The first Earth-sized planet with approximately as much rock as Earth has been identified, raising the possibility that we might not be rocking alone as a free world.
The catch, scientists say, is that the place is an inferno. A surface temperature of 3,500-5,000 degrees Fahrenheit could mean that all the rock on the newly discovered planet -- let's call it Dearth -- would melt.
But what if the scientists are wrong? What if Dearth, and therefore Dearth-rock, is alive and hell?
To find out, I turned, of course, to Facebook, where an undocumented alien masquerading as a friend had shared a link to a disturbing track he named "Nay Jude" that, he claims, was sent from that febrile world.
What to make of this apparent rip-off of "Hey Jude," one of the Beatles' most beloved numbers? Here's one plausible scenario: If Earth's "Hey Jude" expresses Sir Paul's positive outlook, perhaps "Nay Jude" was created by his clinically depressed Dearthian counterpart (Saul?), who fronts a band called the Featles. (The name derives, presumably, from the position they assume when performing.)
The rest of the story goes like this: The Featles began their career with perfect pitch-black renderings of such Dearthly downers as "Horrible Days Are Here Again" and "Come On, Get Miserable." They went on to make their char-broiled world even more unbearable with such dirges as "She Hates You," "Bad Day Moonshine," "There Goes the Sun" and the era-defining "All You Need Is A Shove." Saul's partner John Venom added edge with the anti-anthemic "Power Away from the People" and "Give War a Chance" and the ghoulish "Can't Imagine."
The Featles, it seems likely, conducted a deadly rivalry with the Inland Boys, whose mastermind Brain Ill-son -- metaphorical evil twin of our Brian Wilson -- wore his anxiety on his sleeve with such eye-rollers as "Do Worry, Baby," "Shun, Shun, Shun," "I Can't Hear Music," "Leave Me Alone, Rhonda" and the anti-spiritual masterwork, "God Only Blows." Brain's most potent accomplishment, the psychosis-inducing "Horrendous Vibrations," captured the ethos of what became known as Dearth's Winter of Hate.
Inspired by the Featles and the Inland Boys and convinced their generation could never change the world, one sad-sack artist after another kept music-haters' spirits sinking. Among the worst: "What a Night for a Nightmare" (The Hatin' Forkful), "Take It Hard" (The Illegals), "The Holland Tunnel Song (Feelin' Shitty)" (Simon Hates Garfunkel), "Miserable Together" (The Mock Turtlenecks) and "Dead Beneath the Bayou" (Disbeelief Muddywaters Survival).
A pathetically timid reaction to Dearth's dark energy (sometimes called "Darth") was led by two bands infamous for not burning the candle at either end. The Celibate Water Guns ("Ineffective Democracy in the United Kingdom") came and went in a nanosecond, followed by the soothing stylings of The Gentle Collision, whose slow waltz "London Answering" had virtually no impact on anyone, including the Collision members themselves.
Not surprisingly, a contrarian movement some called "Pollyanna Rock" sprang up as a protest to Dearthian doom and gloom. Also not surprisingly, the movement didn't move anyone.
Carefree supergroup Phlegm tried but failed to lift spirits with the good-timey "Regaining My Religion." The Neverly Brothers' attempt at cheerleading, "Love Helps," was unhelpful. And by far the least influential Pollyanna artist was one Bob Byron (nee Biblowitz), aka Mr. Glad. This clean-shaven authority-lover produced a string of cheery flops including "You're Gonna Make Me Happy When You Go," "Please Think Twice" "It Is Me, Babe" and the merry "Happy-Faced Hippie of the Highlands."
Rock critics who want hard evidence to confirm these speculations may have to wait. Dearth is some 400 light years -- that's 24 hundred trillion miles -- away from Earth.