Top 15 Doomsday Songs
Need a list of the top doomsday songs to prepare yourself for the impending end of times? Whenever that day arrives, you should be musically prepared for these precious few hours we have left. There's no better way to go out than by blasting our list of the Top 15 Doomsday Songs.
Chris Cornell has said that Soundgarden's "4th of July" was about an acid trip where he was hearing voices. But the imagery found in the Superunknown track -- depicting "scorched ones," "the end" and lots of fire -- could suggest the world after a nuclear war.
Found on 1988's So Far, So Good... So What!, Megadeth's "Set the World Afire" envisions, as Prince did in "1999," World War III happening around the turn of the century. Dave Mustaine castigates the world leaders for "Racing for power and all come in last / No winning, first stone cast / This falsehood worldly peace / Its treaties soon will cease." Later, he sings, "Too bad they couldn't see this lethal energy / And now the final scene, a global darkening."
As with the Police's "When the World Is Running Down, You Make the Best of What's Still Around" (see below), Steely Dan's "King of the World" is sung in the voice of a survivor of a nuclear war. But instead of comforting himself with a few relics that bring him joy, he's using a ham radio to see if anybody else is out there.
The first of two Police cuts on our list of Doomsday Songs, "Invisible Sun" is more about people who find hope despite extreme poverty than the idea of nuclear war. But in the last verse, Sting turns his attentions to the leaders who sho little concern for their plight, singing, "And they're only going to change this place / By killing everybody in the human race."
Released on 1984's Powerslave, Iron Maiden's "2 Minutes to Midnight" refers to the setting on the Doomsday Clock, a symbol created in 1947 by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists to show how close the world was to nuclear war, and has since incorporated other potential man-made global catastrophes. It reached the titular phrase in 1953, and at the time of the song's release, tensions between the U.S. and the Soviet Union set the clock at three minutes. After the threat receeded throughout the '90s, it crept back up and, as of January 2017, the clock was set at two-and-a-half minutes.
This song from Alice Cooper's 2017 album Paranormal turns out to be a real nightmare from the man who welcomed you to his nightmare more than 40 years earlier. In "Fireball," a guy thinks he’s just having a bad dream about the end of the world caused by a massive ball of fire falling from the sky. But then -- dun, dun, dun! -- it turns out to be real.
It's fitting that we start this list with the last song ever recorded by the Beatles. In a way, the Abbey Road track predicted the Fab Four's own doomsday. Thankfully, their music has lived on -- at least until the world ends. If "The End" doesn't do the trick, try Paul McCartney and Wings' "Live and Let Die" on for size. The track's hard guitars will prepare you for the apocalypse and the lyrics might even help you accept your unfortunate fate.
This epic track from Metallica's first album is all about the fabled horseback-riding dudes who signal the end of times. "The Horsemen are drawing nearer / On the leather steeds they ride / They have come to take your life," sings James Hetfield in a growling voice that lets you know that doom indeed is right around the corner.
In this track off the Police's Zenyatta Mondatta, Sting sings about making the best of the mundane things in life when the world is falling apart around you. In 1980, when the song was released, those everyday things that Sting mentioned included a VCR and an MCI multi-track tape recorder. In this day and age, it would probably be a Blu-ray player and an iPhone. Either way, none of those things are gonna help you once judgment day arrives.
No list of doomsday songs would be whole without a tune from Black Sabbath. And the Sabbath track that best prepares you for the apocalypse is the Master of Reality cut "After Forever." The religious-themed song is addressed to people who question the existence of God, and asks the question of whether you will be saved or condemned at the End of Days. Having the words come from "Prince of Darkness" Ozzy Osbourne's mouth makes it even more sinister.
For those of you who think you can outrun the End of Days, you're gonna have to move pretty fast. And, since there's only one Arnold Schwarzenegger (and I think we all know where he's heading now), that means you're gonna have to "Run Like Hell." The track off Pink Floyd's The Wall adds to the horror of it all with the sounds of angry mobs, loud screaming and heavy footsteps. Speaking of Schwarzenegger, didn't he also star in Terminator 2: Judgment Day?
How appropriate is it that this song starts out with the tolling of a bell? Judgment day must be here, indeed. This track off AC/DC's mammoth album Back in Black doesn't paint a pretty picture of your future, whatever's left of it, with lyrics like: "I won't take no prisoners, won't spare no lives / Nobody's putting up a fight / I got my bell, I'm gonna take you to hell / I'm gonna get you, Satan get you." Yikes, them's fighting words!
At first you're all, "Oh, I have no reason to fear the Grim Reaper," but then you see the parentheses in the title, and you're all, "Dude, wait a second -- does that mean I should be afraid?" BÖC guitarist Donald 'Buck Dharma' Roeser, who wrote and sung the tune, has said the Agents of Fortune track is actually a 'love song' and not a tune about murder-suicide that many thought it to be. Doesn't matter now, does it?
John Fogerty was inspired by the film The Devil and Daniel Webster in writing this apocalyptic tune for Creedence Clearwater Revival's Green River album. With lyrics like, "I hear hurricanes a-blowin' / I know the end is comin' soon" and "Hope you get your things together / Hope you are quite prepared to die," Fogerty doesn't give us much hope. Maybe we're better off with the misheard lyric "There's a bathroom on the right" than "There's a bad moon on the rise."
We earlier had the Beatles' "The End," and now we end with the Doors' "The End." Listening to Jim Morrison's haunting voice backed by the psychedelic sounds of his bandmates lets you know your time has come. And since it's the last song you'll ever hear, make sure you go with the full 12-minute version off the Doors' self-titled debut, or one of the 17-minute live renditions. That way you can squeeze a few extra minutes out of your time on Earth.