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The 40 greatest synth sounds of all time, No 27: Tears For Fears - Everybody Wants To Rule The World

Tackling themes of power, corruption and the Cold War, this was a massive hit for UK band Tears for Fears in 1985. The song combined new wave and synth pop influences, featuring heavy use of synths plus a sprinkling of guitar.

Upon release, the song went to number two in the UK charts, as well as scoring a number one in the US Billboard top 100 and being played over six million times on the radio.

A selection of iconic synthesisers and samplers – such as Yamaha’s DX7 – was used to make the various synth parts, with the Sequential Instruments Prophet T-8 being called upon for the brass chord sound. 

For our take on this classic synth sound however, we’ll be using ThornCM.

Tears For Fears Synth Sound

(Image credit: Future)

Step 1: First, set Osc 1’s waveform to Pulse 1. Then, turn on Osc 2 and select Pulse 2 for the waveform. A little detuning will help to get the rich sound we’re looking for, so set Osc 1’s Detuning to 10, with Osc 2’s set to -8. Next, set the FX for both oscs to FM, with the amount at 15%.

Tears For Fears Synth Sound

(Image credit: Future)

Step 2: Use the filter envelope to shape the sound to resemble brass more. Set the Filter to Clean LP, with Cutoff at around 900Hz. Push the Env 1 Amount to 40%, so that envelope 1 controls the filter. Set the Decay to around 60%, with the Sustain at 10%, opening/closing the filter nicely.

Tears For Fears Synth Sound

(Image credit: Future)

Step 3: Increase the Amp Env Attack to 10%, and release to 50%. This’ll take some sharpness from the start of the sound, while letting it ring out like the original. Add a little chorus using HY-FX CM. Reduce the Chorus Depth to around 10 o’clock, then set the Wet/Dry to roughly 25%.