"Semper Supra"

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A performance of the new U.S. Space Force anthem:

The lyrics:

We’re the mighty watchful eye
Guardians beyond the blue
The invisible front line
Warfighters brave and true.

Boldly reaching into space
There’s no limit to our sky
Standing guard both night and day
We’re the Space Force from on high.

I'm personally fine with the traditional Sousa-like ("sousaphonic"?) music, though some disagree. But anyhow this is Language Log, so the topic should be the lyrics, which strike me as likely to suffer future anachronistic decay. When the operations area of the Space Force comes to include the Moon, Mars, the asteroid belt, whatever, then terms like "sky", "night and day", and "on high" will seem kind of parochial.


A video explaining the background:

Here's a serious discussion from Michael Andor Brodeur at the Washington Post ("With new official anthem, the Space Force hopes to land on your radar", 9/20/2022).

There were some positive reactions, e.g. "Space Force Has an Official Theme Song and It's an Earworm", CNET 9/20/2022.

But many of the reactions were on the negative side, for example:

"‘It’s not a banger’: response to Space Force official song is less than stellar", The Guardian 9/20/2022
"The US Space Force's new anthem proves it's just another boring government entity", engadget 9/20/2022.
"Space Force unveils its official song and it's cringe! Very cringe!", Mashable 9/20/2022.
"The Space Force’s official song sounds like something Mel Brooks wrote", Forward 9/20/2022.
"The Space Force just dropped its new official song and reviews are mixed", We Are The Mighty 9/20/2022.
"Please tell me this is a parody': Semper Supra meaning explained as United States Space Force song gets trolled online", SK POP 9/20/2022.
"The US Space Force just released its official song and it's 'SUPRA' awful", Coffee Or Die 9/20/2022.

And of course on twitter — a small sample:



16 Comments »

  1. KeithB said,

    September 21, 2022 @ 9:10 am

    Yes, but does it match any Q songs?

    Man, those lyrics are bad. Though as far as anachronistic, it does look like it would apply to a future invasion by aliens, as well as protecting us from Indian weather satellites.

    And why are they the "invisible" front line?

  2. KeithB said,

    September 21, 2022 @ 10:15 am

    To answer my own question: Maybe Trump had them put in the invisible line:
    https://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/maddowblog/trump-genuinely-seems-believe-f-35s-are-literally-invisible-n1131361

  3. mike said,

    September 21, 2022 @ 10:27 am

    I was struck by the word "warfighter," which has an Old English vibe to it but seems to be used primarily (according to COCA) in reference to a game—?

    [(myl) Actually I believe that it's a well-established compromise solution to the problem that "soldier" means only Army members, and "soldiers, sailors, and marines" leaves out the Air Force and the Coast Guard, and so on.]

  4. Allan from Iowa said,

    September 21, 2022 @ 10:29 am

    No worse than other military music.

    What do you think of the secondary stress on the last syllable of "guardians"?

  5. Haamu said,

    September 21, 2022 @ 10:58 am

    @mike — You might be interested in this previous LLOG thread on warfighter. Lots of interesting context there.

  6. KeithB said,

    September 21, 2022 @ 11:09 am

    Warfighter is the current all-inclusive term so you don't need to say "Soldier, Sailor, Airman and Marine"

    We use it all the time at Sandia. Marketing folks like to use it too: "Equipping the Warfighter for his modern missions…"

  7. mike said,

    September 21, 2022 @ 11:15 am

    @Haamu—thanks! I had not seen that.

  8. David L said,

    September 21, 2022 @ 11:30 am

    A bit odd to have a song with a powerful marching beat. You can't march in zero g (although maybe DARPA is working on that).

  9. David L said,

    September 21, 2022 @ 11:35 am

    I once worked on a cross-agency project in Washington DC that had a military component. 'Warfighters' was the standard term. The civilian counterpart was 'decisionmakers' — meaning the people who analyze data and decide what the warfighters should do.

    I assume they settled on decisionmaker because 'desk jockey' and 'keyboard commando' had an inappropriate connotation.

  10. Daniel Barkalow said,

    September 21, 2022 @ 3:19 pm

    Any high-tech military branch is likely to have far more members as support staff at bases than actually in the field. I think the earth-based reference will make sense at least until there are permanent residents of space, rather than only people on missions or tours of duty there.

  11. Richard Hershberger said,

    September 21, 2022 @ 4:00 pm

    Listening to it, I genuinely wondered if this were satire. Going with a sousaphonic march is not the problem. Going with what seems to be a third-tier Sousa imitator is. But really, to me it sounds more like an early 20th century college fight song, again from a third-tier school: "On Wisconsin," but not nearly so memorable.

    As for the lyrics: "We’re the mighty watchful eye/Guardians beyond the blue" I am not entirely convinced this is not in fact satire.

  12. Mike Grubb said,

    September 21, 2022 @ 4:46 pm

    Is there a reciprocal to "Poe's Law" yet? Semper Supra seems to be making a case for one.

  13. Michael said,

    September 22, 2022 @ 5:56 pm

    >>>When the operations area of the Space Force comes to include the Moon, Mars, the asteroid belt, whatever, then terms like "sky", "night and day", and "on high" will seem kind of parochial.

    I can't help but be impressed by Mark's optimism. It seems far more likely to me that the phrase "United States of America" will become anachronistic before any of these concepts see any decline in relevance.

  14. John Swindle said,

    September 23, 2022 @ 5:45 am

    O, the Earthling and the Martian should be frenz.
    O, the Earthling and the Martian should be frenz.
    One can't live in space too well,
    The other's mostly single-celled,
    But that's no reason why they can't be frenz.

    Planetary folks should stick together,
    Planetary folks should all be pals;
    Earthling step on the Martian's shoulder,
    Martian hide beneath a rock!

    (To the tune of "The Farmer and the Cowman".

  15. Ed M said,

    September 23, 2022 @ 4:15 pm

    As cheesy as it is, they could inserted "May the Force be with you"

  16. Kimball Kramer said,

    September 25, 2022 @ 9:07 am

    To paraphrase George Clemenceau: "Military music is to music as military justice is to justice."

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