Skip to main content

The 40 greatest synth sounds of all time, No 19: Europe - The Final Countdown

Inspired by Bowie’s Space Oddity, Joey Tempest of the Swedish band Europe wrote the main riff for The Final Countdown on a borrowed Korg Polysix way back in ‘81, eventually demoing it for his bandmates in ‘85.

They weren’t impressed, with guitarist John Norum singling out the now-iconic synth intro as a sticking point. Luckily, Tempest stood his ground and the band cut the song, on which the keyboardist employed a Roland JX-8P and a preset from a Yamaha TX816 to create the opening fanfare. 

The band never intended Countdown to become the lead single from the album of the same name. Their label had other ideas, and it was released to a rapturous record-buying public, eventually scaling to an impressive number 8 on Billboard’s Hot 100. 

Europe Synth Sounds

(Image credit: Future)

Step 1: Starting with Dune CM’s Init Patch, we set our Osc Mix to 55% and Osc 3’s level to 39%.   Opening Mod Matrix 1>12, we set both Source 2 and 3 to Mod Env. Dest 1 is Osc 1 Fine, and Amount 2 +50. Dest 2 is Osc 2 Fine, Amount 2 at -50. Source 4 and 5 are LFO 1 and LFO2, respectively.

Europe Synth Sounds

(Image credit: Future)

Step 2: Dest 4 and 5 are Osc 1 FIne and Osc 2 Fine, respectively. Amount 4 is +5, Amount 5 is -7. LFO1’s Rate is 0.2 Hz, LFO2’s is 0.1. In the Filter, Cutoff is 37%, Env is 75%. Key Track is 36%. Amp Env’s Attack is 19%. Filter Env’s Attack is 26%, Decay should be 18%, and Sustain will be 66%.

Europe Synth Sounds

(Image credit: Future)

Step 3: The Mod Env’s Attack and Decay should both be set to 30%, Sustain shut off. Not bad, but go back to the Filter and select LP Ladder 12dB for a vintage sound. Put PSP’s cmDelay on, with ¼-note synced echoes, the Wet signal down. A bit of Acon Digital CM Verb might be nice, too!