|The Final Countdown|
It is the band's most recognizable and popular song. The song reached No. 1 in 25 countries, including the United Kingdom. In the United States the song peaked at No. 8 on the Billboard Hot 100 and 18 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks chart. The single was certified gold in the United Kingdom in 1986.
The song was based on an old keyboard riff that vocalist Joey Tempest had written as early as 1981–82,on a Korg Polysix keyboard he borrowed from keyboardist Mic Michaeli. In 1985, bassist John Levén suggested that Tempest should write a song based on that riff. Tempest recorded a demo version of the song and played it for the other band members. At first the members expressed mixed reactions to it. "When I first heard the synth intro to 'The Final Countdown', my reaction was: 'No, this is nuts. We just can't use this,'" guitarist John Norum said, "Thank God they didn't listen to me." "Some of the guys in the band thought it was too different for a rock band," Tempest said, "But in the end I fought hard to make sure it got used."
The song's lyrics were inspired by David Bowie's song "Space Oddity". The sound of the keyboard riff used in the recording was achieved by using a Yamaha TX-816 rack unit and a Roland JX-8P synthesizer. "I made a brassy sound from the JX-8P and used a factory sound from the Yamaha, and just layered them together," Michaeli said.
When it was time to choose the first single from the album The Final Countdown, Tempest suggested the song "The Final Countdown". Originally the band had never planned to release the song as a single, and some members wanted "Rock the Night" to be the first single. "The Final Countdown" was written to be an opening song for concerts, and they never thought it would be a hit. But when their record company Epic Records suggested that it should be the first single, the band decided to release it.