2112 is the fourth studio album by the Canadian Progressive Rock band Rush, released in 1976. The album counts as the band's Breakthrough Hit, and saved the band's record contract at a point during which they were in danger of getting dropped from their label. The record label had asked the band to move in a more commercially friendly and accessible direction, but Rush disregarded this request and constructed the album around the twenty-minute Title Track, a Science Fiction Rock Opera about a dystopian future. "2112" has since become one of Rush's Signature Songs, and the album is considered the point where Rush grew the beard.
The album is sometimes called a Concept Album, but only the first side really qualifies. Lyricist Neil Peart began writing lyrics for the title suite without any specific inspiration in mind, but upon finishing it, noted that it had substantial similarities to Ayn Rand's novella Anthem. This prompted him to add a note that Rand had inspired the piece in the original liner notes to the album, since he did not want to plagiarise. This eventually became a case of Never Live It Down, particularly after Peart's political leanings grew more distant from Rand's. Peart eventually removed the note in reissues of the album.
The album has been well received overall and remains one of Rush's most popular and well-liked albums among fans. The title track is particularly popular, while "A Passage to Bangkok" and "Something for Nothing" remain other fan favourites.
- Geddy Lee lead vocals, bass guitar
- Alex Lifeson electric and acoustic guitar
- Neil Peart drums, percussion
- Hugh Syme ARP Odyssey intro on "2112", mellotron on "Tears"
- "2112" (20:34)
- "Overture" (4:33)
- "The Temples of Syrinx" (2:12)
- "Discovery" (3:29)
- "Presentation" (3:43)
- "Oracle: The Dream" (2:00)
- "Soliloquy" (2:21)
- "Grand Finale" (2:17)
- "A Passage to Bangkok" (3:32)
- "The Twilight Zone" (3:16)
- "Lessons" (3:51)
- "Tears" (3:30)
- "Something for Nothing" (3:59)
We are the tropes of the temples of Syrinx
- All There in the Manual: The lyrics for "2112" provide additional context for the events of the story, although they're not really necessary to get the gist of what's going on.
- As the Good Book Says...: The only lines in "Overture" are "And the meek shall inherit the earth".
- Author Tract: Peart's lyrics often come across this way, but they're generally endearingly so.
- Bittersweet Ending: The intended interpretation of the ending of "2112": the protagonist is Driven to Suicide, but the Elder Race from his dreams comes and overthrows the oppressive dystopia of the setting.
- Breather Episode: "Tears"
- Broken Record and Rule of Three: "Grand Finale" ends with a voice saying "Attention all planets of the Solar Federation" three times, followed by "We have assumed control" three times.
- Despair Event Horizon: The protagonist of "2112" after his guitar is smashed, and then even more so after dreaming of a better world.
- Distinct Single Album: The first side is given over to the title track, and the five songs on the other side are unrelated to its story. This was not the first time Rush did that and it would not be the last; other examples can be found on Caress Of Steel and Hemispheres.
- Dramatic Irony: The protagonist of "2112" is Driven to Suicide after reaching the conclusion that the events depicted in his dream would never occur. After this, said events occur exactly the way he dreamed them.
- Driven to Suicide: Again, the protagonist of "2112".
- Dystopia: "2112"
- Epic Instrumental Opener: "Overture" has no lyrics until the very end.
- Epic Rocking: The 20:34 title track, probably the most famous example in the band's discography and one of the most famous in the history of progressive rock. It remains the longest single track in their discography.
- Erudite Stoner: The lyrics to "A Passage to Bangkok" describe a number of locations that at the time were associated with drug tourism and contain several not very subtle Double Entendres about marijuana use, although they refrain from explicitly naming any drugs. They are still quite witty and allusive, as most of Peart's lyrics are.
- Fading into the Next Song: "2112" often feels like an example of this, because the distinctions between the movements are usually quite pronounced. However, most CD releases of the album have it indexed as a single track.
- Filk Song: "The Twilight Zone" about, well, The Twilight Zone.
- Grand Finale: The movement named, well, "Grand Finale".
- Hypocrite: The Priests of the Temple of Syrinx go on about "equality, our stock and trade", but they're the only ones allowed to play guitar.
- Last Note Nightmare: While it depicts what ends up qualifying as a Bittersweet Ending, the ending of "2112" is musically rather unsettling, with spoken word in a robotic monotone and some fairly chaotic dissonance.
- Limited Lyrics Song: The line listed above in As the Good Book Says... is the only one in "Overture", and the ones in Broken Record are the only ones in "Grand Finale".
- Or Was It a Dream?: As mentioned above, the events depicted in the protagonist's dream in "2112" end up coming true.
- Record Producer: Rush and Terry Brown.
- Revised Ending: The rerelease's motion comic music 2112 portrays what's probably the most optimist interpretation of the song's Ambiguous Ending. Rather than the protagonist committing suicide right before the Elder Humans arrived, their arrival interrupts his suicide, and he watches from the waterfall cave as they carpet bomb the Temple of Syrinx.
- Rock Me, Amadeus! and Standard Snippet: "2112" quotes the 1812 Overture by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. "A Passage to Bangkok" quotes what has been referred to as the Oriental riff, which first appeared in an Aladdin stage show, The Grand Chinese Spectacle of Aladdin or The Wonderful Lamp.
- Rock Opera: The title track.
- Spoken Word in Music: The lyrics in "Grand Finale" are spoken.
- Surprisingly Gentle Song: "Tears"
- Whole Plot Reference: As mentioned above, Peart felt 2112 was this to Anthem, which explains the credit in the original album. However, Anthem itself was one to We and several other dystopian classics, so the borrowing dates back quite some way. It's a fairly standard dystopian plot.