Five Year Mission: Top 15 Songs
If you love Star Trek and you have any kind of taste for alternative music, do yourself a phaser, uh, favor, and check out Five Year Mission.
This group of extremely talented musicians is writing one song for every episode of Star Trek’s original series (plus a few extras) and, incredibly, are adding a unique perspective to the episodes and characters we've all known for decades. It seems crazy to say, but their catalog of songs will add to your enjoyment of episodes you've potentially seen a dozen times before.
And to be clear, Five Year Mission is not a parody band. This is a creative group of songwriters and musicians putting together songs that are at once serious, fun, boisterous, melodic, atmospheric – choose any or all of the preceding. The lyrics are smart and layered. The music is vibrant and varied. The presentation is smooth and professional.
And you don't need to be a Star Trek fan to appreciate them either, which really says it all. It's alternative music at it's best.
Based in the Indianapolis sector of the USA quadrant, this quintet has burned through six albums and 86 official songs since forming back in 2010. And now they are just 16 songs away from completing their original five year mission. Below is a look at TrekRanks' picks for the band's Top 15 songs (plus a few Secondary Systems picks), with a link to a more comprehensive breakdown of the Top 47!
Five Year Mission are:
Noah Butler – Guitar/Bass/Keys/Vocals/Songwriter
Andy Fark – Percussion/Songwriter
Patrick O’Connor – Guitar/Bass/Keys/Vocals/Songwriter
Mike Rittenhouse – Guitar/Bass/Keys/Vocals/Songwriter
Chris Spurgin – Guitar/Bass/Keys/Vocals/Songwriter
Year One (2010)
Year Two (2011)
The Trouble with Tribbles (2012)
Year Three (2013)
Spock's Brain (2015)
Year Four (2018)
The 5YM Top 15
The Enterprise Incident
A tune infused with all the Simon & Garfunkel DNA you could possibly handle and more. And whether or not that's a good thing for you is kind of irrelevant, because the poetic duet here between O'Connor and Spurgin playing the parts of Spock and the Romulan Commander will surely win you over. Listen.
Stellar Lyric: “I’m incapable of lying, but it is not a lie, to keep the truth to one’s self; Initiate recording, Romulan right of statement, I freely admit my guilt.”
The Ultimate Computer
Did you ever think you would understand the plight of the M-5 computer? And even feel sorry for it? No? Neither did I. But you will after getting engrossed by this power blast of a song. It absolutely slaps. Listen.
Stellar Lyric: “I win. There’s nothing that you can do. You haven’t been able to stop me. You lose. I’ve proved that I’m superior to you; no one in the universe can stop me.”
Tomorrow Is Yesterday
It's just so clever. And we aren't just talking about the lyrical framing that opens and closes the song in the same way the Enterprise's time travel opens and closes the episode. Here it's all about O'Connor's clever word play, which is always a strength of his songs and is unrivaled in this future-past setting. Listen.
Stellar Lyric: “Matter transporters, alien invaders, Instant chicken soup, female computers; I wanted to join the space program, but I will have a son, and he will go to Saturn.”
Where No Man Has Gone Before
The band describes hearing this song as the moment where they knew everyone was going to need to up their game and we know just what they mean. It’s a powerhouse rock ballad that captures the menace of an all powerful Gary Mitchell perfectly. Listen.
Stellar Lyric: “Me and this girl, we got so high; A flash of silver shining in our eyes.”
Return to Tomorrow
Perfectly captures the mysterious love story taking place between Sargon and Thalassa, with a catchy hand-clap refrain to boot. Listen.
Stellar Lyric: "To breathe again and see again, hearts surging, bodies touching, skin to skin."
Happy Birthday, George Takei
A piece of inspired brilliance, it's possibly their most well-known song (even earning a shout out from the man himself). It might as well be every Trekkies official April 20th anthem. Listen.
Stellar Lyric: "So whether you quote Shakespeare or you don a green beret; Coming out or staying in, Five Year Mission just wants to say..."
The Trouble with Tribbles
Journey to Babel
Despite the fact this one takes hold and never lets up from the opening hook, it took me awhile to realize how good it was. Just one of those songs that no matter how many times you hear it, it feels fresh. And that says it all. Listen.
Stellar Lyric: “Well don’t you bring up Coridan now, disputing, debating it out; And the issues are complex, and the feelings are upset.”
The Paradise Syndrome
Who knew there was such a deep and passionate story being told inside this oft-derided episode. Noah Butler apparently. Listen to this one closely and get swept away just like Kirok. The two-minute musical outro is a showcase for the entire band, as well. It rules. Listen.
Stellar Lyric: “When you close your eyes, I hope you’re with the life inside, untouchable and now are quiet as the stars.”
A thumping, ethereal bass line seems like a contradiction, until you hear this hypnotic, haunting and poignant gem that takes full advantage of Spurgin's vocal range. And that ending. A beautiful gut punch. Listen.
Stellar Lyric: “No need to yield, Protected by power, the Tantalus Field; Must return to our own, Universe before they find out we’re strangers all alone.”
It makes perfect sense that the band’s first song would be among its very best. From the opening Alexander Courage riff to the clever lyrical representation of the Talosians, this rock ‘n’ roll song will burrow in your head. Listen.
Stellar Lyric: “She seems to be real by the way she makes you feel; She’s the only constant thing in a million different dreams; Sometimes she’s green.”
The Naked Time
Vulcans don’t cry? You bet they do. There’s no denying this Cure-influenced ditty and how it captures Spock’s emotional struggles with an upbeat, toe-tapping beat, but it’s the memorable outro that provides a game-changing cold restart. Listen.
Stellar Lyric: “The ships in trouble, I’ve got to get back to my post; there’s an antidote being administered by Bones. Engines imploding, ship saving action by a theory at most; Time travel backward, that might prove useful in a future episode.”
Many 5YM songs recap episodes in their entirety, but none do it with the incredible verve of Shore Leave. If you haven’t seen the episode, don’t worry about it! Just listen to this six-and-a-half-minute opus. It’s that good. Listen.
Stellar Lyric: “Ruth appears from nowhere and she hasn’t aged a day, I think she might be a salt vampire; She might also have the Venus drug ‘cause Kirk can’t seem to think, he’s so distracted by her.”
Could this be the most musically dense song in the Five Year Mission catalog? It just might be. The complex guitar solo perfectly encapsulates Korob’s breaking heart as he realizes he’s lost Sylvia. A song that impressively builds upon an episode that is, frankly, not very good. Listen.
Stellar Lyric: “What the hell? Now another's under your spell, I guess I wasn’t all that special; Well, I see you starting to make a mess; I tried to help him, but I got crushed in the process.”
Colder in Russia
I’ve got an idea! Let’s do a song about the most obscure moment in Spock’s Brain: Chekov hanging out in the cold on the surface of Sigma Draconis VI with a couple of red shirts! Well, great idea! Because the pace and fury of this song, and the double-edged vocal reverb that closes it out, shoots right through you. Listen.
Stellar Lyric: “Primitive men walk around, afraid of what is underground; Atmosphere's alright to breathe, maximum 40 degrees...”
Errand of Mercy
It’s impossible to not turn the volume up as this punk verse accelerates at breakneck speed through its never-repeating and all-too-short 2-minutes-and-52-seconds. It’s a brilliant piece of songwriting and this listener will never forget what Organia has done for me. Listen.
Stellar Lyric: “Organia will not sit by and let you destroy yourselves; We’ll put an end to all of this war before it becomes hell.”
Awakening (Mike Rittenhouse)
This one is genius. And regardless of what it means to me personally, as a tale that perfectly encapsulates my experience of being on an episode of Star Trek, it's a classic power punk banger that is worthy of the No. 1 rank on anyone's list. Knowing that, I have decided to technically pull it out of the Top 10, because in the end, my emotional connection to it is just too personal. But just know that when Mike sings these amazing lyrics, to know it happened to you is a feeling that is impossible to describe. Yet somehow he did it.
Trip refuses to leave
Then he turns to me
He says, "Tactical alert. Polarize hull plating and prepare for the worst.
Phase cannons, return fire."
We're hopelessly outgunned and we're down to the wire
Never thought that this dream could come true
To find myself among the Enterprise crew
A pivotal moment that could decide the fate, of everything I hold dear
I guess this is how heroes are made
Secondary Systems Selections
No catalog this deep could be limited to just 15 songs, so here are a few more classics we picked up on subspace.
The Trouble with Tribbles (Andy Fark): intense and unrelenting with many a clever turn of phrase. Lyric: “Priority One distress call, from K-7. Who has the gall?”
The Menagerie, Part 2 (Chris Spurgin): captures perfectly everything you love about Pike and Vina. Beautiful. Lyric: “For us it’s real and we won’t have to be afraid just to be; Just you and me, inside our own menagerie.”
The Alternative Factor (Noah Butler): terrible episode, but powerful ballad. Lyric: “We gotta hide ourselves from everyone, as a pair we are so dangerous.”
Amok Time (Noah Butler): as complex and intricate as the Vulcan mythology it tackles. Lyric: “As time goes by, you might find, that having never satisfies like the wanting in your mind; it’s not logical I know, but it’s true and now I go, to live with what I’ve sacrificed.”
The Apple (Noah Butler): Green Day-esque ballad that soars. Lyric: “And this could be the start of all my heresy.”
Arena (Mike Rittenhouse): one of the band's true lyrical and musical staples, it should probably be in the Top 5, but sometimes you have to make hard choices. Lyric: “Well I put my mind to it and I figured the weapon out, and just in the nick of time I became the victor in the bout. You knew that I would win because I always do, I’m James Tiberious Kirk, captain of the Enterprise crew."
Who Mourns for Adonais? (Patrick O'Connor): it's as ambitious as a storyline about alien beings who once lived on Earth as gods. And it's even better. Lyric: “Giant hand in the sky could crush the Enterprise; He addresses the crew pretentiously; Has mankind progressed, forgotten those things which gave life meaning?”
The Doomsday Machine (Mike Rittenhouse): another power-punk gem. Lyric: "We're stronger with you than without you."
The Immunity Syndrome (Noah Butler): an awesome crescendo song. Gotta love a big crescendo! Lyric: “I-M-M-U-N-I-T-Y.”
The Changeling (Patrick O'Connor): Nomad killed the red-shirt star. Lyric: “Sterilize all imperfections.”
And so many more.