Ah, the good ol' days - nothing to worry about but a lingering death from radiation poisoning
April 3, 2007 11:58 PM   Subscribe

Nuke related songs of the 80s and 90s.

Which (pop, punk, ska and new wave particularly, but all suggestions appreciated) songs of the 80s or 90s which touch on the angst caused by living under the spectre of nuclear weapons.

Things like:

Nena - 99 Luftballons
Underworld - Underneath the Radar
Tears for Fears - Shout
Sting - Russians
The Clash - London Calling

Sorry for the 'mixtape' question, but google sets has failed me.
posted by pompomtom to Media & Arts (66 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
UB40 - The Earth Dies Screaming
The Specials - Man at C&A
David Bowie - When the Wind Blows
posted by misteraitch at 12:11 AM on April 4, 2007

And here's a wikipedia list of songs about nuclear war.
posted by misteraitch at 12:12 AM on April 4, 2007 [1 favorite]

Soviet Snow, by Shona Laing

Party at Ground Zero, by Fishbone
posted by jamaro at 12:14 AM on April 4, 2007

Midnight Oil's album Red Sails in the Sunset (and 10-1 before that).
posted by bystander at 12:16 AM on April 4, 2007

Crass - They've Got A Bomb
posted by cmonkey at 12:19 AM on April 4, 2007

The first thing I thought of was the punk song "I Hate You" from Star Trek IV.

The only choice we're given is "How many megatons?"

posted by Pater Aletheias at 12:22 AM on April 4, 2007

"Fireside Favourite" by Fad Gadget
"Missiles" and "New Dark Age" by The Sound
"More ICBMs" by Nomeansno
posted by Vervain at 12:22 AM on April 4, 2007

"Forever Young" - Alphaville
posted by PenDevil at 12:27 AM on April 4, 2007

Enola Gay -- Orchestral Manouevres in the Dark
posted by Rumple at 12:33 AM on April 4, 2007

Black Planet - Sisters of Mercy
posted by seanyboy at 12:35 AM on April 4, 2007

D.O.A. - World War 3
posted by bobo123 at 1:07 AM on April 4, 2007

We Believe by ministry is about the cold war, with both sound fx and implications of the start of a nuclear war going on throughout. Nice cold proto-industrial sound which is so 80s .
posted by dong_resin at 1:25 AM on April 4, 2007

"Two Tribes" by Frankie Goes To Hollywood (YouTube)
posted by Jakey at 1:26 AM on April 4, 2007

The Jam - 'A' Bomb on Wardour Street
posted by oh pollo! at 1:37 AM on April 4, 2007

Laurie Anderson, "O Superman."
posted by mykescipark at 2:21 AM on April 4, 2007

"Since Yesterday" by Strawberry Switchblade (youtube), although not too explicitly.
posted by Martin E. at 2:33 AM on April 4, 2007

Real Situation Bob Marley from Uprising - 1980. Total distruction the only solution.
posted by adamvasco at 3:12 AM on April 4, 2007

The Smiths, "Ask":

If it's not love than it's the bomb, the bomb,the bomb, the bomb, the bomb, the bomb that will keep us together.

Also, slightly outside your timeframe, released in 2000, Barcelona's "Have You Forgotten the Bomb?":

The atom bomb will never change
Still the same same same
As it was yesterday
One thing remains
Everyone around me
Looks so happy now
Who am i to bring this party down down down

posted by Aznable at 3:21 AM on April 4, 2007

The Police were big on that theme -- Bombs Away, Murder by Numbers, Demolition Man, One World, Invisible Sun, and probably more that I'm not thinking of...
posted by miss lynnster at 3:27 AM on April 4, 2007

I don't know about punk stuff, but Megadeth had a bunch of songs about nuclear war-ish stuff on the "So Far, So Good, So What" (1988) and "Rust in Peace" (1990) albums.
posted by gaiamark at 3:28 AM on April 4, 2007

Exodus, Fabulous Disaster.
posted by Wolfdog at 3:38 AM on April 4, 2007

Ultravox - All stood still
Ultravox - Dancing with tears in my eyes
posted by Substrata at 4:26 AM on April 4, 2007

"Five Minutes" by Bonzo Goes To Washington
posted by extrabox at 4:27 AM on April 4, 2007

Two Minutes to Midnight by Iron Maiden
posted by COD at 4:29 AM on April 4, 2007

Seconds - U2
posted by hwestiii at 4:57 AM on April 4, 2007

Timbuk 3 - The Future's So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades
Sun Ra - Nuclear War
posted by hydrophonic at 5:22 AM on April 4, 2007

Carnivore - Ground Zero Brooklyn
posted by The Straightener at 5:22 AM on April 4, 2007

This World Over by XTC - the 7" single came with postcards from 7 or so bombed cities ("Greetings from ...."). All the postcards were the same save the city name.

There's this list on Wikipedia.
posted by jdfan at 5:51 AM on April 4, 2007


Also, "It's a Mistake" by Men at Work. I think "Stand or Fall" by the Fixx might be too.
posted by gimonca at 5:55 AM on April 4, 2007

Misfits - Nike a-Go-Go
Ultravox - Hiroshima Mon Amour
posted by jet_silver at 5:58 AM on April 4, 2007

XTC: Generals and Majors
posted by Coaticass at 6:02 AM on April 4, 2007

Stranglers - Nuclear Device
posted by Melsky at 6:09 AM on April 4, 2007

Ultravox - Hiroshima Mon Amour

that song is not about nuclear threat, but about ending a releationship

great song though.
posted by Substrata at 6:22 AM on April 4, 2007

Prince: 1999
posted by Robert Angelo at 7:18 AM on April 4, 2007

Busted Statues - Red Clouds
posted by kuujjuarapik at 7:30 AM on April 4, 2007

Frank Zappa's "Dumb All Over" might squeeze in with a neutron bomb reference:

"So verily we must choppeth them up
And stompeth them down
Or rent a nice French bomb
To poof them out of existence."
posted by Zonker at 7:30 AM on April 4, 2007

"Christmas at Ground Zero" by Weird Al Yankovic. Hilarious song.
posted by Dec One at 7:45 AM on April 4, 2007

Escape Club's "Wild Wild West" touches on it: "Sitting in the backroom waiting for the big boom / I'm in the bedroom waiting for my baby".
posted by ontic at 7:54 AM on April 4, 2007

XTC - Living Through Another Cuba
DEVO - Beautiful World (see the video)
The Vapors - Letter From Hiro
Roger Waters - Radio K.A.O.S. (album)
posted by SansPoint at 8:12 AM on April 4, 2007

Some of these don't have much angst in 'em, but...

Icehouse, "Sunrise"
Rush, "Manhattan Project"
Pink Floyd, "Two Suns in the Sunset"
posted by kindall at 8:22 AM on April 4, 2007

Time Zone - World Destruction
posted by box at 8:24 AM on April 4, 2007

Rush, "Distant Early Warning"
U2, "The Unforgettable Fire" (I always heard Bono wrote this after seeing a Hiroshima exhibit somewhere).
posted by 4ster at 8:28 AM on April 4, 2007

Weird Al— Christmas at Ground Zero
Art— Give Me Nuclear Power
The Oranges Band— Ride the Nuclear Wave
Jem Targal— The Bomb Song
The Weirdos— We Got the Neutron Bomb
Jon Rans— Nuclear Adventure
Christina— Is That All There Is?
Von Lmo— Ultraviolet Light
posted by klangklangston at 8:42 AM on April 4, 2007

In '92, Uncle Tupelo covered a song by the Louvin Brothers called "Atomic Power." The original was recorded in 1952. The style would best be called bluegrass or alt-country.
Do you fear this man's invention / That they call atomic power?
Are we all in great confusion / Do we know the time or hour?
When a terrible explosion / May rain down upon our land,
Leaving horrible destruction / Blotting out the works of man.

posted by leapfrog at 8:47 AM on April 4, 2007

"It Can't Happen Here" by Rainbow
The video featured a nuclear explosion
posted by Hugh Jorgan at 8:51 AM on April 4, 2007

Subhumans - All Gone Dead
Circle Jerks - Live Fast, Die Young
Flux of Pink Indians - Tapioca Sunrise
The Weirdos - We Got the Neutron Bomb
Discharge - Pretty much every track on WHY?
The Jam - Wasteland

Bad Religion has a few, such as Atomic Garden and The Biggest Killer in American History, and American Jesus contains a fleeting reference.

And the Crust movement was heavily influenced by the specter of nuclear war -- Amebix, Antisect, Oi Polloi, Neurosis, etc. all have relevant songs. Crass has already been mentioned, lots of stuff there. I'm sure there's tons more.
posted by milquetoast at 9:06 AM on April 4, 2007

10,000 Maniacs - Grey Victory. (1985) The Enola Gay mention popped it right back into my head. (likely popup ridden lyrics site)
posted by cobaltnine at 9:09 AM on April 4, 2007

The Gears - Rockin' at Ground Zero
Social Distortion - 1945
posted by InfidelZombie at 9:20 AM on April 4, 2007

More Discharge:The Possibilities of Life's Destruction,The End, The Final Bloodbath ( all from Hear Nothing See Nothing Say Nothing)

Corrosion of Conformity: Tell Me, Poison Planet (from Eye for an EYE)

Minutemen: Paranoid Chant
posted by Max Power at 9:23 AM on April 4, 2007

Tears for Fears had a few of them. "Shout" could be interpreted as one, but "Mothers Talk" (partially inspired by Raymond Briggs' book When the Wind Blows) and "Famous Last Words" are a bit more explicit with the nuclear age paranoia.

Ultravox had another anti-nuke song, "All Fall Down."

And, of course, there's Heaven 17's "Let's All Make a Bomb."
posted by anthom at 9:53 AM on April 4, 2007

World Destruction by Africaa Bambadaa and Johnny Rotten.
End of the World as We Know It by REM
Red Rain by Peter Gabriel

This one only by association, but We'll Meet Again from the Dr. Strangelove Soundtrack. Johnny Cash admits this imagery influenced his cover of the song on his last album.

And one intended to be funny, Who's Next by Tom Lehrer. ("First we had the bomb and that was good, cause it stood for peace and brotherhood. Then they got the bomb, but that's ok cause the balance of power's maintained that way! Who's Next?")
posted by ilsa at 9:55 AM on April 4, 2007

Ozzy Osbourne "Thank God For The Bomb" from 1986 Ultimate Sin (there's a "nuke ya nuke ya" in there somewhere)
posted by Hugh Jorgan at 10:17 AM on April 4, 2007

Sigue Sigue Sputnik, "M.A.D."
Men Without Hats, "Pop Goes the World"
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 10:23 AM on April 4, 2007

"Blackened" by Metallica can be interpreted as sorta' nuclear ... 1988
posted by Hugh Jorgan at 10:27 AM on April 4, 2007

Morrissey- Every Day is Like Sunday
posted by oneirodynia at 10:55 AM on April 4, 2007

Seems like most every metal band of that era had at least one song about this:

Bolt Thrower - "Dark Millennium", "As the World Burns"
Carnivore - "Thermonuclear Warrior", "World Wars III & IV"
Dark Angel - "Falling From the Sky"
Kreator - "Total Death"
Megadeth - "Set the World Afire"
Metallica - "Blackened"
Nuclear Assault - "Radiation Sickness", "Nuclear War", "After the Holocaust", etc etc etc etc
Saxon - "Fire in the Sky"
Sepultura - "War", "Beneath the Remains"
Slaughter (Canada) - "Incinerator"
Sodom - "Burst Command Til War", "Nuclear Winter"
Voivod - "Nuclear War"

That's not even counting a million I've forgotten, nor the ones that are only tangentially about the bomb...
posted by vorfeed at 11:19 AM on April 4, 2007

Sting, "Russians"
Randy Newman, "Political Science"
Lou Reed, "Fly Into the Sun"
posted by Skot at 11:25 AM on April 4, 2007

The original is older than you like, but a few years ago Yo La Tengo released an EP with four versions of Sun Ra's Nuclear War. Version two is very memorable.
posted by princelyfox at 11:42 AM on April 4, 2007

Hard to find, but "This is not a test" by Tommy Shaw
posted by drstein at 11:51 AM on April 4, 2007

anthom beat me to the H17 recommendation, but "Five Minutes to Midnight" was more explicitly about nuclear war; to the point that all the profits from that song were donated to anti-nuke charities.

FGTH's "Two Tribes" was a good one, but it was a well-known secret back in the day that it was written specifically about Mad Max/the Road Warrior, not nuclear war itself.

Although more about the cold war than nuclear, Donald Fagen's "New Frontier" might fit.
posted by geckoinpdx at 12:12 PM on April 4, 2007

Wow, I am in the middle of making almost this exact same mix. That is freaky weird.

I am planning to call it "Electrapocalypse".

As for songs, how about "Star" by Erasure?
posted by exceptinsects at 12:24 PM on April 4, 2007

Megadeth: Rust In Peace...Polaris
Metallica: Fight Fire With Fire
posted by Darth Fedor at 2:05 PM on April 4, 2007

yo la tengo has an instrumental called Mushroom Cloud of Hiss (I think it's completely instrumental, possibly I'm forgetting some lyrical moments, but it's def not lyric-focused. Dunno if that counts, but it's a great track.
posted by mdn at 2:48 PM on April 4, 2007

Land of Confusion by Genesis.
posted by Bearman at 3:16 PM on April 4, 2007

Mojo Nixon: Gonna Put My Face On A Nuclear Bomb
posted by prjo at 5:18 PM on April 4, 2007

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