Synchronicity (The Police album)

Last updated

Studio album by
Released17 June 1983
RecordedDecember 1982 – February 1983
Studio AIR Studios, Montserrat
Le Studio, Quebec [1]
44:18 (CD and cassette version)
Label A&M
the Police chronology
Ghost in the Machine
Every Breath You Take: The Singles
Singles from Synchronicity
  1. "Every Breath You Take"
    Released: 13 May 1983
  2. "Wrapped Around Your Finger"
    Released: 8 July 1983
  3. "Synchronicity II"
    Released: 21 October 1983
  4. "King of Pain"
    Released: 2 January 1984

Synchronicity is the fifth and final studio album by the Police, released in the United Kingdom on 17 June 1983. [2] The band's most successful release, the album includes the hit singles "Every Breath You Take", "King of Pain", "Wrapped Around Your Finger", and "Synchronicity II". The album's title and much of the material for the songs were inspired by Arthur Koestler's The Roots of Coincidence . At the 1984 Grammy Awards the album was nominated for a total of five awards including Album of the Year and won three. At the time of its release and following its tour the Police were hailed as the "Biggest Band in the World". [3] [4]

The Police English rock band

The Police were a British rock band formed in London in 1977. For most of their history the line-up consisted of Sting, Andy Summers (guitar) and Stewart Copeland. The Police became globally popular in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Emerging in the British new-wave scene, they played a style of rock influenced by punk, reggae, and jazz. Considered one of the leaders of the Second British Invasion of the US, in 1983 Rolling Stone labelled them "the first British New Wave act to break through in America on a grand scale, and possibly the biggest band in the world." The Police disbanded in 1986, but reunited in early 2007 for a one-off world tour that ended in August 2008.

Every Breath You Take 1983 single by The Police

"Every Breath You Take" is a song by the English rock band the Police from their album Synchronicity (1983). Written by Sting, the single was the biggest US and UK hit of 1983, topping the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart for eight weeks, and the UK Singles Chart for four weeks. It also topped the Billboard Top Tracks chart for nine weeks.

King of Pain 1984 single by The Police

"King of Pain" is a song by English rock band The Police, released as the final single from their fifth and final studio album Synchronicity (1983). Written by the band's lead singer and bassist Sting as a post-separation song from his wife, "King of Pain" conjures up symbols of pain and relates them to a man's soul. A&M Records released "King of Pain" as the album's fourth single in the UK, while in many other countries it was released as the second single.


The album reached number one on both the UK Albums Chart and the U.S. Billboard 200, and sold over eight million copies in the U.S. Synchronicity was widely acclaimed by critics. Praise centred on its cohesive merging of disparate genres and sonic experimentation. Rolling Stone described "each cut on Synchronicity [as] not simply a song but a miniature, discrete soundtrack". [5] It has since been included on their lists of the "100 Best Albums of the Eighties" [6] and the "500 Greatest Albums of All Time". [7]

The Official Albums Chart is a list of albums ranked by physical and digital sales and audio streaming in the United Kingdom. It was published for the first time on 22 July 1956 and is compiled every week by the Official Charts Company (OCC) on Fridays. It is broadcast on BBC Radio 1 and published in Music Week magazine, and on the OCC website.

The Billboard 200 is a record chart ranking the 200 most popular music albums and EPs in the United States. It is published weekly by Billboard magazine. It is frequently used to convey the popularity of an artist or groups of artists. Often, a recording act will be remembered by its "number ones", those of their albums that outperformed all others during at least one week. The chart grew from a weekly top 10 list in 1956 to become a top 200 in May 1967, and acquired its present title in March 1992. Its previous names include the Billboard Top LPs (1961–72), Billboard Top LPs & Tape (1972–84), Billboard Top 200 Albums (1984–85) and Billboard Top Pop Albums.

<i>Rolling Stone</i> American magazine focusing on popular culture, based in New York City

Rolling Stone is an American monthly magazine that focuses on popular culture. It was founded in San Francisco, California in 1967 by Jann Wenner, who is still the magazine's publisher, and the music critic Ralph J. Gleason. It was first known for its musical coverage and for political reporting by Hunter S. Thompson. In the 1990s, the magazine shifted focus to a younger readership interested in youth-oriented television shows, film actors, and popular music. In recent years, it has resumed its traditional mix of content, including music, entertainment, and politics.

In 2009, Synchronicity was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. In the 1983 Rolling Stone readers poll, Synchronicity was voted "Album of the Year".


The album's title was inspired by Arthur Koestler's The Roots of Coincidence . Sting was an avid reader of Koestler, and also titled Ghost in the Machine after one of his works.

Arthur Koestler Hungarian-British author and journalist

Arthur Koestler, was a Hungarian British author and journalist. Koestler was born in Budapest and apart from his early school years was educated in Austria. In 1931, Koestler joined the Communist Party of Germany until he resigned in 1938, disillusioned by Stalinism. In 1940, he published his novel Darkness at Noon, an anti-totalitarian work that gained him international fame. Over the next 43 years, from his residence in Britain, Koestler espoused many political causes, and wrote novels, memoirs, biographies and numerous essays. In 1968 he was awarded the Sonning Prize "for [his] outstanding contribution to European culture" and in 1972 he was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE). In 1976, he was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease and in 1979 with terminal leukaemia. In 1983 he and his wife committed suicide at their home in London.

<i>The Roots of Coincidence</i> book by Arthur Koestler

The Roots of Coincidence is a 1972 book by Arthur Koestler. It is an introduction to theories of parapsychology, including extrasensory perception and psychokinesis. Koestler postulates links between modern physics, their interaction with time and paranormal phenomena. It is influenced by Carl Jung's concept of synchronicity and the seriality of Paul Kammerer.

Sting (musician) English musician

Gordon Matthew Thomas SumnerCBE, known as Sting, is an English musician and actor. He was the principal songwriter, lead singer, and bassist for the new wave rock band the Police from 1977 to 1984, and launched a solo career in 1985. He has included elements of rock, jazz, reggae, classical, new-age and worldbeat in his music.

The album marked a significant reduction in the reggae influences that were a part of the band's first four records, instead featuring production-heavy textures and liberal use of synthesizers that, at times, drove entire songs ("Synchronicity I", "Wrapped Around Your Finger"). The influence of world music can also be heard in songs such as "Tea in the Sahara" and "Walking in Your Footsteps".

Reggae Music genre from Jamaica

Reggae is a music genre that originated in Jamaica in the late 1960s. The term also denotes the modern popular music of Jamaica and its diaspora. A 1968 single by Toots and the Maytals, "Do the Reggay" was the first popular song to use the word "reggae", effectively naming the genre and introducing it to a global audience. While sometimes used in a broad sense to refer to most types of popular Jamaican dance music, the term reggae more properly denotes a particular music style that was strongly influenced by traditional mento as well as American jazz and rhythm and blues, especially the New Orleans R&B practiced by Fats Domino and Allen Toussaint, and evolved out of the earlier genres ska and rocksteady. Reggae usually relates news, social gossip, and political comment. Reggae spread into a commercialized jazz field, being known first as "Rudie Blues", then "Ska", later "Blue Beat", and "Rock Steady". It is instantly recognizable from the counterpoint between the bass and drum downbeat, and the offbeat rhythm section. The immediate origins of reggae were in ska and rocksteady; from the latter, reggae took over the use of the bass as a percussion instrument.

World music is a musical category encompassing many different styles of music from around the globe. It includes many forms of ethnic music, indigenous music, folk music, neotraditional music, and music where more than one cultural tradition, such as non-Western music and Western popular music, intermingle.

As with their prior album, the basic tracks for Synchronicity were recorded at AIR Studios, Montserrat beginning in December 1982. The three band members recorded their parts in separate rooms: Stewart Copeland with his drums in the dining room, Sting in the control room and Andy Summers in the actual studio. According to co-producer Hugh Padgham this was done for two reasons: to obtain the best sound for each instrument and "for social reasons." [1] Padgham also stated that subsequent overdubs were done with only one member in the studio at a time. The overdubs were done at Le Studio in Quebec during January–February 1983. [1] During the recording of "Every Breath You Take", Sting and Copeland came to blows with each other, and Padgham nearly quit the project. [1]

Montserrat British Overseas Territory in the Caribbean

Montserrat is a British Overseas Territory (BOT) in the Caribbean. The island is in the Leeward Islands, which is part of the chain known as the Lesser Antilles, in the West Indies. Montserrat measures approximately 16 km (10 mi) in length and 11 km (7 mi) in width, with approximately 40 km (25 mi) of coastline. Montserrat is nicknamed "The Emerald Isle of the Caribbean" both for its resemblance to coastal Ireland and for the Irish ancestry of many of its inhabitants.

Stewart Copeland American musician; drummer of The Police

Stewart Armstrong Copeland is an American musician and composer. He was the drummer for the British rock band the Police, has produced film and video game soundtracks and written various pieces of music for ballet, opera and orchestra. According to MusicRadar, Copeland's "distinctive drum sound and uniqueness of style has made him one of the most popular drummers to ever get behind a drumset."

Andy Summers British guitarist

Andrew James Somers, known professionally as Andy Summers, is an English guitarist who was a member of the rock band the Police. Summers has recorded solo albums, collaborated with other musicians, composed film scores, and exhibited his photography in galleries.

The album was published in the UK and U.S. on both LP and CD in 1983, and on Super Audio CD in 2003. In 1989, it was published by Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab as a remastered gold CD.


The album's original cover artwork, conceived by Jeff Ayeroff and Norman Moore, was available in 36 variations, with different arrangements of the colour stripes and showing different photographs of the band members, taken by Duane Michals. [8] In the most common version Sting is reading a copy of Jung's Synchronicity on the front cover along with a superimposed negative image of the actual text of the synchronicity hypothesis. A photo on the back cover also shows a close-up, but mirrored and upside-down, image of Jung's book.

The original vinyl release was pressed on audiophile vinyl which appears black like most records, but is actually purple when held up to the light.

Critical reception

Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic Star full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar half.svg [9]
The Baltimore Sun Star full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svg [10]
Chicago Tribune Star full.svgStar full.svgStar half.svgStar empty.svg [11]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music Star full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar empty.svg [12]
Mojo Star full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar empty.svgStar empty.svg [13]
Q Star full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar empty.svg [14]
Rolling Stone Star full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar half.svg [5]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide Star full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar empty.svg [15]
Smash Hits 9/10 [16]
The Village Voice B+ [17]

Richard Cook of NME called Synchronicity "a record of real passion that is impossible to truly decipher", and felt that "although [the album] magnifies the difference between Sting and Summers and Copeland it also evolves the group into a unique state: a mega-band playing off glittering experimentation against the sounding board of a giant audience. It's the sound of a group coming apart and coming together, a widescreen drama with a fascination at a molecular level. Some of the music fuses intuitive pop genius with willfully dense orchestration so powerfully it stuns. It is occasionally sensational." [18]

In Melody Maker Adam Sweeting was less enthusiastic, saying, "I would guess that devotees of this extremely sussed trio will find plenty to amuse them, and indeed Sting has sown all sorts of cryptic little clues and messages throughout his songs... However impressive bits of Synchronicity sound, I could never fall in love with a group which plans its moves so carefully and which would never do anything just for the hell of it". [19]

Reviewing the 2003 reissue, Mojo 's David Buckley stated that "Synchronicity [...] was already, in the time-honoured words of rock journo cliché, 'the work of a disintegrating unit', yet 20 years on it hangs together well". [13]


Synchronicity topped the album charts in both the UK [20] and the U.S. for 17 nonconsecutive weeks (interrupting the dominance of Michael Jackson's Thriller in the U.S.).

It won a Grammy Award for Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal. [21]

In 2013, the album Synchronicity reached No. 13 in BBC Radio 2's "Top 100 Favourite Albums", a poll voted by over 100,000 people. In 2001, the TV network VH1 named it the 50th greatest album of all time. In 2000, the Virgin All-Time Top 1000 Albums rated Synchronicity at No. 91. In 2005, Channel 4's 100 Greatest Albums ranked the album at No. 65. In 2010 Consequence of Sound composed a list of the Top 100 Albums Ever which listed the album at No. 37.

In 2003, the album ranked No. 455 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, while in 2012, Synchronicity was ranked No. 448; it was one of four of the band's entries on the list.

In 1989, the album was ranked No. 17 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the "100 Greatest Albums of the 1980s". [6] In 2002, on Pitchfork Media's list of the "Top 100 Albums of the 1980s" it ranked at No. 55. In 2006, Q magazine placed the album at No. 25 in its list of "40 Best Albums of the '80s". [22]

In 2009, Synchronicity was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame compiled a list of The Definitive 200 Albums of All Time in 2007, listing Synchronicity at No. 119.

The album was included in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die . [23]

Paste named it at sixth in their list "The 50 Best New Wave Albums." [24] The album was ranked by the same magazine at #17 in the list "The 50 Best Post-Punk Albums." [25]

Track listing

All tracks written by Sting, except where noted.

Side one
1."Synchronicity I" 3:23
2."Walking in Your Footsteps" 3:36
3."O My God" 4:02
4."Mother" Andy Summers 3:05
5."Miss Gradenko" Stewart Copeland 2:00
6."Synchronicity II" 5:00
Side two
7."Every Breath You Take" 4:13
8."King of Pain" 4:59
9."Wrapped Around Your Finger" 5:13
10."Tea in the Sahara" 4:11
11."Murder by Numbers" (Released on cassette and CD versions but omitted on some LP pressings)Summers, Sting4:36


The Police

Additional Musicians



1984 Grammy Awards

CategoryTitle Nominated
Song of the Year "Every Breath You Take"
Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals
Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal Synchronicity II
Album of the Year Synchronicity
Record of the Year "Every Breath You Take"


1983"Every Breath You Take" UK Singles Chart 1 [20]
Adult Contemporary5
Club Play Singles26
Mainstream Rock1
The Billboard Hot 1001
"King of Pain"Adult Contemporary33
Mainstream Rock1
The Billboard Hot 1003
"Synchronicity II"UK Singles Chart17 [20]
Mainstream Rock9
The Billboard Hot 10016
"Wrapped Around Your Finger"UK Singles Chart7 [20]
Mainstream Rock9
1984Adult Contemporary13
The Billboard Hot 1008
"King of Pain"UK Singles Chart17 [20]


Certifications and sales

RegionCertification Certified units/sales
Canada (Music Canada) [48] Platinum100,000^
France (SNEP) [49] Platinum472,100 [50]
Germany (BVMI) [51] Gold250,000^
Japan (Oricon Charts)175,000 [33]
Hong Kong (IFPI Hong Kong) [52] Gold15,000*
Netherlands (NVPI) [53] Gold50,000^
United Kingdom (BPI) [54] Platinum300,000^
United States (RIAA) [55] 8× Platinum8,000,000^

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone

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  49. "French album certifications – The Police – Synchronicity" (in French). InfoDisc.Select THE POLICE and click OK. 
  50. "Les Albums Platine :" (in French). Archived from the original on 2 May 2014. Retrieved 13 September 2012.
  51. "Gold-/Platin-Datenbank (The Police; 'Synchronicity')" (in German). Bundesverband Musikindustrie . Retrieved 13 September 2012.
  52. "IFPIHK Gold Disc Award − 1984". IFPI Hong Kong.
  53. "Dutch album certifications – Police – Synchronicity" (in Dutch). Nederlandse Vereniging van Producenten en Importeurs van beeld- en geluidsdragers . Retrieved 21 August 2018.Enter Synchronicity in the "Artiest of titel" box.
  54. "British album certifications – Police – Synchronicity". British Phonographic Industry . Retrieved 13 September 2012.Select albums in the Format field. Select Platinum in the Certification field. Type Synchronicity in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.
  55. "American album certifications – The Police – Synchronicity". Recording Industry Association of America . Retrieved 13 September 2012.If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH.