Frequency Rotation

Frequency Rotation: Sigue Sigue Sputnik, “21st Century Boy”

Each week, Frequency Rotation probes a different song with a speculative-fiction theme. Genre, musical quality, and overall seriousness may vary.

Some science-fiction-themed songs take a few paragraphs of background info and analysis to be truly appreciated and enjoyed. Others mostly speak for themselves. Loudly.

Everything you’ll ever need to know about the far-flung future of the planet Earth circa Sigue Sigue Sputnik:

1. The group was formed in the year 1984 by Tony James (Billy Idol’s former bandmate in the punk outfit Generation X). “21st Century Boy” is the follow-up to SSS’s first single and biggest hit, “Love Missile F1-11.” As revolutionary as they were, neither song succeeded in overthrowing Big Brother.

2. In the future, people still watch Blade Runner. A lot.

3. By the arrival of 1990—a year which, after a post-apocalyptic recalibration of the calendar on par with the Gregorian reform, will be oddly classified as part of the 21st century—mobile telephones will be miraculously reduced to the size of a lunchbox.

4. The inhabitants of this post-apocalyptic 21st century will defiantly manifest the lingering trauma of nuclear near-extinction by styling their hair to resemble a mushroom cloud.

5. Our mushroom-cloud-headed children will directly interface with radically advanced pieces of data-storage technology called compact discs. By licking them.

6. Rock ’n’ roll, or something vaguely resembling it, will never die.


Jason Heller writes for The A.V. Club; is working on a book or two; and hopes he’ll live long enough to see the brave, new world Sigue Sigue Sputnik prophesized.

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