Doomsday Music | 11 Dystopic Songs About the End of the World

Earthquake, disease or environmental disaster. Even before the crisis, these artists were already thinking about what the proverbial Last Days of Mankind might look like.

At the beginning of the epidemic, the Corona crisis might have felt unreal to many people: A virus, globally spread, that does not select? That doesn’t shy away from any ethnicity, social class or age group? People who go panic shopping because they are afraid of not having enough food in the coming months? That does not sound real! It sounds more like the plot of a science fiction or a computer game – or a dystopic song.

By now, weeks later, one thing is clear: We will survive this crisis. We will manage it together. We know (or hope, anyway) that this will NOT be the end of the world and that humanity will one day be able to put the coronavirus behind it.

Eventually, when the worst is over, we will have to begin the process of understanding it. In art. In films, books, stories and songs. So now that we have a little distance, let’s look at a few selected artists who have already faced up to apocalyptic scenarios in their music.

1. “It’s the End of the World as We Know It” by R.E.M

“That’s great, it starts with an earthquake. Birds and snakes, and aeroplanes and Lenny Bruce is not afraid. Eye of a hurricane, listen to yourself churn. The world serves its own needs. Don’t mis-serve your own needs.”

2. “2012 (If the World Would End)” by Mike Candys

Don’t mind, just keep on going. If the world would end tomorrow. Listen to the song that changes sorrow into joy. I wanna hear you make some noise! Tonight is the night to be free. What is gonna happen? We will see!

3. “Electric Funeral” by Black Sabbath

“Buildings crashing down to a cracking ground, rivers turn to wood, ice melting to flood. Earth lies in death bed, clouds cry water dead. Tearing life away, here’s the burning pay.”

4. „Hurra, Diese Welt Geht Unter“ by K.I.Z. feat. Henning May [Hurra, This World Is Coming to an End]

„Unsere Haustüren müssen keine Schlösser mehr haben, Geld wurde zu Konfetti und wir haben besser geschlafen. Ein Goldbarren ist für uns das gleiche wie ein Ziegelstein. Der Kamin geht aus, wirf’ mal noch ‘ne Bibel rein. Die Kids gruseln sich, denn ich erzähle vom Papst. Dieses Leben ist so schön, wer braucht ein Leben danach?“

[Translation: “Our front doors no longer need locks, money has turned into confetti, and we sleep better. To us, a gold bar is the same as a brick. The fire on the hearth is going out, throw on another Bible! Kids get scared because I’m talking about the Pope. This life is so beautiful, who needs an afterlife?”]

5. „Earth Died Screaming“ by Tom Waits

“There was thunder, there was lightning. Then the stars went out and the moon fell from the sky. It rained mackerel, it rained trout. And the great day of wrath has come. And here’s mud in your big red eye. And the poker’s in the fire. And the locusts take the sky. Well, the earth died screaming, while I lay dreaming.”

6. “Five Years” by David Bowie

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 and told us, earth was really dying. Cried so much his face was wet, then I knew he was not lying.”

7. “The Man Comes Around” by Johnny Cash

“There’s a man going around taking names. And he decides who to free and who to blame. Everybody won’t be treated all the same. There will be a golden ladder reaching down. When the Man Comes Around.”

8. 99 Luftballons by Nena

„99 Jahre Krieg Ließen keinen Platz für Sieger. Kriegsminister gibt’s nicht mehr und auch keine Düsenflieger. Heute zieh’ ich meine Runden, seh’ die Welt in Trümmern liegen. Hab’ ‘n Luftballon gefunden, denk’ an dich und lass’ ihn fliegen.“

[Translation: „Ninety-nine years of war leave no place for victors. There are no Ministers of War nor any jet pilots. Today, as I do my rounds, and see the world in ruins. I have found an air balloon, I think of you and let it fly away.“ ]

9. “Everybody Knows” by Leonard Cohen

“Everybody knows that the dice are loaded. Everybody rolls with their fingers crossed. Everybody knows the war is over. Everybody knows the good guys lost. Everybody knows the fight was fixed. The poor stay poor, the rich get rich. That’s how it goes. Everybody knows.”

10. “The Final Countdown” by Europe

We’re leaving together. But still it’s farewell. And maybe we’ll come back to earth, who can tell? I guess there is no one to blame. We’re leaving ground. Will things ever be the same again?”

11. “When the Wild Winds Blow” by Iron Maiden

“Have you heard what they said on the news today? Have you heard what is coming to us all? That the world as we know it will be coming to an end. Have you heard, have you heard?”

Julia Seidl
Julia started out at "Die Presse." She went on to study "Journalism & Media Management" in Vienna and worked for several local news outlets such as ORF, Kurier and Falter before joining Metropole as online content and social media manager.

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