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"2 Minutes to Midnight" is a song by heavy metal band Iron Maiden. The song is released as the band's tenth single and second track from their fifth album Powerslave. The single was released on August 6 1984 and rose to number 11 in the UK Singles Chart and number 25 on Billboard Top Album Tracks. 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 Statesmarker and Soviet Unionmarker tested H-bombs within nine months of one another. The first guitar solo is played by Dave Murray followed by a guitar solo played by Adrian Smith.

The cover art is somewhat related to Iron Maiden's 2006 album A Matter of Life and Death as it features the band's mascot Eddie in an Army uniform. The cover art of A Matter of Life and Death, however, features several skeletons in Army uniforms all standing around a tank, not all necessarily representing Eddie.

The first B-side is a cover of British progressive rock band Beckett's "Rainbow's Gold".

Another B-side, titled "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, Pennsylvaniamarker 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. Because Harris' bass wasn't working, he asked a light rigger to tell McBrain to extend the solo. Rather than following proper procedure, the man started shouting to McBrain. Angry that he messed up his solo, McBrain had a confrontation with the man (it is unclear if anything physical happened) that Harris felt was unnecessary. Allegedly the argument had calmed down before Dickinson started recording it and riled the two men up again by asking Nicko what he would have wanted the man to do had he been trying to tell him that the lighting truss above his drum kit was about to fall down, to which he replied "Well, I guess someone would've had to pull me out the fucking way or I'm dead!"

The video of the song is featured on the 2003 video collection Visions of the Beast. On the bonus disc of the 2008 DVD release of Live After Death, Bruce Dickinson said of the scene in the video of the soldiers in the apartment, "They came to us with the location and said, 'We've got the perfect location. It's this dingy, grotty East End tenement on the Isle of Dogsmarker. It's all boarded up and there's cat piss everywhere and it's just really foul'. And I looked at this thing and I'm like 'That's Roffy House, on the Isle of Dogs. I used to live there!'"

The song was covered 2008 by Glamour Of The Kill on the tribute CD Maiden Heaven: A Tribute to Iron Maiden released by Kerrang! magazine. It was also covered in 2005 by the all-female tribute band The Iron Maidens on their self-titled debut album.

Track listing

  1. "2 Minutes to Midnight" (Adrian Smith, Bruce Dickinson) – 6:04
  2. "Rainbow's Gold" (Beckett cover) – 4:57
  3. "Mission from 'Arry" – 6:43



UK Singles Chart #11US Top Album Tracks #25


United States Ambassador Ryan Crocker has a poster of the single sleeve in his office.

The song was included in the soundtrack of Grand Theft Auto: Vice City in the radio station V Rock in-game.

The song is featured as downloadable content in Rock Band.

The song is featured in the video game Guitar Hero 5, albeit heavily censored.


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