It's been a long time since Nov. 11, 1918 marked the end of World War I, but we hardly need Remembrance Day to recall what war is like -- after all, we've been in a constant state of it for years and our soldiers remain deployed in Afghanistan, though they're finally set to return home next summer.
But if war is bad for almost everything, it has historically provided moving inspiration for artists. And so we've gathered some of music's most powerful anti-war videos to commemorate the end of the Great War and inspire hope for the end of the rest.
Metric, "Sucexxy" (2003)
In the darkness following 9/11, America blundered into two wars and few in the music industry -- or anywhere else -- dared push back like their Vietnam-era forbears. Metric, who lived in New York in 2001 and fled back to Toronto after the towers fell, had no such qualms. Their bitterly sarcastic 'Succexy' attacked government aggression and public apathy in equal measure. But it's video raised the stakes further, using stop-motion toy soldiers to call out the Iraq War's tragic absurdism.
Metallica, "One" (1989)
Metallica's very first music video spends some time showing the band hard rocking, but its visual punch comes from borrowed scenes from the 1971 anti-war film 'Johnny Got His Gun,' about a WWI quadruple-amputee so damaged by a landmine he's become trapped his own blown-apart body. It was directed by Dalton Trumbo, who also wrote the original novel which was what inspired the song: "Now that the war is through with me/I'm waking up, I cannot see / That there's not much left of me/Nothing is real but pain now / Hold my breath as I wish for death."
Green Day, "Wake Me Up When September Ends" (2005)
Though Billie Joe Armstrong has explained that this 'American Idiot' single was written as a tribute to his late father, the video became iconic of the nation turning against the Iraq War. Lensed by 'Smells Like Teen Spirit' director Samuel Bayer, it's a moving short film about a young couple (Jamie Bell and Evan Rachel Wood) torn apart by war. Though the boyfriend enlists in the Marine Corps to help make the world safer for his better half, his horrifying tour in Iraq, during which his unit is attacked by insurgents, is juxtaposed with flash-forwards of his girlfriend mourning his death. Rather than promote politics, 'September' simply displays pain -- and is all the more powerful for it.
Eminem, "Mosh" (2004)
Though released way too late in the 2004 election cycle to make a real difference, Eminem's collaboration with the Guerilla News Network was nonetheless a powerful statement, both lyrically and visually, and a reminder of the days when hip-hop dared fight the power. As an animated vet finds himself sent back to Iraq and Eminem leads an army to the voting booth, the rapper rails against President G-Dub's oil war and oily propaganda: "Strap him with an AK-47, let him go fight his own war/Let him impress daddy that way...No more psychological warfare/to trick us to thinking that we ain't loyal."
Genesis, "Land of Confusion" (1986)
The terror-era seems quaint compared to the poison gas and slaughtered millions that marked WWI, much less the Holocaust that defined its sequel. But the Cold War, well, there was something truly terrifying about possibility of global thermo nuclear war -- and somehow the presence of puppets didn't make it less so. Genesis' entry in the crowded '80s anti-war pop song market (see also: Nena's '99 Luftballons' and Sting's 'Russians') used the satirical marionettes of UK comedy troupe Spitting Image to imagine the nuclear nightmares going through Ronald Reagan's head as his finger rested on the button that could end us all.