Highly Illogical | The Songs of Star Trek's Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock
I remember back during my late teens browsing the local record store with some friends. One of my friends discovered a CD called Spaced Out! A Unique Collection Of Songs By Leonard Nimoy & William Shatner. Both of us were struck by the ridiculousness of Star Trek's Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock making music. The brilliantly illogical concept made us giggle like school girls. Once I regain my composure I knew I had no choice but to purchase the album.
Leonard Nimoy's contributions were cheesy and bordered on bad, but his singing was just a little too good to elevate the songs to the so bad its good category. Also some of Nimoy's Spock oriented Star Trek inspired material would be amusing to Trekkies.
William Shatner's songs were a whole another story. They were even more terrible than what I expected, but that is why I loved them. They were some of the most hilarious recordings that I ever heard. Even though Shatner has been known to ham it up at times, the recordings which were featured on this compilation appeared to be recorded in all sincerity. They were funny because they weren't meant to be.
With the exception of the sincerity, William Shatner's music helped inspired the intentionally bad music of my own music project Face and the No Credits (I promise this will be the only time I engage in the shameless plug).
In celebration of the so bad its good genius of William Shatner I am sharing for your musical enjoyment (or torture) the 10 best William Shatner songs.
Star Trek Music Poll
#10: Iron Man (Black Sabbath Cover)
Wiliam Shatner's cover of the Black Sabbath metal classic appears on the Shat's 2011 album Seeking Major Tom. The album is a collection of covers of classic rock and pop tunes. Many of the songs appropriately have sci-fi titles or themes. The album has a whole is good for a few chuckles.
I selected this song for my list mainly because I wanted a reason to post the awesome fan made video which was made for this recording. The video includes many clips of classic Captain Kirk Star Trek moments. This song is also one of the rare times that Shatner attempts to sing! Shatner generally sticks with his over dramatic spoken word delivery. Concerning his singing one YouTube user puts it succinctly: "he defies the normal laws of melody and harmony in favor of Shatnery". The song also includes contributions from long time Ozzy Osbourne guitarist Zakk Wylde.
Video of Iron Man by William Shatner (Black Sabbath Cover)
William Shatner Vs Ozzy Osbourne Poll
William Shatner with Brent Spiner and Levar Burton
#9: So Am I
"So Am I" features original William Shatner lyrics. It is from the 2013 album Ponder the Mystery, which is a prog rock collaboration with Billy Sherwood of Yes.
This particular song features lyrics about Shatner's childhood dog "Bucky". The "So Am I" lyrics seem to refer to the commonality that he has with his pet dog. I guess it is supposed to be thought provoking and touching. To be honest I find it mostly humorous. The song also features contributions from Al Di Meola.
So Am I by William Shatner (Video)
#8: Ponder The Mystery
"Ponder The Mystery" is the title track of William Shatner's prog rock collaboration with Billy Sherwood. The song also features the expert guitar work of Steve Vai.
The song is Shatner's attempt at social consciousness. He attempts to address subjects like climate change, war and social injustices. He doesn't quite succeed in his attempts. The song is a prime example of self indulgence and epically bloated awfulness. That being said the song is awesome and hilarious in its own unique way. Experience the genius of the Shat!
Ponder The Mystery by William Shatner (Video)
#7: Has Been
"Has Been" is the self titled track of his 2004 album. The album is actually a lot better than it should have been partly due to the brilliant production work of Ben Folds.
The title track off the album features a really bizarre spaghetti western arrangement. The lyrics are Shatner's response to negative criticism to his musical career. The lyrics include references to YouTube comments that were made about his music. In many ways the song is the ultimate middle finger to his critics. At the very least you have to admire Shatner's defiant attitude.
Video of Has Been by William Shatner
#6: In Love -- Fear of Pop (William Shatner with Ben Folds)
Fear of Pop was an experimental side project of singer-songwriter Ben Folds. William Shatner contributed vocals to a couple songs on the 1998 album Fear of Pop: Volume 1.
"In Love" is one of those songs that keep you guessing whether or not Shatner is being entirely serious or tongue firmly planted in cheek. Folds, who wrote the lyrics, probably took great glee in Shatner delivering lines like "At puberty I was sworn to secrecy/ By the international brotherhood/ Of lying fickle males". The tasteful musical arrangements along with Ben Fold's backing vocals just seemed to work really well with Shatner's over the top spoken word delivery.
The video is of an epic live performance of the song that took place on Late Night with Conan O'Brien back on January 22nd, 1999. The video clip also includes an amusing interview with Shatner and Folds.
Video of Fear of Pop f/ Ben Folds & William Shatner Performing In Love (Live on Conan)
Fear of Pop: Vol. 1 - Fear of Pop
#5: Bohemian Rhapsody (Queen Cover)
Shatner's totally bizarre remake of the Queen's classic "Bohemian Rhapsody" is from his 2011 album Seeking Major Tom. The music video is just as out of there. I really don't know what more to say about this. You really just need to listen and watch for yourself.
Video of Bohemian Rhapsody by William Shatner (Queen Cover)
#4: Mr. Tambourine Man (Bob Dylan Cover)
Shatner's reworking of the Bob Dylan classic "Mr. Tambourine Man" is from Shatner's 1968 cult classic The Transformed Man. This is one of the songs from the Spaced Out compilation that got me totally hooked on the musical genius of Shatner. The song contains some of the best unintentional comedy of all time. The song belongs on this list, even if it is just for the final tortured screaming at the end. I just can't resist the cries of the Shat!
Video of Mr. Tambourine Man by William Shatner (Bob Dylan Cover)
Transformed Man - William Shatner
#3: Rocket Man (Elton John Cover)
William Shatner's rendition of Elton John's "Rocket Man" was originally performed during the 1978 The Science Fiction Film Awards ceremony. This performance became widely parodied. Notable parodies included Chris Elliott spoofing Shatner on a 1992 episode of Late Night with David Letterman and Stewie Griffin spoofing it on The Family Guy.
Shatner rerecorded "Rocket Man" for his 2011 album Seeking Major Tom.
Video of William Shatner Performing Elton John's Rocket Man
#2: Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds (The Beatles Cover)
Here is another Shatner cult classic from The Transformed Man. In a 2003 Music Choice poll, Shatner's reworking of "Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds" was voted as the worst Beatles cover of all time. Even though I see where listeners are coming from, I would contend that the song is the best so bad it is good Beatles cover song of all time. It is one of the greatest unintentionally funny songs of all time.
Video of Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds by William Shatner (The Beatles Cover)
#1: Common People (Pulp Cover)
"Common People" is another track from the 2004 Ben Folds produced album, Has Been. I had a tough time knowing where to rank this song. It is by far the best song William Shatner ever done. The problem is that the point of this list was to primarily celebrate songs that were so bad they were good. This song is just good.
It is true that the song features the classic Shatner over dramatic spoken word delivery, but due to Ben Folds' production work and Joe Jackson's backing vocals it works. Shatner's vocals are well suited to the lyrical content.
Also Shatner's version of "Common People" actually inspired a 2007 ballet production which was turned into a 2009 critically well received documentary film William Shatner's Gonzo Ballet.
Video of Common People by William Shatner (Pulp Cover)
© 2014 CJ Baker
CJ Baker (author) from Parts Unknown on May 17, 2016:
Hi Nell, I'm glad that my Hub has helped lead to a new discovery. Even though I agree that Nimoy has a far better voice, I do prefer the musical styling of the Shat. It is terrible, but it is terrible in the best possible way.
Nell Rose from England on May 17, 2016:
Being a Star Trek fruitloop who has watched every single episode at least 50 times over the years, along with the old and new films, this was news to me! LOL! thanks for the eye opener, I still think Spock has the better voice!
CJ Baker (author) from Parts Unknown on October 08, 2014:
Dvorak, thanks for the read and the comment. I heard a couple of people mention Shat's version of MacArthur Park, but I can't find it anywhere.
Dvorak on October 08, 2014:
I have a soft spot for the Shatner/Rollins crazed jazz-drum backed rant "I Can't Get Behind That" - kind of a postmodern postpunk Statler and Waldorf.
(I arrived here looking for MacArthur Park - I'm sure it exists, but ... where?)
CJ Baker (author) from Parts Unknown on September 18, 2014:
LotusLandry, it sounds like it would be an awesome show. You got to love the Shat! Thanks for the read and the comment.
LotusLandry from Southern California on September 18, 2014:
William Shatner's one man show at Segerstrom (Costa Mesa) was terrific.
CJ Baker (author) from Parts Unknown on July 30, 2014:
The Richard Harris version is hilariously bad. If Shart hasn't sung it, hopefully he will!
Kaili Bisson from Canada on July 30, 2014:
Well now you have me searching...I could have sworn I heard a version by him. I know that Richard Harris butchered it, and I was certain I had heard The Shat add his own song stylings to that tune too.
Check this out...
November 4, 2011 at 9:03 PM
Bill Brownstein @billbrownstein
#Shathitsthefan On the plus side, Shat hasn't sung MacArthur Park yet. But he will. Can you say "self-indulgent?" Thought so.
CJ Baker (author) from Parts Unknown on July 29, 2014:
Hey Kaili, good to hear from you, thanks for visiting. Glad to hear you share the Shat love.
I haven't heard Shat's version of MacArthur Park, I tried to Google it and find it on YouTube, but haven't found it yet. But would be interested in checking it out.
I agree it is tough to choose between Ozzy and the Shat.
Kaili Bisson from Canada on July 29, 2014:
Hey spartucus, I don't know how I missed this when you first published it. My bad.
I love The Shat and follow him on Twitter because you never know what gems he will come out with. Love the man, and have since I was just a kid.
What about "MacArthur Park" by Shat? It was also covered by Donna Summer. Shat wins.
I also had a hard time choosing between Ozzy and Shat in your poll. Just saw the Oz man on current tour, and though Black Sabbath was awesome, Ozzy has never been the best singer.
CJ Baker (author) from Parts Unknown on March 06, 2014:
Thanks for the read and the comment, merej99! I agree that there is no middle ground with the Shat! If you do muster up the courage later, feel free to come back and watch the videos!
Meredith Loughran from Florida on March 06, 2014:
CONGRATULATIONS on making the top 10 for the March 4th selections! There is just something about Shatner...you either love him or hate him - I don't think there's any in between - but it was a hoot reading through this! I'm not brave enough for the video yet. LOL