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One dream, one soul, one prize, one goal…
A Kind of Magic is the twelfth studio album by the British rock band Queen, released in 1986. It is considered an unofficial soundtrack album to the 1986 movie Highlander, with only three songs — "Pain Is So Close To Pleasure", "Friends Will Be Friends", and "One Vision" — not appearing in the film. ("One Vision" was previously released in 1985 and had also appeared in the 1986 movie Iron Eagle.) This album would be the last one promoted with a tour, because of Freddie Mercury's diagnosis with HIV the following year, leading to his death in 1991.
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The album was the band's first to be recorded and mixed digitally instead of with traditional analog equipment (though the initial US CD mistakenly labels it an analog recording). The decision to do this gave Queen greater flexibility with their trademark elaborate production style, which on at least one occasion had worn down a reel of analog tape to the point where parts of it became transparent; the band would continue using digital equipment for their subsequent albums. The album was also the band's first to be oriented more for the Compact Disc format than the LP or cassette — CDs had just received their big breakthrough with Dire Straits' Brothers in Arms (also recorded and mixed digitally) the previous year, and Queen were eager to make use of the format as well, featuring three bonus remixes (dubbed "Extra Magical Ingredients") on the CD release of A Kind of Magic. The band would also include bonus remixes on their next album and on the US reissues of their backlog by Hollywood Records in 1991.

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A Kind of Magic was supported by more singles than any other Queen album, at a whopping seven. Of the nine tracks included on the base album, the only two that weren't released as singles were "Gimme the Prize (Kurgan's Theme)" and "Don't Lose Your Head"; even the three bonus remixes included on the initial CD release were sourced from those singles.

Tracklist:

Side One
  1. "One Vision" (5:11)
  2. "A Kind of Magic" (4:24)
  3. "One Year of Love" (4:27)
  4. "Pain Is So Close to Pleasure" (4:21)
  5. "Friends Will Be Friends" (4:06)

Side Two

  1. "Who Wants to Live Forever" (5:15)
  2. "Gimme the Prize (Kurgan's Theme)" (4:33)
  3. "Don't Lose Your Head" (4:38)
  4. "Princes Of The Universe" (3:33)

Extra Magical Ingredients

  1. "A Kind of 'A Kind of Magic'" (3:38)
  2. "Friends Will Be Friends Will Be Friends..." (5:58)
  3. "Forever" (3:20)

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Principal Members

  • Freddie Mercury – lead vocals (all tracks), backing vocals (1-6, 9), keyboards (2, 4, 5, 9), sampler (1, 4, 5)
  • Brian May – electric guitar (all but 3), backing vocals (5, 6, 9), synthesizer (1, 6), sampler (1), lead vocals (6)
  • Roger Taylor – drums (all but 3), backing vocals (2, 5, 6, 9), drum machine (2, 6, 8), synthesizer (2)
  • John Deacon – bass (all but 6), electric guitar (4, 5, 8), synthesizer (3, 4), sampler (3, 4), drum machine (3, 4)

Heeeeere we are! Born to be kings, we're the tropers of the universe!

  • Album Title Drop: "It's a kind of magic" on the Title Track.
  • Amazing Technicolor Population: The band members and girls in the album art feature vivid, neon blue skin.
  • Badass Boast: In "Princes Of The Universe" and "Gimme The Prize".
  • Bragging Theme Tune: "Princes Of The Universe" for Highlander.
  • Call-Forward: "One Year of Love" features the line "pain is so close to pleasure," the title of the song immediately afterwards.
  • Design Student's Orgasm: The album art consists of an elaborate collage of cartoons related to the album title, depicting caricatures of Queen atop a sparkly backdrop on the cover and a variety of magic-themed paraphernalia elsewhere throughout the packaging.
  • Face on the Cover: Caricatures of the band members appear on the front cover.
  • Heavy Mithril: "Princes of the Universe", a Hair Metal track describing the premise of Highlander.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: The LP and cassette releases label the sides in the traditional "Side One"/"Side Two" manner, but the original CD release lists its bonus tracks as "Extra Magical Ingredients".
  • Instrumentals: "Forever", a truncated piano rendition of "Who Wants to Live Forever".
  • Living Forever Is Awesome: "Princes of the Universe" is all about how awesome immortals are.
  • Lyrical Dissonance: "One Vision" is an upbeat, inspirational song mostly about Martin Luther King Jr. It was covered by Laibach, who rendered it as a German-language faux-Nazi song. Critics at the time had sometimes equated Queen with fascism, due to the hold Freddie had over the audience coming as one and the critics' dismissal of the kind of arena rock Queen did so well.
  • Lyric Swap: Near the end of "One Vision": "Just gimme, gimme, gimme, gimme... FRIED CHICKEN!"
  • Metal Scream: "Gimme the Prize" showed that Freddie could do this, even though he hated the song.
  • The Power of Friendship: Celebrated in "Friends Will Be Friends".
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: Around the mid-80s, John Deacon lost his license for a year because of a DUI. Roger Taylor referenced that with the lines "don't drink and drive my car; don't get breathalyzed" in his song "Don't Lose Your Head".
  • Rearrange the Song: Each of the bonus tracks included on the original CD release is an alternate version of another song on the album. In order, "A Kind of 'A Kind of Magic'" is an instrumental version of "A Kind of Magic" (which was fused with it on the 12" mix), "Friends Will Be Friends Will Be Friends..." is the extended 12" version of "Friends Will Be Friends", and "Forever" is a piano rendition of "Who Wants to Live Forever" (included as a B-side of that song's 12" release).
  • Record Producer: Queen, Reinhold Mack, and David Richards. The latter previously produced Roger Taylor's first two solo albums, and would continue his working relationship with Queen by co-producing all of their following albums.
  • Roger Rabbit Effect: The video for the Title Track integrates live-action footage of the band with animated versions of the album art's characters and effects.
  • Rule of Cool: During the video for "Princes of the Universe", Connor MacLeod (played by Christopher Lambert and all) challenges Freddie Mercury to a sword fight. Freddie's fighting with his microphone stand... and the duel ends in a draw. Think about that for a second...
  • Sampling: "Gimme The Prize (Kurgan's Theme)" contains voice clips from Highlander.
  • Shout-Out: The Highlander sample in the bridge of "Gimme the Prize (Kurgan's Theme)" features Clancy Brown (in character as the Kurgan) quoting the Neil Young lyric "it's better to burn out than to fade away" from "My My, Hey Hey (Out of the Blue)".
  • Special Guest: Kittitian-English singer-songwriter Joan Armatrading provides guest vocals on "Don't Lose Your Head".
  • Title Track: "A Kind Of Magic".
  • Villain Song: "Gimme the Prize (Kurgan's Theme)".
  • Vocal Tag Team: Brian May and Freddie Mercury trade off vocals on "Who Wants To Live Forever".
  • Who Wants to Live Forever?: The song on the album is the Trope Namer.

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