I was SUPER excited that this was on the list of futuristic depictions of 2019. Since we discussed Blade Runner last time, this post naturally must follow. This is because Danger Days: The True Lives Of The Fabulous Killjoys was lightly inspired by Blade Runner (for more on that, check out this good Billboard article). So, what does Danger Days say about 2019 and does it align with the 2019 depicted in Blade Runner? Let’s take a look at a few of the songs.
“Na Na Na [Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na]”
The story takes place in Battery City, California. A city stricken with poverty and crime. In the music video for the song, the story really plays out and the state of survival includes the main characters eating out of cans and fighting with guns purchased out of a vending machine. Society is clearly motivated by drugs, love, and violence.
The song is very dark yet upbeat and encompasses this dystopic world in a way similar to how Blade Runner uses technology to create a bleak and oversaturated world. That duality between beat and tone really enhances the overall feel of 2019 in this world; sure anarchy has more freedom, but it also leads to more death.
My favorite line is definitely “Everyone wants to change the world but no one wants to die.” The line really encompasses the reality of a post-apocalyptic society in which so many survivors have seen death and destruction. The word (or at least California) in its anarchic state begs for change but dying for change can be so much more difficult when survival is at the forefront of your reality.l
The upbeat sound combined with bleak lyrics remind me of Blade Runner‘s bleak reality mixed in with their futuristic technology. In Danger Days, the world is definitely more post-apocalyptic than it is in Blade Runner but this song also highlights 2019 as a time in which society is in crisis, just in a slightly different way that in Blade Runner; this time it is people against people rather than people against robots.
This songs provide an aggressive rejection of authority and enforce ideas of runaways and vigilante violence against an oppressive government. For example in “Bulletproof Heart” the protagonist mentions running away from Battery City and from the “pigs” that are after him. The song is similar to “Na Na Na [Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na]” in that it is upbeat but reaches into the heart of a desperate vigilante who simply wants escape from the problems society gives them, which mirrors the same anxiety felt by the replicants and their efforts to avoid Blade Runners.
I think that this sound, out of all on the album, reminds me the most of Blade Runner. The desperation of the main character to escape his fate is so reminiscent of the replicants. And the idea that they are both being chased by the authority “pigs” is so congruent. Combing these similarities produces and supports the overall desperate/anxious tone of a dystopic 2019.
The beginning of this song highlights the anxiety of a post-apocalyptic 2019 through both music and lyric. The repeated sirens which start the song obviously remind listeners of warning sirens similar to [in this case] impending nuclear disaster. The first line, “there might be something outside your window, but you just never know,” highlights the anxiety of not knowing precisely when how how nuclear disaster could affect life. This anxiety of impending nuclear disaster can be connected to my own analysis of Blade Runner which highlights the film’s overall emphasis on early 80s anxiety over the Cold War.
The song then transitions into a more upbeat tempo that follows the pattern of other songs on the album and acts as a kind of anthem for survival and anarchy – “This planet’s ours to defend / Ain’t got no time to pretend / Don’t fuck around, this is our last chance!” This line stands out because it gets to the heart of the post-apocalyptic storyline creating in the album. It creates a sense of necessity of fight back against oppression and an urgency to incite change. While this may not directly relate to Blade Runner, it does speak to the album’s own depiction of 2019 as a year of anarchy and post-apocalyptic survival.
Overall, Danger Days does not express the same type of nuclear anxiety as Blade Runner did. This could be because the album was released merely nine years ago. It looks into the future not with predictive anxiety, but instead creates an alternate future that plays on sci-fi anthologies of the past.
This article was originally posted here and has been cross-posted on this blog.