The Final Countdown is arguably the defining song of Europe and was released in 1986. It was the first single and title track of the album ‘The Final Countdown’ which gave the band an international breakthrough gaining them immense recognition worldwide.
While producing the song, the band members reportedly had mixed feelings regarding the song. John Norum was put off by the synth intro which felt a bit different for a rock band.
The song was also just intended to be an opening song for their concerts and the band didn’t want to release it as a single, however Epic Records insisted on the song being the first single and then the band went ahead with the decision.
So, the band was quite surprised when the song turned out to be a major hit peaking at number 1 in 25 different countries.
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.Joey Tempest on ‘The Final Countdown’
The lyrics of the song were inspired by David Bowie’s song ‘Space Oddity’ which was about an astronaut in space. The idea of ‘The Final Countdown’ is about leaving the earth and travelling through space to find another place to live in which is evident in the lyrics.
I had the demo without vocals, and I was singing it over and over again. The music was almost like a soundtrack to a movie, about leaving Earth, and that the Earth was spent. And one day, we’ll probably have to leave this place. It was kind of a dream-like lyric, but that was the backdrop for it.Joey Tempest
The reason behind leaving the Earth is perhaps because the Earth is no longer supporting life or inhabitable. The song describes a scenario where the person along with other people are leaving the Earth.
It could be that everyone is going there own ways or perhaps they are all leaving together in the same direction. It explores the idea of separation and bidding farewell to the Earth and moving forward for new adventures.
The person is hopeful that he might get to meet the same people again sometime in the future and perhaps he might come back to the Earth, who knows.
The Final Countdown is definitely an amazing song to listen to. It is typical of what the 1980s music is supposed to sound like. The vocals, rhythm, melody, tune and lyrics are perfect in all sense.
I really like the song overall. It is quite unique and can bring out nostalgic emotions like no other song. Anyway, that was my opinion. Let me know your opinions in the comments.