5 Songs to Bite the Dust To

Ari Saati, Managing Editor

illustration by Mary Cheung

The last seconds of someone’s life are (allegedly) reserved for flashbacks consisting of cliched childhood memories, i.e. learning to ride a bike, middle school dances, etc. Living in a media-saturated age, however, I can’t think of a period of my life, fleeting as it is, that I’d rather set to a soundtrack. So here are five songs, as grim as it may seem, that I’d like on rotation during my last moments as a terrestrial being.
1. “Sometimes” by My Bloody Valentine
Shoegaze pioneers My Bloody Valentine are renowned for their intentionally gritty production and swirling guitars, serving as an excellent foray into the last moments of any given life. The distant and muffled vocals, numbing distortion of Kevin Shield’s guitar, all set to the simple melody of a synth line, embodies denial. Nothing screams, “I haven’t come to terms with my imminent death!” like a song seemingly void of emotion on the surface, all the while percolating with underlying themes of rejection and inadequacy.
2. “I’ve Had It” by Black Flag
Early Black Flag, before the advent of the iconic Henry Rollins, was a source of some of the most raw punk from the late 70s and early 80s, dovetailing well with the next emotion I’m anticipating: anger. “I’m going to explode! I’ve had it!” croaks Greg Ginn, in a minute and a half of therapeutic, albeit aggressive, release. It’s a far cry from the zen-like attitude I’d ideally like to reach, but necessary nonetheless.
3. “I Never Learnt to Share” by James Blake
While James Blake is generally reserved for swooning British girls with his own brand of minimalist, vocal-heavy dubstep, “I Never Learnt to Share” channels a strikingly modern and polished ghastly remorse. The lyrics, consisting entirely of the two lines “My brother and my sister don’t speak to me, but I don’t blame them,” repeat in hypnotic rhythm forcing a kind of critical introspection.
4. “Life’s a Bitch” by Nas ft. AZ
“Life’s a bitch, and then you die,” stands as one of the most straightforward and jaded hooks hip hop has to offer, making it almost synonymous with New York’s early 90s scene. At this point in my demise I’d like to be coming to terms with my fate, and my bitch-like existence prior to this point; how Confucius? Life wasn’t ideal, but that’s how the cards are dealt sometimes, and well, “that’s why we get high, ‘cause you never know when you’re gonna go.”
5. “Les Os” by The Unicorns
With their playfully melancholy lyrics (“I want to die today, and make love with you in my grave”) and infectious hooks, The Unicorns can make light of the most despairing situations. Ending on a sing-along chorus strikes me as the only viable option — a bombastic and patently ridiculous conclusion. At the song’s end, lead singer Nick Diamonds poses the question, “Is this love of ours alive?”
Well maybe, but I might not be.

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