Europe PhotoFORMED: 1981

Originally a progressive rock group, Europe didn't achieve any success until they reworked their sound into a bombastic yet melodic pop-metal. In their first incarnation, the Swedish band was called Force. The band -- featuring the core members Joey Tempest (vocals), John Norum (guitar), and John Leven (bass) -- won a national talent contest in the early '80s, which led to a record contract.

After releasing two albums in Sweden (Europe and Wings of Tomorrow), the band landed an international deal with Epic Records. By this time, Norum had left the group and was replaced by Kee Marcello; drummer Ian Haughland and keyboardist Michael Michaeli also joined the lineup.

Rechristening themselves Europe, the band released The Final Countdown in 1986. On the album, Michaeli's keyboards took a prominent role (they provide the main riff in the hit title track), which nicely complimented the band's smoother pop melodies. The change in style proved successful, as the record became a Top Ten hit in the U.S. and U.K.; both "The Final Countdown" and "Carrie" became Top Ten singles, as well.

Delivered two years later, Out of This World continued the formula of the previous record. It also was a success, although its numbers didn't match those of The Final Countdown. Two years later, Europe released their final album, Prisoners of Paradise, to little attention. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine, All Music Guide