This song is about the quest for power, and how it can have unfortunate consequences. In an interview with Mix magazine, the band's producer Chris Hughes explained that they spent months working on "Shout," and...
Welcome to your life; there's no turning back
Even while we sleep we will find
You acting on your best behavior
Turn your back on mother nature
Ev'rybody wants to rule the world

It's my own desire, it's my own remorse
Help me to decide. Help me make the most
Of freedom and of pleasure
Nothing ever lasts forever
Everybody wants to rule the world

There's a room where the light won't find you
Holding hands while the walls come tumbling down
When they do, I'll be right behind you
So glad we've almost made it
So sad they had to fade it
Ev'rybody wants to rule the world

I can't stand this indecision
Married with a lack of vision
Everybody wants to rule the world
Say that you'll never, never, never, need it
One headline, why believe it?
Everybody wants to rule the world

All for freedom and for pleasure
Nothing ever lasts forever
Everybody wants to rule the world


Lyrics submitted by numb

"Everybody Wants To Rule the World" as written by Stanley Orzabal

Lyrics © BMG RIGHTS MANAGEMENT US, LLC, EMI Music Publishing

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Everybody Wants to Rule the World song meanings
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  • +6
    Song MeaningFirst of all I wanted to say how deeply nostalgic this song makes me for the era in which it was written, especially the relative calm known as the Cold War.

    Basically, the lyrics are quite prescient in that the speaker reminds the listener that political liberty and the pleasures of capitalism are all relatively new to the world scene and are not permanent. The speaker desires to live to the fullest during this special time in history by taking full advantage of its many pleasures and liberties before the true nature of the world, war and change, comes 'round again at last.

    Thus the song is a carpe diem song and yet the speaker is troubled by all the possibilities of how to seize this day-- he is condemned to his own freedom in that he's unsure how best to make use of his liberty-- in other words, he feels the terror when one realizes although you can be almost anything, you cannot be everything. And yet he must decide because he he knows time is short.
    ReleasetheKrakenon February 26, 2011   Link
  • +4
    General CommentI love song analysis. And I love that this site exists so that those of us who wish to analyze together.
    It's great to see and discover how people can have such different views and get different messages through songs. The power of music is amazing.
    My analysis is related to the book "1984", if any of you have ever read it, which I am sure you have, you will most likely understand with me.
    The whole book is about how the government is controlling every aspect of society within a city unit. The people outside the unit, (the Proles) are ignorant and care only about winning the lottery.
    In the end, Winston is theoretically, or literally, put to death. That viewpoint is solely that of the readers.
    I think that this song is directly related to the story line of 1984, and it swaps view points between the government and Winston himself.

    The government:
    "Welcome to your life / There's no turning back"

    The government has taken Winston and put him into his life. They have chosen what he does for a living, they have chosen where he lives. He has no option to go back or change anything.

    "Even while we sleep / we will find you acting on your best behaviour"

    This could refer to the fact that sleep talking is taken seriously in this city unit. The telescreens that watch and listen to everyone and everything all of the time can hear you talk in your sleep, and if you say anything negative about the government, you will be punished.

    "Turn your back on Mother Nature"

    This line refers to the fact that it is an industrial city. Natural occurences never happen. Everything is artificial.

    "Everybody wants to rule the World"

    They say that every country in the world is fighting for superiority. They are in a war for power.

    Winston:
    "It's my own design / It's my own remorse"

    Winston works for the government as an 'editor' of history. He changes things in newspapers and archives so that history mathes the current date. Therefore, he designs history, but he is depressed at what he must do.

    "Help me to decide / Help me make the most / Of freedom and of pleasure / Nothing ever lasts forever"

    Winston is asking someone to help him, he has nowhere to turn and doesn't know what to do. On his own, he makes the most of his freedom by drinking alcohol. Not much else is allowed, and he wants someone to help him to achieve more freedom and pleasure. He believes that the reign of the government will not last forever, so he will one day be free to do as he wishes.

    "There's a room where the light won't find you / Holding hands while the walls come tumbling down / When they do I'll be right behind you."

    Winston and Julia are able to have the room above a small shop where they can plan what to do to fight the government. It is a dim room where light doesn't easily reach. Here they can express their love for one another, (holding hands) but ultimately this room is invaded by the Thought Police and their world comes crashing down on them. The safety and security of the room is violated, (walls come tumbling down). But Winston will not let Julia go alone, he will stay with her.

    "So glad we've almost made it / So sad they had to fade it"

    Winston and Julia were very happy that they had made such progress and that they'd almost prevailed, but they were sad when the operation got discontinued by the thought police.

    "I can't stand this indecision / Married with a lack of vision"

    This portrays the part in the story when Winston is being tortured as a result of his views on the government. He can't stand that he doesn't know what to believe, but he is tortured into believing things without knowing exactly why.

    "Say that you'll never never never never need it / One headline why believe it?"

    This speaks about Winston being told that he never needs to question the government, that he never needs freedom, and if he hears anything negative it is put into one class of information; negativity. He is basically told "Why believe what is negative?"

    "All for freedom and for pleasure"

    This is about the final lines in the book. Now Winston does everything and he is happy doing it. He feels that he is free and he enjoys what he does.

    "Nothing ever lasts forever"

    In the end of the book, the theoretical/literal bullet had entered Winstons' brain. His once negative thoughts of the Party were killed and he will never think that way again. His fight did end, and his cause was lost, but he doesn't realize it.

    "Everybody wants to rule the World"

    A victory of a battle in Africa is announced, showing that the Party is one step closer to ruling the World.

    I hope that this analysis makes sense. One of my problems with writing is that I get these great ideas and when I try to write them down, I focus on each bit at a time. The other pieces lose significance, which explains the lack of thorough reasoning as this analysis goes on. Perhaps if you listen to the song with this as a guideline, you will understand!
    ZachKing88on September 07, 2007   Link
  • +2
    General CommentI just love the opening line to the song. That's all I have to say. That one line just can make you ponder for hours. That's what good lyrics make you do :]
    butterflykiss84on June 11, 2004   Link
  • +2
    General CommentAs far as the argument between Shauncreany and Silentknight goes, I would have to side with SilentKnight. I know using extremely underused words in this day in age may make you seem a lot smarter and more knowledgable than those around you, but it finally comes down to the general idea you want to get across. Among that mountain of needless words you put together, you basically said "fuck capitalism" and "fuck the United states". You also stated that this is exactly what Tears for Fears is stating. Ok, well it may make sense...sure we live in a capitalistic world. And at the time this song came out, capitalism was fighting communism. You're stating that capitalism was what tears for fears was speaking out against. Now if this is true...if you agree with these men, you would indeed be setting yourself up for agreeing with your newly created hypocrits. Because, only through a capitolistic world, could a group like tears for fears make millions of dollars through the number of albums they sold. And they sure as hell made a lot of money, speaking their mind, in the free western world....hey, can you tell me how many famous russian singers came out of 80's from the Soviet Union? That's what i thought....it's marketing...people want to feel unique, either by memorizing the dictionary (like yourself), or by joining some cause, this usually exists within fanatic youths from 18 - 26...so, groups will make music that will appeal to their idealistic principals (in order to put some money in the pockets). Now, even though i feel that in a way, tears for fears did such a thing (if i was to agree with your inturpretation of the song)...I don't care...you know why? Because even though they're working hard to agree with the fanatic youth of the time...they end up suprising even themselves with the philosophical symbolism they create (even though it was done to make a buck). I think the same thing can go for bands nowadays....like System of a Down...even though they're against a lot of the thigns you are.....the men are millionaires....are they hypocrits? Nahh......Business men? Hell yeah!!....The extreme populice of the capitol world. Let's see if you could speak your mind living in your "Utopian anti-capitolistic" world. There were a lot of men that had the same dreams as you did.....they go by the names of Karl Marx, Joseph Stalin and Vladamir Lenin....the last two ended up being responcible by ordering the deaths of more than 20 million people during their eras.....now you think about it....maybe, if you put the dictionary and bong down...get off your lazy ass, stop repeating what your other lazy friends say because they don't want to get a job...and do something for yourself, you won't have to pretend to be "unique" by reciting Webster and Shakespeare online and actually do something for yourself...
    Oorakhhyeon June 07, 2005   Link
  • +2
    General CommentGreat song, always gets me thinking..
    To me, it seems that "ruling the world" isn't so much referring to assuming a position of wealth or power, but perhaps DEFINING the world (more specifically, our own lives and their meanings and purposes) to the point that we're consumed by these definitions ("There's no turning back").
    Where he says "It's my own design/it's my own remorse" I got the sense that he's referring to us bringing this undesirable point of "no turning back" upon our invdividual SELVES, each and every one of us.
    I think the most important lines in the song (in terms of getting the main idea across) are in the beginning: lines 3-5. Here, I'm getting the feeling that "even while we sleep", all day, everyday, we're caught up in a world we've created for ourselves instead of the one set here by "mother nature", whom, as a result, were are "turning our backs" upon.
    The pleading tone of the song ("Help me make the most..") drives home the final point: that this is not good, but instead RESTRICTING of our collective potential for happiness rather than enhancing it.
    By becoming encompassed by our own unnatural desires, it follows that we tend to lose sight of the "finer" things in life, "freedom and pleasure".
    gb85on August 31, 2005   Link
  • +2
    General CommentSometimes I like to try and analyze a song line by line but it's kind of like critiquing a cake by eating the flour, eggs, sugar, etc. one at a time, you know? Rarely works out. Especially considering--and I do love this song--the lyrics are basically a vehicle for getting to the chorus, "Ev-ery-bo-dy-wants-to-rule-the-world." I think what's genius about it is that even though the lyrics don't hold a whole lot of symbolic weight, they're able to fit all the pathos and anger of the song into one phrase, just the WAY they sing it, you know? For me, I remember it best as the song they played in the previews for the TV-movie "Pirates of Silicon Valley," about Bill Gates and Steve Jobs (Noah Wyle is GREAT as Jobs), and that about sums it up in my mind: the soundtrack for the dream they were railing against. Which is a bit subversive, really.

    Lotsa hyphens in that post.
    owennnnnnnnnnon May 06, 2009   Link
  • +2
    General CommentI have listened to a mountain of music over my years and this song still gives me goosebumps lyrically and musically. An absolute classic.
    Edgolfterpon September 14, 2012   Link
  • +1
    General Commentit was in the beginning of Dennis Miller Live too...but who cares what people know it from. it's an awesome song and everyone knows it's by tears for fears
    Emanual200on June 09, 2002   Link
  • +1
    General Commenti know this song from the album. haha. but yeah..it's a good song. well first i knew it from the radio..but yeah. everyone wants to rule the world, it's true.
    not_blondeon July 03, 2002   Link
  • +1
    General Commentwhat does it matter what show it would be associated with? It's an amazing song. Tears for fears was combating the yuppie-attitude of the time. They were serenading all of us with their messages of 'theres something better than this'.
    leaffan1389on May 18, 2004   Link

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