Everybody's Happy Nowadays

Album: Singles Going Steady (1979)
Charted: 29

Songfacts®:

  • This song is based on a the 1932 Aldous Huxley novel Brave New World, in which culture and art have been excised from society, leaving the populace in a mindless state of contentment and pharmaceutical bliss. One character says: "I am free. Free to have the most wonderful time. Everybody's happy nowadays."

    In the song, the singer has relieved his misery by entering a similar state where "Life's an illusion, love is a dream." It starts with him explaining:

    I was so tired of being upset
    Always wanting something I never could get
    Life's an illusion love is a dream
    But I don't know what it is


    At the end of the song, it switches voice, with the singer imparting his newfound understanding:

    Bet you are tired of being upset
    Always wanting something you never can get
    Life's no illusion love's not a dream
    Now I know just what it is
  • Buzzcocks lead singer Pete Shelley wrote this song. "I've come to the idea that nothing exists," he told Sounds regarding the meaning behind it. "There is no world. Or it doesn't really matter if there is. The way I'm affected by things is the way by which I want them to affect me."
  • The group is from England, where they had most of their success with rock songs like this one that were both melodic and subversive. "Everybody's Happy Nowadays" became one of their most popular songs, but also alienated some of their hard-core fans who felt it was a sell-out to pop.
  • In 2007, this was used in a commercial for the AARP showing spry, mature adults frolicking at a birthday party. The tagline: "An organization for people who have birthdays."

    The commercial is a literal take on the song, missing the meaning completely. And that was OK with Pete Shelley and Buzzcocks guitarist Steve Diggle. "I thought, it's going to be bad for our image - it's for old people," Diggle told the Christian Science Monitor. "Then... I realized it was for people 50 and over and I realized me and Pete are over 50."

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