It's 2012, and Prince Rama has made the Top Ten Hits of the End of the World. Conceived as a pseudo-compilation album, the Brooklyn duo invented ten different pop bands that died during the apocalypse, channeling the ghosts of each one to perform the various songs. Spanning genres and stylistic eras from across the globe, Top Ten Hits explores pop music’s relationship to memory, nostalgia, and the spirit world. Incorporating influences as disparate as cosmic disco, motorcycle rock, new-wave, grunge, tribal goth, Arabic pop, and ghost-modern glam, Prince Rama filters each sound through the destroyed lens of a post-apocalyptic future looking back at the wonders of its sonic past. Recorded half with Tim Koh in Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti’s studio and mixed with Scott Colburn (Animal Collective, Sun City Girls, Arcade Fire), Top Ten Hits of the End of the World isn’t just a pop album, it’s a retrospective requiem of all pop albums ever made. Nothing like this has ever been attempted by a single band, and its residual echoes will continue to haunt this world and the next.
BIOS AND PHOTOS OF TEN FEATURED BANDS THAT DIED IN THE APOCALYPSE (channeled by Prince Rama)
GUNS OF DUBAI
Little is known of who exactly was involved in Guns of Dubai. Strict laws against women playing music in public forced them to keep their identities concealed from the U.A.E. government. Instead, they posed as an obscure sector of the Al Sabh millitary regime and clandestinely distributed bootleg cassettes in empty artillery shells. When the end of the world came, they were shot by their own loaded guns.
In the early eighties, a London sex cult infiltrated underground discotheques based on the principle that the secret to immortality was found through engaging in intimate acts of love. To retain their anonymity, members went by the acronym I.M.M.OR.T.A.L.I.F.E., or 'Inner Messages Morphing Over Resonant Time, Always Loving Infinitely Free and Everlasting'. For years, I.M.M.O.R.T.A.L.I.F.E. dedicated itself to recording dance track hymnals that would provoke lovemaking acts and thus prolong the lives of its members. When the end of the world came, the group was found frozen in midst of an orgiastic collapse. They had not slept or eaten in thirteen days.
It wasn't until after “No Way Back” won Song of the Year at the 1989 Grammys that it was discovered that Maxx and Midnight were actually on America's Most Wanted list for murder on six accounts. Soon their dark pasts began to unfold, revealing their true identities as pimps and prostitutes, grave robbers, and cold blooded serial killers involved in LA's shadowy underground motorcycle mafia scene. They knew this was the end, so they fled to the canyon in a high speed police chase and ran their motorcycle off a cliff to meet their fate.
Rage Peace formed as a small protest band in the early 90s and before they knew it they were the Bob Dylans of a whole generation of angry youth. They became founding members of the Rage Peace movement, based on the principle of nihilism as the only true order, and wrote songs with violent messages placed in seemingly saccharine pop structures. The band was notorious for staging organized acts of violence and destruction, burning cars and sometimes buildings in the name of chaos. When the end came, their bodies were found locked inside a limousine they had set on fire. The license plate read “HEY U”.
Deep in the heart of Germany's Black Forest existed a monastery for radical rejected architects called Taohaus. Here a whole new aesthetic was practiced as daily meditation, marrying the functionality of western modernism and the simplicity of eastern Taoism with the Self as a blueprint. The music in their worship services (conducted from within a rotting tree), exemplified this stripped down simplicity, and “Receive” became a mantra for all those wishing to clear their minds and cast a light on their shadows. When the world ended, a bolt of lightening struck the rotting tree temple, and Taohaus was incinerated instantly.
In the late 1960s Mumbai, the word Bollywood was synonymous with Goloka. The sisters Latara Mangareshkar and Rasha Bahsel were the voices of over 900 bollywood film soundtracks, often referred to as “the jewels on the crown of Indian cinema”. But unfortunately film technology in India at the time still relied on the use of a nitrate base, which was highly flammable. While attending the premiere of their largest production to date, the very last frame of the film got stuck in the projector bulb and caught fire. The sisters died tragically of smoke suffocation, marking the end of an era.
BLACK ELK SPEAKS
Mysterious lights in the sky were the first signs that transmissions from beyond were being sent to residents of the Oglala Sioux reservation. Some thought they were the spirit of Black Elk himself, others thought they were something more sinister. A few of the chief tribesman would sit in the field and listen to the lights for days on end, and often return with new songs for their people. The recordings were picked up by an Austrian ethnomusicologist who published them collectively as “Black Elk Speaks”. Horrified that the voice of their light was recorded and being distributed against their will, the Oglala asked the lights what they should do next. They knew the end was coming. The lights instructed them to disassemble their tipis and use them to build the largest fire they could and throw themselves into it, merging with the light and burning away all their sinful reactions. “Fire Sacrifice” was the last song transmission they received.
Most children growing up in the Now Age era remember singing “Welcome to the Now Age” in school. It was the educational sing along to the Now Age manifesto, and the score of a generation of Utopic Youth. What most children didn't know though is that the brains behind their beloved childhood anthem were actually the products of the first ever experiment in creating a computer generated band. Combed from decades worth of soft rock albums and refined through countless polls of what people denoted as “pleasant listening”, Hyparxia was created as an effort to translate utopia into music; that is, a band comprised of all harmony (no dissonance), and only pleasing combinations of frequencies and tones. The utopian dream ended when the computer crashed in the Great Collapse of 2012.
Kris and Katya traded basketballs for mirrorballs when they went from being WNBA stars to dancercise divas. After a failed career in the sports arena due to drug overdoses, they became pioneers of “ecstatic exercise”, which constituted combining exercise routines with high doses of MDMA and codeine. They gained a small following conducting dancercise workouts at their neighborhood YMCA supplying significant doses of MDMA in the water. When they heard the world was about to end, they took all the ecstasy they had and jumped on the treadmill, running until they collapsed.
Groomed from an early age to be the next Miss Americas, Kim and Tina first discovered their singing talent while competing against each other in a song competition at the Oklahoma City county wide beauty pageant. They may have lost the Miss America title, but they gained a musical partnership that would last a lifetime, winning them 7 Grammy nominations and 3 Platinum records. “We Will Fall in Love Again” held #1 at the Billboard Charts for 9 months. The initial success came at a tragic price for Kim and Tina, who both suffered brutally from abusive relationships during that time, culminating in a dramatic standoff in a Motel 6 parking lot where Tina's fiancee forced them both to shoot each other at gunpoint while holding up a mirror. The date was December 21st, 2012.