We Will Rock You: The Best of Queen
I Want to Break Free
Queen’s specialty was songs that were joyous shouts of pleasure. Like “Don’t Stop Me Now”, “I Want to Break Free” is a celebration of freedom, but also sings of the redemptive power of love.
Written by bass guitarist John Deacon, the song was made even more popular after the music video came out, which featured the band members singing and dancing in women’s clothing in a parody of British soap operas like Coronation Street. There are three different versions of the song — the album version, the single, and the extended version, which is over seven minutes long and features a longer intro and ending.
One of the most iconic collaborations of all time is Queen’s “Under Pressure”, which features vocals from David Bowie. Recorded in 1981, the lyrics were written by Bowie and the rest of the band members, and the final form of the song came out of a jam session between the group and Bowie in a Swiss studio. When it came time to record, Bowie and Mercury fought viciously over how it should be mixed.
It quickly became one of Queen’s favorite touring songs, and they played it in every live concert until Mercury’s death.
Radio Ga Ga
Written by drummer Roger Taylor, “Radio Ga Ga” is a commentary on the steadily-rising popularity of television, which in 1983 was eclipsing radio at an alarming rate. The lyrics also criticize the ever-growing popularity of music videos, which Taylor felt were becoming more important than the aural elements of a song. Ironically, it was Queen’s music video for “Bohemian Rhapsody” that helped to popularize the form.
Taylor originally wrote the song alone, with a Roland synthesizer and a drum machine, then gave it to the rest of the band to polish. Mercury took over the lead vocals, but Deacon always sang backing vocals in concerts — one of the few times he would ever sing live.