Wednesday, September 01, 2010

"Everybody Wants to Rule the World" (1985)

75. Tears for Fears, "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" (April 13, 1985, #1, 2 wks.)

All indications are that Tears for Fears had a notion to make a big statement with this, their nearly most successful single from their most successful album (the bombastic and by-the-numbers "Shout" actually sat at #1 for a week longer so technically it gets the prize). The album, Songs from the Big Chair, had something or other to do with psychotherapy—you can hear that a little better in "Shout." "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" has something or other to do with pathology. Whatever! What I get from it is a big beautiful gorgeous expanding confection of pure pop joy, undergirded with pillar-thick walking beats that propel one to a tumbling blue sky where gravity just doesn't matter. Other points obtain as well: some decent guitar flourishes, some nice harmonies, a sing-songy melody that neatly dodges inanity. The words may be a bit confusing but generally they don't get in the way of the vibe ("Everybody wants to rule the world"—you mean, like, tyrants? Huh?), which contains planets' worth of big open spaces to wander in as it chugs to its various conclusions. There is something uniquely of its time here, the mid-'80s, which you can also hear in songs from A-ha and Simple Minds, even Band Aid, but somehow this one works for me as the epitome of all that. I like those songs too, but not as much as this. This is the one made for playing loud in the car when it's hot and sunny, headed for the beach with friends on plans you have been looking forward to for days, or with no plans at all but only the company of those friends, close and fleeting both. It's the one that brings back the memories. Isn't that what radio hits are for anyway?

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