Running 6:19, this is the title track to Maiden's 2000 "reunion" album, in which former band members Bruce Dickinson and Adrian Smith returned to write new songs and perform music reminiscent of their "golden era".
The song is based on the 1932 novel by Aldous Huxley about a futuristic, supposedly happy world where everyone is controlled by a totalitarian system that completely and utterly manipulates their feelings and movements. The title was a quote of William Shakespeare's last play, The Tempest from 1612: "How beauteous mankind is! O brave new world, that has such people in't!"
Bruce Dickinson: "The Huxley thing was simply because I thought 'Brave New World' was a cool title for the record, because it sets up this kind of enigma in your head. Like, 'What's it about?' But having hit on a title, I then went, 'Well, we'll write the song about the book,' and so I reread the book and I was pretty scared about how bang-on he was."
The first line describes "Dying swans twisted wings, beauty not needed here." Bruce Dickinson explained: "I remember reading about the extinction of these beautiful cranes in Japan, where the crane's like a national symbol, and nobody cared. And they asked, 'Do you care about all these cranes dying, 'cause of pollution?' And they went, 'Well, we have pictures of them in the museums, we don't care whether they really exist - just as long as the pictures of them exist in some way.' This is fu**in Brave New World." Although there are no dying swans in "Brave New World," Aldous Huxley wrote a book in 1939 called After Many A Summer Dies The Swan, which in turn got its title from the Alfred Lord Tennyson poem Tithonus. Said Dickinson: "I don't recall there being any dying swans in Brave New World the book, but I wanted an image that represented the tragedy and sadness of what Brave New World had done. Dying swans, twisted wings, you know, the agony, the death. Brave New World doesn't want to see that. It has no use for either the life or the death. All it has use for is the image because in the book, if you want excitement you go to the viddies; it's Aldous Huxley's premonition of virtual reality and I'm taking that and throwing it out there for discussion."
The album cover depicted Eddie's menacing face in the stormy clouds over a futuristic London. In the posters for the tour accompanying the album, Eddie's menacing face (now accompanied by long, claw-tipped hands) was now holding the Earth like a crystal ball. Eddie is the band's mascot.
The tour was called the "Brave New World Tour" in most places, but in Europe was called "Metal 2000." Like the "World Slavery Tour", it featured Eddie on stage. One of them was made of wicker (in reference to the first track on the album, "The Wicker Man") and contained young girls ("maidens", get it?). There was also the Eddie from the "Ed Hunter" tour (to promote the band's video game) who appeared during the song "The Evil That Men Do."
Bruce Dickinson replaced Blaze Bayley (real name: Bayley Cook) as lead vocalist. Bayley, a former vocalist for the band Wolfsbane, released some solo albums with his band Blaze and remained friends with the band. On the other hand, guitarist Janick Gers remained, and took turns performing on songs with previous guitarists Dave Murray and Adrian Smith (fresh from his solo project ASAP).
The popular American band Styx had a 1999 album called Brave New World. In the early 1970's, there was a far less successful band in England also called Styx, and Bruce Dickinson was their lead vocalist. A decade later, he joined Iron Maiden.
The cover for their album Rock in Rio, taped at a concert in Brazil, featured the "cloudy Eddie" over the stage where they held the concert.
In 2000, drummer Nicko McBrain said that when he heard the name of former vocalist Blaze Bayley, the words "Elvis has left the building" came to his mind.
Shortly after Dickinson left the band, Kerrang! magazine asked if he would consider a Maiden reunion. Bruce's response: "I don't think it's a realistic possibility, but equally it's not something I'm dead against. A few gigs would be a really good laugh, but I'm not holding my breath." When asked what he thought of Blaze Bayley singing his songs, he replied: "Well, I sang Paul Di'Anno's songs. Blaze is a very courageous guy. It's a difficult job singing those songs. It was difficult enough for me and they were designed for my voice. I think he's done really well - good luck to him." He finally stated that, of all the new Maiden songs, he'd like to trying performing "Futureal" and stated: "Some of Steve's songs are a bugger to sing because the words are incredibly awkward. You want to leave out half of them, basically" (many of Steve's lyrics are inspired by artistic books and movies which many people find no entertainment in). Eventually, Blaze left the band to start his own, and Bruce returned to Maiden. He was allowed to sing "Futureal," as well as several other Blaze songs.
Suggestion credit: Brett - Edmonton, Canada, for all above
The title of this song appears in the lyrics of Iron Maiden's 1986 hit "Stranger in a Strange Land," when Bruce Dickinson sings, "No brave new world, no brave new world." The songs have little resemblance to each other.