"Everybody Wants to Rule the World" is a hit song by the English band Tears for Fears. It was the band's ninth single release in the United Kingdom (the third from their second LP: Songs from the Big Chair) and seventh UK Top 30 chart hit, peaking at number two in April 1985. In the U.S., it was the lead single from the album and gave the band their first Billboard Hot 100number-one hit on 8 June 1985, remaining there for two weeks. It also reached number-one on both the Hot Dance Music/Club Play and Hot Dance Singles Sales charts in the U.S. The song has since become the pinnacle of Tears for Fears' chart success, its endurance allowing it to accumulate over two million radio broadcasts by 1994, according to BMI.[citation needed]

In 1986, the song won "Best Single" at the Brit Awards. Band member and co-writer Roland Orzabal argued that the song deserved to win the Ivor Novello International Hit of the Year award, claiming that the winner—"19" by Paul Hardcastle—was not an actual song, but only a "dialogue collage".[3]


 [hide*1 Background


Ironically, considering the song's overwhelming success, "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" was somewhat of an afterthought during the recording of Songs from the Big Chair. According to Roland Orzabal, he initially regarded the song as a lightweight that would not fit with the rest of the album. It was producer Chris Hughes who convinced him to try recording it, in a calculated effort to cross over into American chart success.

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

As was the case with the three hit singles from Tears for Fears' debut LP The Hurting, the song featured bassist Curt Smith on lead vocals.


The concept is quite serious – it's about everybody wanting power, about warfare and the misery it causes.
— Curt Smith[4]

Song versions and cover version[edit]Edit

"Everybody Wants to Rule the World" has seen relatively few remixes. Extended, instrumental, and "urban mix" versions were done by producer Chris Hughes for inclusion on the single's various 7" and 12" releases. The only other remix of note was one done by electronica act The Chosen Few, included on the 2004 reissue of the greatest hits compilation Tears Roll Down (Greatest Hits 82-92). No official radio edits or alternate 7" versions of the song have been issued. A version labeled as the 7" version is included on the 2006 remaster of Songs from the Big Chair, but is actually the album version (the album's liner notes show the track as "Everybody Wants to Run the World", but this song was not included).

The song was later partially re-recorded with a new lyric and released as "Everybody Wants to Run the World" for the 1986 Sport Aid fund-raising campaign, once again reaching the UK Top 5.


"Pharaohs" is an instrumental that served as the B-side to the "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" single. The only voice heard is a recording of BBC Radio announcer Brian Perkins reading the Shipping Forecast for the sea lanes around the United Kingdom (see below). The title of the song is a play on the name of the Faroe Islands ("Faroes"), one of the places referenced in the forecast. This is one of the few songs in the Tears for Fears catalogue on which founding member Curt Smith shares a writing credit. The song has since been included in the B-sides and rarities collection Saturnine Martial & Lunatic as well as the remastered and deluxe edition reissues of Songs from the Big Chair. "Pharaohs" is also included on the Groove Armada compilation album Back to Mine.

No matter how horrifying the conditions may really be, the voice reading the shipping forecast is deliberately calm and relaxed. Recorded at the Wool Hall for the b-side of 'Everybody' in a calm and relaxed way.

Chris Hughes

"Pharaohs" shipping forecast read by Brian Perkins (BBC Radio 4, c. 1984):

"There are warnings of gales in Viking, Forties, Cromarty, Forth, Fisher, Dover, Wight, Portland, Plymouth, Finisterre, Sole, Lundy, Fastnet, Shannon, Rockall, Malin, Hebrides, Bailey, Fair Isle, Faroes and Southeast Iceland. The general synopsis at one eight double-O: low just north of Viking, nine double-seven, moving steadily east-northeast. Low 300 miles south of Iceland. Atlantic low forming, moving steadily northeast. A ridge of high pressure has swayed between North and South Utsire. The area forecast for the next twenty-four hours. Viking, Forties, Cromarty, Forth."

Music video[edit]Edit

The promotional clip for "Everybody Wants to Rule the World", filmed in early 1985, was the third Tears for Fears clip directed by famed music video producer Nigel Dick. It features Curt Smith driving an antique Austin-Healey 3000sports car around various Southern California locales, including Salton Sea and Cabazon. Interspersed with these clips are shots of the full band performing the song in a London studio. Along with the clip for "Shout", the "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" video had a big hand in helping break Tears for Fears in America, due to its heavy amount of play on music video pioneer MTV.

Track listings[edit]Edit

The single was released on a wide variety of formats in the UK, including a standard 7", a 7" double pack, two separate 12" versions, and a 10" single.

7": Mercury / IDEA9 (UK)[edit]Edit

  1. "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" (4:10)
  2. "Pharaohs" (3:42)

2x7": Mercury / IDEA99 (UK)[edit]Edit

  1. "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" (4:10)
  2. "Pharaohs" (3:42)
  3. "Everybody Wants to Rule the World [Urban Mix]" (6:06)
  4. "Interview Excerpt" (7:30)

10": Mercury / IDEA910 (UK)[edit]Edit

  1. "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" (4:10)
  2. "Pharaohs" (3:42)

12": Mercury / IDEA912 (UK)[edit]Edit

  1. "Everybody Wants to Rule the World [Extended Version]" (5:43)
  2. "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" (4:10)
  3. "Pharaohs" (3:42)

12": Mercury / IDER912 (UK)[edit]Edit

  1. "Everybody Wants to Rule the World [Urban Mix]" (6:06)
  2. "Everybody Wants to Rule the World [Instrumental]" (4:26)

Charts and sales[edit]Edit

Chart performance[edit]Edit

Chart (1985) Peak


Australia (Kent Music Report)[7] 2
Austria (Ö3 Austria Top 40)[8] 19
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Flanders)[9] 3
Canadian RPM Adult Contemporary[10] 1
Canadian RPM Top Singles[11] 1
France (SNEP)[12] 18
Germany (Media Control AG)[13] 11
Irish Singles Chart[14] 2
Italy (FIMI)[15] 11
Netherlands (Dutch Top 40)[16] 2
Netherlands (Mega Single Top 100)[17] 2
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)[18] 1
South African Chart[19] 14
Switzerland (Schweizer Hitparade)[20] 13
UK (The Official Charts Company)[21] 2
U.S. Billboard Hot 100[22] 1
U.S. BillboardHot Adult Contemporary[22] 2
U.S. BillboardHot Dance Club Play[22] 1
U.S. BillboardHot Dance Music/Maxi-Singles Sales[22] 1
U.S. BillboardHot Mainstream Rock Tracks[22] 2
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