Everybody Wants to Rule the World

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"Everybody Wants to Rule the World"
Single by Tears for Fears
from the album Songs from the Big Chair
B-side "Pharaohs"
Released 18 March 1985
Format 7", 10", 12"
Recorded 1984
Genre New wave[1][2]
Length 4:11 (album version)
3:15 (radio edit)
Label Phonogram Records (UK)
Mercury Records (US)
Vertigo Records (Canada)
Writer(s) Roland Orzabal, Ian Stanley, Chris Hughes
Producer(s) Chris Hughes
Tears for Fears singles chronology
"Everybody Wants to Rule the World"
"Head over Heels"
Music sample
Alternative single cover
Alternative artwork used for additional 7" & 12" releases

"Everybody Wants to Rule the World" is a hit song by the English band Tears for Fears. It was the band's ninth single release in the United Kingdom (the third from their second LP: Songs from the Big Chair) and seventh UK Top 30 chart hit, peaking at number two in April 1985. In the U.S., it was the lead single from the album and gave the band their first Billboard Hot 100 number-one hit on 8 June 1985, remaining there for two weeks. It also reached number-one on both the Hot Dance Music/Club Play and Hot Dance Singles Sales charts in the U.S. The song has since become the pinnacle of Tears for Fears' chart success.

In 1986, the song won "Best Single" at the Brit Awards. Band member and co-writer Roland Orzabal argued that the song deserved to win the Ivor Novello International Hit of the Year award, claiming that the winner—"19" by Paul Hardcastle—was not an actual song, but only a "dialogue collage".[3]


Ironically, considering the song's overwhelming success, "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" was somewhat of an afterthought during the recording of Songs from the Big Chair. According to Roland Orzabal, he initially regarded the song as a lightweight that would not fit with the rest of the album. It was producer Chris Hughes who convinced him to try recording it, in a calculated effort to cross over into American chart success.

It was written and recorded in two weeks and was the final track to be added to the Songs from the Big Chair album. The shuffle beat was alien to our normal way of doing things. It was jolly rather than square and rigid in the manner of 'Shout', but it continued the process of becoming more extrovert.

As was the case with the three hit singles from Tears for Fears' debut LP The Hurting, the song featured bassist Curt Smith on lead vocals.


The concept is quite serious – it's about everybody wanting power, about warfare and the misery it causes.

Song versions and cover versions[edit]

"Everybody Wants to Rule the World" has seen relatively few remixes. Extended, instrumental, and "urban mix" versions were done by producer Chris Hughes for inclusion on the single's various 7" and 12" releases. The only other remix of note was one done by electronica act The Chosen Few, included on the 2004 reissue of the greatest hits compilation Tears Roll Down (Greatest Hits 82-92). No official radio edits or alternate 7" versions of the song have been issued. A version labeled as the 7" version is included on the 2006 remaster of Songs from the Big Chair, but is actually the album version (the album's liner notes show the track as "Everybody Wants to Run the World", but this song was not included).

The song was later partially re-recorded with a new lyric and released as "Everybody Wants to Run the World" for the 1986 Sport Aid fund-raising campaign, once again reaching the UK Top 5.


"Pharaohs" is an instrumental that served as the B-side to the "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" single. The only voice heard is a recording of BBC Radio announcer Brian Perkins reading the Shipping Forecast for the sea lanes around the United Kingdom (see below). The title of the song is a play on the name of the Faroe Islands ("Faroes"), one of the places referenced in the forecast. This is one of the few songs in the Tears for Fears catalogue on which founding member Curt Smith shares a writing credit. The song has since been included in the B-sides and rarities collection Saturnine Martial & Lunatic as well as the remastered and deluxe edition reissues of Songs from the Big Chair. "Pharaohs" is also included on the Groove Armada compilation album Back to Mine.

No matter how horrifying the conditions may really be, the voice reading the shipping forecast is deliberately calm and relaxed. Recorded at the Wool Hall for the b-side of 'Everybody' in a calm and relaxed way.

"Pharaohs" shipping forecast read by Brian Perkins (BBC Radio 4, c. 1984):

"There are warnings of gales in Viking, Forties, Cromarty, Forth, Fisher, Dover, Wight, Portland, Plymouth, Finisterre, Sole, Lundy, Fastnet, Shannon, Rockall, Malin, Hebrides, Bailey, Fair Isle, Faroes and Southeast Iceland.
The general synopsis at one eight double-O: low just north of Viking, nine double-seven, moving steadily east-northeast.
Low 300 miles south of Iceland. Atlantic low forming, moving steadily northeast.
A ridge of high pressure has swayed between North and South Utsire. The area forecast for the next twenty-four hours. Viking, Forties, Cromarty, Forth."

Music video[edit]

The promotional clip for "Everybody Wants to Rule the World", filmed in early 1985, was the third Tears for Fears clip directed by famed music video producer Nigel Dick. It features Curt Smith driving an antique Austin-Healey 3000 sports car around various Southern California locales, including Salton Sea and Cabazon. Interspersed with these clips are shots of the full band performing the song in a London studio. Along with the clip for "Shout", the "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" video had a big hand in helping break Tears for Fears in America, due to its heavy amount of play on music video pioneer MTV.

Track listings[edit]

The single was released on a wide variety of formats in the UK, including a standard 7", a 7" double pack, two separate 12" versions, and a 10" single.

7": Mercury / IDEA9 (UK)[edit]

  1. "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" (4:10)
  2. "Pharaohs" (3:42)

2x7": Mercury / IDEA99 (UK)[edit]

  1. "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" (4:10)
  2. "Pharaohs" (3:42)
  1. "Everybody Wants to Rule the World [Urban Mix]" (6:06)
  2. "Interview Excerpt" (7:30)

10": Mercury / IDEA910 (UK)[edit]

  1. "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" (4:10)
  2. "Pharaohs" (3:42)

12": Mercury / IDEA912 (UK)[edit]

  1. "Everybody Wants to Rule the World [Extended Version]" (5:43)
  2. "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" (4:10)
  3. "Pharaohs" (3:42)

12": Mercury / IDER912 (UK)[edit]

  1. "Everybody Wants to Rule the World [Urban Mix]" (6:06)
  2. "Everybody Wants to Rule the World [Instrumental]" (4:26)

Charts and sales[edit]

Chart performance[edit]

Chart (1985) Peak
Australia (Kent Music Report)[7] 2
Austria (Ö3 Austria Top 40)[8] 19
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Flanders)[9] 3
Canadian RPM Adult Contemporary[10] 1
Canadian RPM Top Singles[11] 1
France (SNEP)[12] 18
Germany (Media Control AG)[13] 11
Irish Singles Chart[14] 2
Italy (FIMI)[15] 11
Netherlands (Dutch Top 40)[16] 2
Netherlands (Mega Single Top 100)[17] 2
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)[18] 1
South African Chart[19] 14
Switzerland (Schweizer Hitparade)[20] 13
UK (The Official Charts Company)[21] 2
U.S. Billboard Hot 100[22] 1
U.S. Billboard Hot Adult Contemporary[22] 2
U.S. Billboard Hot Dance Club Play[22] 1
U.S. Billboard Hot Dance Music/Maxi-Singles Sales[22] 1
U.S. Billboard Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks[22] 2


  1. ^ "Everybody Wants to Rule the World Sheet Music". EMI Music Publishing. Retrieved 20 June 2013.  cf. Arrangement Details
  2. ^ "Bio - Care Bears". S-Curve Records. Retrieved 20 June 2013.  "CBOF tweaks the classic rock-god-worship of a charismatic male performer, by reimagining the star as the magnetic, all mighty female rock star. Their punk cover of the New Wave classic, “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” steadily escalates into a joyful frenzy, the chorus a screaming declaration of our own secret desires."
  3. ^ Egan, Sean. Tears for Fears Songs From the Big Chair CD insert, 1999
  4. ^ "1985 - Tears For Fears' ‘Songs From The Big Chair’ Hits #1". RTTNews. Retrieved 20 June 2013. 
  5. ^ Ehrlich, Brenna (30 September 2013). "Is Lorde's 'Catching Fire' Track An 80's Cover?". MTV. Retrieved 12 October 2013. 
  6. ^ "NZ Top 40 Singles Chart". Recorded Music New Zealand. 25 November 2013. Retrieved 22 November 2013. 
  7. ^ Danyel Smith, ed. (1985). Billboard 8 june 1985. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. ISSN 0006-2510. Retrieved 21 June 2013. 
  8. ^ "Tears For Fears – Everybody Wants to Rule the World – Austriancharts.at" (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40.
  9. ^ "Ultratop.be – Tears For Fears – Everybody Wants to Rule the World" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50.
  10. ^ "Everybody wants to rule the world in Canadian Adult Contemporary Chart". Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved 21 June 2013. 
  11. ^ "Everybody wants to rule the world in Canadian Top Singles Chart". Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved 21 June 2013. 
  12. ^ "Lescharts.com – Tears For Fears – Everybody Wants to Rule the World" (in French). Les classement single.
  13. ^ "Die ganze Musik im Internet: Charts, News, Neuerscheinungen, Tickets, Genres, Genresuche, Genrelexikon, Künstler-Suche, Musik-Suche, Track-Suche, Ticket-Suche – musicline.de" (in German). Media Control Charts. PhonoNet GmbH.
  14. ^ "Everybody wants to rule the world in Irish Chart". IRMA. Retrieved 20 June 2013.  Only one result when searching "Everybody wants to rule the world"
  15. ^ "Hit Parade Italia - Indice per Interprete: T". Hit Parade Italia. Retrieved July 6, 2012. 
  16. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40 – Tears For Fears search results" (in Dutch) Dutch Top 40.
  17. ^ "Dutchcharts.nl – Tears For Fears – Everybody Wants to Rule the World" (in Dutch). Mega Single Top 100.
  18. ^ "Charts.org.nz – Tears For Fears – Everybody Wants to Rule the World". Top 40 Singles.
  19. ^ John Samson. "Everybody wants to rule the world in South African Chart". Retrieved 20 June 2013. 
  20. ^ "Tears For Fears – Everybody Wants to Rule the World – swisscharts.com". Swiss Singles Chart.
  21. ^ "1985 Top 40 Official UK Singles Archive - 20th April 1985". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 20 June 2013. 
  22. ^ a b c d e "Tears for Fears awards on Allmusic". Allmusic. Retrieved 20 June 2013. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
"Fresh" by Kool & the Gang
Billboard Hot Dance Club Play number-one single
11 May 1985 – 18 May 1985
Succeeded by
"Do You Wanna Get Away" by Shannon
Preceded by
"Everything She Wants" by Wham!
Billboard Hot 100 number-one single
8 June 1985 – 15 June 1985
Succeeded by
"Heaven" by Bryan Adams
Preceded by
"Don't You (Forget About Me)" by Simple Minds
Canadian RPM number-one single
8 June 1985
Succeeded by
"Everything She Wants" by Wham!