Music

Music for the Apocalypse #47: Radioactive by Imagine Dragons

I’m waking up to ash and dust

New on the Apocalypse Girls radar is the teddy apocalypse!  Yes, really! With cagefighting stuffed toys in a fun video from Imagine Dragons!

I’m breaking in, shaping up, then checking out of the prison bars
This is it, the apocalypse

Video aside, this is one of those great tunes that rocks an addictive beat with some cool melodies to get you into the zen zone when all about you is going a bit, well, apocalyptic.

 

battleaxebunny out

Music for the Apocalypse #46: Insect Nation, by Bill Bailey

Comedy, the most essential of tools in your survival kit. If you can’t keep your morale up, you’ll be lost, so keep this song from master musician and comedian, Bill Bailey, to hand. Especially if you find yourself to be a human slave in an insect nation.

And remember: the spiders are not insects, but in the war they will side with the insects.

– Apocalypse Womble out.

Music for the Apocalypse #45: We Are The Champions, by Queen

Not all songs suitable for the Apocalypse have to be depressing and downbeat. When the end comes I want to go out fighting – I want to cheer my sisters on and win the day. It’s impossible not to feel uplifted by this song. The slow, the swell of the melody, building throughout the song provides the perfect counter-point to the tired and plodding beat. This is a song for the downtrodden who are not beaten. This is a song for celebration in a hard world.

We are the champions, my friends. The champions of the world.

– Apocalypse Womble out.

 

Music for the Apocalypse #44: Till the world ends, by Britney Spears

OK, I don’t think this song is set to be an apocalypse classic, but you have to give her props for exploiting the 2012-Mayan-calendar-end-of-the-world theme. I’m surprised more pop-stars haven’t gone for it, to be honest.

The first half of this song is fairly standard mindless noise that doesn’t really seem to have anything to do with the apocalypse, but keep with it, around 2:35 it kicks off into something a bit different and more interesting:

See the sunlight, we ain’t stoppin’

Keep on dancing till the world ends

If you feel it, let it happen

Keep on dancing till the world ends

It’s still a pretty simple lyric, but the timbre shifts from the standard dance beat to a softer, more open sound as the melody rises to echo the rising of the sun in the lyric and I have to admit, I get a tingle. It is evocative of a survivor emerging from their hidey hole after some tumultuous disaster has swept over them, to see the still destruction in the dawn light. It’s not Mozart, but it earns it a place in our post-apocalypse playlist.

Credit is also due to director Ray Kay for creating a music video that is rather more spectacular than the song. This is a pretty stunning depiction of the apocalypse. I’m not quite sure what sort of apocalypse it is, but I’m also not quite sure that I care. It’s very pretty. Equally, the frenetic choreography of the dancers (who are maybe engaged in some kind of sex-death ritual, maybe zombies (probably sex-zombies, if there is such a thing), or just the world’s most committed ravers) evocatively capture what  all songs of this type are getting at: i.e. whether you’re dancing like it’s 1999 or like it’s the end of the world the music is taking you to a frenzied beat that shakes passion off it like sweat. It’s the ‘quick! The four minute warning! Find someone to screw!’ impulse mixed with dancing like your life depends on it. Both themes are exciting and evocative of the sex-death link that has fascinated theorists like Freud.

It’s a simple idea with no real distracting depth, but it’s nicely realised. It’s a 2012 themed song – I felt it did have to make the list before the year was out.

Music for the Apocalypse #43: Flash, by Queen

As a girl equipped to survive the apocalypse, I’m not generally inclined to wait around for a man to save me – chances are I’ll still be sitting there when the zombies eat me. Or the man will have been manfully hiding a bite and will turn into a zombie and eat me. But it’s hard not to hear this song and feel cheered. I feel it has a place in a post apocalypse world.

Also? The women in Flash Gordon are awesome. Especially General Kala. I mean, if the Apocalypse is coming, why not be in charge of its armies?

'What do you mean, "Flash Gordon approaching"?!'

General Kala

 

 

And as villains go, this is some kind of formiddable woman:

What do you mean, ‘Flash Gordon approaching’?!

Open fire! ALL weapons.

No half-measures with this lady. I challenge anyone to deny that this is a woman who commands respect with her every gesture, look, and tone.

General Kala: Apocalypse Girl extraordinaire.

Dale Arden

Dale Arden

And let’s not forget Dale Arden. Not without fight in her, and even as she calls out: ‘Flash! Flash! I love you’ She adds as though to call him back to the matter at hand: ‘But we only have fourteen hours to save the Earth!’

Yeah, I think, come the apocalypse, this’ll be one I’m glad to have in my record collection.

Music for the Apocalypse #42: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Theme

It’s number 42. It was mandatory.

For those not in the know, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is the book you will need if ever the Earth is destroyed to make way for a hyper-spatial bypass and you are stranded, hitchhiking around space with your best-friend who turns out to be an alien, his double-headed cousin who’s sort of the President of the Universe, and someone you fell in love with at a party in Islington and then never saw again until after the end of the world. Alternately, it is a series of books, or a film, or a radio series, or a TV show about that book and a person who has just such an adventure. Or a website that was trying to do a light-hearted version of Wikipedia before there were wikis. This is the theme tune for the TV Show, and I think you’ll agree that it’ll help you not to panic when the Earth explodes.

According to the Guide, 42 is the Answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything. So. You know.

Music for the Apocalypse #41: 13 Women

by Katemandi, Last Girl on Earth

What if they were 13 men, eh? I love how often men approach the apocalypse as the site for wish-fulfillment. Women tend to imagine worst case scenarios: perhaps those two tendencies are related…

Dig that high hat! The Renegades rock.

The earlier version by Bill Haley & his Comets

Music for the Apocalypse #38: Who’s Next, by Tom Lehrer

As pertinent today as it was in 1967:

The bombs at Hiroshima and NagasakiIt may seem like the days of the Cold War are long forgotten, and (as we’ve noted before) fear of The Bomb is not what it was… but we certainly still care about who’s allowed to have it. Now the worry is the Middle East and North Korea, rather than China, but as Tom Lehrer wisely observes, once one person has The Bomb it doesn’t stop nuclear proliferation, but simply prompts us to ask ‘Who’s next?’





Destruction at HiroshimaYou’re more likely to see zombies or pandemics as the source of the apocalypse in modern science fiction, but there remains something particularly chilling about the threat of global thermonuclear war. Because we’ve seen it. We’ve seen what we can do. And ever since the first bombs were dropped on Japan in 1945 the bomb has been as desired as it has been feared. Because it seems like the only way to be sure that no one will dare to drop a bomb on you is to make sure that you have one yourself.
Terrifyingly, having The Bomb seems to have been taken as a token of admission to being taken seriously on the world stage. Iran claims not to want The Bomb, and yet the ‘nuclear’ payload is still a political asset that Iranians covet: God willing, we expect to soon join the club of the countries that have a nuclear industry, with all its branches, except the military one‘  Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, former president of Iran, has said. And yet the rest of the world looks on with anxiety at their nuclear progress, thinking to themselves, well, if Israel has the bomb… who’s next?
 – Apocalypse Womble out.

Music for the Apocalypse #37: It’s Not the End of the World, by Lostprophets

A song called ‘It’s Not the End of the World’ might seem incongruous on an apocalypse themed blog, but this song is somewhat duplicitous. The singer calls out in the chorus:

It’s not the end of the world now, baby, 
So, c’mon, dry those tears
It’s not the end of the world now darling, 
But I can see it from here

This song has a delightfully unreliable narrator. One senses the classic metaphor of the end of a relationship being likened to the end of the world, and the undercutting of such hyperbole by the unsympathetic boyfriend. Yet what the chorus gives with one hand, it takes back with the other – ‘It’s not the end of the world’ he says, ‘But I can see it from here’. He sets himself up as the one with clearer sight, but he contradicts himself, and the verses suggest that whatever is ending, whatever is upsetting his partner so much, he’s not entirely innocent:
My soldiers march tonight in the city of your dreams
This beautiful army are tearing at your seams
Down on your knees, cure this disease
I’ll take it all, everything I see
Oh, can’t your hear this symphony?
He’s at fault for her pain; he enjoys her devastation and destruction – he finds it beautiful, symphonic. Yet he sadistically mocks her for expressing the despair he has caused. At the same time, the tone of the song is one of protest against destruction. In confessing that he can see the end of the world from here – screaming it at the climax of the song – one senses that this isn’t really what he wants, but he can’t stop himself, anyway.

There’s something delightfully maverick, here. Of course, it’s all metaphor for a relationship, but the imagery is evocatively apocalyptic, as is reflected in the rather wonderful visuals of the music video, where the buildings are seen to disintegrate around the band. At the same time, we see an interesting angle on the appeal of apocalypse in art. The common impulse to destroy things because you want to see them burn, even though you actually value the things you are destroying. The fear and exhilaration of losing control – of letting yourself go even though you know the ultimate consequences will be contrary to what you desire. Lost prophets indeed.

You can download this song in a whole host of places:

iTunes
HMV
Play
7digital
Amazon
Visible Noise

And hey, this is a relatively recent tune, released in 2009, so why not give some young artists some love? You can visit them at their website, here: http://lostprophets.com/ .

 – ApocalypseWomble out.

Music for the Apocalypse #36: God Save the Queen, by The Sex Pistols

Queen Elizabeth II
God Save the Queen (but if he can’t, dibs on that hat)

Liz X from The Beast Below, Doctor Who
“I’m the bloody queen, mate.”

As the second longest reigning monarch of these isles of Britannia (the longest reigning being the formidable Victoria), there’s a lot to admire in Liz II. In fact, the queens of Great Britain have a lot going for them altogether. Pope Sixtus V said of Liz I: “She is only a woman, only mistress of half an island, and yet she makes herself feared by Spain, by France, by the Empire, by all”, and the success of both Liz I and II’s reigns inspired the rather wonderful Liz X, in one of the most marvellous episodes of the Matt Smith era of Doctor Who, ‘The Beast Below’. Liz X saves her people from the death of the Earth by whisking them away on Staship UK.

And yet, although any girl with what it takes to survive an apocalypse has to admire these ladies, the apocalypse is rarely kind to royalty. James Herbert’s ’48 begins with the protagonist occupying Buckingham Palace – deserted after the end of the world. In I, Zombie, by Al Ewing, the palace becomes a pulsating incubator for horrifying insectoid aliens. And, even though the human race survives in her hands, The Beast Below is hardly uncritical of monarchic rule, as the police state she has created and allowed to continue appears dangerously restrictive, culturally stultified, and is founded on the enslavement and torture of a wondrous sentient being: a star whale.

As a nation the UK sustains ambivalent feelings towards the monarchy. We enjoy the spectacle (and the bank holidays) that they bring, and the queen remains a global icon, but we mutter darkly about our tax money being spent on them and wonder about the place of a monarch in a 21st Century democracy. As in our post-apocalypse fiction, royalty hold a tension between fascination and the desire to overthrow the ruling class. What better way, then, for a blog about the apocalypse to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, than with ‘God Save the Queen’, by The Sex Pistols?

It is rumoured that the song was written to coincide with the Silver Jubilee, although Paul Cook has denied this. It has been rereleased to coincide with the Diamond Jubilee. The anarchic lyrics equate monarchy with a ‘fascist regime’, describing a society with ‘no future’, where the population has become moronic from over-regulation, and where people are ‘Potential H-bomb[s]’ – fuelled by pent up anger and frustration, threatening to explode and either destroy us all or clear the way for some new anarchic future. In a genre that places the downfall of civilisation as we know it at the centre, apocalypse and political commentary go hand in hand of necessity, and what could better symbolise this than The Sex Pistol‘s vibrant and violent corruption of the national anthem?

God save the queen.

 – Apocalypse Womble out.

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