Search This Blog

Sunday, June 08, 2014

Everybody Wants to Rule the World

I hope that all of you are in an eighties kind of mood this weekend, because today's Sunday Jukebox entry will feature a song that hit number one on the charts exactly twenty-nine years ago this week!

So, doing some quick mathematics here...that means we're going back to the year with Bruce Springsteen, Madonna, way before Nirvana, there was U2 and Blondie, and music still on MTV!  I wasn't in grade school, but who cares, that's still real cool, because this blog's preoccupied with 19, 19, 1985!

(NOTE:  Stop listening to Bowling for Soup while trying to write this Sunday Jukebox which unfortunately doesn't have anything to do with Bowling for Soup.)

Though, the song that I have to present that hit #1 in June 1985 could be a song that best describes the general attitude that a lot of people seemed to possess during that time period.

Mind you, I wasn't old enough to understand what that was.  After all, in June 1985, I had just turned four years old, and my only concern was having enough blue crayons to finish colouring the sky in my colouring books.

But if you were an adult - particularly in the world of business or commerce, then the 1980s were considered a time period of huge excess.  The bigger the house, the better.  The bigger the car, the better.  The nicer the clothes, the better.  It was the decade in which people lived a life of luxury whether they could afford to or not, and it was the decade in which we measured people by how much money they made.  To me, that part was the one ugly blemish on an otherwise zit-free decade.  By 1987, when the stock market had a substantial crash, the greed is good mantra that Gordon Gekko chanted in "Wall Street" began to fade slightly, but on the pop charts, there were lots of references to the general mood of money being the most important thing in the world.

I mean, in the 1980s and early 1990s alone, we had the following songs released...

Material Girl/MADONNA
I Wanna Be Rich/CALLOWAY
Opportunities (Let's Make Lots of Money)/PET SHOP BOYS
(How To Be A) Millionaire/ABC
Money Changes Everything/CYNDI LAUPER

But, all those things were all about money.  What about the other coveted thing that people wanted during the 1980s?  What about power?

I mean, certainly the 1980s introduced us to powerful business moguls such as Donald Trump, and Leona Helmsley.  We also saw the rise and fall of some political figures who lived lives of excess only to have their empire come crashing down.

(Just Google the words Imelda Marcos and shoes.  You'll get the picture.)

And, twenty-nine years ago this week, a group from Britain summed up the decade known as the 1980s all too well with this single.

ARTIST:  Tears for Fears
SONG:  Everybody Wants to Rule the World
ALBUM:  Songs from the Big Chair
DATE RELEASED:  March 22, 1985

Ah, Tears for Fears!  A group that I've never done a spotlight for in the three years I've done this blog!  Oh, well.  Better late than never, right?

So, should I do a discussion on the band first, or the song?  Ah, let's start off with the band.

The band was founded by childhood friends Curt Smith and Roland Jaime Orzabal de la Quintana (though to save some space, let's just call him Roland Orzabal).  The two boys met each other when they were thirteen, and by the time they were in their late teens, they had already begun playing as session musicians for the band Neon.  It was here that the two men met drummer Manny Elias, who would become the drummer for the future Tears for Fears from 1981-1986.  Also a part of Neon were Rob Fisher and Pete Byrne, who would form their own New Wave band, Naked Eyes.

It wasn't until the year 1980 that Orzabal and Smith would start getting recognition, though it wasn't for their work with Tears for Fears - that group wouldn't get started until 1981.  It was for their contributions to a group known as "Graduate".  It's okay if you haven't heard of them.  They were only really big in Switzerland and Spain.  But still, it got their names out in the British music scene, and set the stage for the duo to break free from Graduate to start something new.

After all, the year was 1981.  New Wave was becoming the biggest thing on the music scene, and artists like Duran Duran, Peter Gabriel, Talking Heads, and Depeche Mode were already starting to dominate the British charts.  It was decided by Orzabal and Smith that they would attempt to do the same.

Now, here's a piece of
TRIVIA for you all.  Do you know how the band got its name?  Well, believe it or not, it was based from terminology found in primal therapy.  Primal therapy was developed by American psychologist Arthur Janov, and the treatment received a lot of publicity after it was reported that John Lennon had become a patient of Janov's in the early 1970s.  Janov argued that the reason why people had neuroses was because they had repressed pain caused by childhood trauma.  I suppose that taking that into consideration, someone looking into their deepest fears could bring someone to tears.  So, Tears for Fears.

(Though the band's original name - History of Headaches - would have also sounded cool!)

The original line-up of the band consisted of Orzabal, Smith, Elias, and Ian Stanley.

So, I don't really need to go into all of the success that the band had over the next thirty-three years and counting.  The band broke out onto the music scene in the early 1980s with their debut "The Hurting", which was a moderate success, but by 1984 with their album "Songs from the Big Chair", they became an international success story.  Some of the group's biggest hits include "Mad World", " Mothers Talk", "Shout", "Head Over Heels", "Sowing the Seeds of Love", and "Woman in Chains".

By the time the 1990s came around, the band was in a crisis.  Stanley and Elias had departed the band shortly before the band began working on their 1989 album "The Seeds of Love", and after that album was released, several issues caused a strain between the partnership and friendship between Roland and Curt.

For one, Roland's intricate, but frustrating approach to album production clashed directly with Curt's more laid-back manner.  Another reason was that Curt was stressed out with the collapse of his marriage in 1988 and wasn't in the right mood to continue performing.  And, I suppose it didn't help matters much that Tears for Fears manager Paul King was arrested for fraud following his declaration of bankruptcy in 1990.

Curt Smith would relocate to the United States in 1993 to start up a solo career while Roland Orzabal would continue using the Tears for Fears name to record music of his own (one hit being 1993's "Bring It Down Again", which was a minor hit in the United States).

It would take nine years apart before the Roland and Curt reunited with each other again.  In 2000, Orzabal had signed a business document on Curt's behalf, which lead to a dinner date between the two, which lead to discussions about recording a new album together. 

(That album, "Everybody Loves a Happy Ending" would be released in 2004.)

As of 2014, Tears for Fears is still touring around the globe and still making music together, proving that you can go back home again after years apart.

So, now that you know more about Tears for Fears, let's talk about today's selected song, "Everybody Wants to Rule the World".  And how if it was up to Roland Orzabal, the song may not have even been included in the album at all!  According to Orzabal, he didn't even want to record the song as he felt that it was too lightweight to earn a spot on the album which also contained the global smash "Shout" from late 1984.  But producer Chris Hughes had convinced Orzebal to give the song a go, if for no other reason than to continue the band's success of breaking into the tough American music market.

With Curt Smith on vocals, the song "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" featured a whimsical music video featuring a road trip through Southern California, a pair of men doing dance moves in front of gasoline pumps, and shots of the band performing the song on a London soundstage.  The video was directed by legendary music video director Nigel Dick, and instantly became a classic on MTV during the late 1980s.

As for the concept of the song?  Well, it ties right into the discussion we had on the excess and wealth that the 1980s seemed to epitomize.  Curt Smith said it best.

"The concept is quite serious - It's about everybody wanting power, about warfare and the misery it causes." 

I guess this is a good time to mention that the song was released at the tail end of the Cold War, in which people were very concerned about the threat of nuclear warfare, and how the nations that declared themselves the most powerful could more often than not be considered the nations that were the most feared.  Certainly this was the case back in 1985, and some people are concerned that the recent happenings in Russia and Crimea are going to reawaken tensions between nations.  Here's hoping that it doesn't come down to that, but as I type this out, the world continues to watch.

But as a single, it performed extremely well.  Not only did it hit #1 in Canada and the United States, but in the UK, it was the highest charting single for the band, peaking at #2.  And it was enough of a success for the band to win a Brit Award in 1986 for "Best British Single".

And, just think...that was the moment in which they ruled the music scene.  Go figure.

No comments:

Post a Comment