“Everybody Wants to Rule the World” is a song new wave and synth-pop by English pop rock band Tears for Fears. It was written by Roland Orzabal, Ian Stanley, and Chris Hughes and produced by Chris Hughes. The song was first released in 1985 as the 3rd single from the band’s 2nd album, Songs from the Big Chair (1985). “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” is about the desire humans have for control and power through corruption.
Many music critics praise “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” one of the 1980s’ best songs. It had great success internationally as the song peaked at #2 in Ireland, Australia, and the UK and at #1 in Canada, New Zealand, and the US. It was certified gold by both Music Canada (MC) and the British Phonographic Industry (BPI).
Nigel Dick directed the music video, which shows bassist and lead vocal Curt Smith driving an antique Austin-Healey 3000 sports car around Southern California intercut with shots of the band performing the song in a studio. In 1986, the song won Best Single at the Brit Awards.
“Everybody Wants to Rule the World” was written by Roland Orzabal, Ian Stanley and Chris Hughes, and produced by Hughes. With a tempo of 116 beats per minute, the song was added at the “last-minute” during recording and included as the final track on the album.
Consequence of Sound editor Michael Roffman praised the group for being able to produce a “timeless and influential composition” with minimal effort. AllMusic‘s Stanton Swihart expressed in his retrospective review that the group “perfectly captured the zeitgeist of the mid-’80s while impossibly managing to also create a dreamy, timeless pop classic.” Pitchfork called it a song with “near-universal appeal”, as well as a staple for “classic-rock radio, pharmacies, bars, and parties.”
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”. In 2015, 30 years after its release, the song was honoured at the annual BMI Awards in London for achieving 6 million radio airplays. “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” is regarded as the group’s signature song, along with “Shout” (1984).
The promotional video for “Everybody Wants to Rule the World”, filmed in early 1985, was directed by Nigel Dick. It was filmed in Las Vegas, Los Angeles, a desert in Southern California, the Salton Sea and Cabazon as well as a London studio. Curt Smith admitted to Pitchfork that the video shoot was a “disaster”; Dick was “in tears” on the second night of shooting. Smith also mentioned that there was an accident while filming the “dirt bikes and four-wheel off-road vehicles” scene, with one child flying out of a vehicle and smashing his head, leaving him unconscious.