Doomsday rock

An online discussion about music of the 1980s included a few references to songs about that fun topic of the imminent nuclear holocaust.

It should be pointed out that popular music has on occasion used social unrest to the point of the Apocalypse as a theme or inspiration …

… even before the ’80s.

The oeuvre of Doom Rock really got going in the 1980s, though, during the presidential terms of Ronald Reagan, who was simultaneously viewed by the American left as both stupid and evil (which you’d think would be incompatible concepts, but logic has never been a strong suit of political discussions) and doubtlessly bound to blow up the planet.

So because musical artists are usually left of center and get, shall we say, inspired by (more polite than “ripping off”) others’ works, an entire subgenre of rock was created.

For those who don’t know German:

Social commentary has always been a part of popular music at least since the 1960s. This particular musical trend dovetailed with what movie studios and TV networks were producing.

(One thing “Special Bulletin” and “Countdown to Looking Glass” have in common is really bad writing for and acting by those who were supposed to be portraying reporters and TV news anchors. Anyone who has watched coverage of such disasters as the 1989 San Francisco earthquake, 9/11 or severe storm damage knows that professionals do not emote on camera. The only way to get effective journalist portrayals is to use actual journalists, such as Eric Sevareid in his brief appearance in “Countdown to Looking Glass” and Sander Vanocur and Bree Walker in 1994’s “Without Warning.”)

You may notice, by the way, that the nuclear holocaust predicted for the 1980s did not take place. For that matter, within three years of Reagan’s leaving office the Soviet Union was no more and the entire Warsaw Pact collapsed. But defeating your enemy and being on the right side of history apparently doesn’t make good pop music.



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