Dear everyone: Europe’s ‘The Final Countdown’ is not in ‘Rocky IV’
One very minor bright spot about the coronavirus pandemic is that all the self-isolation has provided lots of time to think about our convictions, both serious and pointless, and share our most precious thoughts with a captive social-media audience hungry for new information and new things about which to argue.
So here’s a new thing for your brain to ponder, though this one is inarguable: Europe’s song “The Final Countdown” is not in “Rocky IV.” It’s not so much a conviction as a nugget of 100 percent truth, and I’ve wanted to get it off my chest for a while.
I know some of you likely “remember” it in the movie, but you’re wrong. And if you doubt that this belief exists, or that the belief is strong, do a quick search on Twitter for “The Final Countdown Rocky IV” (or “Rocky 4”) to find a bunch of people referencing it in various ways through the years (including me, in a tweet version of this column) and celebrating the song’s role in the “Rocky IV” experience. But, again, those people are wrong. The Mandela Effect, or perhaps the Balboa Effect, is, well, in effect here.
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From 2010: “Final Countdown from Rocky 4 played by a violin quartet at the wedding!! Awesome!!”
From 2012: “Just heard Final Countdown from Rocky IV. Good sign.”
From 2013: “Rocky 4 Final Countdown favorite song to listen while lifting wights (sic)”
From 2019: “Finally found a song that’s been bugging me from #UGRockFestival. The Final Countdown – Europe. (From the Rocky 4 soundtrack)”
From 2020: “Name a song in a movie that takes a scene to the next level. … The Final Countdown – Rocky IV.”
Then this: “Not to show my movie nerdiness, but Final Countdown was added to Rocky IV soundtrack, not actually in the movie. Just sayin'”
Alas, every one of those is wrong. Even the last guy who thinks he’s being nerdy-smart.
That’s because “The Final Countdown” is nowhere in “Rocky IV” and nowhere on the accompanying soundtrack LP/cassette/CD/digital download. In fact, the song wasn’t even released until a year after “Rocky IV” came out. Are you shocked? Take a minute if you need it. Here’s why you’re confused.
The score for “Rocky IV,” composed by Vince DiCola, features similar synth instrumentation and a similar chord structure as “The Final Countdown.” In particular, what you likely “remember” as “The Final Countdown” is the track “Training Montage.” Listen:
It sounds kind of like this part in “The Final Countdown”:
But they’re not *that* similar, so I’m not sure why this confusion exists. And further, if the training montage music really gets you going, it’s only fair that you acknowledge the man who created that sequence of musical notes and recorded them on this synthesizer. DiCola’s score is full of ’80s goodness, an interesting departure from the traditional “Rocky” sound of composer Bill Conti. Two of DiCola’s cues were featured on the original “Rocky IV” soundtrack album, but there’s also an album of just his score.
I reached out to DiCola on Facebook to see what he thinks about all this. Turns out, he’s not particularly concerned.
“I don’t have any thoughts on this at the moment,” he said. “People are still listening after so many years, and that shocks me and humbles me, my friend.”
Still, the “Rocky IV” musical ignorance seems widespread. Just look at Google search suggestions:
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This is all incredibly frustrating, both as a fan of film music and as a fan of paying attention to reality. But I’m not alone, thankfully. Mixed in among those old tweets about how “The Final Countdown” scene in “Rocky IV” really pumps you up are a decent number of people fighting the good fight to educate the world about this silly bit of musical confusion. There have been other efforts to spread the truth as well, and they all have my gratitude.
But justice delayed is not justice denied, so there’s still time for everyone to give DiCola his due as someone whose music helped Rocky defeat Ivan Drago and still inspires you today. And, hey, I like “The Final Countdown,” too. It’s a classic ’80s tune. It’s on my iPod. It’s in our collective consciousness. It’s just not in “Rocky IV.”
So, now you know, and knowing is half the battle. That’s from “G.I. Joe,” which, like “Rocky IV,” is from the ’80s and also doesn’t feature “The Final Countdown.”
Please wash your hands.
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