The Final Countdown: Pop Culture Curmudguin

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Growing up, it took me a long time to get to where I could enjoy the music of my generation, outside of music video shows like Nickelodeon’s Nick Rocks.  There was especially a big delay in enjoying Rock music.  As a treat in school, I got to enjoy listening to the cassette (look up what a cassette is on Wikipedia kids) labelled Europe’s The Final Countdown album.  Recently I finally found after who knows how many years my copy of the CD (don’t need to look up what that is yet) of the album.  So for this PCC, I am looking at each of the songs on this album.

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The Final Countdown

The namesake song for this CD.  This is a derisive song, with some ranking it as the worst of all time and others loving it for being either awesome or so cheesy it’s great.  To me it is awesome, cheesy, and nostalgic, so I like it.  On many of these, because I was listening to this album especially in late 1988-early 1989, when I had been a wrestling fan for 3 years by then, I often imagined coming out to the ring on many of these songs.  Final Countdown definitely works as an entrance theme, but I’m not sure how well after a victory.  Then again, I grew up a wrestling fan from Hulk Hogan’s 5-minute post-victory celebrations, so that might shew my ideas on that.  (I know some indy wrestler several years back named Bryan Danielson used this as a theme…wonder what happened to him).

Interestingly, I have only just now, as far as I can recall, saw the official music video.  Sadly, it is mostly them in concert, nothing epic here.  Disappointing.

On the Billboard 100, it got to #8.  The cheesyness gave it staying power.

Rock the Night

For many years, I had this as my favorite Europe song.  Once again, I imagined this as my wrestling theme music.  It loses some of the epicness of Countdown, but it is also less cheesy.  It is also very easy to pound your fists with.  Sadly, it only got to #30 on the Billboard 100.

Sometimes, when I sing it, I sing it as “Rock now, Rockhopper”.

As for the video, I saw it years ago, but didn’t remember much of it beyond the concert parts, so it made me happy to watch the video just now and see that it was largely based in a diner they might have eaten at after a concert.  This is a better video than Countdown for sure.

Carrie

In one of his Top 10 videos, Todd in the Shadows ranked this the fourth worst song of 1987.  The ranking is a little harsh,  but Todd has made it clear he thinks of slow songs the same way I think of rap “music”…some of it is OK, but most of it sucks.  As for myself, of the 10 songs on this CD I have to personally rank it my least favorite, not to it being a bad song per se, but because I had a bad experience with a girl name Carrie (althro it was spelled differently) and I don’t really want to be thinking about her, which I do every time I hear this song.  (As a historian, I find it hard to forget the past even if I really want to.)

This is Europe’s most successful song, getting up to #3 in the charts and ranking as the 56th biggest song of 1987 on the Billboard 100.  However, unlike other power ballads, and definitely unlike Countdown, it has no staying power, and I do not feel guilty not posting the video here.

Danger on the Track

I used to like this song, but not that much anymore.  It sounds like it was the start of an idea for a thriller/horror movie, and it was decided to just make it a song.  The music is OK, and the lyrics aren’t bad, but there just isn’t anything to recommend about it.

Ninja

This is still one of my favorite songs on the CD,, and like most of the other songs on this CD, it would definitely make for a good wrestling entrance theme.  Just one problem…

…Nothing about the lyrics has anything to do with ninjas specifically.  In many of the other songs on this CD, I will replace a word with “penguin”, but with this song it makes just as much sense being there as the original word “ninja”.  The best two syllables to replace the word ninja is “I Will”, changing it from…

Ninja survive, in dreams I walk by your side
Ninja survive, with you there’s no need to hide.

to

I will survive, in dreams I walk by your side
I will survive, with you there’s no need to hide.

That said, I can’t help but feel there might be an even better word to substitute “ninja” with (besides “penguin” of course).

Cherokee

This is my favorite song on the CD, and I am shocked that it only made number 72 in the Billboard 100.  It definitely has one of the best videos I’ve ever seen, althro it is historically inaccurate in showing Cherokee as tepee-dwelling Plains Indians when they came from the Great Smokey Mountains and never lived in tepees.

That said, that is a beautiful video, and a powerful song.  It would make an awesome entrance and victory theme for a wrestler, althro the wrestler would have to be of Cherokee heritage (I have some, but not enough to get away with using it if I was a wrestler.)

Throughout 1987 I taped many videos onto a VHS tape (once again, look up what that was kids) and this was definitely on there.  Some videos I taped as much as 4 times on it (so I wouldn’t have to rewind so much to hear a particular song), but this one only once…probably because Nick Rocks (where I taped almost all my videos from) was a request show (and remember, in 1987 we are talking snail mail here) and it wasn’t that big of a song.  Sadly.  It deserved better.

Time Has Come

Until recently, I would have rated this the worst song om the album, as I have been FFWD or skipping it since 1989.  Listening to it again while writing this article, I started appreciating it more.  It isn’t the greatest “power ballad” of all time, by any means (the 1980s were full of these, with hair metal and acid pop singers wanting at least one song in their repertoire to woo the ladies).  Still, it’s a nice little tune to chill by, and we penguins like to chill.

Heart of Stone

I was starting to form this opinion anyways, but after listening to this song I realize what Europe’s problem was…lack of an IT factor.  That’s the factor that is hard to quantify but yet is what takes two similar bands (Bon Jovi and Europe), shoots one up to blazing heights because they have IT (Bon Jovi) and the other only remembered because of one catchy song (Europe).  (For non-music related examples, think Bret vs. Owen Hart or Harrison Ford vs. Mark Hamill.)

This song is a fine song, but it lacks the certain oomph to it, an oomph that maybe a Jon Bon Jovi could give but a Joey Tempest could not.  Once again, it is another song I imagined coming out to the ring to, but while the melody might be OK listening to it again, the lyrics just don’t work for a theme, unless the male wrestler is having a long feud with a female heel, and that just wouldn’t work.

On the Loose

Now we’ve come to the next-to-last song.  It may be a broken record by now, but yes I imagined what it would be like to come out to this as my WWF (at the time) theme, althro this time as a member of a high-energy team like the Rockers or Young Stallions (which if I ever was athletic, would not be the kind of athleticism I could ever hope to pull off).

Also once again, listening to it again, it lacks the IT factor.  Of course, is it fair to complain about songs lacking the IT factor if they were not released as singles?  Maybe not, but people like Janet Jackson have made 8 successful singles off a single album.  Doing so keeps you from being a one-hit wonder (which Europe isn’t…they had Final Countdown and Carrie, althro their bigger hit (Carrie) is far less remembered than the other one (Countdown ).

Love Chaser

If there was ever a time to say “last but certainly not least” it is this song.  I love this song.  I would hesitate to recommend it to others, as I feel it has limited appeal, but I seriously dig it.  I have even used as an internet handle “Love Chaser” in tribute to the song, usually when for some reason when I don’t want my handle to be penguin-based (usually when trying to hide who I am).

I have seen where this song was released as a single in Japan, but not in the USA.  Cherokee coming in at #72 probably didn’t help that.

And yes, once again I have imagined this as my wrestling theme.  It works great as an entrance, as the melody has a since of finality to it, like you are coming out to the ring for a final reckoning.  However, it does not work in celebration mode at the end of a match.

 ==Summary==

If I had to rank these songs in personal preference, it would be…
#10 Carrie
#9  Danger on the Track
#8  Time Has Come
#7  On the Loose
#6  Heart of Stone
#5  Rock the Night
#4  Ninja
#3  Final Countdown
#2  Love Chaser
#1  Cherokee

Do I still love this album?  Sure.  Once I ever get another iPod (or find my old one after having lost it 2 years ago), I plan to download all but one song onto it.  But still, it is not hard to see why Europe just didn’t last too long, even if they are popping up in commercials now.  They were not just another bunch of Swedish meatballs…they had something to offer.  They just needed a little more presence so they could have done a lot better.

Bedford
Hop With Me

Bedford

I'm just a cute, charming, lovable, brilliant, modest, oh-so-humble Confederate-American Sphenisciform.I have my own geek news website at Icygeek.com

My pop culture specialties are Star Wars, Transformers, Wizards of the Coast games, and the 1980s.My scholarly specialties are history, geography, and travel.

Join me every Friday for the Pop Culture Curmudguin.
Bedford
Hop With Me

About Bedford

I'm just a cute, charming, lovable, brilliant, modest, oh-so-humble Confederate-American Sphenisciform. I have my own geek news website at Icygeek.com My pop culture specialties are Star Wars, Transformers, Wizards of the Coast games, and the 1980s. My scholarly specialties are history, geography, and travel. Join me every Friday for the Pop Culture Curmudguin.
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