Nuclear Violence in Popular Music

In my blog on Nuclear Violence in Popular Culture I wasn’t able to include all the many examples of nuclear war in the world of music, so I’ve dedicated a whole blog to the topic!

Poet Bob Dylan took up the theme cryptically in “A Hard Rain’s a-Gonna Fall” (1962). Now, 54 years later, our society is still facing the same issues. With Trident being in the news recently, the UK’s own Potent Whisper has addressed the topic directly.

Spoken word poet Potent Whisper's Trident on Trial

Bob Dylan's "A Hard Rain's a-Gonna Fall" (1962)

Artists have always used music to convey their anger against war. In 1970 Black Sabbath wrote “War Pigs” and “Electric Funeral”.

Video depicting nuclear weapons by Aidan Middleton, featuring Black Sabbath's "Electric Funeral" (1970)

Metallica’s “Fight Fire With Fire” (1984) begins with a very melodic guitar which is then joined by rage-fueled drums and vocals –

Do unto others as they have done unto you
But what in the hell is this world coming to?
Blow the universe into nothingness
Nuclear warfare shall lay us to rest

Another notable example from a very different genre of music is Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima by Krzysztof Penderecki, composed in 1960 for 52 string instruments, a discordant, terrifying piece of music  which won the UNESCO award in 1961 (Wikipedia).

Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima by Krzysztof Penderecki (1960)

If you have the time, it is worth checking out some of the videos below. There has been relative silence on the subject of nuclear war from the 90s until now, with the exception of Linkin Park and My Chemical Romance who are featured below.

Watch out for our future posts that will feature more recent songs now beginning to flourish again, as we wake up to a nuclear threat that hasn’t gone away but which we have a once in a generation opportunity to do something about.

As they are singing in London these days:“Trident, Trident it’s time to make a fuss, it’s time to bury Trident before it buries us.”

Erin Hutching


Some other notable examples of Nuclear Violence in Music –

"99 Luftballons" (1983) by the German group Nena
"Fujiyama mama"(1957) by Wanda Jackson

"They’ve Got a Bomb", Crass (1978)

"Breathing", Kate Bush (1980)

"Nuclear War", Sun Ra (1982)

"Teenagers", My Chemical Romance (2007)

"Burning in the Skies" from Linkin Park's 2010 album A Thousand Suns which is all about nuclear warfare

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