With its cuddly melody and dire lyrics, Europe's "The Final Countdown" conjures images of an adorable apocalypse, where unicorns impale awestruck observers and rabbits show their dark sides, as foreshadowed by Monty Python. It's also synonymous with school bands and, thanks to Arrested Development, ill-fated magic shows. But this Sweden-based troupe has more to offer than its trademark tune. The following list examines five underappreciated moments in the history of Europe.
"Cherokee," from The Final Countdown, 1986: Inspired by Anthrax and Iron Maiden, Europe pens its own Native American-themed number. "The white man's greed/In search of gold/Made the nation bleed," wails singer Joey Tempest, as power-ballad riffs trail his tears.
On the Loose, 1986: This 30-minute short film propelled the group to stardom in its native land. "Broken Dreams," which appears only on this VHS cassette, excites collectors much more than the techno-charged remix "The Final Countdown 2000."
"Ready or Not," from Out of This World, 1988: Frustrated by the group's synth-smothered production, guitarist John Norum quit before this Final Countdown follow-up. On this relatively robust track, replacement Kee Morcello bolsters Tempest's most inspiring rallying cry: "Rock me like you never did before/Then rock me just a little more."
"Ninja," from The Final Countdown, 1986: This inexplicable mix of medieval and martial-arts imagery ("If I were a noble ancient knight/I'd stand by your side to rule and fight/Ninja survive!") predates America's obsession with the black-clad assassins. "Ninja" tops the scary soundtracks to Beverly Hills Ninja (which also features Lene Lovich covering "I Think We're Alone Now" in Japanese) and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles trilogy.
"Got to Have Faith," from Start From the Dark, 2004: Norum dominates this reunion disc, his chugging grunge riffs dwarfing Mic Michaeli's keyboards and Tempest's midrange vocals. This opening track is the best of a batch that sacrifices the group's signature sound for competent currency. If Europe fans are fortunate, it will be the only intruder to crack a classics-packed set list.
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