You might assume that the apocalypse will be scored with some Wagnerian black metal, or at least a swelling orchestral arrangement. But we think you’ll meet the end with a catchy earworm torturing you. Here are 12 tunes that will be stuck in your head as the world comes down.
1. Prince, “1999”
Prince’s party anthem ”1999” help rocket the performer to fame and had the unique distinction of getting to be popular when it came out in 1982 and again at the turn of millennium. This song is probably the perfect example of a catchy apocalypse song as partygoers literally grooved to it on the eve of a potential apocalypse — remember Y2k and the millennial fears? Sadly, the song has been aggressively scoured from YouTube due to the copyright apocalypse.
2. R.E.M., “It's The End of the World”
The end of the world is right there in the title. The rhythm of the seemingly nonsensical chanting is exciting and is effectively paired up with the catchy chorus. It is also a great excuse to yell, “Leonard Bernstein!”
3. Imagine Dragons, “Radioactive”
This song has been everywhere the past year, infecting the listeners with its throbbing bass drum and catchy “Ohs.” It is a great anthem to rise up and fight some unspecified repressive force. The evocative imagery brings to mind an ashy, radioactive wasteland or Assassin’s Creed depending.
4. Flobots, “Handlebars”
The simple plucky rhythm of the song easily gets stuck in the head and enforces the rap. You’ll be absently chanting “no handlebars” or “no metronome” before you realize it.
5. Flight of the Conchords, “The Humans Are Dead”
This song sounds like a Speak and Spell doing the robot boogie, and that is awesome. This silly and catchy song enforces our excitement for a Bret McKenzie Labyrinth style musical movie.
6. Janelle Monáe - Dance Apocalyptic
If the apocalypse is coming you might as well go out dancing. It is impossible not to become one of Janelle Monáe’s backup singers in this amazingly toe-tapping song. This song promises great things from her upcoming album “Electric Lady.”
7. Creedence Clearwater Revival, “Bad Moon”
The classic “Bad Moon” has stood the test of time and become a cultural touchstone. The smiling, bobbing band and rather upbeat southern rock don’t really match the dark apocalyptic imagery of the lyrics.
8. Soundgarden, “Black Hole Sun”
“Black Hole Sun” shares the great qualities of most grunge music: you can mumble and moan along with the verse before bursting out into an impassioned chorus. The ridiculous amount of repetition of said chorus is hypnotic and burns into the brain.
9. Lenka, “The End of the World “
Lenka is the harbinger of the cutest damn apocalypse with her little girl bubblegum pop voice. Her ridiculously effervescent apocalypse brings smiles and rhythmic head bobbing.
10. AWOLNATION, “Knights of Shame”
Can an 11 minute song be catchy? The song has a great through beat that unifies and the repetitive lyrics are memorable. Despite the length, the song stays interesting by being a magical tour through different song styles from electronic, rap and funk before turning into a rock anthem around the eight minute mark.
11. Barry McGuire, “Eve of Destruction”
Protest songs by their very nature should stick in your head. They need to inspire and be memorable to a crowd, and in the 1960’s inspiring a group sing along at a protest was encouraged. The pure injustice and anger in the song encourages angry singing.
12. Nena, “99 Luftballons”
The most frustrating thing about this German song as an English speaker is not being able to sing along except for shouting “Captain Kirk.” Yes, there is an English version, but it totally kills the cold war vibe and tantalizingly exoticness.