Ozzy Osbourne

Top 10 Rock Stars You Forgot Were in Horror Movies

It’s Halloween! Time to overdose on candy and watch horror movies. Rock stars even get in the fun and sometimes make…interesting appearances in horror movies. Sometimes it’s not that bad, but most of the time it’s clear they should stick to music. To get you in the mood for things that go bump in the night, here are ten rock stars you forgot in horror movies. They’re ranked from best performances to worst.

10. Tom Waits in Bram Stoker’s Dracula

Somehow Tom Waits playing the role of the insane Renfield in Dracula is oddly appropriate. Watching scenes of him eating flies and gravelly cackling about his vampiric master is hypnotizing and frightening. He perfectly shows how far gone Renfield is at this point in the film. What is probably the creepiest thing is how he still seems charming even though he’s spiraling into madness and is out for blood. With his demeanor and trademark gravelly voice, seems like Waits should be in more sophisticated horror movies.

9. Chester Bennington in Saw 3D

Unless you’re an avid fan of the Saw franchise, you might’ve missed Linkin Park frontman Chester Bennington in the seventh installment of the series. In the film, he plays a Neo-Nazi named Evan who has to gruesomely tear himself from a car seat in order to save his friends. As you expect, things don’t end very well for the gang. Bennington puts his hard rock chops to work by screaming for his life. The scene is hard to watch and turns your stomach. Bennington landed the role by happenstance. Producer Mark Burg lived next to one of the Linkin Park bandmembers and heard Bennington was a huge fan. It’s an odd cameo, but at least he was decent at it.

8. David Bowie and Peter Murphy in The Hunger

If there’s anyone who could play a suave, sexy vampire, it’s David Bowie. The rocker landed the starring role in this 1983 “erotic thriller” about a love triangle between a doctor and a vampire couple. It’s not a horror movie per se, but rather a slick looking film with supernatural elements. Though the movie received mixed reviews, Bowie is as cool and stylish as ever. It may not be an awarding winning performance, but it’s better than most on this list. Bauhaus’ Peter Murphy also makes a brief appearance during the film’s credits singing the Goth anthem “Bela Lugosi’s Dead.”

7. Gene Simmons and Ozzy Osbourne in Trick or Treat

Two legendary rockers pop up in this forgotten 80s horror movie. In this film, Eddie is devastated over the loss of his favorite rocker Sammi Curr. He gets more than he asks when Curr starts haunting him. Simmons plays Nuke, Eddie’s friend who’s a DJ at the local radio station. The performance is forgettable and easy to miss as Simmons if you aren’t paying attention, or if you aren’t a KISS fan. But Ozzy’s turn as an evangelist talking about the evils of heavy metal must be scene. Dressed in a suit and with his hair slicked back, Osbourne warns kids about the evil of heavy metal with a straight face. Seeing as Ozzy’s music was touted as being Satanic and responsible for deaths in the 80s, it’s hilarious to hear him talk about the evilness of rock music.

6. Sting in The Bride

Did you know there was a remake/re-imagining of The Bride of Frankenstein? Yeah, it’s a terrible idea. To make things even more confusing, the film starred Sting as Baron Charles Frankenstein. The movie follows the same basic plot of the original: Frankenstein makes a mate for his infamous monster and everything goes to shit. Set in a lush Victorian setting, the film is visually pleasing, but that seems to be the most interesting about it. The movie was critically panned, as expected. Gene Siskel even called it a Monstorous Failure. But that didn’t stop Sting from starring in more movies, like Plenty and Dune. Guess the guy can’t take a hint.

5. Dee Snider in Strangeland

When Snider isn’t fronting Twisted Sister he’s apparently writing horror films. He wrote and starred in 1998’s Strangeland, which focuses on a small town being terrified by a tattooed and pierced baddie Captain Howdy. Howdy uses internet chat rooms to stalk and torture his victims. This is a movie that can only be made in the 90s when everyone was young and naive about the internet. The trailer looks cheesy as hell, but Snider at least seems decent. Still, the movie got negative reviews upon release. Guess people liked the movie the first time they saw it as Hellraiser.

4. Marilyn Manson in Rise: Blood Hunter

Marilyn Manson is no stranger to acting. He’s made appearances in films The Heart is Deceitful Above all Things and Party Monster. But in 2007 he made a low key appearance in sub par horror film Rise: Blood Hunter starring Lucy Liu. Judging from the three-minute clip, the movie is pretty lame. Manson is monotone and boring as the everyday bartender who helps Eve (Liu) to find someone. There’s nothing notable about his acting. The most interesting thing about the clip is Manson sans makeup, which is not as shocking as it used to be. There’s probably a reason you’ve never heard of this film. Maybe we need to keep it that way.

3. Jon Bon Jovi in Vampires: Los Muertos

Jon Bon Jovi has some weird obsession with being a cowboy. It started with “Dead or Alive” and lead to several roles in Western films. So when John Carpenter penned a script a horror Western, Jovi took the call to star as Derek Bliss, vampire hunter. This is actually a sequel to Carpenter’s 1998 film Vampires, which was pretty successful. This one, however, is a straight to video sequel. There’s really nothing else to say after that. You don’t need to see the entire movie to know it’s bad. Just watch the trailer and see how stiff and lifeless Jovi is in the starring role. Even the scene when he kind of turns into a vampire is dull. Maybe the rocker should stick with radio friendly hits that you love, yet hate at the same time.

2. Alice Cooper in Monster Dog

When browsing through Netflix one night, I came across this odd movie. A horror flick starring the equally frightening Alice Cooper? What could go wrong? Apparently, a lot. The movie is slow, dull, and just awful. Not even funny awful. Just bad. Cooper’s performance is unremarkable and the plot of wild dogs attacking random citizens sounds cool but is hardly terrifying. Even the scene where Cooper turns into a werewolf, which you have to sit through the entire movie for, is boring. To make things worse, the movie is dubbed in English and none of the English actors voiced their own lines. So throughout the entire viewing, you wonder if something’s off or if you’re just going crazy.

1.Roger Daltrey in Vampirella

In this terrible adaption of the long-running Vampirella comic series, The Who frontman Roger Daltrey stars in this direct to video film. That should say it all right there. Daltrey stars as Vlad/Jamie Blood, who is Vampirella’s enemy and a rock star on weekends. And yes, that does mean there is a musical scene in the film. Seeing an aging Daltrey straining and trying to be enticing with a rat’s tail on the side of his head is cringe worthy. He doesn’t sound bad performing, but when it comes to enticing vampires, Daltrey isn’t the first guy you think of. Judging from the trailer, it’s one of those movies you watch with friends to laugh at how awful it is. What was Daltrey thinking?

Honorable mention:

Sonny Bono in Troll

I didn’t include this one because Sonny Bono isn’t a rock star. But seeing him transform into some weird plant/pod monster was too good to not talk about. Bono gets trick by a troll in the titular movie Troll, yes the precursor to the hilariously awful Troll 2. If you can manage to sit throughout the entire thing, you’ll even catch a young Julia Louis-Dreyfus.

Happy Halloween!

Playlist: Rock Duets

Sometimes a duet is the best thing in the world. Other times, it’s a disaster. But it always leaves memorable stories. There’s something about two huge musicians getting together to create music that’s thrilling and exciting. Pop music is full of countless duets, but they don’t seem as popular for rock music. They certainly exist; they’re just not as abundant as they are in pop music. So let’s look at some of the most notable and popular duets in rock music. For the purpose of this playlist, a duet is a song where both artists have an equal amount of time on the track.

“Close My Eyes Forever” – Lita Ford and Ozzy Osbourne

This is probably the most famous rock duet. The song, which apparently came about as an accident according to Sharon Osbourne, was the third single for Lita Ford’s self-titled debut album. With sappy lyrics and a blazing guitar solo, it’s no different from the many power ballads of the era. Ozzy’s haunting vocals do add an eerie touch to the song, but it’s still pretty cheesy. Though I love Osbourne, I never liked this song. It’s too slow for my tastes and is just corny. Then again, I’d be hard press to find one power ballad from the 80s I actually like. Still, this single stands out as one of the most notable duets in rock music.

“Love Interruption” – Jack White and Ruby Amanfu

The music world went a little nuts when Jack White announced a solo album only a year after the White Stripes ended. The debut single “Love Interruption” wasn’t what people expected. There were no roaring riffs and White screaming over screeching guitars. Instead, the song is mellow, subdued, and a bit cynical. Though White could’ve easily carried the song himself, the addition of Amanfu’s smoky vocals adds an understated sensuality to the song. Something about her voice adds a raspy, soulful nature that would’ve been missing otherwise. I actually think it’s one of the strongest tracks from Blunderbuss and serves as a reminder love isn’t always pretty.

“Dancing in the Street” – Mick Jagger and David Bowie

Two of music’s iconic artists, what could go wrong? To be fair, the cover itself isn’t that bad. There’s nothing particularly special about it, but it’s fun at least. Yet, the music video will go down in infamy. It’s unbelievably bad. Jagger exaggerates everything from his facial expressions to his seizure inducing dance moves. Bowie remains cool though it looked like he left the house in some wild pajamas. And don’t forget the scene where Jagger chugs down a soda while Bowie sings. It’s probably one of the worst videos of the 80s. Hell, even Family Guy said it was the gayest music video in history. Thinking about it, there are moments where the two singers get a little too close for comfort.

“State of Shock” – Michael Jackson and Mick Jagger

Mick Jagger shows up again for a better collaboration with Michael Jackson. Recorded for The Jackson’s album Victory, the song is a raucous and kind of spastic team up with the rocker. The song was originally meant to be a duet with Freddie Mercury for the Thriller album, but scheduling conflicts kept the two from working together. Jagger was called instead and it ended up being his biggest hit away from The Rolling Stones. It’s one of those unexpected hits from Jackson’s catalog, but it’s one of the finest examples of pop and rock colliding. Later on, Jackson said he Jagger sang off key, while Jagger called Jackson “lightweight.” Anyone else think the Freddie Mercury version would’ve been epic?

“Good Times” – INXS and Jimmy Barnes

When two talented vocalists come together, they often try to outshine each other. That’s not the case here. For their contribution to The Lost Boys soundtrack, INXS teamed up with singer/songwriter Jimmy Barnes on this cover of The Easybeats song. Michael Hutchences’ smoldering vocals pair exceptionally well with Barnes’ bluesy, rock-tinged voice. They actually work together to give listeners a thrilling experience. The two sharing vocal duties along with the high energy music supporting them, it’s everything you want a good rock rolling song to be. It has a similar good time vibe as Bob Seger’s “Old Time Rock and Roll.” Listening to Barnes’ vocals, you have to admit it’s reminiscent of rockers, like Robert Plant.

“Hunger Strike” – Temple of the Dog

Temple of the Dog started as a way for Chris Cornell and members of Pearl Jam to deal with the death of Mother Love Bone frontman Andrew Wood. Their debut album did exceptionally well with this song being their biggest hit single. The track features Chris Cornell and Eddie Vedder on vocal duties. When two of grunge’s most notable and talented vocalists get together for a song, you know it’s going to be good. And that’s exactly what you get with this powerful, emotionally driven tune. Both artists get time to share their unique vocal styles, Vedder being gruff and raspy and Cornell’s higher range. It results in a song that’s beautiful and haunting.

“Stand by Your Man” – Wendy O. Williams and Lemmy Kilmister

Ever wonder what it would sound like if two punks ripped apart the Tammy Wynette classic “Stand By your Man?” That’s what Wendy O. Williams and Lemmy Kilmister for a single in 1982. The song is almost unrecognizable with gritty, blazing guitars making a ruckus while the two scream out the lyrics over the noise. Oddly enough, it works. It’s one of those weird covers you would never expect two rock legends to even consider. They breathe new sinister life into the country classic that makes you want to head bang. O. Williams and Kilmister teamed up again for “Jailbait,” which appeared on the Plasmatics album Kommander of Kaos. Listening to these two, it’s clear they were truly one of a kind.

“I Ain’t No Nice Guy” – Motorhead and Ozzy Osbourne

When two of hard rock’s most iconic and legendary figures team up, you expect something epic beyond belief. That’s not the result of this duet featuring Lemmy Kilmister and the Prince of Darkness. Rather than getting together for a kickass track that would melt your face off, the two sing a ballad instead. It’s a slow, somber song made for radio airplay. It actually became a huge hit for Motorhead’s tenth album March or Die. It’s a decent song and features a slow burning solo from guitar hero Slash, but it won’t hit that sweet spot for most metalheads. It’s just so unexpected for the rockers. What’s even more surprising is seeing Ozzy with a five o’clock shadow in the video. Yikes.

“A Tout Le Monde” – Megadeth and Christina Scabbia

This song originally appeared on Megadeth’s sixth album Youthanasia and quickly became a staple for the band. At the time of its release, it garnered controversy for its music video. MTV banned it claiming it promoted suicide, which Dave Mustaine was quick to dismiss. The band re-recorded the song in 2007 for the album United Abominations with Christina Scabbia of Lacuna Coil. Aside from some slight alterations, like a faster pace, there;s not much difference aside from Scabbia singing an entire verse showing off her vocal chops. The song keeps its sentimentality intact along with its hard hitting sound and slightly aggressive mood. Many may prefer the original, but this re-recording is a great blend of old school and new school.

“Walk This Way” – Run DMC and Aerosmith

These days the world of rock and rap often combine for both awesome and questionable results. But back in the 80s, the two were seen as exclusive genres that should never cross paths. Run DMC and Aerosmith broke that barrier with this duet. When it was released in 1986 it blew everyone’s collective minds. Not only did Run DMC cover this classic rock track, they even got Steven Tyler and Joe Perry to join them. The song is still amazing to this day and remains one of the best mash-ups ever. It, of course, would go on to inspire other rock/rap collabs, such as Jay-z and Linkin Park (remember when that was a thing?)

“The One You Love to Hate” – Rob Halford and Bruce Dickinson

Two heavy metal giants, both who are considered the best vocalists in the genre, team up for this roaring track. Recorded for Halford’s debut album Ressurection, the song features Iron Maiden’s Bruce Dickinson on vocals. You’d expect to be beyond amazing and the most bad ass thing you’ve ever heard. In reality, it’s okay. It feels more like a Dickinson track since his voice overpowers everything and Halford is stuck on back up duty. It’s a pretty standard metal song with soaring vocals, blazing guitars and a lot of aggression. It’s not bad; just not very remarkable.

“Don’t Fear the Reaper” – HIM and Sanna-June Hyde

On HIM’s debut album, the band provided a haunting rendition of the Blue Oyster Cult classic. This version brings out all the darkness and grim view that’s implied in the lyrics. And frontman Ville Valo’s baritone vocals provide are a perfect match. Adding some brightness to the track is Finnish actor Sanna-June Hyde. She provided guest vocals for this track and “For You” early in her career. She’s not necessarily the best singer but her voice surprisingly well with Valo’s. There’s also something eerie about their voices. Still one of the best covers of this song.

“Under Pressure” – Queen and David Bowie

The thought of Queen and David Bowie doing a song together sounds like a dream. This amazing collaboration resulted in one of the best songs of the 80s. It’s an undeniable classic; pairing Bowie’s mellow vocals with Freddie Mercury’s dramatic bravado leads to a beautiful sonic experience. And try not to get chills during the bridge when Mercury pleads “Why can’t we give love/give love/give love?” The song became a huge hit for both artists and remains their most notable. Of course, the riff would be stolen by Vanilla Ice in the 90s, who claimed it wasn’t the same song.

Which is your favorite rock duet? Which ones did I miss? Let me know in the comments!

Playlist: I Think I’m Paranoid

Everyone gets paranoid from time to time. Sometimes you end up in the dark area of Youtube at 1:30AM and need to make sure the doors are locked. Or you’re sitting at home watching a movie when a thud makes you get up and search until you find it. It’s a normal feeling; some even say a little paranoia is good – it keeps you on your toes. But what happens when things go too far? It can turn into an unhealthy obsession, always checking over your shoulder. Or sometimes, there may actually be somebody behind you, watching your every move. These songs are for those times when you’re feeling on edge, thinking you’re being followed or watched. As some of these songs prove, you may not be alone.

“Who Can It Be Now?” – Men at Work

Sometimes there’s no greater dread than hearing an unexpected knock at the door. Is it the mail carrier? Or is it a kidnapper coming to take you away? That’s what Men at Work are wondering on this track. Collin Hay is paranoid and maybe a little agoraphobic as he sings about not leaving the house and feeling safest in his home. It’s a little weird, but who hasn’t pretended like they weren’t home when the doorbell rang? But then you start to question the singer as he assures us there’s nothing wrong with his state of mind and even worries that “the men” will come to take him away. The song doesn’t make you feel any better about being paranoid, but at least it has that killer sax riff.

“Somebody’s Watching Me” – Rockwell

This is the greatest and most ridiculous song dedicated to paranoia. Rockwell sings about coming home after a hard day and living in fear he’s not alone. He drops references to Psycho and The Twilight Zone while looking over his shoulder to see if he’s being watched (like that old Bugs Bunny joke). Though the singer is most likely being paranoid, we’ve all felt like there was something in the closet watching us in bed. Or even someone behind us as we sit in front of our computers…never mind. The song is cheesy, but what saves it is Michael Jackson’s hook. It proves that Jackson can make the most horrible songs sound good.

“Don’t Stand So Close to Me” – The Police

While the song could easily be used to describe how you’re feeling on the train during rush hour, the song is about an inappropriate student-teacher relationship. Sting croons about a teacher fretting over a student crush and what the consequences are if it gets out of hand. Of course, things do go further leading up to a confrontation with the rest of the staff near the end of the song. Oddly enough, Sting was an English teacher but he denies the song is autobiographical. The Police seem pretty paranoid and creepy as a later entry on the list will show.

“Paranoid and Aroused” – Korn

It’s all in the title. This song explores someone fighting off their demons and constantly feeling on edge, thinking the demons are going to win in the end. This person descends further into madness, medication being no help until they’re at the point of breaking and losing control. Though the title may make you think there’s something sexual happening while freaking out, there’s nothing of the sort. It’s more that the person can’t let their guard down for one second for fear something is out to get them.

 

“Paranoid” – Black Sabbath

What would later be known as one of Black Sabbath’s best songs, “Paranoid” is about a guy whose – well you get the idea. Ozzy waxes about not feeling emotions like love, happiness, and joy properly prompting him to think something is wrong with him. There’s nothing he can do except live with his fate. Notably, the guitar riff frantically races along representing the nervous energy of this poor guy. Though it’s one of the breakout tracks from the band’s second album of the same name, Geezer Butler has described it as a throwaway track; something to fill up three minutes. If you had to have a soundtrack for your paranoia, this wouldn’t be a bad song to have.

“I Think I’m Paranoid” – Garbage

One of Garbage’s biggest hits finds Shirley Manson not really sure who she is. She begs to be bent, molded and manipulated just to please someone or something. So what is she paranoid over? There are different theories ranging from wanting to please a guy to drugs. According to Butch Vig, the song has more to do with the music business than about someone who is actually paranoid, but the lyrics are still applicable. It’s probably the first song you thought of when you opened the playlist.

“Every Breath You Take” – The Police

This is one of the most misinterpreted songs in music history. Many believe it’s simply a love song; someone yearning for their loved one and not wanting to be lonely. Some have even gone as far as to make it their wedding song. Truth is, the song is from the perspective of a possessive ex-lover who cannot get over the person they lost. Keep that in mind the next time you hear the opening verse: “Every breath you take/every move you make/every bond you break/every step you take/I’ll be watching you.: Yes, this person is a stalker. It’s unsettling especially when you watch the video, which features Sting staring eerily at the camera. And people still couldn’t see this wasn’t a love song? Seems like The Police have some issues to work through.

“Obsession” – Animotion

 

This 80s one hit wonder seems like one of those oddly weird love songs that populated the decade. If you only pay attention to the opening verse, it seems like it’s about someone who wants someone else so badly they’re willing to do anything. A little weird, but not unheard of. It’s not until the second verse where things get unsettling: “I need you I need you/By sun or candlelight/You protest/You want to leave/Stay/Oh, there’s no alternative.” At this point, someone is being held hostage. Guess they were serious about the collecting and capture you line they sing before the hook. It’s one of those “Gotcha!” songs. You’re happily singing it without realizing it’s creepy as hell.

“Follow You” – Night Riots

This is another one of those “Gotcha” songs I mentioned earlier. The song is super catchy and Travis Hawley’s voice is so seductive you almost don’t realize how disturbing the song is: “I will follow you home/’Cause I know where you live/You’ll never be alone/’Cause I know where you live.” No matter how sweet it may sound when you’re hearing it, the song is about being a stalker. This guy doesn’t know the girl in question (“I saw your face inside the newspaper”) and proceeds to watch her undress because he’s convinced he’s in love. There’s nothing sweet and adorable about stalking someone no matter how good Hawley sounds while singing about it. It’s one of those songs that makes you stop and go “what the fuck is happening here?”

“Paranoid Android” – Radiohead

From the seemingly batshit lyrics to the constant sonic shifts, this song is paranoia incarnate. It begins softly with Thom Yorke whispering “please stop this noise/I’m trying to get some rest” already making his discomfort clear. It wastes no time getting weird with the next line “from all the unborn chicken voices in my head.” Right away we know something is not sitting well with this person. It continues in this fragile style until the bridge where gritty guitars take over as if to show this person’s breakdown. It’s haunting, yet beautiful all at once. Yorke was inspired to write the song after a nightmarish scenario in an LA bar. It’s claustrophobic, gritty, and intense and may just make you look over your shoulder when you hear it.

“I’m Afraid of Everyone” – The National

This song is a heartbreaking looking at paranoia and anxiety. It looks at someone trying to continue life in a normal fashion when everything around them is falling apart. Singer Matt Berninger croons “With my kid on my shoulders I try/Not to hurt anybody I like/But I don’t have the drugs to sort it out” showing the person on the verge of a breakdown. The music starts out fragile, like the person’s state of mind, and continually gets more stark and aggressive towards the end. Berninger ends with the line “Little voices swallowing my soul” hinting that the person has lost their battle with anxiety. It’s a haunting portrayal showing how serious the problem can get.

“One Way or Another” – Blondie

What starts out sounding like a playful is actually a disturbing account of being followed. Inspired by Debbie Harry’s ex-boyfriend, who stalked her after their broke up, the song is about someone hell bent on possessing someone. Harry sings about following them downtown, driving by their house, and stalking them through the mall. The song gets eerier as Harry grows instant on tracking down this person to the point where it sounds like she wants to harm them: “Lead you to the supermarket checkout/Some specials and rat food, get lost in the crowd.” The punk nature and Harry’s seductive vocals can’t hide how creepy this song is. And to think I used to sing this as a kid.

Which song puts you on edge? Which ode to paranoia did I forget? Let me know in the comments!

Playlist: This is the End of the World

Even though Donald Trump is running for president, we made it another year without the world imploding. It wasn’t that long ago when people didn’t think we’d make it to 2016. Whether it was nuclear war, Y2K, the Mayaen calendar, or Judgement Day, people felt the world was going to come to an end sometime soon. Still, it remains a topic of interest, especially for musicians. Several of artists envision what the end of the world will actually look like and it’s usually pretty scary. Here are a handful of songs about the apocalypse to remind you that not everyone thought we’d make it this far.

“Apocalypse Please” – Muse

Muse are no strangers when dealing with the end of the world. Many of their songs and videos reference it, but this track from Absolution does it best. The music comes marching in and sounds like it’s crashing down on you. Everything sounds like damnation before anything has started. As always, Matt Bellamy sounds sweet as he sings such fateful lines like “And this is the end/the end/this is the end/of the world.” As the music swells and Bellamy keeps pounding on the keys, the vibe gets steadily dramatic counting down to the moment where everything disappears. If there was a soundtrack for the apocalypse, this would be the first track.

“London Calling” – The Clash

Perhaps their most popular song, The Clash maps out the nuclear apocalypse on this single where they reference hiding in cupboards, the ice age, an enclosing sun, and “nuclear error.” The title itself is a reference to the BBC World Services identification during World World II. According to Joe Strummer the song came about from the events of Three Mile Island, which left him concerned about the state of the future. The track is also about the disintegration of the band. During this time they struggled with high debt, no management, and inner band disagreements. This is where the line about “phony Beatlemaina” comes in; they felt the punk rock bubble would burst at the end of the 70s. Unfortunately, they were right.

“Last Day on Earth” – Marilyn Manson

Like most of Manson’s songs, this one probably isn’t as cut and dry as we think, but it does have a lot of references to the apocalypse. In the track Manson finally finds his love, yet realizes it’s too late since the world is about to end. Featured on the excellent Mechanical Animals, the song is one of his most somber, depressing, and sentimental. Listening to the slow, echoing guitar riff and the swelling music gives you this sense of hopelessness. It also makes you think how would you spend the last day on earth with your lover. Though it is one of his best songs in his catalog, it does leave you shaken and isolated.

“The Final Countdown” – Europe

Whether you love it or hate it this song is one of the most ridiculous and overblown of the 80s. And it’s so much fucking fun to listen to. That iconic synth riff you sing out loud, shouting “it’s the final countdown!,” and the simple hook all make for an unforgettable song. Even though it has a party vibe, it’s actually about leaving behind an Earth that’s spent and finding life on another planet. Frontman Joey Tempest described the song as being both optimistic and apocalyptic. It’s exciting to be starting life on a new planet, but also sad to leave Earth behind, especially if loved ones were still there. This is one song that won’t ever die and has now found new life in a hilarious Gieco commercial. Thanks for that, Europe.

“Babylon’s Burning” – W.A.S.P.

Frontman Blackie Lawless was heavily inspired by the four horsemen of the apocalypse and the book of revelations for the band’s fourteenth album. This imagery pops up all over this song with references to clopping hooves, the number of the beast, and pale riders making the vision of the end clear in your head. Lawless said he was inspired to write the song and the album during the 2008 financial meltdown. He says this song is “an overview of what we allow ourselves to become and the consequences that befall us for the poor choices we make.” Also note that Lawless is a born-again Christian, which have a lot to do with this song’s themes. Why is it that most shock rock artists get religious as they get older? Alice Cooper, anyone?

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

This is probably the first song you thought of for this apocalyptic playlist. Sung in a rapid style where everything starts blending together, Michael Stipe claims everything is going pretty well even though he knows the world is ending. He offers a speedy rant on everything from Leonard Bernstein to overflow of the population. Inspiration for the song came from various sources, including Stipe’s dreams and what he saw while channel flipping. Despite it’s bleak title, the song is upbeat, energetic, and really catchy, which is why people love it so much. Even if you don’t like R.E.M. you at least know this song and probably even like trying to sing all the lyrics, even though it can be challenging.

“Fuck Armageddon…This is Hell” – Bad Religion

This punk band takes a different approach when it comes to the apocalypse. The lyrics reference the devout scorning others for being bad and hoping they can plead with God once the end finally comes. The band retort they don’t need to wait for Armageddon because the world they currently live in is hell alone. Violence, pollution, and hypocrisy are some of the reasons that make life so shitty according to Bad Religion. They end the song by proclaiming “Life is such a curse!” Bad Religion seem like they’ll be able to just shrug off the end of everything.

“Electric Funeral” – Black Sabbath

Apocalyptic themes can be found all over the band’s second album, but they come out strongest on this track. Ozzy sings about the destruction of homes, cities, and people all brought on by nuclear warefare. The images get pretty gruesome, especially during the bridge when the Prince of Darkness sings “Buildings crashing down to a cracking ground/Rivers turn to wood, ice melting to flood/Earth lies in death bed, clouds cry water dead/Tearing life away, here’s the burning pay.” If that wasn’t enough doom for you, the wavering wah-wah guitar riff itself sounds like it’s bringing on damnation. It may be bleak as hell, but it’s still one of Sabbath’s best songs.

“The Four Horsemen” – Metallica

If you couldn’t tell by now heavy metal and the apocalypse go together like spikes and leather. This track, originally written by former member Dave Mustaine, is all about the damnation, death, and misery that the four horsemen of apocalypse bring. Not only does it talk about the oncoming end of the world, it also deals a lot with the passage of time and how “you have been dying since the day you were born.” The origin of the song has an interesting history. Mustaine brought up the song to Hetfield under the original title “Mechanix.” Once he was fired, Metallica released the track under its current name. Mustaine also released the song under the original name and with different lyrics, but the music is very similar. Screw Guns N Roses. Anyone think Mustaine and Metallica should have a reunion?

“Countdown to Extinction” – Megadeth

Though this one doesn’t have strong apocalyptic themes, it still deals with the world coming to an end and it’s all our fault. The song was inspired by Mustaine’s concerns about the planet and environment. The title itself was ripped from a Time article speaking about the same issue. In the song, humans are referred to as an endangered species that is not only killing the planet, but also killing itself. The only thing left is to countdown how little time we have. What’s eerie about the song is it can still be applied today even more so than when it was written in 1992.

“2 Minutes to Midnight” – Iron Maiden

Is it a surprise Iron Maiden has a song dealing with impending doom? This popular Maiden track is more about the beginnings of nuclear war rather than Armageddon, but it’s still closely related. The title itself is a reference to the Doomsday Clock, created by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists to countdown global catastrophe. The lyrics actually talk about how war is often romanticized. Even though we find it repulsive and awful, a part of us are fascinated by it as well. Since its release in 1984, it has become a fan favorite and a staple at their live shows. Maybe it’s because Bruce Dickinson makes the most awful topics sound kick ass with his soaring vocals.

“Gimme Shelter” – The Rolling Stones

This Rolling Stones classic is pretty bleak and grim. Written during the time of the Vietnam War, the song is about the chaos, violence, and destruction war brings about. Though it does have overarching themes related to war, Jagger himself says it’s an end of the world situation and looking at the lyrics shows you why.  Trying find shelter away from the murders and rape is closely tied to trying to find protection during the end. During the time of these events many people did feel like the world was coming to an end, so it makes sense. This song is a haunting reminder of the violence and destruction that divided the nation not long ago.

“The Sky is Fallin'” – Queens of the Stone Age

While there are some interpretations of the song out there that suggest the song is about something deeper and personal to frontman Josh Homme, you can’t deny the references to doomsday in the lyrics. The opening verse alone sounds like it’s about the sun crashing into the Earth and realizing how much of your life has been wasted: “The sky is falling, human race that we run/It left me crawling, staring straight at the sun/Only a moment I notice, every dog has his day/I paid attention, cost me so much to today.” Also, the phrase “the sky is falling” usually has apocalyptic notions attached to it. It’s a hypnotizing track full of swirling guitars and Homme’s sweet cooing vocals. That man can make any disaster sound good.

There are a ton of apocalyptic songs I didn’t include, so which ones are your favorite? What did I miss? Let me know in the comments!

Playlist: Horror Movie Fest

Pull out the costumes, stock up on candy, and break out the scary movies. Halloween is upon us! Of course horror movies are big this time of year, but they also find themselves in several songs. Whether directly about scary movies or just inspired by them, several musicians have channeled their love for the terrifying genre into their music. And no, I’m not just talking about Rob Zombie. While you’re looking through Netflix for the best horror movies out there, here’s a playlist of songs about horror movies.

“Living Dead Girl” – Rob Zombie

You could fill this entire playlist with tracks from the Zombie man, but not only is this one of his best songs, it’s also packed with horror references. The title is taken from a 1982 Jean Rollins film of the same name and the video is a take on the silent horror film The Cabinet of Doctor Caligari. There are also various samples taken from movies, such as Lady Frankenstein and Daughters of Darkness. At least you can always count on this man for great horror inspired songs…not so much for movies though.

“Eyes Without a Face” – Billy Idol

One of my favorite Idol songs, this one gets its title from the French film Les yeux sans visage aka Eyes Without a Face. Though it starts out as one of the punk rockers more mellow tracks, it still packs a punch with a searing riff from Steve Stevens during the bridge. It’s a ballad where Idol manages to sound haunting, yet longing for his lover. It’s still one of his best tracks and to think it was inspired from this little horror gem. Go watch that movie if you haven’t by the way. It’s unsettling and impressive for a movie of its time.

“Hellraiser” – Motorhead

This song has an interesting history. It was first recorded by Ozzy Osbourne in 1991 for the album No More Tears. It was then re-recorded by Motorhead the following year and repurposed it for the film Hellraiser 3: Hell on Earth.  Just from listening to the lyrics you can tell producers latched onto the song for the title alone. It doesn’t actually have much to do with the movie, aside from Pinhead appearing in the video. The closest the song comes is during the second verse that talks about waking up in another place and doing something bad for your health, which are themes related to the franchise. But I guess we can let it slide since it is a kick ass song anyway.

“Chain Saw” – The Ramones

The Ramones have shown their love for horror films with tracks like “Pet Sematary,” but this one was influenced by the iconic Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Roaring to life with a buzzing chainsaw, the music is upbeat and is made for moshing. You almost forget about the gruesomeness happening in the lyrics as Joey Ramone sings “Texas chain saw massacre/They took my baby away from me/But she’ll never get out of there.” It also shows how the band had the talent to turn anything into a kick ass punk tune.

“Nosferatu” – Blue Oyster Cult

Before Stephanie Meyers gave us sappy, emo vampires, there was the original Dracula. That then spawned the legendary silent film Nosferatu, which BOC recounts in this haunting song. The lyrics tell the story of a lady doomed to fall in love with the vampire only to end with his demise by sunlight. It’s not the only song out there about the famous creature of the night, but it does stay pretty faithful to the nature of the film.

“Human Fly” – The Cramps

With a slick rockabilly, punk rock infused sound, Cramps frontman Lux Interior hisses, stutters, and buzzes his way through this track inspired by the Vincent Price film The Fly. The simple guitar groove creates this b-movie creature creepiness to it – it would be perfect in a 50’s horror film – perfectly cementing the mood for the cool track. If you’ve seen the movie, especially the 1986 remake, you know that this fly in the song doesn’t sound as chilling as the bastardize experiment.

“Fright Night” – J. Geils Band

Acting as the lead track for this excellent vampire flick, the song is a bit hokey. Think of other “spooky” tracks like “Monster Mash” for an idea. The lyrics describe the antagonist as a liar, a gigolo, “a man of many faces,” while trembling synth tries to create a spooky, creepy riff. Yeah, it’s kind of cheesy, especially with the hook simply shouting “Fright night! Whose it gonna be tonight?” but it grows on you after a while and kind of fits the b-movie mood.

“Freddy Krueger” – S.O.D.

This is a pretty straight forward thrash metal track describing the grotesque manipulator of nightmares, Freddy Krueger. The horror icon is described as having flex metal knuckles and maggots crawling throughout his skin and the chorus features gang vocals shouting “he comes for you/what will you do.” With this track it’s plain and simple that you don’t want to mess with Freddy, no matter how many shitty sequels he has. If you’re looking for another Freddy inspired track, you can check out Dokken’s “Dream Warriors,” but it’s kind of crappy.

“He’s Back (The Man Behind the Mask)” – Alice Cooper

Moving from Freddy to Jason, this song isn’t what I would call one of his best. If anything it’s kind of schlocky, but that just means it’s perfect for a Friday the 13th movie. Recorded for the film Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives, Cooper lays out the basic premise of the film: Jason comes back to life and starts killing foolish teens. The song even makes sure to use the killer’s infamous “ki-ki-ki-ma-ma-ma” echo. Oddly enough, the track is very New Wave in nature making it stand out from Cooper’s other songs. Apparently, Children of Bodom covered this song, but it was never released. I bet their version is pretty killer.

“I Walked with a Zombie” – Wednesday 13

Similar to Rob Zombie, Wednesday 13 is another rock artist who bases his work around his love of horror movies. This was inspired by the 1943 flick of the same name. The lyrics even loosely follow the story of a woman who enters a trance like state and is taken to a mysterious island where she tries to find a cure. The video itself features scenes from the famous zombie film Night of the Living Dead. 13 has a ton of songs based on horror movies, but with the upbeat music and the catchy hook, this is his most popular.

“Night of the Living Dead” – The Misfits

There’s something about punk rock and horror that mesh so well together and The Misfits always know how to do it best. Released on their debut album Walk Among Us, the song loosely follows the plot of the movie by talking about not knowing who’s a zombie and seeing them rip apart your loved ones. It’s short, sweet, and sure to give you your zombie fix.

“Evil Dead” – Death

This death metal band pays homage to the first film in the Evil Dead franchise with this chaotic song. Guitars grind and thrash while singer Chuck Schuldiner screams and rages about “spirits within causing terror” and voices speaking out. The lyrics are pretty sparse with vague references to the movie. The only way you know it’s about the horror film is the chorus that yells “evil dead!” over and over again. This isn’t the only time a rock band would use Evil Dead as an influence and I’m sure it won’t be the last.

“Psycho Killer” – Talking Heads

The lyrics for this track were largely inspired by Norman Bates from the Hitchcock classic Psycho. Here, David Byrne explores the fractured and shattered mind of a serial killer. How he came up with the song is kind of strange. According to Bryne, this was his attempt at making an Alice Cooper song except in the style of Randy Newman. He felt the result was pretty silly, but it proved to be another hit for the band. Though it’s a great song, I prefer Cage the Elephant’s cover.

Honorable Mention

“Black Sabbath” – Black Sabbath

Even though both the title of the song and the band were taken from the 1969 horror film of the same name, the lyrics have nothing to do with the movie. But you have to give a nod to the movie that would give birth to the best heavy metal band in music history. Also, the song is just fucking terrifying. The lyrics are actually based on a supernatural experience Geezer Butler had. According to him, after painting his apartment black, hanging up several crosses, and reading a book on witchcraft before going to bed, a black figure appeared at the end of his bed. When he went to get the book he discovered it was gone. This remains one of the band’s strongest tracks and the one that gave them their Satanist connections though they were unfounded.

There are a lot of horror inspired songs out there, so which ones did I miss? Let me know in the comments!