"Synchronicity II" is a song by The Police, and the third single from their album Synchronicity. Written by lead singer and bassist Sting, it was released as a single in the UK and the U.S. by A&M Records, reached No. 17 in the UK Singles Chart and No. 16 on the Billboard Hot 100 in December 1983. It featured the non-album track "Once Upon a Daydream" on the b-side. The song was described by People Weekly as "aggressive" and "steely."
The song, which refers to Carl Jung's theory of synchronicity, nominally tells the story of an emasculated husband and harried father whose home, work life, and environment are dispiriting and depressing. In an early stretch of lyrics we find "Grandmother screaming at the wall" (family trouble/mental illness), as well as "mother chants her litany of boredom and frustration, but we know all her suicides are fake" (nagging, unhappy spouse). Later, we hear about humiliation by his boss ("and every single meeting with his so-called superior/is a humiliating kick in the crotch"), all the while he "knows that something somewhere has to break". Meanwhile, something monstrous is emerging from a "dark Scottish lake/loch", a reference to the Loch Ness Monster—a parallel to the father's own inner anguish.
There's a domestic situation where there's a man who's on the edge of paranoia, and as his paranoia increases a monster takes shape in a Scottish lake, the monster being a symbol of the man's anxiety. That's a synchronistic situation.
Interpretations of the lyrical content vary widely. Writing in Entertainment Weekly about a 1996 Sting tour, Chris Willman said:
"The late-inning number that really gets [the crowd] galvanized is the edgy old Police staple that has the most old-fashioned unresolved rock tension in it, 'Synchronicity II'—which, after all, is a song about a domestic crisis so anxiety producing that it wakes up the Loch Ness Monster."
Sting explained the theme of the song to Time magazine:
"Jung believed there was a large pattern to life, that it wasn't just chaos. Our song Synchronicity II is about two parallel events that aren't connected logically or causally, but symbolically."
"Synchronicity II" also may have taken inspiration from the poem "The Second Coming" by William Butler Yeats. The theme of "The Second Coming" is similar to that of "Synchronicity II"—a civilisation beginning to collapse, and the rise of something new, something perhaps savage, to take its place.
In "Synchronicity II" guitarist Andy Summers "forgoes the pretty clean sounds for post-apocalyptic squeals and crashing power chords", writes Matt Blackett in Guitar Player magazine. Summers claims that the feedback apparent on the track was a mistake, saying, "I blasted and wailed for six minutes, the tape was rolling, but I couldn't hear anything through the cans. I was messing about, doing all this shit and waiting for them to start."
The flip side, "Once Upon A Daydream", was a composition cowritten by Andy Summers and Sting. As Sting remembers, "It's a set of chords Andy came up with and I wrote some lyrics to them by the swimming pool in Monserrat. It's very dark but that was The Ghost [in the Machine] period. Very intense".
The music video for "Synchronicity II" was directed by Godley & Creme, filmed at a sound stage on the outskirts of London. In it the band are seen performing on top of giant piles of guitars, drums, junk, car parts, wires, with debris and papers flying about, punctuated by footage of Loch Ness for each chorus. The band members stood apart from each other on separate towers made of scaffolding, wearing dystopian outfits. A misty and stormy appearance was created with air blowers and dry ice. During the filming, Copeland's tower caught fire and the crew started to leave the building. Creme told the director of photography to keep the cameras rolling despite the danger.
"Synchronicity II" is covered and appears as a playable track on the PlayStation 2 game Guitar Hero Encore: Rocks the 80s. The master track of the song also appears as downloadable content for the music video game series Rock Band and Rocksmith.Sting – bass, vocals
Andy Summers – guitar, keyboards
Stewart Copeland – drums