Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark – “Enola Gay” (1980)
There are a lot of songs on this list that sound infectious and poppy while conveying some very dark subject matter. In “Enola Gay,” that contrast is pretty severe. Every part of this song, especially the main synth line that anchors it, is a danceable earworm, but all of that is a propulsive delivery mechanism for a meditation on nuclear war via historical context. Actually rooted more so in Andy McCluskey’s obsession with WWII-era aircraft than by the desire to make a political statement, “Enola Gay” is named for the plane that carried the bomb dropped on Hiroshima. The song is filled with allusions otherwise, the line “Is mother proud of little boy today?” referencing both the literal bomb Little Boy and the fact that the pilot had named his plane “Enola Gay” after his mother, and the recurring “It’s 8:15″ denoting the time the bomb was dropped. “Enola Gay” kicked off OMD’s excellent sophomore album Organisation with a somewhat unintentional mission statement and prologue — from a literal reference to the atomic bomb onwards, the rest of the album was dominated by the sort of barren, gray atmospherics we associate with Cold War Europe.