A Zombie Apocalypse Playlist


Zombies are totally scary

Day of the Dead was on the Sci-Fi Channel this weekend, pretty much the best available way of wasting a Saturday afternoon even if the movie was just about incomprehensible with all the extreme violence cut out and the cusswords ineptly replaced. So in this alternate-reality version, the best part of the movie wasn’t the fucking disgusting ending; it was the title sequence, the shots of zombie armies lumbering through the streets of some unnamed city (somewhere in Florida, I think) while piles of money blew around in the wind and an alligator walked out of a bank (the zombies didn’t eat the alligator).

So that got me thinking: zombies do not fuck around. When the inevitable zombie apocalypse jumps off, you are going to want to get out of the city right away, or else a zombie will bite you and you’ll turn into a zombie. You’re not going to want to waste time sitting around and putting together a zombie apocalypse playlist; you’ll need that time to find guns and transportation and canned food. So, as a precautionary measure, I’ve saved you the trouble; just use mine, and you’ll be ready when the day comes. Most recent zombie movies, even the really good ones, rely heavily nu-metal, and you aren’t going to want to hear that shit; things will be bad enough already. The late-70s movies like Dawn of the Dead have utterly badass blaring electronic soundtracks from people like Goblin, but that stuff will probably creep you out way too hard during an actual zombie apocalypse, and you’ll want to hear some actual songs instead. I didn’t put any Zombies or White Zombie or songs specifically about zombies on the list because you probably won’t want to hear zombie music after zombies have killed everyone you know. Instead, I’ve chosen a few songs that’ll serve as mood music for when the dead walk.

1. M.O.P.: “Ante Up (Robbin Hoodz Theory)” Preview/Buy at iTunes

The initial stages of the zombie plague are the most important for your survival. People will be dying all around you, the basic structures of society will be falling apart, and pandemonium will reign, so you’ll need to stay absolutely alert. You’ll also need to be utterly ruthless about destroying the brains of any loved ones who have become zombies themselves. So you’ll want an adrenaline-blast like this song playing while you scramble to escape. (Weirdly, this song is only available on iTunes in its metal-revamp and bleeped-out forms, the latter of which is bizarrely credited to B2K because it’s on the soundtrack to You Got Served. If anything, though, the bleeps will only serve to make you even more angry, which will be useful for mowing down hordes of ghouls with makeshift weapons.)

2. Crime Mob: “Knuck If You Buck” Preview/Buy at iTunes

I said above that something like Goblin is probably going to be creepier than anything you want to hear during a zombie apocalypse. This is true, but you’re still going to need to stay on edge, even after you get out of whatever densely populated urban area you need to get out of. “Knuck If You Buck” will offer some small comfort in the amped-up verses of tough-as-shit teenage female rappers Diamond and Princess, both of whom will certainly survive the apocalypse, but the song’s production is totally evil, ghostly chimes and obliterating drums, Goblin by way of Three 6 Mafia. You will not walk into an abandoned gas station yelling “Helloooo” while this song is playing.

3. Lungfish: “Wailing Like Dragons” Preview/Buy at iTunes

Another song that won’t let you relax too much. You aren’t going to want to fuck around with Franz Ferdinand or whatever when it’s the end of the world; you’re going to want something that actually sounds like the end of the world, and Lungfish’s hypnotic scorched-earth ragas fit the bill. You won’t understand what Dan Higgs is howling about, but you also won’t understand why God has allowed such a hellish fate to befall the human race, so you won’t much mind. Also, it sounds pretty great right next to “Knuck If You Buck.”

4. Mountain Goats: “Song for Dennis Brown” Preview/Buy at iTunes

Once you finally establish safe shelter in a shopping mall or secret underground military base or whatever, you’ll finally have a minute to catch your breath and reflect on all the people you know who have been transformed into shuffling soldiers of hell. A tender, eloquent, wise meditation on death like this one will help you make peace with all the horrible things you’ve seen in the last few days.

5. Nigga Say What: “Horn Theme” Preview/Buy at iTunes

Now that all that misery is out of your system for the moment, it’s time to take part in the one big silver lining of this whole zombie apocalypse thing: looting! Now that every policeman on the continent has fled or abandoned his post, you can totally break into stores and take all the cool expensive shit you want. If your shelter has a back-up generator, you can go nuts indulging yourself in movies and video games and whatever. If it doesn’t, you can still roll around with five Rolexes on each wrist. An insanely supercharged Baltimore club anthem like this makes for a great soundtrack to your dizzy scavenging spree.

6. Sam & Dave: “I Take What I Want” Preview/Buy at iTunes

More joyous looting music, now with topically appropriate lyrics!

7. Portishead: “Sour Times” Preview/Buy at iTunes

Another nice thing about the last days: assuming any have survived, you can totally score with people who would’ve never given you the time of day when society was still intact. A song like “Sour Times” isn’t a terribly original choice for a seduction jam, but considering how many people mention Portishead on their personal ads, it should work just fine.

8. Depeche Mode: “People Are People” Preview/Buy at iTunes

Living in close quarters with other survivors, you’ll inevitably come into conflict with some petty psycho who refuses to share any of his living space or demands that the entire group follow some ridiculous and dangerous plan to move to another location. To get through to someone like this, you’ll need a song that appeals to his basic humanity and convinces him to abandon all the infighting. Here you go. You can follow this song’s case right along to its implied conclusion: “People Are People (And Not Zombies).”

9. Baby feat. Clipse: “What Happened to That Boy” Preview/Buy at iTunes

If negotiation fails, which it probably will, you’ll need to find it within yourself to kill or abandon or at least imprison anyone who threatens your security. Malice’s line about “the four-fifth, guaranteed to lean ya, man” and Pusha’s “have ya body parts mix and matching” should bolster your confidence and help you access your inner killer.

10. Them Two: “Am I a Good Man” Preview/Buy at iTunes

This song isn’t about remorse over killing someone; it’s about wondering whether tolerance for a partner’s infidelity is a sign of strength or weakness. Nevertheless, you’ll recognize the song’s internal torment now that you’re a cold-blooded murderer. You’ll have to get over it. There are still a lot of zombies out there, and you’ve got a lot of surviving left to do.

Voice review: Michael Atkinson on Land of the Dead
Voice review: Michael Atkinson on Dawn of the Dead
Voice review: Michael Atkinson on 28 Days Later