Capturing the sociopolitical Zeitgeist of a time when Cold War tensions between the U.S. and Russia were at a fever pitch, Tears For Fears #1 1985 smash “Everybody Wants to Rule The World” – a song about the thirst for control and power and its consequences – became something of an anthem among young people growing up under the austerity of the Margaret Thatcher and Reagan era. Curt Smith, the song’s lead singer, said the themes were “quite serious – it’s about everybody wanting power, about warfare and the misery it causes.” The Russian President’s all-out military invasion of Ukraine and the devastating globally resonant effects of the war this year have brought the song back into the cultural conversation.
#1 Billboard charting artist Michael J Thomas’s decision to record his explosive new version happened long before the war and based more on being a child of the 80s and 90s and loving the music of that era than making any form of statement. Yet, following his years of success on the Billboard Smooth Jazz charts, the multi-talented saxophonist and vocalist’s prescient commitment to expanding beyond his home genre and tackling this classic has led to a vibrant crossover track whose sonic aesthetic and message perfectly meet our collective anxiety and fraught, challenging moment in world history.
Produced by Thomas and Carl Griffin, the track features Thomas’s unique dual talents (complementing his lead vocals with a prominent sax solo) and a powerhouse trumpet solo by the legendary Randy Brecker. Other highlights of this dynamic arrangement include crackling guitar work by Chris Blackwell and Vince Gill, Cheryl Rogers’ backing vocals, Trammell Starks’ hoppin’ contributions on keys, synths, strings, and percussion (including the song’s infectious instrumental hook), and the driving rhythm section of Sam Sims (bass) and Louis K. Newsom (drums).
Thomas and Griffin have created an emotionally impactful, newsreel-style video for the track that juxtaposes images of Ukrainians impacted by the war, speeches from Putin and Ukrainian President Zelensky, and hopeful messages of support from around the world, including many flying Ukrainian flags.
“Everybody Wants to Rule The World” is Thomas’ third lead single from his upcoming EP Outside the Door, following the holiday song “It’s Christmas” (a collaboration with Maysa) and “The OG Bounce,” which is currently a Top 15 hit on the Billboard Smooth Jazz Airplay chart. The EP’s other songs include a new take on Stevie Wonder’s “I Wish” and an original featuring Chieli Minucci.
Thomas has been a mainstay in the contemporary instrumental world since his 2017 hit Baby Coffee,” his first #1 on the Billboard Smooth Jazz Songs chart. It currently has over 2.6 million streams on Apple Music. Subsequent hits include his second #1 single, “I’ll Never Love Again” (an explosive reimagining of the Lady Gaga hit from “A Star is Born”) ,and “Sippin’ The Yak, which hit #2 on the charts, remained in the Top 5 for nine weeks and currently has over 1.4 million streams.
Outside the Door will break ground in the smooth jazz genre as the first original recording to utilize and be mixed with the revolutionary immersive Dolby Atmos technology. Its sonic design expands on existing surround sound systems by adding height channels, allowing sounds to be interpreted as three-dimensional objects. The EP will be released in its entirety first to all platforms that support Dolby Atmos, including Apple Music, Tidal, and Amazon.