The Final Countdown (song)

Last updated

"The Final Countdown"
The Final Countdown single.png
Single by Europe
from the album The Final Countdown
B-side "On Broken Wings"
Released1986
Format
Genre
Length
Label Epic
Songwriter(s) Joey Tempest
Producer(s) Kevin Elson
Europe singles chronology
"Rock the Night"
(1985)
"The Final Countdown"
(1986)
"Love Chaser"
(1986)
Music video
"The Final Countdown" on YouTube
Audio sample
"The Final Countdown"

"The Final Countdown" is a song by Swedish rock band Europe, released in 1986. Written by Joey Tempest, it was based on a keyboard riff he made in the early '80s, inspired by David Bowie's "Space Oddity". Originally made to just be a concert opener, it is the first single from the band's third studio album, also named The Final Countdown . The song reached number one in 25 countries, [4] including the United Kingdom, and was certified gold in that country in 1986. [5] In the United States, the song peaked at number 8 on the Billboard Hot 100 and number 18 on the Billboard Album Rock Tracks chart. A music video by Nick Morris was made to promote the single that features footage from the band's two concerts at the Solnahallen in Solna, as well as extra footage of the sound checks at those concerts.

Rock music is a broad genre of popular music that originated as "rock and roll" in the United States in the early 1950s, and developed into a range of different styles in the 1960s and later, particularly in the United Kingdom and in the United States. It has its roots in 1940s and 1950s rock and roll, a style which drew heavily on the genres of blues, rhythm and blues, and from country music. Rock music also drew strongly on a number of other genres such as electric blues and folk, and incorporated influences from jazz, classical and other musical styles. Musically, rock has centered on the electric guitar, usually as part of a rock group with electric bass, drums, and one or more singers. Usually, rock is song-based music usually with a 4/4 time signature using a verse–chorus form, but the genre has become extremely diverse. Like pop music, lyrics often stress romantic love but also address a wide variety of other themes that are frequently social or political.

Europe (band) Swedish band

Europe is a Swedish rock band formed in Upplands Väsby in 1979, by vocalist Joey Tempest, guitarist John Norum, bassist Peter Olsson, and drummer Tony Reno. They got a major breakthrough in Sweden in 1982 by winning the televised competition "Rock-SM" : it was the first time this competition was held, and Europe became a larger success than the competition itself.

Joey Tempest Swedish singer

Rolf Magnus Joakim Larsson, professionally known as Joey Tempest, is a Swedish singer, best known as the lead singer and main songwriter of the rock band Europe. He has written hits which include "The Final Countdown", "Rock the Night", "Cherokee" and "Superstitious".

Contents

Origin and recording

The song was based on a keyboard riff which Joey Tempest had written, as early as 1981 or 1982, [6] on a Korg Polysix keyboard which he had borrowed from keyboardist Mic Michaeli. [7] [8] In 1985, bassist John Levén suggested that Tempest should write a song based on that riff. [6] Tempest recorded a demo version of the song and played it for the other band members. [9] At first, the members expressed mixed reactions to it, including guitarist John Norum who was put off by the synth intro but said that he was glad they didn't listen to him. [10] Tempest described their uncertainty: "Some of the guys in the band thought it was too different for a rock band. But in the end I fought hard to make sure it got used." [10]

Korg Polysix synthesizer by Korg

The Korg Polysix(PS-6) is a six-voice programmable polyphonic analog synthesizer released by Korg in 1981.

Mic Michaeli Swedish musician

Gunnar Mathias "Mic" Michaeli is a Swedish keyboardist in the Swedish rock band Europe. Like many of the other Europe members he grew up in Stockholm suburb Upplands Väsby. He joined the band for their Wings of Tomorrow tour in 1984, taking vocalist Joey Tempest's place behind the keyboards.

John Levén bassist in the Swedish rock band Europe

John Gunnar Levén is a Swedish bassist in the Swedish rock band Europe. Levén and vocalist Joey Tempest are the only band members who have performed on all of Europe's studio albums.

The song's lyrics were inspired by David Bowie's song "Space Oddity". [10] The sound of the keyboard riff used in the recording was achieved by using a Yamaha TX-816 rack unit and a Roland JX-8P synthesizer, [11] as described by Michaeli: "I made a brassy sound from the JX-8P and used a factory sound from the Yamaha, and just layered them together." [11]

David Bowie British musician, actor, record producer and arranger

David Robert Jones, known professionally as David Bowie, was an English singer, songwriter and actor. He was a leading figure in the music industry and is considered one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century, acclaimed by critics and musicians, particularly for his innovative work during the 1970s. His career was marked by reinvention and visual presentation, with his music and stagecraft having a significant impact on popular music. During his lifetime, his record sales, estimated at 140 million albums worldwide, made him one of the world's best-selling music artists. In the UK, he was awarded ten platinum album certifications, eleven gold and eight silver, and released eleven number-one albums. In the US, he received five platinum and nine gold certifications. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996.

Space Oddity 1969 David Bowie song

"Space Oddity" is a song written and recorded by David Bowie. It was first released as a 7-inch single on 11 July 1969. It was also the opening track of his second studio album, David Bowie. It became one of Bowie's signature songs and one of four of his songs to be included in The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll.

Yamaha DX7 synthesizer model

The Yamaha DX7 is a synthesizer manufactured by the Yamaha Corporation from 1983 to 1989. It was the first commercially successful digital synthesizer, and is one of the bestselling synthesizers in history, selling over 200,000 units.

When it was time to choose the first single from the album The Final Countdown, Tempest suggested the song "The Final Countdown". [9] The band had not originally planned to release the song as a single, and some members wanted "Rock the Night" to be the first single. [9] [10] "The Final Countdown" was written to be an opening song for concerts, and they never thought it would be a hit. [9] When their record company Epic Records suggested, however, that it should be the first single, the band decided to release it. [12]

Rock the Night (song) 1985 single by Europe

"Rock the Night" is a single released by the Swedish glam metal band Europe. The song was written by vocalist Joey Tempest in 1984 and premiered on the band's Wings of Tomorrow tour the same year.

Epic Records American record label

Epic Records is an American record label owned by Sony Music Entertainment, a subsidiary of Sony Corporation of America, Inc., the North American division of Japanese conglomerate Sony. The label was founded predominantly as a jazz and classical music label in 1953, but later expanded its scope to include a more diverse range of genres, including pop, R&B, rock, and hip hop. Epic has released music by artists including Glenn Miller, Tammy Wynette, George Michael, Shakin Stevens, Europe, Cheap Trick, Meat Loaf, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Ted Nugent, Shakira, Sly & the Family Stone, Celine Dion, Mariah Carey, ABBA, Anastacia, Boston, Dave Clark Five, Gloria Estefan, Pearl Jam, Rage Against the Machine, and Michael Jackson. Along with Arista, Columbia and RCA Records, Epic is one of Sony Music Entertainment's four flagship record labels.

As Tempest stated:

It's always a nice feeling. Sometimes you hear it on the streets or someone has it on their mobile phone or something… it's a nice feeling! Actually, I did an interview about a year ago with a newspaper from America and they talked about how much it's been used in sports in America… which I didn't know so much about. Apparently it has been used a lot and it was nice to hear. The ironic thing, though, is that the song was actually written for the fans. It was over six minutes long and was never meant to be a hit or anything like that. It was meant to be an opening for the 'live' show. We were putting out our third album and we wanted a really 'grand' opening for the show. So, I had that 'riff' tucked away in a drawer since my college years and I took it out, found a tempo for it, wrote lyrics, and it turned out to be a great opening for that album and for the show, as well. Nowadays, we don't rehearse it, but when we play it live, it is still just so amazing! It does communicate so well with the audience and we really love playing it. [13]

In 2009, Tempest told the BBC's Liam Allen, "I can trace bands like UFO in it, sort of a galloping theme like Iron Maiden had on The Number of the Beast album on quite a few songs. I wanted to make a combination of guitars and keyboards. That was a statement on that and it sort of worked out nicely." [14]

UFO (band) English heavy metal and hard rock band

UFO are an English rock band that was formed in London in 1968. They became a transitional group between early hard rock and heavy metal and the new wave of British heavy metal. The band's current lineup includes vocalist Phil Mogg, lead guitarist Vinnie Moore, bass guitarist Rob De Luca, keyboardist and rhythm guitarist Paul Raymond, and drummer Andy Parker. They have gone through several line-up changes, leaving Mogg as the only constant member, and had two hiatuses. The band are also notable for featuring former Scorpions guitarist and MSG founder Michael Schenker, who was a member of UFO from 1973 to 1978 and again, occasionally, between 1993 and 2003, when Moore replaced him. In May 2018, Mogg announced that he will retire from UFO after one last tour as a member of the band in 2019.

Iron Maiden English heavy metal band

Iron Maiden are an English heavy metal band formed in Leyton, East London, in 1975 by bassist and primary songwriter Steve Harris. The band's discography has grown to thirty-eight albums, including sixteen studio albums, twelve live albums, four EPs, and seven compilations.

Release and reception

"The Final Countdown" became an instant success on the charts worldwide upon its release, reaching number one in 25 countries (including the UK, where it spent two weeks at the top and is Europe's only Top 10 hit to date), [4] and is commonly regarded as the band's most popular and recognizable song. The single reached number 8 on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart, and is the most successful song from the album on the Album Rock Tracks chart, peaking at number 18 (and charting for 20 weeks). [15]

The song is also the band's highest charting single in Australia and Canada, peaking at number 2 and number 5 respectively.

Music video

A still from the music video for "The Final Countdown" Europe The Final Countdown music video.jpg
A still from the music video for "The Final Countdown"

The music video, directed by Nick Morris, contains footage from two concerts the band did at Solnahallen in Solna, Sweden on 26 and 27 May 1986, as well as some extra footage filmed at the sound checks for those concerts. [9]

Live performances

The song has been a regular in Europe concerts ever since its live debut on the premiere of their Final Countdown Tour in April 1986. One of the most memorable performances of the song took place in Stockholm, Sweden on 31 December 1999, as part of the Millennium celebrations, as it was the first, and to date only, Europe performance with both of the band's lead guitarists, the original guitarist John Norum and his replacement, Kee Marcello. [16] [17]

Personnel

Charts and certifications

"The Final Countdown 2000"

"The Final Countdown 2000"
Europe The Final Countdown 2000.JPG
Single by Europe
from the album 1982–2000
B-side "The Final Countdown" (Original Radio Edit)
Released7 December 1999
Format
Length3:47
Label Epic
Songwriter(s) Joey Tempest
Producer(s)
Europe singles chronology
"Sweet Love Child"
(1993)
"The Final Countdown 2000"
(1999)
"Got to Have Faith"
(2004)

In 1999, the dance remix "The Final Countdown 2000" was released. It was produced by Brian Rawling, who had previously had success with "Believe" by Cher. The band's reaction to the remix was less than enthusiastic. "That remix was a disaster," drummer Ian Haugland said, "I wouldn't pass water on it if it was on fire!" [55] In a 2013 interview with The National , Joey Tempest commented on the remix, saying, "The band were not happy with it. We were trying to get some other people to do the remix and it just didn’t pan out so it ended up becoming a last-minute thing." [56]

Chart positions

Chart (1999–2000)Peak
position
Australia (ARIA) [57] 33
Finland (Suomen virallinen lista) [58] 12
Germany (Official German Charts) [59] 35
Netherlands (Single Top 100) [60] 60
Norway (VG-lista) [61] 12
Sweden (Sverigetopplistan) [62] 6
Switzerland (Schweizer Hitparade) [63] 33
UK Singles (Official Charts Company) [64] 36

Legacy

The song is a favorite at sporting events, often being played to rally crowds. It has also become a staple of high school and college pep bands for the same purpose. [13]

On 2 October 1990 just a few hours before the German reunification, the English segment of international radio broadcaster of former East Germany RBI , played the intro of the song with the female radio announcer says: "Our broadcast came to you from Radio Berlin International, the voice of the disappearing German Democratic Republic". [65]

Blender listed it as the 27th worst song ever, [2] and both VH1 and Blender included it at 16 on the list of the "Most Awesomely Bad Songs...Ever". [66] However, VH1 later ranked it at number 66 on their list of the best hard rock songs of all time. [3]

The song and band Europe appeared in a 2015 USA television commercial for GEICO insurance, playing in a lunchroom as a microwave oven's timer is counting down toward zero seconds; the script touts the intrinsic activity of the band, saying if you're Europe, "you love a final countdown: it's what you do." [67]

Cover versions

A performance of the song by a band named Deep Sunshine was captured on video and later became a variation of a Rickroll on Fark.com, receiving over 5 million views on YouTube. [68] The video has been labeled the "worst cover ever", its success stemming from its lack of artistic value. [69] [70]

Slovenian avant-garde music group Laibach released a cover in 1994 on their NATO album. [71]

"The Final Countdown" is a particular favourite of guitarist Ritchie Blackmore, who incorporated elements of it into "Gone with the Wind", his 1999 reimagining of Lev Knipper's "Polyushko-polye". [72] [73]

Swedish metal band Sabaton has "The Final Countdown" playing to the crowd just before they enter the stage at their concerts. [74]

American banjo players Béla Fleck and Abigail Washburn performed a version of the song in May 2015 for The A.V. Club 's A.V. Undercover series. [75]

See also

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