Song of the Day: “Telstar” by The Tornados

Did you know that the first Billboard #1 hit by a British band was a funky, sci-fi-inspired instrumental?

“Telstar,” named after a satellite, has an earworm of a tune, transmitted through some sort of synthesize (Wikipedia says a “clavioline”). It boasts the vibe of a cheesy black-and-white alien movie, the type that would be featured on Count Gauntly.

It made an unlikely climb to #1 in 1962. The space-age oddity would feel like a relic of the past just one year later when the “British Invasion” began and rock was reinvented. Yet its goofy charm and unique flavor endure.

In an odd twist of fate… The Tornados’ guitarist would later have a son, who would form the band Muse, who would use almost the exact same melody as “Telstar” for one of their signature tracks, “Knights of Cydonia.”

PS: How fantastic is the German single sleeve? I want that framed and hanging in my office.

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Dan S.

Dan is the editor of Earn This. He co-founded the site in 2009.

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