Brian May and 10cc’s Graham Gouldman release new single inspired by the James Webb Space Telescope

Brian May and Graham Gouldman
(Image credit: Aldara Zarraoa/Redferns / Lorne Thomson/Redferns via Getty)

Brian May has joined forces with 10cc founder Graham Gouldman to release Floating In Heaven – a new track that celebrates the first footage captured by the James Webb Telescope.

After it was launched in December last year, the James Webb Telescope – the most powerful of its kind in history – entered orbit in January, and delivered its historic first images earlier this week.

The images, according to NASA, mark “the dawn of a new era in astronomy”, and depict things such as “previously invisible areas of star birth” and “a collection of cosmic features elusive until now”.

To commemorate the momentous occasion, May – who has a PhD degree in Astrophysics – has linked up with Gouldman for his latest new material of 2022, on which the pair share guitar duties.

Arriving with and without vocals, Floating In Heaven conjures a kaleidoscope of six-string sounds befitting its interstellar inspiration. While the pair are both credited on guitar, most of the electric guitar parts bear all the hallmarks of Dr Brian Harold May.

At the 2:10 mark of the vocal version, the track introduces a familiarly fat Vox-esque tone, which makes use of a classically Queen motif that flashes plenty of May-style harmonies. 

The instrumental version, meanwhile, seems to feature far more May, and swaps out Gouldman’s vocal part for a stylized six-string melodic alternative.

The track was written by Gouldman, who received help from May and Graeme Pleeth for production duties. Gouldman and Pleeth were also joined by Justin Shirley-Smith in the mixing process, while Bob Ludwig mastered the track.

“There is nothing more exciting in a world of exploration than going to a place about which you know nothing,” May said of his fascination with space exploration. “The sky's the limit for what we could find out.”

It’s not the first time May has marked a note-worthy interstellar event with a song. Back in 2019, the Queen legend commemorated the flyby of Arrokoth – the most distant object ever explored by a spacecraft – by releasing New Horizons.

Owing to his personal penchant for all-things-space, the solar-theme has cropped up numerous times throughout May’s repertoire – most notably 39, which tells the story of a group of space explorers.

It first featured on Queen’s 1975 album, A Night at the Opera, and is a regular in the band’s live set.

To find out more about the James Webb Telescope, head over to NASA.

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Matt Owen

Matt is a Staff Writer, writing for Guitar World, Guitarist and Total Guitar. He has a Masters in the guitar, a degree in history, and has spent the last 16 years playing everything from blues and jazz to indie and pop. When he’s not combining his passion for writing and music during his day job, Matt records for a number of UK-based bands and songwriters as a session musician.