Synchronicity (The Police album)

From Infogalactic: the planetary knowledge core
Jump to: navigation, search
Studio album by The Police
Released 17 June 1983
Recorded December 1982 – February 1983
AIR Studios, Montserrat
Le Studio, Quebec, Canada[1]


44:32 (CD and cassette version)
Label A&M
The Police chronology
Ghost in the Machine
(1981)Ghost in the Machine1981
Every Breath You Take: The Singles
(1986)Every Breath You Take: The Singles1986
Singles from Synchronicity
  1. "Every Breath You Take"
    Released: 13 May 1983
  2. "Wrapped Around Your Finger"
    Released: 8 July 1983
  3. "Synchronicity II"
    Released: 21 October 1983
  4. "King of Pain"
    Released: 2 January 1984

Synchronicity is the fifth and final studio album by English rock band The Police, released in the United Kingdom on 17 June 1983.[2] The band's most popular release, the album includes the hit singles "Every Breath You Take," "King of Pain,", "Wrapped Around Your Finger," and "Synchronicity II." Much of the album's material was inspired by Arthur Koestler's The Roots of Coincidence, which inspired the title and concept of the album. At the 1984 Grammy Awards the album was nominated for a total of five awards including Album of the Year and won three. At the time of its release and following its immensely popular tour The Police were hailed as the "Biggest Band in the World".[3][4]

The album was number one on both the UK Albums Chart and the US Billboard 200, and sold over 8 million copies in the US. Synchronicity was widely acclaimed by critics. Praise centred on its cohesive merging of disparate genres and sonic experimentation. The record has featured in numerous publications' lists of the best albums of the 1980s and the best albums of all time. Many consider Synchronicity to be the band's finest album. Rolling Stone described "each cut on Synchronicity is not simply a song but a miniature, discrete soundtrack."[5] It has since been included on their lists of the "100 Best Albums of the Eighties"[6] and the "500 Greatest Albums of All Time".[7]

In 2009, Synchronicity was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. In the 1983 Rolling Stone readers poll, Synchronicity was voted "Album of the Year". In the US, the chart-topping hit "Every Breath You Take" was the best-selling single of 1983 and fifth best-selling single of the decade.


The album's title was inspired by Arthur Koestler's The Roots of Coincidence, which mentions Carl Jung's theory of synchronicity. Sting was an avid reader of Koestler, and also named Ghost in the Machine after one of his works.

The album marked a significant reduction in the reggae influences that were a part of the band's first four records, instead featuring production-heavy textures and liberal use of synthesizers that, at times, drove entire songs ("Synchronicity I," "Wrapped Around Your Finger"). The influence of world music can also be heard in songs such as "Tea in the Sahara" and "Walking in Your Footsteps."

As with their prior album, the basic tracks for Synchronicity were recorded at AIR Studios, Montserrat beginning in December 1982. The three band members recorded their parts in separate rooms: Stewart Copeland with his drums in the dining room, Sting in the control room and Andy Summers in the actual studio. According to co-producer Hugh Padgham this was done for two reasons: to obtain the best sound for each instrument and "for social reasons."[1] Padgham also stated that subsequent overdubs were done with only one member in the studio at a time. The overdubs were done at Le Studio in Quebec during January and February 1983.[1]

During the recording of "Every Breath You Take," Sting and Copeland came to blows with each other, and Padgham nearly quit the project.[1]

The album was published in the UK and US on both LP and CD in 1983, and on Super Audio CD in 2003. In 1989, it was published by Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab as a remastered gold CD.


"Synchronicity I" starts the album off with a sequencer line that repeats throughout the song. Its lyrics include a term from "The Second Coming," "Spiritus Mundi" (literally "spirit of the world"), which William Butler Yeats used to refer to the collective unconscious, another of Jung's theories. "Walking in Your Footsteps" features lyrics concerning the relation between extinct dinosaurs and humans, and is followed by the jazzy "O My God". (The song recycles some lyrics from two earlier Police songs: "Three o' Clock Shit", which was never recorded on an album[note 1] but was widely bootlegged from live performances, and the 1981 single "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic"). "Mother" features screamed vocals by Summers and a frantic guitar line reminiscent of Robert Fripp (with whom Summers had previously recorded), and "Miss Gradenko" is a song about a romance in the middle of a communist bureaucracy.[8] "Synchronicity II" features extensive use of audio feedback.

"Every Breath You Take," which begins side two of the record, is possibly The Police's best-known song, with Sting's vocals on top of a steady rhythm featuring picked guitar, strong bass, and controlled drumming. Originally, the song was what Summers called a "Hammond organ thing that sounded like Billy Preston." The guitarist came up with a more interesting guitar riff which became a distinctive part of the piece. The song, released before the album, went to number 1 on both the US and UK charts, aided by a black and white video directed by Godley & Creme.

"King of Pain" features a lyrical imagery and numerous effects and instruments, while "Wrapped Around Your Finger" uses subdued keyboards. The record's "Tea in the Sahara," is a quiet, eerie song about three women who meet their death in the desert; the song is based on a story from Paul Bowles' novel The Sheltering Sky, and from its French/Italian title, "Un thé au Sahara"/"Un tè nel Sahara". "Murder by Numbers", originally the B-side of "Every Breath You Take," was added to the CD and cassette versions of the album, and has lyrics comparing political power to the development of a serial killer.

The album's original cover artwork was available in 36 variations, with different arrangements of the colour stripes and showing different photographs of the band members, which they took themselves. In the most common version Sting is reading a copy of Jung's "Synchronicity" on the front cover along with a superimposed negative image of the actual text of the synchronicity hypothesis. A photo on the back cover also shows a close-up, but mirrored and upside-down, image of Jung's book.

The original vinyl release was pressed on audiophile vinyl which appears black like most records, but is actually purple or brown when held up to the light.


Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 4.5/5 stars[9]
Chicago Tribune 2.5/4 stars[10]
Rolling Stone 4.5/5 stars[11]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide 4/5 stars[12]
Smash Hits 9/10[13]
The Village Voice B+[14]

Synchronicity topped the album charts in both the UK,[15] and US (interrupting the dominance of Michael Jackson's Thriller in the U.S.). It won a Grammy Award for Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal.

In 2013, the album Synchronicity reached No. 13 in BBC Radio 2's "Top 100 Favourite Albums", a poll voted by over 100,000 people. In 2001, the TV network VH1 named it the 50th greatest album of all time. In 2000, the Virgin All-Time Top 1000 Albums rated Synchronicity at No. 91. In 2005, Channel 4's 100 Greatest Albums ranked the album at No. 65. In 2010 Consequence of Sound composed a list of the Top 100 Albums Ever listed the album at No. 37.

In 2003, the album ranked No. 455 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time while in 2012 Synchronicity was ranked No. 448; one of four of the band's entries on the list.

In 1989, the album was ranked No. 17 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the "100 greatest albums of the 1980s".[6] Pitchfork Media ranked it No. 55 in their list of The 100 Greatest Albums of the 1980s. In 2006, Q magazine placed the album at No. 25 in its list of "40 Best Albums of the '80s".[16]

In 2009, Synchronicity was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame compiled a list of The Definitive 200 Albums of All Time in 2007, listing Synchronicity at No. 119.

Track listing

All songs written and composed by Sting, except where noted. 

Side one
No. Title Length
1. "Synchronicity I"   3:23
2. "Walking in Your Footsteps"   3:36
3. "O My God"   4:02
4. "Mother" (Andy Summers) 3:05
5. "Miss Gradenko" (Stewart Copeland) 2:00
6. "Synchronicity II"   5:00
Side two
No. Title Length
7. "Every Breath You Take"   4:13
8. "King of Pain"   4:59
9. "Wrapped Around Your Finger"   5:13
10. "Tea in the Sahara"   4:11
11. "Murder by Numbers" (Summers, Sting – bonus track on cassette and CD versions only) 4:36



1984 Grammy Awards

Category Nomination
Song of the Year "Every Breath You Take"
Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals
Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal Synchronicity
Album of the Year Synchronicity
Record of the Year "Every Breath You Take"


Year Single Chart Position
1983 "Every Breath You Take" UK Singles Chart 1[15]
Adult Contemporary 5
Club Play Singles 26
Mainstream Rock 1
The Billboard Hot 100 1
"King of Pain" Adult Contemporary 33
Mainstream Rock 1
The Billboard Hot 100 3
"Synchronicity II" UK Singles Chart 17[15]
Mainstream Rock 9
The Billboard Hot 100 16
"Wrapped Around Your Finger" UK Singles Chart 7[15]
Mainstream Rock 9
1984 Adult Contemporary 13
The Billboard Hot 100 8
"King of Pain" UK Singles Chart 17[15]


Sales and certifications

Region Certification Sales/shipments
Canada (Music Canada)[37] Platinum 100,000
France (SNEP)[38] Platinum 472,100[39]
Germany (BVMI)[40] Gold 250,000
Japan (Oricon Charts) 175,000[23]
Hong Kong (IFPI Hong Kong)[41] Gold 15,000
United Kingdom (BPI)[42] Platinum 300,000
United States (RIAA)[43] 8× Platinum 8,000,000

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone


  1. Though no proper album recording of "Three O'Clock Shit" exists, a live recording by the band Strontium 90 was eventually released on Strontium 90: Police Academy, with its title censored as "Three O'Clock Shot".


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Buskin, Richard (March 2004). "Classic Tracks: The Police's 'Every Breath You Take'". Sound on Sound. Cambridge, England: SOS Publications: 136–40. 
  2. "Police cancel all leave". NME: 36. 11 June 1983. 
  3. "'Whatever we do, this will always be the seminal band' ". The Guardian. Retrieved 27 January 2015
  4. "Police play Shea Stadium". BBC. Retrieved 26 January 2014
  5. "Synchronicity". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 25 January 2015. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 "100 Best Albums of the Eighties". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 25 January 2015. 
  7. "500 Greatest Albums of All Time". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 25 January 2015. 
  8. "Stewart Copeland's AOL transcript". 22 June 1995. 
  9. Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Synchronicity – The Police". AllMusic. Retrieved 13 November 2015. 
  10. Kot, Greg (7 March 1993). "Feeling A Sting". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 10 November 2015. 
  11. Holden, Stephen (23 June 1983). "Synchronicity". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 13 November 2015. 
  12. Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian, eds. (2004). "The Police". The New Rolling Stone Album Guide (4th ed.). Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0-743-20169-8. 
  13. Dellar, Fred (23 June 1983). "Review: The Police – Synchronicity". Smash Hits. London: 13. 
  14. Christgau, Robert (26 July 1983). "Christgau's Consumer Guide". The Village Voice. Retrieved 13 November 2015. 
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 15.3 15.4 15.5 "The Police > Artists > Official Charts". UK Albums Chart. Retrieved 1 May 2014. 
  16. "40 Best Albums of the '80s". Q. London, England: EMAP (241): 84–89. August 2006. 
  17. 17.0 17.1 17.2 Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992. St Ives, NSW: Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-11917-6. 
  18. "The Police – Synchronicity –" (ASP). Retrieved 1 May 2014. 
  19. "Top Albums/CDs – Volume 38, No. 20" (PHP). RPM. 16 July 1983. Retrieved 1 May 2014. 
  20. " The Police – Synchronicity" (ASP). MegaCharts. Retrieved 1 May 2014. 
  21. "InfoDisc : Tous les Albums classés par Artiste > Choisir Un Artiste Dans la Liste" (PHP). Retrieved 1 May 2014.  Note: user must select 'the POLICE' from drop-down.
  22. 22.0 22.1 "Hit Parade Italia – Gli album più venduti del 1983" (in Italian). Retrieved 1 May 2014. 
  23. 23.0 23.1 Oricon Album Chart Book: Complete Edition 1970–2005. Roppongi, Tokyo: Oricon Entertainment. 2006. ISBN 4-87131-077-9. 
  24. " The Police – Synchronicity" (ASP). Recording Industry Association of New Zealand. Retrieved 1 May 2014. 
  25. " The Police – Synchronicity" (ASP). Retrieved 1 May 2014. 
  26. " The Police – Synchronicity" (ASP). Sverigetopplistan. Retrieved 1 May 2014. 
  27. "The Police – Synchronicity –" (ASP). Retrieved 1 May 2014. 
  28. "Allmusic: Synchronicity: Chart & Awards". Retrieved 1 May 2014. 
  29. "Album Search: The Police – Synchronicity" (ASP) (in German). Media Control. Retrieved 1 May 2014. 
  30. "RPM Top 100 Albums of 1983". RPM. 24 December 1984. Retrieved 1 May 2013. 
  31. "Dutch charts jaaroverzichten 1983" (in Dutch). Retrieved 1 May 2014. 
  32. "Les Albums (CD) de 1983 par InfoDisc" (PHP) (in French). Retrieved 29 January 2012. 
  33. " UK Year-End Album Charts". Retrieved 31 January 2014. 
  34. "Billboard BIZ: Top Pop Albums of 1983". Archived from the original on 31 December 2012. Retrieved 1 May 2014. 
  35. "RPM Top 100 Albums of 1984". RPM. 5 January 1985. Retrieved 12 March 2012. 
  36. "Billboard BIZ: Top Pop Albums of 1984". Archived from the original on 31 December 2012. Retrieved 1 May 2014. 
  37. "Canadian album certifications – The Police – Synchronicity". Music Canada. Retrieved 13 September 2012. 
  38. "French album certifications – The Police – Synchronicity" (in French). InfoDisc.  Select THE POLICE and click OK
  39. "Les Albums Platine :" (in French). Retrieved 13 September 2012. 
  40. "Gold-/Platin-Datenbank (The Police; 'Synchronicity')" (in German). Bundesverband Musikindustrie. Retrieved 13 September 2012. 
  41. "IFPIHK Gold Disc Award − 1984". IFPI Hong Kong. 
  42. "British album certifications – Police – Synchronicity". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 13 September 2012.  Enter Synchronicity in the field Keywords. Select Title in the field Search by. Select album in the field By Format. Select Platinum in the field By Award. Click Search
  43. "American album certifications – Police, The – Synchronicity". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved 13 September 2012.  If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH