Speed Reads

It's Semper Something

The Space Force unveils its official anthem, 'Semper Supra,' and people don't love it

The U.S. Space Force, the newest branch of the U.S. military, unveiled its new official anthem on Tuesday. It got "a less than stellar critical response," The Guardian deadpanned.

"The song, 'Semper Supra' ('Always Above'), joins the ranks of 'The Marine's Hymn,' 'The Army Goes Rolling Along,' and other staples of the American military anthem repertoire. It's also ... Wait. Why are you laughing?" Michael Andor Brodeur writes at The Washington Post. "Case in point: My father called this morning and asked what I was doing. I told him I was writing about how the Space Force is debuting its official song. His reply: 'Who wrote it? Buck Rogers and Hammerstein?' And we laughed and laughed."

Still, before you mock the lyrics as "the verbal word salad version of a bad Air Force painting," compare it to the Mel Brooks parody song "Jews in Space," or suggest "a marketing consultancy wrote these lyrics and an AI trained on John Philip Sousa provided the score," remember that writing anthems is a tricky task, and real people wrote this one — Sean Nelson of the U.S. Coast Guard Band and lyricist Jamie Teachenor of the U.S. Air Force Band. The Space Force even introduced them in a behind-the-scenes video. 

Perhaps we wanted the music to be a little more cosmic-sounding, an anthem "to capture the boundless wonder of space," Brodeur writes, but "some deeper listening helped me accept that anthems aren't just music for me to complain about" nor "jingles designed to inject a quick shot of pomp into staid military circumstances." At best, he adds, "anthems are little battle-tested vessels of memory — strong enough to hold heavy stories of service and portable enough to carry them across generations with the ease of a tune."

Well, this anthem is "just not good," and it's just the latest Space Force "travesty," Sarah Jones writes at New York. "Guardians is a silly name. The uniforms look weird. The logo rips off Star Trek." Still, "there are living Space Force Guardians doing real, if somewhat mysterious things," and "angry emails inform me that the Space Force has serious duties," she adds. "Anyway, good luck to our Guardians. Let's hope the aliens aren't critics, but it's a cruel galaxy out there."