A Playlist for the Apocalypse

Hi everybody,

Ok, so you wake up one morning and find that the first wave of the zombie apocalypse is about to turn your world into a blasted hellscape. What should be your #1 priority? Thematically appropriate music!  Of Course!

Here are my picks for ten songs that will play you into the apocalypse in style.

Don't Fear the Reaper - Blue Oyster Cult - If my reading of this song is correct it's about death generally, but for me it's the sound of it that really evokes the end. It's that guitar mostly, how those repetitive notes sound like they're just flying out into nothingness. It all sounds sad and resigned but still incredibly romantic.

It's the End of the World as We Know It - REM - A fairly joyous look at the end of the world. Yes, the world is random and confusing and overstuffed, but isn't it all just a glorious mess?

London Calling - The Clash -  Spare and dark and paranoid. A classic. Is that a laugh you're hearing or a scream? Is it both?

1999 - Prince - Ah Prince, god bless your freakiness. You are a national treasure. If this is the apocalypse--lingerie and overcoat clad multiracial polymorphous perversity--I'll take it.

Anarchy in The UK - Sex Pistols -  Johnny Rotten is like some kind of feral post-apocalyptic child. Man, this dude is so nuts he sings behind the drumkit. Once the government collapses you'll be seeing alot of people like him so get used to it!

Burn Up - Siouxsie and the Banshees - Listen to how this song just slides completely out of control at the end. That's the sound of a very sexy end of the world.

Nothing But Flowers - Talking Heads - Sonically it's a nice break from the gloom, but i's still pretty dark in it's way. One man's utopia is another man's dystopia. "If this is paradise, I wish I had a lawnmower!"

Earth Died Screaming - Tom Waits - I could have made this entire list comprised of nothing but Tom Waits songs, but this one is probably the most apt.  This guy is a huge hero of mine.

God's Gonna Cut you Down - Johnny Cash - Those who know me know I get a little emotional when it comes to The Man in Black. There's something about his approach to religion that just moves me. Yes, there's something dark and old testament about it, but you don't feel like Johnny would ever use religion to control anyone or judge anyone. He stumbled alot but he seems genuinely full of mercy and love and hope. I don't know that I consider myself a Christian exactly but when I think of who really walked the Christian walk I think of Johnny Cash.

Under The Milky Way - The Church - This makes a nice bookend with Don't Fear the Reaper. Like that song, it's the sound of this one that evokes the end of the world more than the lyrics. Again, it's that guitar, so surrounded by emptiness and how the singer seems exhausted and sorrowful as he looks back over something that's gone.

I know. I know. I missed like a million good end of the world songs. There isn't even any Metallica on this list! Feel free to set me straight.

How about you all? How would you like to go bopping into the apocalypse?


Stina said...

Great list. I can't think of any to add. That doesn't mean there aren't any. I just can't think of any. ;)

Vicki Rocho said...

OMG! I'm in total shock, I've HEARD of most of these and even (gasp) LIKE a lot of them. I think you are my new music advisor. Tell me what I should listen to.

And oh, by the way, my daughter and I were just talking about the impending zombie apocolypse the other day. Is that weird?

Jeff Hirsch said...

Good morning guys! Glad you like the list. Vicki I would be happy to be your music advisor! Here's my first pick.. Tegan & Sara's new album Sainthood. You won't be sorry!

S.A. Larsenッ said...

Love the picks. Prince all the way!! And Talking Heads...too funny. I'd have to have some AC/DC, surely Led Zeppelin, and maybe even the Eagles.

Kelly Polark said...

Excellent music picks. Glad Prince was in there. Good eclectic mix. But you forgot one for the cheesy headbangers: Final Countdown by Europe! :)

Angie said...

What a great way to start the morning, Jeff. REM, the Clash, and Talking Heads, oh my. I might add the End of the World by the Cure, Burning Down the House by Talking Heads, and Sons & Daughters by the Decembrists. The latter is a crawling out of the bunkers and starting over kind of song. "Hear all the bombs fade away..."

Unknown said...

I'm SO going to make a playlist on iTunes after this... :)

JoLynne Lyon said...

I love the Talking Heads! I'd add Matchbox 20's "How Far We've Come" and Ravel's "Valse," a cynical, wordless commentary on a world spinning out of control. I don't think anybody's done a music video of it, though.

Unknown said...

Great choices. I love Don't Fear the Reaper. Explosions in the Sky has some amazing music that would fit this catagory. Try Six Days at the Bottom of the Ocean, or First Breath after Coma.

Emily said...

A newer song that is a dystopia must-have is The Resistance by Muse. So awesome

Lindsay said...

Great list of songs. My newest dystopian is the same as Emily - The Resistance by Muse. But then again, I love all muse songs. :)

Lisa_Gibson said...

Some really great picks listed here. Now I can't get Under the Milky Way outta' my head. Thanks for that. ;)

Jeff Hirsch said...

You know I've been meaning to check out Muse for awhile now. Just watched Resistance on You Tube. Loved it! What's the best Muse album to start with?

Kelly, how did I not add Final Countdown? That song is just epically ridiculous. We should do a whole separate post on cheesy songs about the end of the world!

So many great picks!

Julia said...

Great playlist! Love me some Prince!

Whenever I think of the the end of the world as we know it, I can't help but think of two songs "In the Year 2525" by uh ??? and "Break on Through" by The Doors. Oh... maybe Riders on the Storm by The Doors, too.

Jemi Fraser said...

Fun list! Can't say I ever thought of making an apocalypse list before - but I'll get right on it :)

Lisa Richards/alterlisa said...

pretty good list. pretty tough to hold it to 10 songs

Carrie Harris said...

Fab list! I think I'd put Leonard Cohen's "Everybody Knows" on mine too. Love that song.

Jeff Hirsch said...

Ah Julia, In the year 2525 is by the immortal duo of Zagar & Evans. Definitely should include them on the list of cheesy apocalyptic songs.

Yeah, The Doors are another great oversight. The End would be perfect too.

Leonard Cohen would be great too. Like Muse, he's someone I've been meaning to get into and haven't yet.

Michelle Fluttering Butterflies said...

What a FUN list! I've bookmarked it so I can come back and listen to all the songs, but I'm going to be reading a dystopic book sometime soon and I swear, Prince's 1999 song is going to creep into my head and it will your fault :) Still. It'll put a smile on my face.

Anonymous said...

Fantastic list! REM, Blue Oyster Cult, and Johnny Cash would definitely be at the top of my list, too.

A few others:

* "Down in the Park" by Gary Numan
(Down in the park where the Machmen meet/ The machines are playing `kill-by-numbers')

* "99 Red Balloons" by Nena
(If I could find a souvenir/ Just to prove the world was here)

* "Red Skies" by The Fixx
(Someone's taking over/ And it looks like they're aiming right at you/ Someone says, "We'll be dead by morning.")

* "Distant Early Warning" by Rush
(An ill wind comes arising/ Across the cities of the plain/ There's no swimming in the heavy water/ No singing in the acid rain/ Red alert)

* "Wooden Ships" by Crosby, Stills & Nash
(Horror grips us as we watch you die/ All we can do is echo your anguished cries)

* "King of the World" by Steely Dan
(No marigolds in the promised land/ There's a hole in the ground where they used to grow.../Show me where you are/ You and I will spend this day/ Driving in my car through the ruins of Santa Fe)

Pam Pho said...

Pretty much the best playlist ever.

Jeff Hirsch said...

So many awesome picks! How did I miss 99 Luftballoons? And Rush!

Thanks for swinging by and checking us out!

Happy Memorial Day weekend everybody!

Anonymous said...

The only thing I would have in my apocalypse play-list is The entire War Of The Worlds Album.

Justin Hayward - Forever Autumn. sends shivers down my spine whenever I hear it.

Other than that, Off the top of my head I would have to say:

Brave New World - Iron Maiden
Dear God - XTC
Hangar 18 - Megadeth
Symphony of Destruction - Megadeth
Creeping Death - Metallica
Marilyn Manson - The Last Day On Earth

I'm sure there is many more, every second Metal song is about destruction of some sort or another :)

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