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Music / Everybody Loves a Happy Ending

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"Here we go, boys and girls."

Everybody Loves a Happy Ending, released in 2004, is the sixth studio album by English progressive pop group Tears for Fears. Released nine years after the band's last album, Raoul and the Kings of Spain, the album saw frontman Roland Orzabal reunite with former bandmate Curt Smith, who had left in 1991 following the Troubled Production of The Seeds of Love. Smith was hesitant to rejoin Tears for Fears for years, and Mercury Records repeatedly pestered him and Orzabal to try and get them to bury the hatchet, to no avail. However, when the two met up again in New York to go over some routine legal paperwork, the two ended up reconciling over dinner, leading the pair to finally start working together again as a duo.

Tying in with its nature as a reunion album, Everybody Loves a Happy Ending revisits the lush, layered style of The Seeds of Love, additionally incorporating the Alternative Rock sounds Orzabal worked with on Elemental and Raoul and the Kings of Spain and modernizing the mixture for the musical landscape of the 2000s. Produced under more mutually favorable terms than The Seeds of Love, it also sees Curt Smith contribute the most to the band's material since Songs from the Big Chair in 1985, co-writing all but four tracks on the album and providing lead vocals on two songs. At the same time, the album marks the start of the band's working relationship with Charlton Pettus, who had previously worked with Smith during his solo career in the '90s. Pettus co-produced the album and, like Smith, co-wrote two thirds of the songs. Pettus would continue to work with the band for subsequent material, including the eventual follow-up to this album, 2022's The Tipping Point.

Released after a long period of inactivity for the band, Everybody Loves a Happy Ending reached No. 10 on the UK Albums chart and a more modest No. 46 on the Billboard 200, becoming the band's first hit album in the US since Elemental in 1993. In light of this, Orzabal and Smith would spend the majority of their time as Tears for Fears on the touring circuit before starting work on The Tipping Point in 2013.

Everybody Loves a Happy Ending was supported by two singles: "Closest Thing to Heaven" and the double-A-side "Everybody Loves a Happy Ending"/"Call Me Mellow".


  1. "Everybody Loves a Happy Ending" (4:21)
  2. "Closest Thing to Heaven" (3:36)
  3. "Call Me Mellow" (3:39)
  4. "Size of Sorrow" (4:43)
  5. "Who Killed Tangerine?" (5:33)
  6. "Quiet Ones" (4:22)
  7. "Who You Are" (3:41)
  8. "The Devil" (3:30)
  9. "Secret World" (5:12)
  10. "Killing With Kindness" (5:25)
  11. "Ladybird" (4:50)
  12. "Last Days on Earth" (5:41)

Bonus tracks on the European release

  1. "Pullin' a Cloud" (2:48)
  2. "Out of Control" (5:08)

Fill the sky with tropes:

  • All There in the Manual: The liner notes list which elements of the totem pole on the cover correspond to which songs. In order, the Title Track is the banner displaying the album name, "Closest Thing to Heaven" is the winged skull, "Call Me Mellow" is the golden jester, "Size of Sorrow" is the man carrying a stack of eyes, "Who Killed Tangerine?" is the tangerine tree branch, "Quiet Ones" is the trio of fish, "Who You Are" is the pair of candles with faces, "The Devil" is... the devil, "Secret World" is the sun in a magician's hat, "Killing With Kindness" is the man wedged through an alarm clock, "Ladybird" is the ladybug, and "Last Days on Earth" is the ladder-shaped tree.
  • Alternate Album Cover: The European limited-edition release features an outer slipcase with unique art depicting the totem pole from the standard album art against a white backdrop instead of blue. The standard artwork still appears on the inlays in the jewel case.
  • Book Ends: A giant sea serpent appears at both the start and end of the music video for "Closest Thing to Heaven".
  • Comfort the Dying: In "Last Days on Earth", the narrator reassures his ailing loved one that he'll be by their side until they pass away.
  • Concept Video: The music video for "Closest Thing to Heaven" portrays an elaborate stage play where a woman is caught in a thunderstorm at sea, flies into the sky and meets fish that swim in the air, then accidentally sends herself crashing back down to the ocean, where she wakes up unharmed. All the while, Orzabal and Smith perform the song in the orchestra booth.
  • Design Student's Orgasm: The album cover is a digital painting depicting an elaborate totem pole of items and characters themed after each song on the tracklist.
  • Eat the Rich: The bridge of "Closest Thing to Heaven" instructs the listener to "eat the countries that are making billions" and "save the crumbs for all the starving millions."
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: Everybody Loves a Happy Ending is the album released after the duo reunited and rekindled their friendship, and it accurately describes their own reaction to this development.
  • Fading into the Next Song:
    • "Everybody Loves a Happy Ending" segues into "Closest Thing to Heaven" with the sound of an orchestra warming up.
    • "Who You Are" leads into "The Devil".
    • "Secret World" segues into "Killing with Kindness" through a clip of Studio Chatter. In turn, the latter hard-cuts into "Ladybird".
  • Floating Water: In the "Closest Thing to Heaven" music video, the play has an upside-down ocean situated above the clouds in the sky.
  • Flying Seafood Special: The music video for "Closest Thing to Heaven" features a scene where Brittany Murphy encounters a school of fish that swim in the air. At the end of the video, she discovers that one of them got caught in her blouse.
  • The Great Flood: The first verse in "Closest Thing to Heaven" describes a flash flood that lasts the entire month of February and submerges the entire world underwater, using it as a metaphor for the grief that follows a breakup.
  • Hidden Track: "Who You Are" features a brief reprise of "Everybody Loves a Happy Ending" after the fadeout.
  • Indecipherable Lyrics: In "Who You Are", the lines "someone's folding paper planes, someone's on the line again" are heavily distorted to the point where it's difficult to determine what they're saying without a lyric sheet on hand.
  • It Was a Dark and Stormy Night: The play in the "Closest Thing to Heaven" music video begins exactly like this: it's nighttime with torrential rain, strong winds, and lightning.
  • Longest Song Goes Last: The album closes with the 5:41 "Last Days on Earth".
  • Loudness War: The album comes in at an average dynamic range of just 5, compared to the '80s albums' DR12-DR13 and the '90s albums' DR9.
  • Lyrical Dissonance: "Last Days on Earth" is a gentle, lullaby-style song about someone undergoing voluntary euthanasia to end their pain.
  • May–December Romance: According to Roland Orzabal, "Call Me Mellow" is about "a middle-aged man who falls in love with a girl half his age."
  • Mercy Kill: In "Last Days on Earth", the narrator's partner is suffering from such awful chronic pain that they decide to be euthanized to end their suffering.
  • New Sound Album: The album presents a modernized take on the Baroque Pop sound of The Seeds of Love, mixing it in with elements from the pop landscape of the 2000s.
  • Night and Day Duo: The duo's astrological link to night and day, previously shown in The Seeds of Love, is revisited in the "Closest Thing to Heaven" music video, the first one which starred both Smith and Orzabal since they revived their musical partnership. The video features nighttime and daytime scenes in a play, and the two band members perform in the orchestra pit, providing the soundtrack to the story unfolding on stage. The significance is that a Cancerian (Smith) and a Leo (Orzabal) have finally found a more harmonious way to create music together while still maintaining their disparate personalities.
  • One-Word Title: "Ladybird".
  • Production Throwback: The song title "Secret World" was taken from "Advice for the Young at Heart".
  • Questioning Title?: "Who Killed Tangerine?"
  • Sea Serpents: In the "Closest Thing to Heaven" music video, a giant sea serpent is seen at the beginning and at the end. Although it roars at Brittany Murphy's character, it doesn't attack her, and later, it swims away from her sailing vessel.
  • Shout-Out:
    • "Ladybird" is adapted from and quotes the British children's song "Ladybird Ladybird", in which a ladybug discovers that all but one of their children died in a house fire.
    • The European bonus track "Out of Control" namedrops Frida Kahlo.
  • Solar and Lunar:
    • An icy moon and fiery sun are prominently displayed on the album cover, respectively representing Curt Smith and Roland Orzabal and tying in with their renewed musical partnership.
    • In the "Closest Thing to Heaven" music video, a crescent moon is part of the starry sky backdrop during the play's nighttime sequence above the storm clouds. When the scene switches to daytime, a stylized sun lights up the backdrop with the blue sky and white clouds. Considering that this was the first music video the band produced after they reunited, it was important to the astrology-minded Orzabal that both the sun and the moon — the rulers of their zodiac signs — be included to denote that his and Smith's Leonine-Cancerian musical partnership has been renewed.
  • Song Style Shift: The Title Track shifts between slow, atmospheric Dream Pop, upbeat Psychedelic Rock, a calm acoustic rock bridge, and a return to the psychedelic style, matching the album's return to the progressive stylings of The Seeds of Love.
  • Special Guest:
    • Fred Eltringham, drummer for The Wallflowers, plays drums on every track on the base album except "Closest Thing to Heaven".
    • Former Sly and the Family Stone violinist Sid Page plays violin on "Secret World".
    • Brittany Murphy starred in the "Closest Thing to Heaven" music video, which is the only time a major Hollywood actor has played a role in the band's promotional materials.
  • Step Up to the Microphone: Curt Smith sings lead vocals on "Size of Sorrow" and "Who You Are".
  • Studio Chatter: At the end of the album version of "Secret World", one can hear clapping in the recording studio and then a faint male voice saying, "Thank you, thank you very much."
  • Title Track: "Everybody Loves a Happy Ending", which opens the album.
  • Uncommon Time: The chorus of "Ladybird" jumps all over the place: two bars of 5/8, one bar of 9/8, two bars of 5/8, then one bar of 6/8. The rest of the song is in standard 6/8.
  • The X of Y: "Size of Sorrow".