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Everybody Wants to Rule the World

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"Everybody Wants to Rule the World"
TFF EWTRTW.jpg
Single by Tears for Fears
from the album Songs from the Big Chair
B-side"Pharaohs"
Released1985
Format
GenreNew wave
Length4:11
Label
Songwriter(s)
Producer(s)Hughes
Tears for Fears singles chronology
"Shout"
(1984)
"Everybody Wants to Rule the World"
(1985)
"Head over Heels"
(1985)
Music video
"Everybody Wants To Rule The World" on YouTube

"Everybody Wants to Rule the World" is a song recorded by English band Tears for Fears. It was written by Roland Orzabal, Ian Stanley and Chris Hughes with production handled by Hughes. The song was released in 1985 by Phonogram, Mercury and Vertigo Records as the third single from their second album, Songs from the Big Chair (1985). "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" is a new wave song. Its lyrics detail the desire humans have for control and power and centers on themes of corruption.

Music critics praised "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" in their retrospective reviews, with some including the song in their respective decade lists. It is regarded as the group's signature song, along with "Shout" (1984). Commercially, the song garnered success on charts internationally, peaking at number two in Ireland and the United Kingdom and at number one in Canada, New Zealand and on the Billboard Hot 100. "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" was certified gold by both Music Canada (MC) and the British Phonographic Industry (BPI).

Nigel Dick directed the song's accompanying music video which received promotion from MTV. It shows the group's lead singer, Curt Smith riding an antique Austin-Healey 3000 sports car around various locations in Southern California intercut with shots of the band performing the song in a studio. In 1986, the song won "Best Single" at the Brit Awards. The group re-recorded the song as a charity single for the Sport Aid campaign. New Zealand singer Lorde recorded a cover of the song which was included in the soundtrack for The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013).

Background and recording[edit]

"Everybody Wants to Rule the World" was written by Roland Orzabal, Ian Stanley and Chris Hughes with production handled by the latter. It was revealed that the song was a "last-minute" addition during recording sessions of Songs from the Big Chair (1985). The decision to include the song in the album came after Orzabal played two chords on his acoustic guitar for Hughes.[1] It was recorded in two weeks and later added as the final track on the album. According to Orzabal, he initially regarded the song as a lightweight that would not fit with the rest of the album. In an interview with Mix magazine, Hughes admitted that "as a piece of recording history, [the song is] bland as hell." The lyrics of the song were originally "everybody wants to go to war", which Orzabal felt was lackluster.[2] However, Hughes convinced Orzabal to record it, in a calculated effort to gain American chart success. Orzabal acknowledged that the shuffle beat used in the song was "alien" to their way of writing music, stating it was "jolly rather than square and rigid in the manner of "Shout", but it continued the process of becoming more extrovert." Curt Smith, the group's lead singer, mentioned the concept of the song was "quite serious – it's about everybody wanting power, about warfare and the misery it causes."[3]

Production and release[edit]

"Everybody Wants to Rule the World" was co-written by Roland Orzabal, Ian Stanley and Chris Hughes, with production from Dave Bascombe with engineering.[4] "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" was released in 1985 through Phonogram, Mercury and Vertigo Records as the third single from the band's second album, Songs from the Big Chair.[5] The song was released for sale (as a 7-inch,[6] 10-inch[7] and 12-inch[8] vinyl set) which included its B-side, interviews from the band and different versions of the song.[9] To accommodate the vinyl release, a CD video set was also distributed and included the song's music video along audios of bonus tracks.[10][11]

Composition and lyrical interpretation[edit]

"Everybody Wants to Rule the World" is a new wave song.[12][13][14] The song is set in the key of D major with a 12
8
time signature
and a tempo of 112 beats per minute.[15] The band stated that the driving shuffle rhythm was influenced by Simple Minds' 1983 song "Waterfront".[16] Its lyrics detail the desire humans have for control and power.[17][18] Tal Rosenberg of Pitchfork described the song as having a "twinkling synth" along with a "spider-like guitar" at the beginning of the track as well as a "snappy" instrumental leading to the first verse, a shuffling dream-like beat, a "galvanizing" bridge, a moody instrumental passage, a shift in melody in another verse and two guitar solos.[1][19]

Pitchfork stated that the song's lyrics can be applied in different scenarios such as the environment ("Turn your back on mother nature"), short-lived financial success ("Help me make the most of freedom and of pleasure/Nothing ever lasts forever"), dictatorial rule ("Even while we sleep/We will find you"), and the Cold War ("Holding hands while the walls come tumbling down").[1] The group revisited the song and its message in an interview with Yahoo! Music, stating that the song's themes were "just as poignant" as they were when they first wrote it. They mentioned that they discussed the Cold War with "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" and Songs from the Big Chair but that was the "U.S. and Russia then, and now the concern is more with the U.S. and [North] Korea."[20] Marc Ambinder from The Atlantic used the lyrics "Say that you'll never, never, never need it / One headline, why believe it? / Everybody wants to rule the world" in his article about the United States government's use of "original classified authority" and the abuse of power between the branches of government.[21]

Reception[edit]

Consequence of Sound editor Michael Roffman praised the group for being able to produce a "timeless and influential composition" with minimal effort. Roffman also noted that "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" was appropriate when it was first time, calling it a "meditative commentary on an era that was so corrupt economically and spiritually."[17] AllMusic's Stanton Swihart expressed in his retrospective review that the group "perfectly captured the zeitgeist of the mid-'80s while impossibly managing to also create a dreamy, timeless pop classic."[22] Pitchfork called it a song with "near-universal appeal", as well as a staple for "classic-rock radio, pharmacies, bars, and parties."[1] In their review for the best albums of the 1980s, Eric Henderson from Slant Magazine stated that the song "seems like one of the great indictments of the materialism and false triumphalism of the decade."[23]

"Everybody Wants to Rule the World" was voted voted the 25th best single in The Village Voice's Pazz & Jop critics' poll for 1985 with 17 points, sharing the spot with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers' "Don't Come Around Here No More" (1985) and Sade's "Smooth Operator" (1984).[24] Pitchfork placed the song at number 82 on their list for the best songs of the 80s expressing that "underneath the synth-pop sheen, its vague message" and its lesson in how power-driven society could be, the song was able to reach "Reagan and Margaret-era youth fed up with political greed."[18] Kevin Korber from Spectrum Culture ranked the song at 24 on his 80s decade list, calling the song a "testament to how much of a free-for-all the pop landscape was in the 1980s." Korber dismissed the song's vague lyrics but praised its complex melodic structure, saying it was "both the perfect representation of its time and a timeless composition."[25] Treble included the song at number 49 on their decade list.[26]

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".[27] In 2015, 30 years after its release, the song was honoured at the annual BMI Awards in London for achieving 6 million radio airplays.[28] "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" is regarded as the group's signature song, along with "Shout" (1984).[17]

"Everybody Wants to Rule the World" was banned for broadcast by the BBC during the duration of the first Gulf War (2 August 1990 – 28 February 1991) due to the song's political themes.[29]

Commercial performance[edit]

In the United Kingdom, "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" debuted at number 16 on the UK Singles Chart, in the issue dated 24 March 1985.[30] On the week of 14 April 1985, the song peaked at number two, behind the charity single "We Are the World" (1985) recorded by the supergroup United Support of Artists (USA) for Africa.[31] "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" received a gold certification by the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) on 13 April 2018 for 500,000 sales.[32] The song peaked at number three in Belgium and at number two in both the Netherlands and Ireland.[33][34][35] In Canada, the song reached the number one spot,[36] earning a gold certification from Music Canada (MC) for 40,000 sales shipments on 1 May 1985.[37] In Australia, the song reached the number two position.[38] On the report dated 19 May 1985, the song debuted at number four on the New Zealand Top 40 Singles chart; it would later peak at number one.[39] It was certified Gold by the Recorded Music NZ (RMNZ) for sales of 10,000.[40]

In the United States, "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" debuted at number 70 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the issue dated 16 March 1985.[41] On the week of 27 April 1985, the song rose to number 18.[42] On the week of 8 June 1985, the song moved 2-1, replacing Wham!'s "Everything She Wants" (1984) as the number one on the chart;[43] it would spent a total of two weeks in this position. The song was a commercial success in other American markets, peaking at number two on the Adult Contemporary and Top Rock Tracks and charting at number one on the Hot Dance Club Play,[44] Hot Dance Music/Maxi-Singles Sales and Cash Box charts.[44][45]

B-side: "Pharaohs"[edit]

"Pharaohs" uses a 1984 recording of Brian Perkins reading a shipping forecast on various North Sea locations (pictured)[46]

"Pharaohs" is the B-side to the "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" single. It samples a recording of BBC Radio 4 announcer Brian Perkins reading the Shipping Forecast for the North Sea region of the United Kingdom.[46] The title of the song has an identical enunciation to the Faroe Islands ("Faroes"), one of the places referenced in the forecast. Orzabal, Ian Stanley, Curt Smith and Hughes share writing credits.[4] "Pharaohs" is included on the Groove Armada compilation album Back to Mine (2000).[47] Chris Hughes wrote about the song in the liner notes of Saturnine Martial & Lunatic, saying:

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.[4]

"Pharaohs" shipping forecast read by Brian Perkins:

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.[4]

Music video[edit]

The roadside attraction Cabazon Dinosaurs (pictured) is shown briefly in the video.

The promotional clip for "Everybody Wants to Rule the World", filmed in early 1985, was directed by music video producer Nigel Dick. It was filmed in Las Vegas, Los Angeles, a desert in Southern California, the Salton Sea and Cabazon as well as a London studio.[48][49] Curt Smith admitted to Pitchfork that video shoot was a "disaster"; director Nigel Dick was "in tears" on the second night of shooting.[48] Smith also mentioned that there was an accident while filming the "dirt bikes and four-wheel off-road vehicles" scene, with one child flying out of a vehicle and smashing his head, leaving him unconscious.[48]

The video begins with Smith driving an antique Austin-Healey 3000 sports car while a toddler shoots an unloaded gun in Smith's direction.[48] The car is then seen driving through a desert, this scene is intercut with the band performing the song in a studio. Smith parks the car at the Wheel Inn diner while he makes a call from a telephone booth; the camera pans to show a statue of a man riding a horse nearby. Smith leaves the booth in the car from the previous scene singing the song's lyrics. The following scene shows two black men in suits performing synchronized dance movements in front of two gas pump stations.[50] An overhead shot of people riding dune buggies through sand dunes is also shown. The video ends with Smith in the same sand dune singing with black sunglasses.[51]

The music video promoted the group in America, due to "heavy rotation" on the music video channel MTV.[52] HuffPost editor Daryl Deino ranked the video at number three on their year-end list for best music videos of 1985 stating that the video "represents pure Americana as it was in 1985". Deino also mentioned that the video "proves that at times, artists were able to do so much with so little."[52]

Formats and track listings[edit]

Credits and personnel[edit]

Credits adapted from the liner notes of Saturnine Martial & Lunatic.[4]

Tears for Fears

Additional personnel

Charts and certifications[edit]

Covers and re-releases[edit]

Other artists have recorded or performed versions of "Everybody Wants to Rule the World". American singer Gloria Gaynor recorded a cover of the song for her twelfth studio album, The Power of Gloria Gaynor (1986).[74] Ken Boothe also released a reggae version of the song that appeared on a compilation album titled The Tide Is High – ReggaeRocks A Tribute to Rock 'N' Roll (2001).[74] American hip hop artist Nas sampled the guitar riff from "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" on his 2001 song "Rule".[74] American jazz trio The Bad Plus recorded a version of the song from their 2007 album, Prog.[74] It was also covered by American singer Patti Smith and released on her tenth studio album, Twelve (2007). American rock band Ted Leo and the Pharmacists performed a cover of the song on The A.V. Club's "Undercover" series on 16 March 2010.[74] American multi-instrumentalist Mayer Hawthorne released a "retrofit '60s R&B" cover of the song.[74]

Everybody Wants to Run the World[edit]

"Everybody Wants to Run the World"
TFF EWTRunTW.jpg
Single by Tears for Fears
Released1986
Format
Length4:30
Label
Songwriter(s)
Producer(s)Tears for Fears
Tears for Fears singles chronology
"I Believe (A Soulful Re-Recording)"
(1985)
"Everybody Wants to Run the World"
(1986)
"Mothers Talk"
(1986)

"Everybody Wants to Run the World" is a re-recording of the band's song "Everybody Wants to Rule the World". The reworked single was released in 1986 as the theme song for the Sport Aid campaign, a charitable event held to raise money for famine relief in Africa.[75] The group did not attend the event, saying, "Geldof announced we were playing. He didn't ask us. I was pissed off. We went on holiday."[76] It was a success in the UK Singles Chart, becoming the band's sixth top 5 hit, peaking at number 5 in June 1986.[77] The song also reached number 4 in Ireland.[78]

Chart (1986) Peak
position
Ireland (IRMA)[78] 4
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[77] 5

Lorde version[edit]

"Everybody Wants to Rule the World"
Song by Lorde
from the album The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
Released2013
Length2:35
Label
Songwriter(s)
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire track listing
12 tracks
  1. "Atlas"
  2. "Silhouettes"
  3. "Elastic Heart"
  4. "Lean"
  5. "We Remain"
  6. "Devil May Cry"
  7. "Who We Are"
  8. "Everybody Wants to Rule the World
  9. "Gale Song"
  10. "Mirror"
  11. "Capitol Letter"
  12. "Shooting Arrows at the Sky"

New Zealand singer Lorde recorded a cover of the song for the soundtrack of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013).[79] The cover was produced by Peter Shurkin and Natalie Baartz with arrangement by Michael A. Levine and Lucas Cantor.[80] It was later used in the cinematic trailer of Assassin's Creed Unity at E3 2014, which celebrated the fifteenth anniversary of the Creative Assembly's Total War video game series,[81] promotional videos for the BBC First network,[82] and the 2015 BBC TV series Banished.[83] It was also used during season 4 of Homeland.[84][85] Orzabal praised Lorde for reinventing the cover, stating that the group finds it interesting when artists take what they do and reinterpret it.[86]

Critics were positively receptive to the cover, some praised it for its darker atmosphere mood although others criticized it for stripping away the song's original upbeat composition.[87][88] David Haglund from Slate stated that while the song "doesn't top the great original, it does memorably reinvent it."[89] Sam Lansky from Idolator called the cover "haunting and melodramatic".[90] Conversely, Stereogum editor Nate Patrin criticized the chorus and production but praised the "aloof strangeness" in Lorde's vocals for being able to carry the song "past the usual Dramatic Reenvisionings."[74] Paste included the cover at number 8 on their 2013 year-end list for covers.[91] Her cover appeared on the New Zealand Singles Chart at number 14.[92] It reached number 53 in Australia,[82] number 65 in the United Kingdom,[93] number 93 in France,[94] and number 27 on the US Hot Rock Songs chart.[95]

Chart (2013–2014) Peak
position
Australia (ARIA)[82] 53
France (SNEP)[94] 93
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)[92] 14
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[93] 65
US Hot Rock Songs (Billboard)[95] 27

See also[edit]

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