I return to the realm of music.  Some time ago I heard a snippet of The Final Countdown, the song by the Swedish group Europe released in 1986.  Looking it up on You-Tube, I was met with a surprise.  When I compared the Rolling Stones’ No Satisfaction  (38 million plus views) and the Beatles’ Yesterday  (10 million plus views, together with its number 1 slot in the world of covers – 2000 plus covers), I found them dwarfed by the views on The Final Countdown — a whopping 412 million plus.

Is it that, after an initial popularity (Countdown  reached number 1 in 25 countries),  there is a further groundswell over time?  The phenomenon prompts me to speculate.

Europe, the rock band

Is it the lyric?  It deals with the blast-off to Venus (of the last citizens on earth?) the return of which is questioned.  There is a sadness, perhaps regret.  Is this song a defiant lament?  Does it touch on hidden thoughts of death?  The word “final” could suggest this.  What are our unconscious associations here?

The song has a triumphant spirit — in those suspended chords, we are ecstatically suspended above the curve of the earth.  Could the millions who have bought the song and those listening to it on You-Tube find some kind of comfort against the dark inevitability of our fate?

Joey Tempest

The hypnotic vitality of Joey Tempest, the lead singer, swirling his long blond hair like a flag, helps me realise an interpretation of this song — an assertion of life with dionysiac passion.  Through his performance and the catchy apocalytptic trumpets,  our arms break the crust of death’s enervation and we reach beyond the petty finitude of life on earth.   Maybe the 412, 664, 405  and I feel that.

© Will van der Walt


Les Semboules, Antibes

January, 2018



Wikipedia: The Final Countdown


My heart



Europe  –  spiegel.de

Joey Tempest – fanpop.com








4 Responses to “THE FINAL COUNTDOWN”

  1. Dave Sayer says:

    A compelling description!

  2. Lucien Desmarais says:

    I wholeheartedly agree with (and appreciate) your fantastic interpretation of this song, Will – an assertion of life with dionysiac (absolutely) passion. Nailed it!!! I’ve played this song to death in the car and on every source I could lay my hands on over the years. Never get tired of it. It got me pumped for my Uni final exams. It motivated me during the early years of business operations. It still motivates and will continue to do so. I can only guess a reason for the lower view counts of “Satisfaction” and “Yesterday”… and that is that the applicable generation of aficionados mostly do not watch You-tube and thus the view count is lower. Great piece, Will! Feeling pumped!!!

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