Synchronicity (The Police album)

Synchronicity is the fifth and final studio album by the Police, released in the United Kingdom on 17 June 1983.[2] The band's most successful release, the album includes the hit singles "Every Breath You Take", "King of Pain", "Wrapped Around Your Finger", and "Synchronicity II". The album's title and much of the material for the songs were inspired by Arthur Koestler's The Roots of Coincidence. 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 tour the Police were hailed as the "Biggest Band in the World".[3][4]

Studio album by
Released17 June 1983
RecordedDecember 1982 – February 1983
StudioAIR Studios, Montserrat
Le Studio, Quebec[1]
44:18 (CD and cassette version)
The Police chronology
Ghost in the Machine
Every Breath You Take: The Singles
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

The album reached number one on both the UK Albums Chart and the U.S. Billboard 200, and sold over eight million copies in the U.S. Synchronicity was widely acclaimed by critics. Praise centred on its cohesive merging of disparate genres and sonic experimentation. Rolling Stone described "each cut on Synchronicity [as] 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".


The album's title was inspired by Arthur Koestler's The Roots of Coincidence. Sting was an avid reader of Koestler, and also titled 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–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 U.S. 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.


The album's original cover artwork, conceived by Jeff Ayeroff and Norman Moore, was available in 36 variations, with different arrangements of the colour stripes and showing different photographs of the band members, taken by Duane Michals.[8] 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 when held up to the light.

Critical reception

Professional ratings
Review scores
The Baltimore Sun[10]
Chicago Tribune[11]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music[12]
Rolling Stone[5]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide[15]
Smash Hits9/10[16]
The Village VoiceB+[17]

Richard Cook of NME called Synchronicity "a record of real passion that is impossible to truly decipher", and felt that "although [the album] magnifies the difference between Sting and Summers and Copeland it also evolves the group into a unique state: a mega-band playing off glittering experimentation against the sounding board of a giant audience. It's the sound of a group coming apart and coming together, a widescreen drama with a fascination at a molecular level. Some of the music fuses intuitive pop genius with willfully dense orchestration so powerfully it stuns. It is occasionally sensational."[18]

In Melody Maker Adam Sweeting was less enthusiastic, saying, "I would guess that devotees of this extremely sussed trio will find plenty to amuse them, and indeed Sting has sown all sorts of cryptic little clues and messages throughout his songs... However impressive bits of Synchronicity sound, I could never fall in love with a group which plans its moves so carefully and which would never do anything just for the hell of it".[19]

Reviewing the 2003 reissue, Mojo's David Buckley stated that "Synchronicity [...] was already, in the time-honoured words of rock journo cliché, 'the work of a disintegrating unit', yet 20 years on it hangs together well".[13]


Synchronicity topped the album charts in both the UK[20] and the U.S. for 17 nonconsecutive weeks (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.[21]

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 which 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; it was 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] In 2002, on Pitchfork Media's list of the "Top 100 Albums of the 1980s" it ranked at No. 55. In 2006, Q magazine placed the album at No. 25 in its list of "40 Best Albums of the '80s".[22]

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.

The album was included in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.[23]

Paste named it at sixth in their list "The 50 Best New Wave Albums."[24] The album was ranked by the same magazine at #17 in the list "The 50 Best Post-Punk Albums."[25]

Track listing

All tracks are written by Sting, except where noted.

Side one
1."Synchronicity I" 3:23
2."Walking in Your Footsteps" 3:36
3."O My God" 4:02
4."Mother"Andy Summers3:05
5."Miss Gradenko"Stewart Copeland2:00
6."Synchronicity II" 5:00
Side two
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" (Released on cassette and CD versions but omitted on some LP pressings)Summers, Sting4:36


The Police

  • Sting – lead and backing vocals, bass guitar, upright bass, keyboards, drum machine & sequencer on "Synchronicity I", saxophone on "O My God", oboe on "Mother" and "Tea in the Sahara"
  • Andy Summers – electric guitars, backing vocals, keyboards, lead vocals on "Mother"
  • Stewart Copeland – drums, marimba, percussion, co-lead vocals on "Miss Gradenko"

Additional Musicians



1984 Grammy Awards

CategoryTitle Nominated
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 VocalSynchronicity II
Album of the YearSynchronicity
Record of the Year"Every Breath You Take"


Year Single Chart Position
1983 "Every Breath You Take" UK Singles Chart 1[20]
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[20]
Mainstream Rock 9
The Billboard Hot 100 16
"Wrapped Around Your Finger" UK Singles Chart 7[20]
Mainstream Rock 9
1984 Adult Contemporary 13
The Billboard Hot 100 8
"King of Pain" UK Singles Chart 17[20]


Certifications and sales

Region CertificationCertified units/sales
Canada (Music Canada)[48] Platinum 100,000^
France (SNEP)[49] Platinum 472,100[50]
Germany (BVMI)[51] Gold 250,000^
Japan (Oricon Charts) 175,000[33]
Hong Kong (IFPI Hong Kong)[52] Gold 10,000*
Netherlands (NVPI)[53] Gold 50,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[54] Platinum 300,000^
United States (RIAA)[55] 8× Platinum 8,000,000^

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


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  2. "Police cancel all leave". NME. 11 June 1983. p. 36.
  3. Pidgeon, John (24 August 2007). "'Whatever we do, this will always be the seminal band'". The Guardian. Retrieved 27 January 2015.
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  13. Buckley, David (April 2003). "Review: The Police – Synchronicity". Mojo. No. 113. p. 118.
  14. Kane, Peter (April 2003). "Review: The Police – Synchronicity". Q. No. 201. p. 123.
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