of the song in honor of the fallen astronaut)

    "XO" by Beyoncé (The song starts off with a six-second audio clip of former NASA public affairs officer Steve Nesbitt's famous shortly after The Challenger exploded).


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