The Final Countdown (song): Wikis


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"The Final Countdown"
Single by Europe
from the album The Final Countdown
B-side "On Broken Wings"
Released February 14, 1986
Format CD single, 7" single, 12" single
Recorded 1985
Genre Glam metal, hard rock, symphonic metal
Length 5:11 (Album Version)
4:03 (Radio Edit)
Label Epic
Writer(s) Joey Tempest
Producer Kevin Elson
Certification Gold (UK)
Europe singles chronology
"Rock the Night"
"The Final Countdown"
"Love Chaser"
Music sample
"The Final Countdown"

"The Final Countdown" is a rock song written by Joey Tempest for the Swedish rock band Europe. It was the first single released from the band's third studio album, The Final Countdown, in 1986. It is the band's most recognizable and popular song. The song reached No. 1 in 25 countries[1], including the United Kingdom. In the United States the song peaked at No. 8 on the Billboard Hot 100 and 18 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks chart. The single was certified Gold in the United Kingdom in 1986.[2]


Origin and recording

The song was based on an old keyboard riff that vocalist Joey Tempest had written as early as 1981–82,[3] on a Korg Polysix keyboard he borrowed from keyboardist Mic Michaeli.[4][5] In 1985, bassist John Levén suggested that Tempest should write a song based on that riff.[3] Tempest recorded a demo version of the song and played it for the other band members.[6] At first the members expressed mixed reactions to it. "When I first heard the synth intro to 'The Final Countdown', my reaction was: 'No, this is nuts. We just can't use this,'" guitarist John Norum said, "Thank God they didn't listen to me."[7] "Some of the guys in the band thought it was too different for a rock band," Tempest said, "But in the end I fought hard to make sure it got used."[7]

The song's lyrics were inspired by David Bowie's song "Space Oddity".[7] 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.[8] "I made a brassy sound from the JX-8P and used a factory sound from the Yamaha, and just layered them together," Michaeli said.[8]

When it was time to choose the first single from the album The Final Countdown, Tempest suggested the song "The Final Countdown".[6] Originally the band had never planned to release the song as a single, and some members wanted "Rock the Night" to be the first single.[6][7] "The Final Countdown" was written to be an opening song for concerts, and they never thought it would be a hit.[6] But when their record company Epic Records suggested that it should be the first single, the band decided to release it.[9]

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."[10]

Release and reception

"The Final Countdown" was released in the spring of 1986 and became the most successful song from The Final Countdown on the American rock charts and as well as the band's most recognizable and popular song. It appeared on Billboard magazine's Billboard Hot 100 chart, reaching the top 10. The following week it debuted on the Mainstream Rock Tracks, where it peaked at number eighteen in its eighth week and remained on the chart until its twentieth week. The band's next hit was "Superstitious," which achieved a higher chart position on the Mainstream Rock Tracks.

Outside of the United States, the single was released worldwide. In Canada, the song reached the top ten on the Canadian Singles Chart. It remained in the top 10 for three weeks and became the band's highest charting song in Canada. "The Final Countdown" reached the UK Top 3, eventually spending two weeks at the top of the UK Singles Chart in December, and was the only single from the album which would chart in the UK top 20. "The Final Countdown" reached number 1 in 25 countries,[1] including France, Germany, Ireland, Sweden and Italy.

The song enjoys notable popularity in many sports arenas and stadiums; public address booths have often played the opening keyboard riff to rally the home crowd; it has also become a staple of high school and college pep bands for this same purpose.[10] It was also frequently used in the American television show Arrested Development as the opening theme of G.O.B.'s magic show. The song was used for the American commercial of Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games and is used as an entrance theme for professional wrestler Bryan Danielson in Ring of Honor. It was the unofficial song of the Eurobasket 1987 held in Athens, Greece (it was the main song theme played during the time-outs) and it is still heavily associated with both the introductions of the Detroit Pistons at their home games at The Palace of Auburn Hills as well as the surprise and unprecedented victory of the Greek Men's Basketball team over the team of the Soviet Union in the last seconds of that Cup final (1987). On The Singing Bee, it was used preceding the final round, called "The Final Countdown." The song has been used in the video games SingStar '80s, Saints Row 2 and Lego Rock Band.

The song was named the 66th best hard rock song of all time by VH1.[11] Blender included it as the 27th worst song ever[12], and both VH1 and Blender included it at 16 on the list of the "Most Awesomely Bad Songs...Ever".[13]

Music video

A screenshot from the music video for "The Final Countdown".

The video, directed by the acclaimed Nick Morris, contains footage from two concerts the band did at Solnahallen in Solna, Sweden on May 26 and 27, 1986, as well as some extra footage filmed at the sound checks for those concerts.[6]

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 December 31, 1999, as part of the Millennium celebrations, as it was the first Europe performance with two lead guitarists, John Norum and his replacement Kee Marcello.[14][15]

Cover versions

The song has been covered by various artists, both local and famous; including the London Symphony Orchestra, Freezepop, After Forever, Dannii Minogue, Gigatrón, Geoff Downes, The Protomen, Norther, Dispatched, the Toy Dolls, Immolation, Leif Garrett, Furillo, Vision Divine, The Delegates, Grimethorpe Colliery Band, and the Latvian cello band Melo-M. Slovenian avant-garde group Laibach made a rework of the song for their NATO album, they also recorded a clip that promoted both the album and virtual state NSK State in Time, which Laibach was one of founding members. Contrary to popular belief, the melodic death metal band Children of Bodom has never done a cover version of the song - the wrongly credited versions are usually those by Norther and Dispatched.[16]

On June 25, 2008, Hump Day Dance Party hosts Rev. Flavor and Dr. Drase played two hours of versions of "The Final Countdown" in celebration of their last radio show broadcast on WLUW 88.7 FM Chicago. For the occasion they asked bands to contribute covers of the song. Versions played that night included various 8-bit (music) covers, "The Final Crackdown" by Drop the Lime, a version translated into Polish and done by the group J+J+J, a live beatbox/freestyle rap version with Chicago rapper Sharkula & Yea Big, a cover by the band Dr. Murderer, a freestyle version done by Treasure Mammal live from his car, a version by the band Autumn on Acid, a "sad" banjo version by Rick Franklin, and a re-edit mashup by Greek radio personality Steve Damien. The hosts closed out the show with a live version played in-studio with a 10-person band including members of the Blue Ribbon Glee Club, the Hidden Mitten, and the Maybenauts.

Classic Rock 101 released a parody titled The Financial Meltdown, based on the 2008 financial crisis as part of their Twisted Tunes, which is played everyday to reflect current issues.

British band Eskimo Disco recorded a cover used in the 2009 film Frequently Asked Questions About Time Travel.

A cover by a band called Deep Sunshine has brought an additional notoriety to the song : Deep Sunshine's live performance was captured on video and later became a variation of a Rickroll on, receiving over 1 million views on Youtube. The video has been entitled "Worst cover ever" on Youtube, its success stemming for its lack of artistic value[17].

The song is included in Rock of Ages, a broadway musical which pays homage to 1980s rock music.

The Final Countdown 2000

"The Final Countdown 2000"
Single by Europe
from the album 1982–2000
B-side "The Final Countdown" (Original Radio Edit)
Released December 7, 1999
Format CD single, 12" single
Genre Eurodance
Length 3:47
Label Epic
Writer(s) Joey Tempest
Producer Brian Rawling, Gary Miller
Europe singles chronology
"Sweet Love Child"
"The Final Countdown 2000"
"Got to Have Faith"

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 single release caused minor controversy as the first pressing had a misprint that left out the first "o" in "Countdown" spelling the word "Cuntdown". The story was confirmed by Tempest during an interview with the American rock radio show The Tour Bus.[18] The band's reaction to the remix was less than enthusiastic. "That remix was a fucking disaster," drummer Ian Haugland said, "I wouldn't pass water on it if it was on fire!"[19]


Chart positions

Year List Peak Ref.
1986 French Singles Chart 1 [20]
German Singles Chart 1 [21]
Irish Singles Chart 1 [22]
Dutch Top 40 1 [23]
Spanish Singles Chart 1
Swedish Singles Chart 1 [24]
Swiss Singles Chart 1 [25]
UK Singles Chart 1 [26]
Italian Singles Chart 1 [27]
Norwegian Singles Chart 4 [28]
Billboard Hot 100 8 [29]
Mainstream Rock Tracks 18 [29]
2000 Swedish Singles Chart 6 [24]
Finnish Singles Chart 12 [30]
Norwegian Singles Chart 12 [28]
Australian Singles Chart 33 [31]
German Singles Chart 35 [21]
UK Singles Chart 36 [26]


  1. ^ a b "Rock group Europe plan comeback". BBC. 
  2. ^ "BPI Certifications". BPI. Retrieved 2008-06-24. 
  3. ^ a b (1993) Album notes for 1982–1992 by Europe [CD booklet]. Epic Records (EPC 473589-1).
  4. ^ Tengner, Anders; Michael Johansson (1987) (in Swedish). Europe - den stora rockdrömmen. Wiken. ISBN 91-7024-408-1. 
  5. ^ Europe. (2005-11-18). Live from the Dark. [DVD]. Warner Bros. Entertainment. 
  6. ^ a b c d e Europe. (2006-10-04). The Final Countdown Tour 1986: Live in Sweden - 20th Anniversary Edition. [DVD]. Warner Bros. Entertainment. 
  7. ^ a b c d Ling, Dave (January 2005). "Counting Down Again". Classic Rock (75): pp. 60–67. 
  8. ^ a b " Features > Bands > Europe". Retrieved 2007-12-23. 
  9. ^ Thompson, Erik (October / November 2005). "Hårdrockens Historia 1986". Sweden Rock Magazine (31): pp. 102. 
  10. ^ a b "Interview: Joey Tempest (Europe)". Rockeyez. Retrieved 2008-06-24. 
  11. ^ " music". Retrieved February 5, 2009. 
  12. ^ "Run for Your Life! It’s the 50 Worst Songs Ever! - Blender". Retrieved 2009-04-22. 
  13. ^ "VH1 & Blender's 50 Most Awesomely Bad Songs Ever - Rate Your Music". Retrieved 2009-04-22. 
  14. ^ " - Fireworks Magazine: Issue 17". Retrieved 2008-04-15. 
  15. ^ " - Fireworks Magazine: Issue 18". Retrieved 2008-04-15. 
  16. ^ "Children Of Bodom Hate Crew Official Website". Retrieved 2008-06-09. 
  17. ^ The top 10 songs the Web brought back
  18. ^ "Audio Interview". The Tour Bus. Retrieved 2008-04-15. 
  19. ^ "Classic Track - The Final Countdown". Rhythm. February 2010. 
  20. ^ "French Album Chart". Retrieved 2008-06-24. 
  21. ^ a b "German Album Chart". charts-surfer. Retrieved 2008-06-24. 
  22. ^ "Irish Singles Chart". The Irish Charts. Retrieved 2008-06-24. 
  23. ^ "De Nederlandse Top 40, week 39, 1986". Retrieved 2008-03-06. 
  24. ^ a b "Swedish Album Chart". Retrieved 2008-06-24. 
  25. ^ "Swiss Album Chart". Retrieved 2008-06-24. 
  26. ^ a b "UK Album Chart". Chart Stats. Retrieved 2008-06-24. 
  27. ^ "Italian Singles Chart". hitparadeitalia. Retrieved 2008-06-07. 
  28. ^ a b "Norwegian Singles Chart". Retrieved 2008-06-24. 
  29. ^ a b "US Album Chart". Billboard 200. Retrieved 2008-06-24. 
  30. ^ "Finnish Album Chart". Retrieved 2008-06-24. 
  31. ^ "Australian Chart". Retrieved 2008-06-24. 
Preceded by
"Ève lève-toi" by Julie Pietri
French (SNEP) number one single
November 8 - December 27, 1986
Succeeded by
"T'en va pas" by Elsa Lunghini
Preceded by
"Take My Breath Away" by Berlin
UK number one single
November 30, 1986
Succeeded by
"Caravan of Love" by The Housemartins

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