Friends, our time is almost certainly coming. When the aliens finally descend to crush all humanity, we have to be prepared to beat them back with one of our last remaining resources: hit records. As we stand at the edge of Earth’s end, it is important to remember that hits are all that matter — they are the universal language that will save us from those astral beings who have looked upon our wreckage for ages, shaking their heads until they finally had enough of us.
When the aliens do come — and they will come — they will hover above us in their ships as we cower below. Whether in binary code or in English, they will ask us why we deserve to be spared. And even though we might not really deserve to be spared, I will at least be able to step forward and say: “Wait. I have seven albums that will make you reconsider.”
The aliens will sigh, roll their eyes, and reluctantly hand me the aux cord. And then these albums will save our planet.
1. Pitbull — ‘Global Warming’:
First of all, the album’s title highlights a dire issue for the Earth, an — …wait, what’s that? Pitbull doesn’t mean “global warming” in the climatological sense? He means the world is heating up because he is leading a non-stop party? That sounds fun! Maybe it could even distract the aliens. This album has a song called “Don’t Stop the Party,” and then, a mere four tracks later, a song affirming that “The Party Ain’t Over.” The album is pretty much an hour-long reassurance that Pitbull will not stop partying, as though death, hydration, and city ordinances had never existed. If there is one thing I know about extraterrestrial beings eager to bring on the apocalypse, it’s that they really like to dance while wearing slightly unbuttoned silk shirts. Pitbull is, in this sense, their God.
2. Fleetwood Mac—‘Rumours’:
The thing about Rumours is that it provides both hits and drama, two elements essential to bonding time with anyone, especially with aliens who want nothing more than to watch civilization burn. Imagine the excitement! The aliens on your couch, leaning close to your record player, fully engrossed in the stories behind the music. Yes, my alien friends. Lindsey Buckingham was maybe a bit of a jerk to Stevie Nicks. Yes, they are singing “I Don’t Wanna Know” to each other. The bonus here is that you can show them videos of Buckingham and Nicks in 2016, getting along perfectly well. If those two gave each other another chance, surely the rest of us deserve one.
3. DMX—‘It’s Dark and Hell Is Hot’:
What people often forget about DMX is that he was the only platinum-selling rapper who literally barked like a dog on his records. Think of it — a man who so eagerly embodied a dog, yet still made a few fantastic albums; here I sit, tears coming to my eyes, mourning a simpler time. When a man who became one with the dogs still served us two solid years of great songs that didn’t age particularly well. Here, of course, you’d have the chance to enlighten the aliens on the finer points of dogs, perhaps even providing various examples of dog barks. Imagine teaching an alien to impersonate a schnauzer! That could be fun.
4. Mariah Carey — Entire Discography, Except ‘Glitter’:
I considered this entry very carefully before going with it. After all, this is several albums, not just one. And who has the time, really? When the preservation of Earth hangs in the balance, can we really afford to build a blanket fort and listen to 12 hours of Mariah Carey albums? Yes; yes we can. The motto for our survival is, again, that hits are all that matter. Mariah Carey has made so many hits. An actual avalanche of hits. These are just the facts. Mariah Carey has, like, five greatest hits albums, and that still doesn’t cover the sheer volume of hits she has been generous enough to bestow on us over the years. It’s absurd. Almost offensive, if we’re being honest. For Mariah Carey to look out on the world and all of our evils, knowing we don’t deserve her music, and yet giving it to us anyway — well now I’m getting offended on her behalf. We don’t deserve any of Mariah Carey’s hits, yet we are swimming in them. If our otherworld enemies can learn just a fraction of the mercy and grace that Mariah Carey exemplifies, we will truly survive.
5. Otis Redding — ‘Otis Blue’:
The truth is that, in a perfect world, Otis Redding wouldn’t have died in a plane crash at just 26 years of age. In other words, this is a sympathy pick. There has to be some mercy for a world that created a star like Otis, some pity for a world that let his star burn out so soon.
6. Lou Reed — ‘Metal Machine Music’:
If all else fails, and you need to beat back the aliens with the most blunt musical weapon you have, this album, an hour of actual guitar feedback, should do the trick. In nearly every alien movie, there is some sound that triggers a horrific reaction in the aliens, sending them scurrying, or that sets them on each other in a violent rage. I think, perhaps, this was Lou Reed’s higher purpose when creating this insufferable album of noise. Something to make the aliens cover their ears and run, screaming, back to their planet. For now.
7. Rihanna’s ‘Work’ Music Video on Repeat for Two Hours (Hopefully on a Very Large Projector, Perhaps in Times Square):
Nothing is more important than this. There is but one music video that can save the world, and this is it. All of the albums above this will hold the aliens only for a moment, before the beings cloak our world in fire or lasers or whatever aliens have at their disposal these days. But this! — this video of heat, and sweat, and dance, and jerk chicken, this will surely save us. The aliens, their eyes wide with fascination, will say, “do things like this really happen here?” and I will touch the potentially slimy face of the smallest alien, and turn their eyes to my eyes. And I will say: “Yes, alien invader. Things like this really happen here. Somewhere, every single night, there is someone dancing as if their life depends on it.” And then we will dance as though our lives depended on it. Because they do.
Armageddon Awareness Day is Pacific Standard’s special report for Earth Day 2016, in which we confront our fears about the apocalypse while celebrating those things that make our planet worthwhile.