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“The Final Countdown” is a song by the Swedish rock band Europe, released on February 14, 1986 (October in the UK) with “On Broken Wings” on the B-side as the lead single and title track from their third studio album, “The Final Countdown.” The song is one of Europe’s most iconic hits, known for its distinctive synthesizer riff, powerful vocals, and anthemic chorus.

Europe - The Final Countdown - Official Music Video - Single Cover

“The Final Countdown” was written by Europe’s lead vocalist Joey Tempest. It’s based on a keyboard riff which Tempest wrote in 1981, five years before its release. The main keyboard riff was inspired by a track from David Bowie’s song “Space Oddity.” Originally, the song was meant to be a concert opener rather than a single, but the band and their producer, Kevin Elson, saw its potential and decided to record it for their upcoming album.

The lyrics of “The Final Countdown” are themed around a journey into space, with the opening line “We’re leaving together, but still it’s farewell” suggesting a departure from Earth. The song’s narrative has a somewhat ambiguous storyline, combining themes of exploration, adventure, and a sense of finality. The anthemic nature of the chorus, “It’s the final countdown,” adds a sense of urgency and excitement to the song. Musically, “The Final Countdown” is characterized by its prominent use of synthesizers, particularly the iconic riff played by Mic Michaeli. The song blends elements of hard rock and glam metal, featuring powerful guitar solos by John Norum, a strong rhythm section, and Tempest’s soaring vocals. The production is grand and polished, typical of the mid-1980s rock sound.

“The Final Countdown” achieved immense commercial success worldwide. It topped the charts in 25 countries, including the United Kingdom, Sweden, and Germany. In the United States, it reached number 8 on the Billboard Hot 100. The song’s widespread popularity helped propel the album “The Final Countdown” to multi-platinum status in several countries, establishing Europe as a major force in the rock music scene.

The music video for “The Final Countdown,” directed by Nick Morris, features live performance footage interspersed with scenes of the band backstage and traveling.

“The Final Countdown” received positive reviews from critics, who praised its catchy melody, memorable riff, and anthemic quality. The song has since become a staple of 1980s rock music and is often used in sports events, commercials, and films due to its high-energy and motivational feel. Its legacy endures as one of the most recognizable rock anthems of all time.

Europe – The Final Countdown – Lyrics