"2 Minutes to Midnight" is the tenth single released by Iron Maiden and the second track from their 1984 album Powerslave. The single was released on August 6, 1984 and rose to number 11 in the UK Singles Chart. The song was written by Adrian Smith and Bruce Dickinson.
The song has references to the Doomsday Clock, the symbolic clock used by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. In September 1953 the clock reached 11:58, the closest the clock ever got to midnight. This occurred when the United States and Soviet Union tested H-bombs within nine months of one another. This song is clearly presenting an anti-war view. The first guitar solo is played by Dave Murray followed by a guitar solo played by Adrian Smith.
The first B-side is a cover of British progressive rock band Beckett's "Rainbow's Gold".
Another B-side, entitled "Mission from 'Arry", is a recording of an argument between bassist Steve Harris and drummer Nicko McBrain. The argument happened after a show in Allentown, Pennsylvania during the band's World Piece Tour, and occurred due to a misunderstanding on stage between the two due to technical issues with Harris' bass, which had led to McBrain's drum solo going wrong. Vocalist Bruce Dickinson was recording the argument with a concealed tape recorder.
The video of the song is featured on the 2003 video collection Visions of the Beast.
The song was included in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City.
United States Ambassador Ryan Crocker has a poster of the album in his office.
The guitar riff in the beginning has been adapted in many other metal songs including: "Welcome to Hell" by Venom, "Hellbound" by Tygers of Pan Tang, "Flash Rockin' Man" by Accept and "Live Fast Die Young" by Saxon.
The song was covered by the all-female tribute band The Iron Maidens on their self-titled debut album. It was also covered in 2008 by Glamour Of The Kill on the tribute CD Maiden Heaven: A Tribute to Iron Maiden released by Kerrang! magazine.
The song is 5 minutes and 59 seconds long, which when doubled yields 11:58, just as the time the song describes.
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