Michael KreponLyric Contest Results

The contest to pick the best lyric about the Bomb and best adapted lyric about the Bomb generated so many superb entries that our distinguished panel of judges had great difficulty selecting winners. Truth be told, in both categories we have split decisions.

In the best lyric category, Josh Pollack’s strong preference was “Crawl Out Through The Fallout” by Sheldon Allman (1960), but nobody submitted this entry. The opening stanza:

Crawl out through the fallout, baby
When they drop that bomb
Crawl out through the fallout
With the greatest of aplomb
When your white count’s getting higher
Hurry, don’t delay
I’ll hold you close and kiss those
Radiation burns away

I am extremely partial to “Harvest for the World” by the Isley Brothers (1976). Granted, a bit on the generic side, but I’m a sucker for the lyrics, the spangled bell bottoms, and the guitar riffs. Here’s a sample lyric:

Dress me up for battle, when all I want is peace
Those of us who pay the price, come home with the least
Nation after nation, turning into beast
When will there be a harvest for the world

Again, no takers. As for the actual submissions, our panel of judges was particularly impressed by the following entries:

Anon’s choice of “The Russians,” by Sting:

How can I save my little boy
From Oppenheimer’s deadly toy?
There is no monopoly on common sense
On either side of the political fence
We share the same biology
Regardless of ideology
Believe me when I say to you
I hope the Russians love their children too

Alex W. scored highly with Weird Al’s “Christmas at Ground Zero,” perhaps in honor of the season.

Francois Heisbourg also received kudos for nominating Guy Beart’s “Le Grand Chambardement.” Josh Pollack advises readers to watch this video: “Although the audio track is a bit on the quiet side, you’ll get a sense of the almost [Tom] Lehrer-like spirit that animates the song. Jaunty rhymes juxtaposed with ghastly lyrical images. Beart’s affect is much closer to deadpan than Lehrer’s mischievous eye-gleams, though.”

The judges were partial to lyrics involving imagery of the Bomb as a burning sun. Kevin scored with the Dubliners’ “Sun is Burning.” Ditto for Diamond Dave, with Pink Floyd’s “Two Suns in the Sunset”:

The rusty wire that holds the cork
that keeps the anger in gives way
And suddenly it’s day again
The sun is in the east even though the day is done
Two suns in the sunset
Could be the human race is run

Re made the top tier with Iron Maiden’s “Brighter Than a Thousand Suns”:

Out of the universe, a strange light is born
Unholy union, trinity reformed
Yellow sun its evil twin
in the black the winds deliver him
We will sleep to souls within
At a siege a nuclear gust is riven

Amazing lyrics. Who knew that heavy metal could be so heavy? Turning to the best adapted lyric category, our panel of judges was extremely impressed by Andy’s take on Cake’s “The Distance.” Original lyrics:

Reluctantly crouched at the starting line,
engines pumping and thumping in time.
the green light flashes, the flags go up.
churning and burning, they yearn for the cup.
they deftly maneuver and muscle for rank,
fuel burning fast on an empty tank.
reckless and wild, they pour through the turns.
their prowess is potent and secretly stern.
as they speed through the finish, the flags go down.
the fans get up and they get out of town.
the arena is empty except for one man,
still driving and striving as fast as he can.
the sun has gone down and the moon has come up,
and long ago somebody left with the cup.
but he’s driving and striving and hugging the turns.
and thinking of someone for whom he still burns.
he’s going the distance.
he’s going for speed.
she’s all alone
all alone in her time of need.
because he’s racing and pacing and plotting the course,
he’s fighting and biting and riding on his horse,
he’s going the distance.

Andy’s adaptation:

The missile is crouched, the launch is on line,
the fuel is pumping and thumping in time.
the green light flashes, the rocket goes high
churning and burning, it tears through the sky.
it deftly maneuvers and muscles for rank,
Mox burning fast on an empty tank.
reckless and wild, it hits the apogee
its package is ready to spread mass agony.
as its speeds to the finish, the package heads down.
the people have no time, they can’t get out of town.
the bunker is empty except for one man,
still sitting, and thinking, his face in his hands.
the sun has gone down and the moon has come up,
humanity now just a drop in a cup.
in the bunker he watches the clock as it turns,
while thinking of someone as the city burns.
it’s going the distance.
it’s going for speed.
it’s all alone
all alone for the final deed.
because it’s racing and pacing and plotting the course,
on its way to deliver the ultimate force,
it’s going the distance.

Theo Kalionzes received very high marks for his adaptation of Bob Dylan’s “Subterranean Homesick Blues.” The original lyric:

Johnny’s in the basement
Mixing up the medicine
I’m on the pavement
Thinking about the government
The man in the trench coat
Badge out, laid off
Says he’s got a bad cough
Wants to get it paid off
Look out kid
It’s somethin’ you did
God knows when
But you’re doin’ it again
You better duck down the alley way
Lookin’ for a new friend
The man in the coon-skip cap
In the big pen
Wants eleven dollar bills
You only got ten.

Now here’s Theo’s “Subterranean Nukesick Blues”:

Yukiya’s in VIC
Mixing up the deluge
I’m on the pavement
Thinking about the centrifuge
The man in the dulband
Hands up, who me?
Ahmadinejad says its for peaceful energy
Look out kid
Its somethin’ they did
They ain’t gonna duck down the alley way
Lookin’ for a new way
Everyone knows the NAMs still an ally
The man in the White House
With the big pen
Wants eleven dollar bills
They’ve got twelve man.

Kapowski scored heavily with his adaptation of Def Leopard’s “Pour Some Sugar on Me.” The original lyric:

Love is like a bomb, baby, c’mon get it on
Livin’ like a lover with a radar phone
Lookin’ like a tramp, like a video vamp
Demolition woman, can I be your man?
Razzle ‘n’ a dazzle ‘n’ a flash a little light
Television lover, baby, go all night
Sometime, anytime, sugar me sweet
Little miss ah innocent sugar me, yeah

Kapowski’s revision:

Tryin’ to move a bomb, baby, like Abdul Q. Khan
Livin’ like a baller ’til my cover’s blown
Lookin’ like a scam, but I don’t give a damn
Sell a turnkey program to someone in Iran?
Razzle ‘n’ a dazzle in Uranium’s aglow
Better take cover, baby, it’s about to blow
Sometime, anytime, for a small fee
For all your ‘tomic needs, baby, just call me, yeah

Melissa deserves props for her adaptation of “Whatever Lola Wants”:

Whatever Jong-il wants
Jong-il gets
And little bomb, little Jong-il wants you
Make up your mind to have no regrets
Design yourself, enshrine yourself, go BOOM!
He always gets what he “aims” for
And your heart’n soul is what he came for

Lastly, Nick Ritchie’s nomination of Senator John McCain for his riff on the Beach Boys classic, “Barbara Ann” (“Bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb Iran…”) was very tough to ignore.

It’s a damn near-impossible task to pick winners, but that’s why they pay our panel of judges the big bucks. The winners are Anon with Sting and Andy with his adaptation of “The Distance.” To receive your prizes, contact me (krepon@stimson.org) with your mailing addresses and the inscriptions you would like in your books.


  1. Ben (History)

    You missed out Kate Bushs’ ‘Breathing’…


    ””In point of fact it is possible to tell the
    difference between a small nuclear explosion and
    a large one by a very simple method. The calling
    card of a nuclear bomb is the blinding flash that
    is far more dazzling than any light on earth–brighter
    even than the sun itself–and it is by the duration
    of this flash that we are able to determine the size
    (“What are we going to do without?”)
    of the weapon. After the flash a fireball can be
    seen to rise, sucking up under it the debris, dust
    and living things around the area of the explosion,
    and as this ascends, it soon becomes recognisable
    as the familiar “mushroom cloud”. As a demonstration
    of the flash duration test let’s try and count the
    number of seconds for the flash emitted by a very
    small bomb; then a more substantial, medium-sized
    bomb; and finally, one of our very powerful,
    “high-yield” bombs”

  2. Tom Nichols (History)

    Let the whining about the songs not picked begin! What about Morrissey’s “Every Day is Like Sunday,” which he wrote while in Australia and thinking about “On the Beach?”

    This is the coastal town
    That they forgot to close down
    Armageddon – come Armageddon!
    Come, Armageddon! Come!

    Everyday is like Sunday
    Everyday is silent and grey

    Hide on the promenade
    Etch a postcard :
    “How I Dearly Wish I Was Not Here”
    In the seaside town
    …that they forgot to bomb
    Come, Come, Come – nuclear bomb

    Although I’m partial to “Russians,” I figure if you’re going to go for bloated apocalyptic lyrics, it’s cheating to steal from Prokofiev in the music while you’re doing it.

    Honorable mention should go to the mutant chant from “Beneath the Planet of the Apes,” which includes “Glory Be to the Bomb and the Holy Fallout,” but the rest of which is apparently in 3000 AD Latin.

    • krepon (History)

      Next year, you will have to join the panel of judges.

    • Tom Nichols (History)

      Michael –
      I’m in. I teach a course on this nuclear pop culture stuff at Harvard Extension, so I will pretend our deliberations have the patina of a great university behind them.

  3. krepon (History)

    A late entry from Larry Atha:

    “New Frontier”

    Yes we’re gonna have a wingding
    A summer smoker underground
    It’s just a dugout that my dad built
    In case the Reds decide to push the button down
    We’ve got provisions and lots of beer
    The key word is survival on the new frontier
    Introduce me to that big blonde
    She’s got a touch of Tuesday Weld
    She’s wearing Ambush and a French twist
    She’s got us wild and she can tell
    She loves to limbo, that much is clear
    She’s got the right dynamics for the new frontier
    Well I can’t wait ’til I move to the city
    ‘Til I finally make up my mind
    To learn design and study overseas
    Have you got a steady boyfriend
    Cause honey I’ve been watching you
    I hear you’re mad about Brubeck
    I like your eyes, I like him too
    He’s an artist, a pioneer
    We’ve got to have some music on the new frontier
    Well I can’t wait ’til I move to the city
    ‘Til I finally make up my mind
    To learn design and study overseas
    Let’s pretend that it’s the real thing
    And stay together all night long
    And when I really get to know you
    We’ll open up the doors and climb into the dawn
    Confess your passion your secret fear
    Prepare to meet the challenge of the new frontier

  4. P (History)

    Did not notice this contest in time. Pity. Would have loved to see either of the following two entries from more ‘exotic’ origins shortlisted:
    1) kind of related to (defence against) nuclear weapons (?) Israeli Bollywood inspired musical ad:

    2)the classic Dutch bomb-song by the band ‘Doe maar’. Aimed at 1980s ‘doemdenken’ (doom thinking) Dutch teenagers, ‘what’s the point of anything considering the bomb will fall anyway’. Believe it or not, this was a number 1 hit in the dutch charts in 1982:


    Carriere maken (voordat de bom valt)
    Werken aan m’n toekomst (voordat de bom valt)
    Ik ren door m’n agenda (voordat de bom valt)
    Veilig in het ziekenfonds (voordat de bom valt)

    En als de bom valt

    Dan lig ik in m’n nette pak
    Diploma’s en m’n cheques op zak
    Mijn polis en mijn woordenschat, awoei
    Onder de flatgebouwen van de stad naast jou
    Laat maar vallen dan
    Het komt er toch wel van
    Het geeft niet of je rent
    ‘k Heb jou nooit gekend
    ‘k Wil weten wie jij bent
    ‘k Wil weten wie jij bent

    Ik ben verzekerd van succes, tegen brand en voor m’n leven (voordat de bom
    Ik heb van alles maar geen tijd ook niet voor heel even (voordat de bom
    Ik moet aan m’n salaris denken en aan mijn relaties (voordat de bom valt)
    Maar liever weet ik wie jij bent voordat het te laat is (voordat de bom

    Want als de bom valt


    Laat maar vallen dan
    Het komt er toch wel van
    Het geeft niet of je rent
    ‘k Heb jou nooit gekend
    ‘k Wil weten wie jij bent
    ‘k Wil weten wie jij bent

    Jij moet nog huiswerk maken (voordat de bom valt)
    Een diploma halen (voordat de bom valt)
    E is mc kwadraat (voordat de bom valt)
    Mit nach nebst naechts samt bei seit von zu zuwider entgegen ausser aus
    (voordat de bom valt)…

    Ot for all of you who do not read Dutch:

    gotta make career
    before the bomb drops
    work towards my future
    before the bomb drops
    running trough my agenda
    before the bomb drops
    safe in the (health) fund
    before the bomb drops

    and when it does drop

    Ill be there in my neat suit
    woth my diploma’s and checks
    my policy and vocabulary
    under the buildings of the city
    together with you

    just drop it
    its only a matter of time
    it doesnt matter how fast you run
    i never met you
    still i want to know who you are

    I am assured of succes,
    against fire and for my life
    I’ve got everything but no time
    not even a little time
    Have to think of my salary
    and relationships
    but what i wish to know who are you
    before it’s too late

    and when it does drop

    Ill be there in my neat suit
    with my diploma’s and checks
    my policy and vocabulary
    under the buildings of the city
    together with you

    You still have to do your homework
    before the bomb drops
    get a diploma
    before the bomb drops
    E = mc2
    before the bomb drops


  5. Airpower (History)

    I’ve been lying awake at night thinking about the Russians…

    So many tunes missing from this list. In no particular order you need:

    Enola Gay – OMD (We got your message on the radio. Conditions normal and you’re coming home).

    Let’s All Make A Bomb – Heaven 17 (There’s no need to debate. It’s time to designate your fate. Take the M out of MAD. Let’s all make a bomb).

    How I Learned To Love The Bomb – The Television Personalities (You should love the bomb like you love your mom).

    Radioactivity – Kraftwerk (It’s in the air, for you and me)

    and, as one of the best pop tunes ever written

    Atomic – Blondie

    Also, ‘Desert Storm’ by Orbital sampled the ‘blessing of the bomb almighty’ chant from Beneath The Planet of the Apes.

    Let’s celebrate and vapourise!

  6. ACW Reader (History)

    How about one of the experts commenting on the opening of Qom with an analysis of the breakout capacity (in months) there.

    This site authors and the commentators has the only Iran analysis that is intellectually worth reading. Everything else I read is redundant information.