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Everybody Wants to Rule the World
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Everybody Wants to Rule the World
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"Everybody Wants to Rule the World"
Single by Tears for Fears
from the album B-side "Pharaohs"
Released 18 March 1985
Studio The Wool Hall (Beckington, Somerset, England)
Genre New wavesynth-pop Length 4:11 Label
Roland OrzabalIan StanleyChris Hughes
Producer(s) Chris Hughes
Tears for Fears singles chronology
(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 by English pop rock band Tears for Fears. It was written by Roland Orzabal, Ian Stanley, and Chris Hughes and produced by Hughes. The song was first released on 18 March 1985 by Phonogram, Mercury, and Vertigo Records as the third single from the band's second album, (1985). "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" is a new wave and synth-pop song with lyrics that detail the desire humans have for control and power and centre on themes of corruption.
Music critics praised "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" in their retrospective reviews, with some ranking the song among the decade's best. Along with "Shout" (1984), it is one of the band's signature songs. An international success, the song peaked at number two in Ireland, Australia, and the United Kingdom and at number one in Canada, New Zealand, and on both the US Hot 100 and . It was certified gold by both Music Canada (MC) and the British Phonographic Industry (BPI).
Nigel Dick directed the music video, which received promotion from MTV. It shows bassist Curt Smith (who sings lead vocal) driving an antique Austin-Healey 3000 sports car around 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.
1 Background and release
2 Composition and lyrical interpretation
4 Commercial performance
5 B-side: "Pharaohs"
6 Music video
7 Formats and track listings
8 Credits and personnel
9 Charts 9.1 Weekly charts 9.2 Year-end charts
10 Certifications and sales
11 Covers and re-releases
11.1 Everybody Wants to Run the World
11.2 Lorde version 11.3 Jazz version
11.3.1 Weekly charts
12 See also 13 References
Background and release
"Everybody Wants to Rule the World" was written by Roland Orzabal, Ian Stanley and Chris Hughes, and produced by Hughes. The song was a "last-minute" addition during recording sessions of (1985). The decision to include the song in the album came after Orzabal played two chords on his acoustic guitar for Hughes. It was recorded in two weeks and added as the final track on the album. According to Orzabal, the final line in the song's chorus, originally written as "Everybody wants to go to war", contributed to his indifference towards the track.
In an interview with magazine, Hughes said that "as a piece of recording history, [the song is] bland as hell." Orzabal's unimpressed reaction to the track during their songwriting sessions prompted Hughes to convince him to record it, in a calculated effort to garner American chart success. After completing their sessions at 6 p.m., they would spend an hour reviewing each recording many times; this helped Orzabal to create the song's guitar figure and change its title. 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 song's lead singer, said the themes were "quite serious – it's about everybody wanting power, about warfare and the misery it causes."
"Everybody Wants to Rule the World" was first released on 18 March 1985 through Phonogram, Mercury and Vertigo Records as the third single from the band's second studio album, . The song was released for sale (as a 7-inch, 10-inch and 12-inch vinyl set) which included its B-side, interviews from the band and different versions of the song. To accommodate the vinyl release, a CD video set was also distributed and included the song's music video along audios of bonus tracks.
Composition and lyrical interpretation
"Everybody Wants to Rule the World" (0:25)
A sample of "Everybody Wants to Rule the World", a new wave song with lyrics detailing the human desire for power as well as corruption.
"Everybody Wants to Rule the World" is a new wave and synth-pop song. The song is set in the key of D major with a 128 time signature and a tempo of 116 beats per minute. The band stated that the driving shuffle rhythm was influenced by Simple Minds' 1983 song "Waterfront", and Linx's 1981 song "Throw Away the Key". "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" incorporates synthesizers, guitar, a shuffle groove, two guitar solos, and keyboards.
Everybody Wants To Rule The World by Tears for Fears
Everybody Wants To Rule The World by Tears for Fears song meaning, lyric interpretation, video and chart position
Album: Songs From The Big Chair (1985)Charted: 2 1
License This Song LYRICSARTISTFACTS
This song is about the quest for power, and how it can have unfortunate consequences. In an interview with magazine, the band's producer Chris Hughes explained that they spent months working on "Shout," and near the end of the sessions, Roland Orzabal came into the studio and played two simple chords on his acoustic guitar, which became the basis for the song. Said Hughes: "'Everybody Wants to Rule the World' was so simple and went down so quickly, it was effortless, really. In fact, as a piece of recording history, it's bland as hell."
This was the first US #1 hit for Tears for Fears. "Shout" went to #1 two months later.
"Everybody Wants To Rule The World" is a line from the 1980 Clash song "Charlie Don't Surf." Did Tears for Fears lift it? Joe Strummer of The Clash thought so. He recounted a story to magazine about confronting Roland Orzabal in a restaurant, informing Orzabal that "you owe me a fiver." Strummer said that Roland reached in his pocket and produced a five pound note, ostensibly as compensation for poaching the line for his hit title.
Although musically this is quite a jangly and catchy song, its lyrical theme is actually pretty dark. "The concept is quite serious - it's about everybody wanting power, about warfare and the misery it causes," Curt Smith of Tears For Fears explained on the band's website.
Dennis Miller used this over the closing credits of his HBO TV show, which ran from 1994-2002.
Curt Smith did a solo, acoustic version of this for the soundtrack to , a 2001 movie where he made his acting debut.
The song was covered by Lorde for the soundtrack, which was released by Republic. She reworked Tears for Fears' tune into a haunting dirge, bringing out its inherent darkness. The label's executive VP Tom Mackay explained to magazine that the New Zealand singer-songwriter was wrapping her Pure Heroine album at the time tracks were being solicited for the soundtrack. "There was not time for her to write a demo, submit it and come back after changes [are requested]," Mackay said. "Like a lot of songs on this album, it's an artistic leap. When we heard it, we were amazed how she reshaped it-it's hard not to think about President Snow and the Capitol in the film and in the book."
In a season 2 episode of the TV series , the character Angela Moss (Portia Doubleday) sings a plaintive karaoke version of this song as she struggles through a moral crisis. "You really have a desire to rule the world?" a guy asks her when she comes to the bar. "Oh, my desires go way beyond that," she replies.
The band had trouble getting into the original incarnation of the song, which featured the lyric "everybody wants to go to war." When it was changed to the title phrase, everything clicked. "Once we got those lyrics, it was a joyful song," Orzabal explained.
Tears For Fears spent most of 1985 touring in support of the Songs From The Big Chair album. It took so much out of them physically and emotionally, they didn't go back to work until a few years later, finally emerging in 1989 with their album The Seeds Of Love. Curt Smith explained in magazine: "We soon realized that touring isn't much fun with a bunch of drum machines and sequencers. We didn't get into the music business to be computer programmers. I did it to be a musician! On that tour, I just went out and did the album for nine months. If people wanted to hear the album, they could've stayed home and listened to it."
This was used in the 1985 movie , about a group of teen geniuses, led by Val Kilmer, who try to foil their professor's plot to sell their high-powered laser to the military. It was also featured in the 1997 comedy , starring Lisa Kudrow and Mira Sorvino, the 2015 NWA biopic and the '80s-themed Steven Spielberg film (2018).
This was featured in several TV shows, including ("Sharp Relief," 1998), ("Greed," 2004), ("Lois Battles Jamie," 2005), ("Hot Shot," 2006), ("States of the Union," 2007), ("React Quotes," 2008), ("But for the Grace of God," 2008), ("A Nightmare on State Street," 2014), and ("Chapter Thirty-Nine: The Midnight Club," 2018).
Because "Shout" was the group's first single in the rest of the world, Tears For Fears thought it should also be their first release in the US, but the record label insisted "Everybody Wants To Rule The World" was better suited for their American debut. "Which is interesting in retrospect," Smith told " target="_blank">Consequence of Sound, "because it was one of those times when the record company was right and we were wrong, because for America, yes, it was a better first single."
The 30th anniversary re-release of the album contains a few different versions of the song, including a live performance from Canada's Massey Hall, an alternate single, and an instrumental rendition. Smith said of the instrumental: "When you strip a vocal off a track, you get to then appreciate how that track was built because you’re just listening to the elements of the music behind it."
Gloria Gaynor and the Glee Cast are among the artists to cover this song. Weezer included it on their 2019 covers collection known as The Teal Album.