Fresh off director J.J. Abrams’ unveiling of the cast for Episode VII, the intergalactic Star Wars fan community is buzzing again in anticipation for the next chapter in the epic saga. Incredibly, Abrams managed to get nearly the whole cast back together, including the infamous trio of Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker), Carrie Fisher (Princess Leia) and Harrison Ford (Han Solo), as well as a promising cast of young, up-and-coming stars. He even enlisted the original Chewbacca, C-3PO and R2-D2 actors to rejoin the cast. (Dear Disney: Please, please don’t screw this up for us.)
Since the initial release of Episode IV: A New Hope in 1977, Star Wars has inspired awe and wonder in fans of all ages. The iconic franchise will soon make its way into the hearts and minds of a whole new generation, breeding another legion of fans and devotees. In lieu of International Star Wars Day this past weekend, let us celebrate by taking a look at 11 classic (and often hilarious) Star Wars song references. May the force be with you, ya scruffy-lookin’ nerf herders.
1. Blink-182 – “A New Hope” (Dude Ranch, MCA Records/Cargo Music 1997)
“And of course I'd do anything for her/I'd search the moons of Endor/I'd even walk naked through the deserts of Tatooine/Princess Leia, where are you tonight?”
Dude Ranch was Blink’s first major-label release, but the band didn’t let that get to their head too much. On the aptly titled “A New Hope,” vocalist/bassist Mark Hoppus delivers plenty of hilarious references to the first two films in the series. Hmm, can’t sleep with Princess Leia because Lando asked you to come boozing at the cantina on Mos Eisley? Sounds like…It’s a trap!
2. “Weird Al” Yankovic – “The Saga Begins” (Running With Scissors, 1999)
“Oh my my this here Anakin guy/May be Vader someday later, now he's just a small fry/And he left his home and kissed his mommy goodbye/Sayin' ‘Soon I'm gonna be a Jedi’”
Albeit an obvious choice, “Weird Al” Yankovic’s parody of Don McLean’s 1971 hit “American Pie” chronicles the story of young Anakin Skywalker in Episode I: The Phantom Menace. “The Saga Begins” helped Running With Scissors go platinum and is probably the only song on this list that references the widely despised prequels. Props to “Weird Al” for incorporating the word “midi-chlorians” into a song, though.
3. The Notorious B.I.G. – “Hypnotize” (Life After Death, 1997)
“Hit ’em with the force like Obi”
Biggie Smalls changed the hip-hop game with the release of Life After Death in 1997. Led by lead single “Hypnotize,” Biggie helped bring gangsta rap out of the underground and into the headphones of impressionable suburban youth all across the country. Although the NYC-based rapper died just a few weeks before the album’s release, “Hypnotize” helped Life After Death strike diamond. Yes, diamond: that’s 10,000,000 copies sold. Like Obi-Wan Kenobi, hit ’em with the force, Big Poppa did. (And proud of my grammar, would Yoda be.)
4. The Wonder Years – “Solo & Chewy: Holdin’ It Down” (Won’t Be Pathetic Forever EP, 2008)
“Get to the Falcon/It's 3 a.m. and we're delirious, cheating on the Atlantic”
“Solo & Chewy” is an unabashed depiction of life on the road for these Pennsylvania natives. In addition to Han Solo’s whip (The Millennium Falcon), the song also makes references to The Office, Jimmy Eat World, Waffle House, Walmart and nudie pics. Serious bonus points for the Ralph Wiggum “I bent my Wookie” clip at the beginning.
5. The Red Hot Chili Peppers – “Californication” (Californication, 1999)
“And Alderaan's not far away/It's Californication”
“Californication” is one of those songs that everyone knows, but not many people really know. It’s been a staple on modern rock stations for nearly 15 years, but frontman Anthony Kiedis’ rapid fire, rap-like delivery makes it difficult sometimes to comprehend all of his lyrics and the unfeigned depth behind them. “Californication” delves into Kiedis’ experience growing up near Hollywood and the charade of mass culture and shallow inhabitants that are seemingly unavoidable in Tinsel Town. “Alderaan’s not far away” is a reference to Princess Leia’s home planet that (spoiler alert!) gets totally pulverized by Darth Vader’s Death Star in Episode IV: A New Hope. Not cool Vader, not cool.
6. Yellowcard– “Surface of the Sun” (Southern Air, 2012)
“This is a story full of restless nights/Of do or do not, ’cause there is no try”
Yellowcard took a page straight out of Master Yoda’s “How To Train A Jedi Knight 101” program and made it work to their advantage. Just as Yoda instructs Luke Skywalker in Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, frontman Ryan Key reminisces on “Surface Of The Sun” that achieving success when the band began was simply a matter of doing it; there was never any “try” for them. It should be noted that we could have also picked the achingly heavy-hearted ballad “Ten,” also found on Southern Air, in which Key mourns the loss of a young child by singing, “You would be out in the sun until it was gone/ You would be watching Star Wars with your PJs on.” Basically, do not underestimate Mr. Key’s love of Star Wars. He does have a full Star Wars-themed tattoo sleeve, after all….
7. Supernova – “Chewbacca” (Clerks Soundtrack 1994)
“Chewbacca! Raarr/Chewie! Raaarrrr”
Here is a fun little tidbit of trivia: California-based punk band Supernova were one of the few bands on the original Warped Tour lineup in 1995. However, the band are most widely known for their contribution “Chewbacca” to the cult classic Clerks. Clerks was director Kevin Smith’s first movie, and the entire independent production cost less than $30,000 to make. The entire song consists of the band yelling, “Chewbacca!” and someone grunting like Chewbacca does in the scene when they freeze Han Solo in carbonite. Hilarious.
8. The Beastie Boys – “Do It” (Ill Communication, 1994)
“Like gravy to potatoes, Luke to Darth Vader/I’m a souped-up sucker and I’ll see you all later ”
The Beastie Boys originally formed as a hardcore punk band in 1981, intent on making a name for themselves in the New York City underground scene. In 1984, the band shifted their focus to hip-hop after releasing a spoof track about a prank phone call. They put out their fourth album Ill Communication 10 years later. How’s that for a new musical direction? “Do It” features rapper Biz Markie, the guy who sings “Just A Friend,” repeating some variation of the line “do it” in the chorus. It’s about as discernable as a Tauntaun reciting James Joyce in Mandalorian.
9. Set Your Goals – “Put Yo Hood Up” [Lil Jon cover] (Punk Goes Crunk, 2008)
“Cuz them East Bay Jedi don't give a fuck/Them West Bay Jedi is quick to buck/Them North Bay Jedi will cut you up/And them South Bay Jedi will put you in a trunk”
There is a Yoda rap that consists of the line, “Get buck ass wild.” Need I say more?
10. Queen – “Bicycle Race” (Jazz, 1978)
“Jaws was never my scene/And I don't like Star Wars.”
Freddie Mercury was a man ahead of his time. Pick nearly any Queen song from their discography and witness Mercury delivering vocal harmonies that most bands today can’t achieve, even with Pro Tools and pitch correction. His talent and songwriting should serve as an inspiration to any band of any genre, and that is exactly why I will forgive Mr. Mercury for not liking Star Wars. I mean, really—who doesn’t like Star Wars?!
11. Everclear – “Wonderful” (Songs From An American Movie Vol. One: Learning How To Smile, 2000)
“I want things that I had before/Like a Star Wars poster on my bedroom door.”
Everclear use Star Wars as a metaphor for nostalgia in their 2000 Billboard top-20 hit “Wonderful,” a song about divorce that is told through a child’s perspective. “Hope my mom and I hope my dad/Will figure out why they get so mad/ Hear them scream, I hear them fight/ They say bad words that make me wanna cry.” That is some heavy stuff.
However, “Wonderful” is a fitting example of Star Wars’ ability to infiltrate our hearts and minds in different ways. The power of Star Wars to maintain longevity and significance in the lives of fans over multiple generations on nearly every continent lies in its ability to morph and change throughout time, providing unique context and meaning to each individual fan, especially when they need it most. It is, in many ways, similar to our favorite band or album in the way it inspires hope and courage inside of us. It is a modern Illiad. It is Shakespeare in outer space. It is a fond sentiment of our past and a captivating component of our future. All that we ask of you, Mr. Abrams and the Disney Corporation, is please don’t let the new Star Wars suck. ALT.