The Final Countdown

17 Aug

Yesterday afternoon I got lucky. I was running errands, flipping through radio stations in my car, and caught an old 80’s classic: Europe’s “The Final Countdown.” And it was even at the beginning, during the first 20-30 seconds of synthesizer, when Joey Tempest (I’m sure that’s his real name) and the boys are building all that cool, dramatic tension.


He started singing, and then I started singing, chanting and shouting while I drove, nodding my head enthusiastically as, together, the band and I lived through their harrowing adventures in space.

Except, it isn’t really so harrowing. Or adventurous. In fact, as I heard the words coming out of my mouth, the lyrics that I’ve known for over 15 years, the very words I was rocking out to, I realized that they were pretty bad. Shockingly bad. So lame that I was jolted from my nostalgic memory of cruising the circuit in 10th grade (you could only go around a few times before the cops came after you), right back to the drudgery of my suburban Walmart parking lot.

Thanks for crafting such quality lyrics, Joey. I had been enjoying running from the PoPo.

But I laughed. I mean, what else can you do when confronted with this:

“We’re leaving together

but still it’s farewell.

And maybe we’ll come back

to Earth. Who can tell?”

Who can tell? That’s what my grandmother says when I ask her if it looks like rain. Or what the creepy one-eyed librarian says when you ask if the book on flesh-eating mummies is checked out.

It is not what you say when you are strapping into a rocket headed to Venus.

Which brings us to verse number two.

“We’re heading to Venus

And still we stand tall.

‘Cause maybe they’ve seen us

And welcome us all, yeah.”

Okay, so all I have to say is thank God they rhymed “seen us” with Venus, instead of something else, if you know what I mean. Just sayin’.

The full lyrics can be found here (in case you need more): The Final Countdown: Lyrics from Answers.com.

But as I walked through the store, picking up dog food, mouthwash and a few college ruled notebooks in the perfect shade of sky blue (too dark and it looks stupid, too light and it’s just babyish-GOD MOM!), the whole thing made me wonder. Could lyrics get any worse, or had I somehow stumbled upon the very depths that music had to offer? So as soon as I got home, I started digging.

I found, for your enjoyment:

The 20 Worst Lyrics Ever: No. 20 – Spinner. There’s some good stuff, but curiously, no Europe. I think they missed the mark on that.

I also found a fun site called www.misheardlyricsguy.com. Some of his best work is below, translating Pearl Jam’s great (but completely unintelligible) song, “Yellow Ledbetter” : YouTube – misheardlyricsguy’s Channel. Give yourself the gift of these 6 minutes. You won’t regret it.

Regardless of the cheesy lines and the trumped up drama in “The Final Countdown,” it was a big hit.  Number one in tons of countries, (although it only went to # 8 here), and #14 in an Mtv list of 100 Greatest Hard Rock Songs: The Final Countdown | Europe | Music Video | MTV. And it still takes me back. I guess it always will. There’s just no denying Joey’s big hair and pouty lips, or the call of that synthesizer.

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