"2 Minutes to Midnight" is a song by the English heavy metal band Iron Maiden, featured on their fifth studio album, Powerslave (1984). It was released as the band's tenth single, and first from the album on 6 August 1984. It rose to number 11 on the UK Singles Chart and number 25 on Billboard Top Album Tracks. The band's first single to exceed five minutes in length, it remained their longest until the release of "Infinite Dreams" in November 1989.

"2 Minutes to Midnight"
Single by Iron Maiden
from the album Powerslave
  • "Rainbow's Gold" (Beckett cover)
  • "Mission from 'Arry"
Released6 August 1984 (1984-08-06)
StudioCompass Point (Nassau, Bahamas)
GenreHeavy metal[1]
Producer(s)Martin Birch
Iron Maiden singles chronology
"The Trooper"
"2 Minutes to Midnight"
"Aces High"
Music video
"2 Minutes to Midnight" on YouTube

Synopsis Edit

A protest song about nuclear war, "2 Minutes to Midnight" was written by Adrian Smith and Bruce Dickinson. The song attacks the commercialisation of war and how it is used to fuel the global economy ("The golden goose is on the loose and never out of season"), how rich politicians profit directly from it ("as the reasons for the carnage cut their meat and lick the gravy") and how after a war concludes, the world is left in a far worse condition than before the war began, resulting in future wars and the development of more powerful weaponry ("to the tune of starving millions to make a better kind of gun").

The song title references the Doomsday Clock, the symbolic clock used by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, which represents a countdown to potential global catastrophe. In September 1953 the clock reached two minutes to midnight, the closest it ever got to midnight in the 20th century,[2] when the United States and Soviet Union tested H-bombs within nine months of one another.[3] The atomic clock, set at 12 minutes to midnight in 1972, regressed thereafter among US–Soviet tensions, reaching three minutes to midnight in 1984 – the year this track was released – and at that time the most dangerous clock reading since 1953.[4] According to Dickinson, the song critically addresses "the romance of war" in general rather than the Cold War in particular.[5]

The promotional video was filmed in Poland in around 1984. Directed by Tony Halton, the band showcased their new stage for their new tour coming around with the band playing being cropped to HD ratio mixed with footages about politics and soldiers. The alternate version of the band performing the song was featured in the Australian TV show Rage without the addition of the music video footages.

"Rainbow's Gold" Edit

The first B-side is a cover of British progressive rock band Beckett's "Rainbow's Gold", which was featured on their self-titled album released in 1974. The song was written by Terry Slesser and Kenny Mountain, respectively the band's vocalist and guitarist. On the original release, it is titled "A Rainbow's Gold".[6]

According to Nicko McBrain, commenting on the single in "Listen with Nicko Part VI" (as part of The First Ten Years series), the members of Iron Maiden were friends with members of Beckett.

The band's manager, Rod Smallwood, commented this version: "This was originally done by a band called Beckett who the band liked a lot. Adrian used to do a cover of another of their songs 'Rainclouds' in his band 'Evil Ways'. Beckett were from Newcastle and had a great singer called Terry Wilson Slesser (incidentally I was Beckett's agent prior to meeting Maiden)."[7]

"Mission from 'Arry" Edit

Another B-side, entitled "Mission from 'Arry", is a recording of an argument between bassist Steve Harris and drummer Nicko McBrain, which took place after a show in Allentown, Pennsylvania, during the band's World Piece Tour.[5] During the concert, Harris' bass gear broke down, so he asked the nearest roadie to tell McBrain to extend his drum solo. The crew member was unable to communicate the message effectively, which unfortunately distracted McBrain and had a negative impact on his solo, causing him to yell at the roadie afterwards.[5] Vocalist Bruce Dickinson states that he found the ensuing argument so amusing that he decided to record it with a concealed tape recorder.[5][8] When the tape was played in front of the band, they found it so hilarious that they decided to put it as a B-side for the 12" single of the title track (2 Minutes to Midnight).

Track listing Edit

7" single
Side one
1."2 Minutes to Midnight"Adrian Smith, Bruce Dickinson6:04
Side two
2."Rainbow's Gold" (Beckett Cover)Terry Slesser, Kenny Mountain4:57
Total length:11:01
12" single
Side one
1."2 Minutes to Midnight"Smith, Dickinson6:04
Side two
2."Rainbow's Gold" (Beckett Cover)Slesser, Mountain4:57
3."Mission From 'Arry"Steve Harris, Nicko McBrain6:40
Total length:17:41

Personnel Edit

Production credits are adapted from the 7-inch vinyl,[9] and 12-inch vinyl covers.[10]

Iron Maiden

Cover versions Edit

Year Artist Album
1988 Decameron Made in Tribute: A Tribute to the Best Band in a Whole Goddamn World
1999 Deceased A Call To Irons Vol. 2
2005 The Iron Maidens World's Only Female Tribute to Iron Maiden
2005 Joe Lynn Turner, Richie Kotzen, Bob Kulick, Tony Franklin, Chris Slade Numbers From The Beast
2005 Primal Fear A Tribute to the Beast, Vol. 2
2008 Glamour of the Kill Maiden Heaven: A Tribute to Iron Maiden
2012 Maiden uniteD Across The Seventh Sea

Appearances in other media Edit

  • It is featured in 2002 video game Grand Theft Auto: Vice City on the in-game radio station V-Rock.
  • It appears as a playable track in 2009 music video game Guitar Hero 5, but is heavily censored, due to lyrics referring to the killing of children and abortion.
  • It is downloadable content for Rock Band console games.

Chart performance Edit

Single Chart (1984) Peak
"2 Minutes to Midnight" German Singles Chart 70[11] Powerslave
Irish Singles Chart 10[12]
UK Singles Chart 11[13]
Single Chart (1990) Peak
"2 Minutes to Midnight" / "Aces High" UK Albums Chart[note 1] 11[14]

See also Edit

Notes Edit

  1. ^ Re-release of both singles as part of The First Ten Years box set. Exceeded the length limit of the UK Singles chart.

References Edit

  1. ^ Rivadavia, Eduardo (23 April 2015). "Iron Maiden Albums Ranked Worst to Best". Ultimate Classic Rock. Retrieved 5 August 2021.
  2. ^ "Doomsday Clock". Thebulletin.org.
  3. ^ "Doomsday Clock Timeline". Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. Retrieved 15 October 2012.
  4. ^ "Timeline". Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. Retrieved 7 July 2017.
  5. ^ a b c d "The History of Iron Maiden part 2". Live After Death (DVD). EMI. 4 February 2008.
  6. ^ "Beckett's 1974 self-titled album". Rateyourmusic.com. Retrieved 15 October 2012.
  7. ^ Smallwood, Rod (2002). Best of the 'B' Sides (Media notes). Iron Maiden. EMI.
  8. ^ Noguera, Anthony (May 1992). "B-Side Or Be Dead". Metal Attack "Iron Maiden Special". London: Rock Team Publishing And Productions Ltd.
  9. ^ "2 Minutes to Midnight" 7 Inch Single (Media notes). Iron Maiden. EMI. 6 August 1984.{{cite AV media notes}}: CS1 maint: others in cite AV media (notes) (link)
  10. ^ "2 Minutes to Midnight" 12 Inch Single (Media notes). Iron Maiden. EMI. 6 August 1984.{{cite AV media notes}}: CS1 maint: others in cite AV media (notes) (link)
  11. ^ "Offizielle Deutsche Charts" (in German). offiziellecharts.de. Retrieved 1 November 2021.
  12. ^ "Irish Singles". IRMA. Irishcharts.ie. Retrieved 1 October 2011.
  13. ^ "Top 40 Official Singles Chart UK Archive 25 August 1984". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 27 August 2013.
  14. ^ "Top 40 Official UK Albums Archive 31 March 1990". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 3 October 2011.