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The rapture is coming

Songs for the ‘End of the World As We Know It’

written by: on May 21, 2011

Since the beginning of time, we’ve been trying to predict the end of time. Dozens of doomsday dates have come and gone and we’re still here. The latest Rapture date is set for today, Saturday, May 21 at 6pm EST. For this, we have Christian radio host, Harold Camping, to thank. If his prediction proves true (this time), there are two very important questions you need to ask yourself, “Am I ready?” and “What should I listen to?” Here are ten songs (and a bonus track for the inevitable day after the predicted rapture) to add to your Rapture playlist:

10. Europe – “The Final Countdown”

Europe’s hair metal masterpiece, “The Final Countdown,” is a great song to get you in the mood for impending doom. Unfortunately, we’re not going to Venus, like the song suggests, we’re going straight to hell, unless you’re one of the lucky 144,000, 200 million, or any other trivial number, depending on your religion.


9. The Doors – “The End”

For a more somber tone for the end times, this Doors hit is for you. After a remixed version was used in 1979’s “Apocalypse Now,” the song has been featured in dozens of other films and television shows. So, gather a few of your closest friends and sing together, “This is the end / Beautiful friend / This is the end / My only friend, the end.”


8. Creedence Clearwater Revival – “Bad Moon Rising”

In a 1993 interview with Rolling Stone, John Fogerty admits he was inspired by the idea of an impending apocalypse when he wrote “Bad Moon Rising.” He credits the film version of the story “The Devil and Daniel Webster” as part of his inspiration. Perhaps Camping was listening to CCR when he thought he saw a “bad moon rising.”


7. Metallica – “The Four Horsemen”

Of the millions of metal songs about the apocalypse, this one seemed the most appropriate. In the book of Revelation, the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse represent (in most translations) conquest, war, famine and death. Metallica’s version describes them as time, famine, pestilence and death. Regardless of what they represent, one thing is for certain: “The Horsemen are drawing nearer / On leather steeds they ride / They have come to take your life / On through the dead of night.”


6. The Beatles – “Helter Skelter”

If this cryptic song was a good enough doomsday anthem for Charles Manson, it’s good enough for us. Unfortunately for him, Manson never got his apocalyptic race war, but that doesn’t mean “Helter Skelter” wasn’t an awesome theme song for the end of days.


5. Barry McGuire – “Eve of Destruction”

“Eve of Destruction” has been covered by many artists since it was written in 1965, but its most famous incarnation is by Barry McGuire. The song is mainly a warning of the apocalypse but has been touted as a staple protest song that touches on topics like the Cold War, the nuclear arms race and the civil rights movement. Despite its heavy messages, “The Eve of Destruction” has an odd quality that has you bobbing your head and waving your arms to and fro.


4. Johnny Cash – “When the Man Comes Around”

Leave it to Johnny Cash to get to the heart of what the rapture is allegedly all about: the return of Jesus to earth. The song opens with Cash reciting verses from Revelation where the rapture story unfolds. The song actually reads as a fairly literal interpretation of how Revelation says this will all go down. Whatever your beliefs may be, Cash suggests you best be ready “when the man comes around.”


3. Tom Lehrer – “We Will All Go Together When We Go”
Tom Lehrer is the pioneer of modern musical comedy. The vast majority of his songs were completely original, lyrically and musically, and plenty controversial for the ‘50s and ‘60s; he wrote satirical songs about the Catholic Church, STDs, and race relations. This particular song was inspired by the Cold War-era panic of impending nuclear war. Lehrer reminds us, if nothing else, when the end comes, we’ll all go together.


2. Carl Orff – “O Fortuna”

German composer Carl Orff took a medieval collection of poems called the “Carmina Burana” and turned it into a cantata (think an opera without the acting). The opening and closing piece is “O Fortuna,” and let’s face it, it’s probably the most epic song ever composed. It’s been used in countless film trailers and commercials and makes you want to grab a flaming torch or an axe and run screaming down a hillside.


1. R.E.M – “It’s the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)”

This list would not be complete without R.E.M.’s quintessential end-of-days tune. The song begins with, “That’s great / It starts with an earthquake / Birds, snakes and airplanes,” four historical signs of the apocalypse. The rest of the song seems like a stream-of-consciousness rant, streaming together nonsensical people and objects, and yet managed to birth the greatest lyrics in music history, “Birthday party / Cheesecake / Jellybean / Boom.” This song, if nothing else, will have you dancing towards the light with the thought that “Hey, this isn’t so bad.”


[Bonus track] The Rapture -House of Jealous Lovers

But, of course, if it’s the end of the world and you know it (and you feel fine), what better way to go down than with a dance party? Conveniently named dance-punk group The Rapture has you covered. With it’s funky bassline, manic vocals and ingenious, liberal use of cowbell (forget about Blue Oyster Cult), “House of Jealous Lovers” will certainly make those being raptured jealous and the rest of us happy Harold Camping was right this time. -Chris Favata