Two different versions of the song were recorded, one with vocals by Bruno Mars (a member of The Smeezingtons) and one with vocals by Ryan Tedder. Tedder's version was the one selected for the album.
"Rocketeer" shares similarities with Justin Bieber's "Somebody to Love", which was released earlier, in April 2010. This led to speculation that "Rocketeer" copied from "Somebody to Love"; in actuality, both songs were co-produced by The Stereotypes, and "Rocketeer" was produced first; "Somebody to Love" uses samples of "Rocketeer".
Speaking about the song in March 2011 to noted UK urban writer Pete Lewis - Assistant Editor of Blues & Soul - group member Kev Nish stated: "'Free Wired' was basically a slang-word we came up with back in the day, that we'd use whenever we'd do something that was outside the box, that was original, that was fresh, and that mashed-up things that maybe SHOULDN'T be mashed-up! Which is why, when it came to titling this latest album, it made so much SENSE!... You know, we'd basically go in the studio and take hip hop-style drums, electronic synths, alternative-style hooks and just - as I say - mash it all UP! Which in turn became the inspiration behind a track like 'Rocketeer'... And, by featuring Ryan Tedder on the song, we were then also able to cover that credible, alternative ROCK base."
Directed by Marc Klasfeld, the music video for the song premiered on Vevo and YouTube on October 29, 2010 and has a cameo appearance by DJ Quik.
The skateboarder in the video is Samuel Tan, a high school student from California. Steve Terada and Victor Kim from the dance group Quest Crew also makes brief appearances. Famous YouTube personalities Philip Wang and Wesley Chan from Wong Fu Productions make a short cameo posing for a picture. It shows of Samuel trying to get parts all around to make a jet pack to travel to his girlfriend who went to Japan for a job. The video features also a cameo of princess Ai Co-created by Courtney Love and D.J. Milky, Princess Ai was written and illustrated by Misaho Kujiradou and featured character designs by Ai Yazawa.
In popular culture
Malaysian-based low-cost airline AirAsia used the song for their "Awesome" campaign.
Far East Movement performed "Rocketeer" on the NBA All-Star Weekend 2011 and an episode of the Disney Channel TV program So Random!; both performances feature Miguel singing the chorus instead of Ryan Tedder.