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 (opens in new tab) 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 (opens in new tab) and a preset from a Yamaha TX816 (opens in new tab) 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.
Step 1: Starting with Dune CM’s (opens in new tab) 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.
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%.
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 (opens in new tab) on, with ¼-note synced echoes, the Wet signal down. A bit of Acon Digital CM Verb (opens in new tab) might be nice, too!