In the Year 2525"In the Year 2525" is a 1968 hit song by the American pop-rock duo of Zager and Evans. It reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 for six weeks commencing July 12, 1969. It peaked at number one in the UK Singles Chart for three weeks in August and September that year. The song was written and composed by Rick Evans in 1964 and originally released on a small regional record label (Truth Records) in 1968. It was later picked up by RCA. Zager and Evans disbanded in 1971.
Zager and Evans were one-hit wonders, recording artists who had a number one hit and then never had another chart single. They did this in both the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 and the UK Singles Chart and , they are the only artists ever to have a chart-topping #1 hit on both sides of the Atlantic and never have another chart single in Billboard or in the UK for the rest of their career. Their follow-up single on RCA-Victor, "Mr. Turnkey", failed to enter the main music charts on either side of the Atlantic Ocean. Another single, "Listen to the People", managed to make the bottom slot of the Cashbox chart at number 100.
Summary"In the Year 2525" opens with an introductory verse explaining that if mankind has survived to that point, he would witness the subsequent events in the song. Subsequent verses pick up the story at 1,010-year intervals from 3535 to 6565. In each succeeding millennium, life becomes increasingly sedentary and automated: thoughts are pre-programmed into pills for people to consume, machines take over all work, resulting in eyes, teeth, and limbs losing their purposes, and marriage becomes obsolete since children are conceived in test tubes. Then the pattern as well as the music changes, going up a half step in the key of the song (chromatic modulation), after two stanzas, first from A-flat minor, to A minor.
For the final three millennia, now in B flat minor, the tone of the song turns apocalyptic: the year 7510 marks the date by which the Second Coming will have happened, and the Last Judgment occurs one millennium later. By 9595, with the song now in B minor, the Earth becomes completely depleted of resources, potentially resulting in the death of all life.
The song ends in the year 10,000. By that time, man has become extinct. But the song notes that in another solar system (or universe), the scenarios told in the song may still be playing out, as the beginning of the song repeats and the recording fades out.
The overriding theme, of a world doomed by its passive acquiescence to and overdependence on its own overdone technologies, struck a resonant chord in millions of people around the world in the late 1960s. The song was #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart during the Apollo 11 moon landing.
RecordingThe song was recorded primarily in one take in 1968, at a studio in a cow pasture in Odessa, Texas. Members of the Odessa Symphony also participated in the recording.
The record had regional success so RCA picked it up for a national release. Record producer Ethel Gabriel was tasked with enhancing the sound and arrangement. The track went to number 1 on the U.S. charts within three weeks of release.
LegacyThe song has been covered at least 60 times in seven languages and was included in a Clear Channel memorandum, distributed by Clear Channel Communications to every radio station owned by the company, which contained 165 songs considered to be "lyrically questionable" following the September 11, 2001, attacks.
In a later Zager and Evans song, "Yeah 3" (1970), the group sing about writing a song called "In the Year 2525 or something like that/and if it sells, then I'll do well and pay this woman back". ("Yeah 3" was released as the B-side of "Help One Man Today", which like all of their post-"2525" releases failed to chart in the US or the UK.)
The song is parodied as "In the Year 252525" in the seventh episode of Futurama's sixth season, "The Late Philip J. Fry", as Fry, Professor Farnsworth and Bender travel forwards through time to find a period in which the backwards time machine has been invented. A re-tooled version was used as the theme song for the TV series Cleopatra 2525, set aptly in the year 2525.