Music for the Apocalypse

Music for the Apocalypse #40 Eye of the Tiger

Ok, this may seem like an odd one, it’s an 80’s power chord song we all associate with Stallone rather than the end of the world. The video I am linking to however is the end credits of an episode of Supernatural and Jensen Ackles having fun with the song.

Really, who knows more about the end of the world than the Winchester brothers. Embedding is sadly disabled, but here is Dean doing Eye of the Tiger

Also check out these lyrics, they may not be intended for the apocalypse but they still have value.

Risin’ up, back on the street
Did my time, took my chances
Went the distance
Now I’m back on my feet
Just a man and his will to survive

So many times, it happens too fast
You trade your passion for glory
Don’t lose your grip on the dreams of the past
You must fight just to keep them alive

[Chorus]
It’s the eye of the tiger
It’s the thrill of the fight
Risin’ up to the challenge
Of our rival
And the last known survivor

Stalks his prey in the night
And he’s watching us all with the
Eye of the tiger

Face to face, out in the heat
Hangin’ tough, stayin’ hungry
They stack the odds
Still we take to the street
For the kill with the skill to survive

[Chorus]

Risin’ up straight to the top
Had the guts, got the glory
Went the distance
Now I’m not gonna stop
Just a man and his will to survive

Music for the Apocalypse #39 I hold your hand in mine Tom Lehrer

I had to follow up who’s next with this little love song for serial killer/zombie fancier types. It’s not really an end of the world track, but it has a suitably sinister note in spite of the chirpy piano playing.

On a personal note, I will always associate this song with Newcastle train station and my old uni flatmate Jolanda. Enjoy.

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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