Even if Player One’s ‘Space Invaders’ was the only song to have ever been written and produced in Australia, I’m pretty sure I’d still die a happy man. This stone-cold classic hit the charts in 1980 (although it was released in 1979), and has been ingrained in my consciousness ever since. The video for ‘Space Invaders’ is also very much of its time, complete with special effects intended (I think) to resemble light sabres, kooky little space invaders frog-marching across the screen and a whole stack of dry ice.

If you check out the track on Youtube (double bonus points for the 5:50 12″ remix), you’ll see a link to a bizarre (but touching – the author of the site has now passed away) web page devoted to interpretations of the lyrics to ‘Space Invaders’. Not that there’s a whole lot to interpret, actually. Sing this with me:

Space Invaders
Space Invaders
Space Invaders
Space Invaders
Space Invaders
Space Invaders
Space Invaders
Space Invaders
Space Invaders
Space Invaders
Space Invaders
Space Invaders ooooooooooh

Of course, there are more complicated lyrics to ponder. The following ‘explanation’, from the same page, should set even the vaguest of minds straight:

It’s a dark, sunken night,
I see another pale sunrise

(This probably refers to those crazy people who stayed up all night playing)

Surrounded by soldiers, glued to-the screens,

(Meaning all the other space invaders players in the arcade)

Hold back the invaders, their infernal machines.

(“Player One” is getting sick of the repeated gameplay and wants to stop but can’t. The Infernal Machines are the arcade cabnets (sic))

We fight to survive,
Running to stay alive
Our bodies aching and tired
There’s nowhere to hide
Our cover’s been blown away

(There are no more of those green base things to protect your laser, and everyone is tired from playing the game)

They’re closing in on me
Dark forces cold and unseen

(Nightime.)

Oh my hip pocket nerve, is aching again
I must go back in and fight it out to the end

(He is starting to ache from standing up and bent over playing Invaders)

Just though (sic) this would help.

Enlightening, what?

Equal parts late 1970s disco, pre-Bronski-Beat falsetto and Kraftwerk motorik chug, there’s something goofily brilliant about the whole thing, including a virtually two-bit song structure that makes me crave those early arcade games – Moon Patrol, Galaga and the rest.

Indeed, I’ll take my cheesy analysis one step further by stating that without ‘Space Invaders’ there would have been no ‘Great Southern Land’ (the sound-effect from which is very similar to one of the Space Invaders sounds).

But seriously, I just thought I’d post this number in honour of Invasion Day (previously known as Australia Day), because given the events of today in Canberra in connection with the Aboriginal Tent Embassy, the idea of invasion is clearly still very poignant.

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David Prater

David Prater is an Australian writer, editor and researcher. He holds a BA with Honours in Australian Literature from the University of Sydney, an MA in Creative Writing from the University of Melbourne, and a PhD from Swinburne University of Technology, Melbourne. Papertiger Media published his first poetry collection, We Will Disappear, in 2007 and Vagabond Press published his chapbook Morgenland in the same year. In 2013 Puncher and Wattmann published his second full-length poetry collection, Leaves of Glass. In 2005 and 2009 he undertook Asialink residencies in Seoul, Republic of Korea. From 2001 to 2012 he was the managing editor of Cordite Poetry Review, an online journal of Australian poetry and poetics. In 2011 he undertook post-doctoral research on electronic literature and pedagogy at Blekinge Tekniska Högskola, Karlskrona, as part of the ELMCIP project. He currently works as a Research Editor at Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.
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