After taking a bit of a break from these series of Tuesday Tens based upon (quite random) subjects – I think I needed to to allow me to come up with some new ideas – I seem to have hit upon some inspiration for future lists again, so expect these to be a little more regular once again (time allowing, of course).
So let us talk about the end of the world. 2012 has been a year indelibly associated with this, of course, thanks to much- reported, discussed (and debunked, perhaps) Mayan prophecies, amongst others. And by the looks of things – unless something seriously catastrophic and unexpected happens in the remaining four-and-a-bit months of 2012 – the end of the world will not be televised, yet. Needless to say, though, it has been a popular subject in music for a long, long time, so here are ten songs dealing with it in different ways.
Buy Me… I’ll Change Your Life
Ah, David Thrussell, a man whose disdain – and at points outright despair – at humanity and the way it is taking the planet has been documented in his music for nearly twenty years now. And so where better than to start with his ultimate song about how shit humans are, this smart, groovy-electro track where he celebrates the coming of the end of the world. I don’t think he cares how, particularly, just it needs to go now. Fifteen years on he is still waiting.
Inspired, at least partly, by the late Bill Hicks’ wish to see California simply vanish into the sea, Tool’s searing hatred of the plastic lifestyles of many of the inhabitants of their home state (and particularly the city of Los Angeles) are laid bare here in one of their greatest songs. Maynard James Keenan delivers his vocals alternately through gritted teeth and an anguished howl of fury, while the band lock into a similarly caustic, harsh rhythm. This is perhaps unique – in this list, at least – for being about wanting a particular part of the world to end, rather than than whole world…
It’s the End of the World as we know it (I feel fine)
The stream-of-conciousness vocals are the hook here, of course. A glorious, furious howl at the state of the world at the time, as the Reagan era neared the end, delivered in a breathless form that suggested Michael Stipe wanted to get all of his thoughts out before they either stopped him or the world did end. Egged on by the frantic musical backing, and the fabulous, melodic chorus, who knew a song this angry could sound so joyous?
Cities In Dust
For some, of course, the end of the world has already come. Back in ancient times, the city of Pompeii was famously destroyed by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius that towered over the town, and the only song I can think of that references that time is this classic, goth-club staple. The video makes the oh-so-slightly-vague lyrics more overt, and the twinkle of the synths and guitars sound like fire cascading through the sky.
As Rome Burns
To The Nameless Dead
The blistering centrepiece to their London show in the Spring, this epic, rousing monster of a song uses a different Roman metaphor to look at the world economy that has, over the past five or six years, seemingly teetered on the edge of the abyss for too long. All the while corporations work with Governments to pick out the bits they want most, leaving the rest with little. For an Irish band, this almost seems like fortune-telling in light of what has happened since this song was written.
Progenies Of The Great Apocalypse
Death Cult Armageddon
Taking things a bit heavier, and that bit more over-the-top, Dimmu Borgir’s first single from their last great album (let us be honest here, the last two albums have frankly been rather crap. But then, when you shed the important members of a band…) makes like a battle hymn for the end of the time. Aided by an entire symphonic orchestra (Prague’s, as I recall) the band went for bigger in every way, and in some respects I’m kinda surprised this song hasn’t been used to soundtrack a film about armageddon yet.
Supernova at the End of the Universe
The Orb’s Adventures Beyond The Ultraworld
Not many groups preoccupy themselves with what the end of the world might sound like, but then, not every band is like The Orb. This sprawling, literally-spaced-out track from their epic debut album actually takes us into space, with roars of engines and samples of speech from Apollo missions, languid beats and strange, alien effects. Before then disappearing into nothingness, imagining the Supernova – or, if you want to a smart-arse, the end of a world – to be a strangely quiet end. Probably the best “view” you’ll get this side of Milliways.
Tonight The Stars Revolt!
Tonight the Stars Revolt!
Time for something a little sillier, perhaps. Rob Zombie’s kid brother follows him into industrial(ish) metal, but takes a turn into sci-fi oddness, but otherwise sounds pretty similar. The title track from their best album is a thrashy, stop-start riff on the idea of the stars exploding and taking us with them. No, me neither.
Harmonizer, for me, contained the last truly great Apop songs (aside from a handful of covers released late). Yeah, so it didn’t have the darkwave style of 7, or the stargazing wonder of Welcome To Earth, and it was padded out by far too much filler, but in tracks like the bouncing, melodic Spindizzy, and more particularly this glorious, skyscraping EBM-goes-pop love song, where the titular subject is invoked as a metaphor for eternal love, and the chorus takes us into the eternity of space, a favourite subject of Stephan Groth’s over the years.
This track, the titular song from his mainstream breakthrough album of 1982, was perhaps unsurprisingly the obvious choice for many see close off the millenium. And why not? Rather than wallowing in the potential doom of the world ending, Prince instead decided that the best way to deal with the end of the world was instead to have a fucking enormous party, having tons of fun and not giving a toss about what happens next. That the song sounded so joyous – in fact pretty exactly like the partying described in the lyrics – certainly helped in the appeal, but the wider message was also more upbeat – “Life is just a party and parties aren’t meant to last”. Sounds like a good way to live life to me.