Wednesday, February 27, 2008

If someone asks about REM, I will end this Earth.

Since very few people are posting lately, a situation which I am sure is temporary, I've decided to have a little fun and post something a bit self-indulgent. I thought it would be neat to post a track-list comprised entirely of songs about the end of the world. This is going to be long, but no one has written more than a few words on this blog this whole month, so you can just continue to not read it if it's too long.

Pansy bands write songs about their girlfriends, or alternatively, about nonsense that no one understands. Awesome bands write songs about the apocalypse. Without further ado, here are some songs to listen to as the Earth swallows you and our race is extinguished. . .

1. Black Sabbath's Black Sabbath from the album Black Sabbath (Jay's favorite trifecta; same song-album-band names): This song is actually terrifying. Ozzy's screams, the rain, the pounding drums. It was kind of a messed up way for Black Sabbath to open their career, and it's a messed up opening track for any album. It belongs on this list, and in your nightmares.

Key Lyrics:

"Is it the end, my friend?
Satan's come around the bend,
People running 'cause they're scared
You people better go and beware
No! No! Please! No!"

Even this album cover scares the pants off me.

2. Painkiller by Judas Priest: I have linked to the Beavis and Butthead version of this video beacuse Beavis' Rob Halford impression is pure gold. That said, this song is completely badass, and 6 minutes long in reality. One of the best songs for headbanging ever. Technically, it's actually about some sort of metal monster which saves the world from Armageddon, but I can't believe you would actually give a damn.

Key Lyrics:
"Planets devastated
Mankind's on its knees
A saviour comes from out the skies
In answer to their pleas"
Wow. Awesome.

3. Beast and the Harlot by Avenged Sevenfold: This song is about traditional Biblical end of the world. The lyrics are pretty sweet, and the guitar is amazing--as anyone who has played Guitar Hero 2 is aware. Insanely, it's a bit upbeat and happy sounding for a song that is unabashedly about everyone on the planet earth being killed by a vengeful Lord. The triumphant sounding chorus almost makes me think Avenged Sevenfold just thinks there's something great about being a "dwelling place for demons."

Key Lyrics:
"The city dressed in jewels and gold,
Fine linen, myrrh, and pearls.
Her plagues will come all at once
As her mourners watch her burn.
Destroyed in an hour.
Merchants and captains of the world,
Sailors, navigators too.
Will weep and mourn this loss
With her sins piled to the sky.
The Beast and the Harlot."

4. Love in an Elevator by Aerosmith. I think this song is about a man and a woman who are stuck in an elevator as the world ends around them, and find love before they are consumed by the fire.

Key Lyrics:
I kinda hope we get stuck
Nobody gets out alive
She said I'll show you how to fax
In the mailroom, honey
And have you home by five
What, you don't think I'm serious? Fine.

4. Fourth of July by Soundgarden: We're back to another song that I've always thought of as scary. It's so heavy and moody. It's slow, but it just builds so well and then you know that it's the freaking end of everything. I actually had a nightmare about this song once that was pretty vivid and sticks with me today.

Key Lyrics:
"Cause I heard it in the wind
And I saw it in the sky
And I thought it was the end
And I thought it was the 4th of July"
The lyrics actually aren't that explicit. I think that just speaks to the powerful mood of the song.

5. Freya by The Sword: The Sword, as their name would imply, is not very subtle. Their lyricist is just a huge fantasy nerd who obviously smokes a lot of pot while listening to Black Sabbath and reading George R. R. Martin (he actually cites Martin as an influence on his lyrics). That, of course, is probably the greatest mix known to man. If you need further evidence, please consult these lyrics.

Key Lyrics:
"A sword of fire and an axe of cold
vision of the Sibyl has foretold
armies gather on the battle-plain
all will fall and Earth will die in flame."

These guys are nerds. Awesome, awesome nerds.

6. ├ćnema by Tool. Technically, this isn't about the end of the world. Just the end of California. The theme is pretty apocalyptic though. Moreover, it's dark, heavy, and absolutely fantastic. The best song on an amazing album, and probably a top 3 song by one of the most brilliant bands since the aforementioned Aerosmith. The drums, oh god the drums. A key element in any song about the end of the world, they really work here. Maynard is just such a great vocalist for this theme too. If you don't think this song is great, you probably are a communist.

Key Lyrics:
"'Cause I'm praying for mayhem
And I'm praying for tidal waves
I wanna see the ground give way
I wanna watch it all go down
Mom please flush it all away
I wanna see it go right in and down
I wanna watch it go right in
Watch you flush it all away"

7. The Thing that Should Not Be by Metallica: This song is about the Great Lord Cthulhu so I could not forget it. It really has the heaviest riff I can think of in a Metallica song, which is appropriate. When that riff isn't blasting, it is creepy as hell. The part where Hetfield screams "Oh my god", right before the guitar solo is one of the better moments on this list. This song brings to mind exactly what it's meant to, our Great Lord awakening from his slumber to drive mankind to madness!

Key Lyrics:
"Crawling Chaos, underground
Cult has summoned, twisted sound
Out from ruins once possessed
Fallen city, living death"

This is just an artist's imagining of what Cthluhu might look like. A more accurate picture might drive you mad on the spot.

8. Five Years by David Bowie: Close out my album with something mellow but still powerful. It's the human side of the end of the world. Like all Bowie, the lyrics are great, and his voice is just so cool. The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust is a great album, and this is the unheralded best track, or at least second best. The theme of this song is sad--what would it be like if the world was ending in five years? I love this song, and there isn't anything more I can say about it.

Key Lyrics:
"Pushing through the market square
So many mothers sighing
News had just come over
We had five years left to cry in
News guy wept when he told us
Earth was really dying
Cried so much his face was wet
Then I knew he was not lying"
There are more songs, I'm sure. I cut myself short because this post is already as long as any paper I ever wrote in college. I put more work into this, though. Still, add your favorite end of the world song in the comments!


Ryan Smith said...

Spectacular, Wilson. Just glorious.

'Black Sabbath' by Black Sabbath (on 'Black Sabbath') is, in fact, the creepiest song of all-time. I hear those church bells in my sleep...

Two apocalyptic songs that I've always enjoyed:

1. 'Number of the Beast' by Iron Maiden. "Woe to you, oh Earth and Sea..."

2. 'Hero' by Ministry. Thrash-tastic, and the lyrics are hilariously over-the-top:

"You never wanted to stop
The smell of burning flesh
The hero marches alone
Across the highway of death."

And, on a wholly different note, 'After the Gold Rush' by Neil Young is still one of the best "Holy crap, what's happening to our world?" songs, ever. And not in the lame-ass Melissa Etheridge Global Warming sense, either.

Wilson said...

Number of the Beast is absolutely one of my favorite songs. It would have made the cut if I hadn't been consciously trying to avoid the metal theme. "Hero" sounds fantastic.

I love Neil Young and After the Gold Rush but I guess I've never listened to it with that ear before. I definitely will now.

Jay Z said...

Totally well done. I was wondering when you'd get to AEnima. You could maybe put Muse's Apocalypse Please. It's not really deep, but still a pretty sweet Apocalypse melody. Like all Muse, it's somehow hard and heavy, yet pansy at the same time. I don't know how they do that.

But Wilson, what about songs from movies about the end of the world? Like the one by our favorite band, Aersomith, I Don't Wanna Miss a Thing, from my favorite movie, Armageddon? God, I love that song.

You know, on a side note, Armageddon used to be my favorite word until Michael Bay shat all over it and made me associate it more with Valentine's Day than Halloween.

Mike LeGower said...

Alright, first let's add some hipster cred to the list with "When the War Came" by The Decemberists. It might not be technically about the apocalypse, but this lyric is awesome:
"And the war came with a curse and a caterwaul
And the war came with all the poise of a cannonball
And they're picking out our eyes
By coal and candlelight
When the war came, the war came hard"

Mike LeGower said...

Next, Billy Joel with "Miami 2017 (Seen the Lights Go Out on Broadway)" about the destruction of New York City.
"I seen the lights go out on Broadway.
I saw the ruins at my feet.
You know we almost didn't notice it.
We'd see it all the time on 42nd Street.
They burned the churches up in Harlem,
Like in that Spanish Civil War.
The flames were everywhere,
But no one really cared:
It always burned up there before."

Wilson said...

Man, Billy Joel is awesome. I wonder why he wrote that song, it's so out of character. . .

Mike LeGower said...

Also, "99 Luftballons" by Nena.