For several weeks back in October, those trailers that continually showed for the movie Quarantine creeped me out. It affected me like nothing since the trailer for It’s Alive back in the ‘70s when I was six.
Just when I thought I was safe from being threatened in the usual calm glow of the television from the comfort of the couch, there’s been a spate of commercials for video games set in some post-apocalyptic wasteland (I know one is called Resistance 2). Some of them are truly eerie.
For a moment I considered it sad, this fixation on the end of the world. Then, I realized that I grew up in the ’80s with War Games, The Day After, and Ronnie with his finger on the button. It wasn’t exactly a lighthearted time.
It’s heartening to realize how far we’ve come as a species.
Of course, as a kid in the ‘80s, we had a lot of music with somber themes alluding to the impending nuclear Armageddon. But a lot of those songs managed to be far from sinister. Some even managed to be deemed perky enough to sell Burgers.
Nena – 99 Luftballoons
Several of my friends and I were taking our second year of German in high school when Nena arrived. So, we understood that 99 Luftballoons was a song about red balloons sung by a chick named Nena who didn’t shave her armpits. Then, when the English version arrived, we knew the full, terrifying truth.
Oddly enough, I first heard the song when I discovered 97X in the fall of ’83 and that alternative station was also the first place I heard another German singer, Peter Schilling. Additionally, 97X was playing several German versions of Peter Gabriel songs like Schock Den Affen and Spiel Ohne Grenzen.
Orchestral Manouevres In The Dark – Enola Gay
Paloma turned me on to OMD. I mean, I knew their hits So In Love and If You Leave, but there was an entire body of work with which I was unfamiliar.
Anyhow, Enola Gay is a sprightly little number about the bombing of Hiroshima.
Alphaville – Forever Young
Forever Young will always remind me of a good friend from college. Her boyfriend, whom she had dated for several years in high school, had been killed by a drunk driver and she’d often tell me how she would sit for hours playing Forever Young repeatedly, trying to cope with his death.
Modern English – I Melt With You
Modern English’s I Melt With You is about as quintessential ’80s as it gets and with good reason. I’m not sure if I’ve read that it’s about nuclear war or it’s my own particular take on the lyric. Sure, it seems to be a nothing more than an extremely melodic, joyously upbeat song of devotion, but there is the whole matter of stopping the world and melting with your beloved which could be interpreted as a more dire scenario.
*I’m sitting here, mere hours after posting this entry and what should I hear on a commercial? Yes, I Melt With You in a Hershey’s commercial.