Still more lazy thoughts from this one…

Friday Forgotten Song: Everybody Wants to Rule the World by Tears for Fears

songs from the big chair

Sometimes, all you need is a needle-dropped moment in a movie to get you reeling. In a good way. Happened again to me this week (more on that later). Music of the ’80s popped up afresh. I’d noticed my music piece from more than a couple of years ago, Kyrie by Mr. Mister, started peaking coincidentally once more in my blog stats. Strange how the time of padded shoulders, leg warmers, and big hair keeps coming back. Certainly shaped me.

Even if I was a bit beyond my formative years when the decade landed — late-blooming, I guess.

At the time, living under the thought Ronald Reagan or the Russians would certainly turn the Cold War suddenly hot gave you a certain mental standpoint. Living for the moment in the most carefree way you could conjure, if a bit shortsighted for those around you tossed by the wayside as a result. Something to remember, as Robin Williams espoused in The Best of Times:

“…needs the distance of the future to give it a perspective so you can truly have a point of view and realize the viscosity of that quagmire.”

Reason why the British group so wonderfully named for the era, Tears for Fears, and their best album and song still registers with me. Everybody Wants to Rule the World, written by Roland Orzabal, Ian Stanley, and Chris Hughes, remains their biggest hit of the period. Even if it wasn’t the headlined single from the Songs From The Big Chair album. Producers thought it a bit bland and not important at the time.

Wrong they were as such is how pop hits are born, especially in this decade.

I challenge anyone who lived any portion of their life near 1985 (the year of its release in that damn month of March) to try and get the song out of your head…or keep it from bobbing with the beat1. Like the cold virus, it remains catchy to this day. Primarily for that vivid intro. Roland Orzabal’s simple chords will throw your mind back in time faster than Doc Brown’s DeLorean. It’s Tears for Fears’ first US #1 hit. What producers envisioned for their “Shout” single, which would follow a couple of months in time.

For all the finger-popping joy the tune churns out these many years later, it’s still reflective of its time. Songfacts:

“Although musically this is quite a jangly and catchy song, its lyrical theme is actually pretty dark. “The concept is quite serious — it’s about everybody wanting power, about warfare and the misery it causes,” Curt Smith explains on the band’s website.”

The music video was filmed on the outskirts of L.A., at the Salton Sea and Cabazon, by famed producer Nigel Dick. Got heavy play on the music video channel MTV, which cemented Tears for Fears status with American music fans.

As someone who was there, and not living in the supposed “…safest place in America in case of a nuclear war” of Taft, California, the song captured that right in a number of ways2. Buoyantly, in fact, in the same manner this span was known for. And like Gigi Hightower declared, retorting her husband Reno’s negativity and nuke-fear tactics toward her going off to Los Angeles to live her dreams as a singer, “You think they won’t hit L.A?”:

“Of course they would, but at least till then I’d be in the big leagues!”

This then was when Everybody Wants to Rule the World and Tears for Fears did just that. Gotta love the ’80s. What brought it back here? That’d be finally catching up with the truly delightful comedy by Lake Bell, In A World… My colleague Ruth of Flixchatter nailed why it captivated:

“This is the first time I’ve seen Lake Bell, though I’ve heard of her before this movie. She not only star in this but also wrote and directed her debut film, and I must say I’m impressed! She’s got excellent comic timing and a knack for accents, and the story is surprisingly engaging and downright hilarious. The tall and svelte Bell could make a living as a model but she really made herself to look very plain here as a tomboy whose ‘signature look’ is a denim overall. But she’s instantly likable and she surround herself with equally affable and amusing characters.”


Besides the film’s not usually seen City of Angels locations, which were showcased potently, In a World‘s diverse soundtrack boosted its material to grand effect. The inclusion of Everybody Wants to Rule the World, needle-dropped a couple of times in the film, was best used as the movie’s closing number. Sealed my attraction much like Tears for Fears’ impact with that antique Austin-Healey 3000 driving through the desert all those years ago. All to the tune of an infectious track. Still, “Nothing ever lasts forever”, ‘cept of course the ’80s.

Welcome to your life; there's no turning back
Even while we sleep we will find 
You acting on your best behavior
Turn your back on mother nature
Ev'rybody wants to rule the world

It's my own desire, it's my own remorse
Help me to decide. Help me make the most
Of freedom and of pleasure
Nothing ever lasts forever
Everybody wants to rule the world

There's a room where the light won't find you
Holding hands while the walls come tumbling down
When they do, I'll be right behind you
So glad we've almost made it
So sad they had to fade it
Ev'rybody wants to rule the world

I can't stand this indecision 
Married with a lack of vision
Everybody wants to rule the world
Say that you'll never, never, never, need it
One headline, why believe it?
Everybody wants to rule the world

All for freedom and for pleasure
Nothing ever lasts forever
Everybody wants to rule the world

  1. “It was written and recorded in two weeks and was the final track to be added to the Songs from the Big Chair album. The shuffle beat was alien to our normal way of doing things. It was jolly rather than square and rigid in the manner of ‘Shout’, but it continued the process of becoming more extrovert.” — Roland Orzabal 
  2. “The song was covered by Lorde for the Hunger Games: Catching Fire soundtrack, which was released by Republic. She reworked Tears for Fears’ tune into a haunting dirge, bringing out its inherent darkness.” 

17 Responses to “Friday Forgotten Song: Everybody Wants to Rule the World by Tears for Fears”

  1. cindybruchman

    Oh, I remember it well! I was living in Scotland when Tears for Fears were ruling the world in Britain. British Pop/New Wave has a big place in my heart and Tears for Fears were right up there with U2 and Depeche Mode. One of the few groups whose albums (yes, then CD) I bought all. I still listen to ‘The Hurting’ (“Mad World” a great one) –did you know the Big Chair comes from the Sally Field ‘Sybil’ where her character felt comfortable only in her analyst’s “big chair”? Their lyrics frequently describe anxieties and neurosis from their childhoods. ‘Songs from the Big Chair’–the jazz undertones and dreamy accompaniments, boy, they were at the apex of popularity. I really loved the 1989 single “Sewing the Seeds of Love” and probably my favorite single, I could play it over and over for an hour–ooops, I think I have 😉 is “Break it Down”.
    I think they had a sound and musical sophistication that was well beyond their time. Great post, Michael. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • le0pard13

      Thank you for sharing that, Cindy. Some great memories for sure. I’d heard the album title came by way of the Sybil TV-movie. Tears for Fears music has certainly stood up to the test of time. 🙂


  2. The Sci-Fi Fanatic

    Songs From The Big Chair is a recording of perfection.

    It remains as potent today as it was in 1985. Every song is a gem. The Seeds Of Love and even Raoul And The Kings Of Spain are just perfect as well.

    Funny Curt Smith provided vocals to one of pop genius Orzabal’s biggest hits. Orzabal really is a genius though.

    Anyway, the song still gets major play in my car and the young ones today still think it’s a pretty impressive track and that is a testament to the production of this very underappreciated, smart outfit.

    And with the world about as bad as I’ve seen it on Obama’s watch, thank God for Reagan.
    Take care.

    Liked by 1 person

    • le0pard13

      Always great to have you chime in musically and historically, G. I thought you’d have something to offer regarding the group and the time represented, my friend. Thank you so much! 🙂


  3. ruth

    Thanks for including my review and glad you enjoyed the movie, Michael! I love this song, I grew up listening to 80s music and somehow they’re still fresh to listen to even today!

    Liked by 1 person

    • le0pard13

      My pleasure, Ruth. I remembered it when I started streaming this last Wednesday. Afterwards, I felt the need to write up something for the song and Lake Bell’s wonderful movie. You’re an inspiration, my friend. Thank you. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

    • le0pard13

      I’m not surprised this song would be part of the soundtrack for those of a certain age. It does indeed. Many thanks, Paul! 🙂


    • le0pard13

      I’d forgotten it was used in REAL GENIUS! Nice. It’s a great song, for sure. Well worth having in your music library. Many thanks, J.D. 😀



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