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Noise To Signal's Infinite Playlist #1 : Apocalypse Please

Welcome to a new regular* feature, in which every couple of weeks we post a playlist of ten songs on a particular theme for you to feast your ears upon. We’ll give you links and details on where the songs come from, so you can track them down and get hold of ‘em - and if you’re a Spotify user, you can even click straight through to listen. But unlike other NTS features, this one isn’t just reliant upon you reading (and, er, listening) - we’ve gone mad with power, like that Albert Schweitzer guy, and we want your input.

While we’ll be starting off with playlists compiled by site writers, we’d also like to open it up for our loyal readers to contribute. So if you can come up with ten songs, of any genre or style, linked by any kind of theme (loose or tight), or simply ten tracks you’re particularly digging at the moment, we’ll put them together and use them. So get thinking, and fire off your suggestions to! And, of course, if you simply want to discuss the playlists that we post - especially if you’ve got BETTER song suggestions than we come up with - then the comment threads await your thoughts.

We kick off this week with a list of songs themed around the end of the world

So what makes a good apocalyptic song? First off, it helps if the track actually sounds like it’s soundtracking the end of the world - Muse and in particular Nick Cave both manage this pretty well, while Jimi Hendrix goes for a more ominous sense of foreboding (you’ll note, by the way, that I’ve gone for Hendrix over Dylan’s original - that’s a personal choice, but it’s the correct one). An altogether more comical approach is taken by The Divine Comedy, who present something that sounds like it’s from a cheesy musical, while Ooberman deliberately pitch their multi-part epic to play out like a movie score in miniature. Of course, the Oob’s song is unique in this list in focusing its concerns on a fictional, far-away planet - the other nine songs all have their feet firmly planted on a dying Earth. The quirky Canadians Islands are literal in their lyrics (talking of bursting volcanoes and a global winter) but counterbalance it with music that’s lovely rather than grim - and “lovely” also describes Ed Harcourt’s tale of love in the face of apocalypse. Speaking of “literal”, meanwhile, I nearly didn’t include R.E.M., since it’s my view that the song’s shopping-list of lyrics don’t really focus all that specifically on the subject matter of the chorus - but you can’t really ignore that chorus, and it’s probably the first song that comes to anyone’s mind when talking about world-ending tracks, so it had to go in. As did The Clash, who despite having their song misappropriated by people trying to be positive about London, were actually forewarning against the place being obliterated. And since we’re short on Old Testament, Wrath of God stuff, Johnny Cash had to be in there as well.

1. Muse - Apocalypse Please (Absolution, 2003)
2. The Clash - London Calling (London Calling, 1979)
3. R.E.M. - It’s The End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine) (Document, 1987)
4. The Jimi Hendrix Experience - All Along The Watchtower (Electric Ladyland, 1968)
5. Johnny Cash - The Man Comes Around (American IV, 2002)
6. Ed Harcourt - Until Tomorrow Then (The Beautiful Lie, 2006)
7. Islands - Volcanoes (Return to the Sea, 2006)
8. The Divine Comedy - Here Comes The Flood (Fin de Siecle, 1999)
9. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds - Tupelo (The Firstborn is Dead, 1985)
10. Ooberman - Silver Planet (The Magic Treehouse, 1999)

And as a special treat, if you’re using the excellent Spotify - and now that it no longer requires an invitation to join, your only excuse not to be using it is if you’re in the US or Canada - you can hear the entire playlist (minus the Ooberman track, which sadly isn’t on there, booo) by following this link :…

They’re my choices. Have a listen, and I hope you enjoy. But what would you have included? And what would you like to see posted here in a few weeks?

* we say “regular”, but this is NTS. Let’s see how it goes.

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> (you’ll note, by the way, that I’ve gone for Hendrix over Dylan’s original - that’s a personal choice, but it’s the correct one)

Bear McCreary’s version is lovely.

Oh. And I’m looking forward to Watchmen.

Marleen's picture

By Marleen
February 27, 2009 @ 11:34 pm

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If environmental catastrophe counts as an apocalypse, then Björk’s “Earth Intruders”.

Pulp’s “The Day After the Revolution”.

The orchestral crescendos in The Beatles’ “A Day in the Life”. If anything they sound even more apocalyptic in Jeff Beck’s version!

I’m not much of a fan of Pink Floyd’s The Final Cut, but “Two Suns in the Sunset” definitely fits in with the theme.

Nick R's picture

By Nick R
February 28, 2009 @ 3:16 am

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Awesome tracks right there.

By Zoran
March 03, 2009 @ 5:13 am

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