Innuendo is the fourteenth studio album by Queen, released in 1991, and the last both completed and released during lead singer Freddie Mercury's lifetime (most of the material for Made in Heaven was already recorded, but Mercury died before he could finish "Mother Love"; the final verse is sung by Brian May as a result).
By this point, Mercury's death of AIDS was an all-too-clear inevitability, and as a result much of the album acts on a musing on his own rapidly-approaching mortality; so heavily was his health declining that the music videos for "I'm Going Slightly Mad" and "These Are the Days of Our Lives" were Deliberately Monochrome to obscure Mercury's gaunt appearance, and the latter featured him isolated to one spot with limited amounts of movement, because he no longer had the strength to perform as wildly as he was known for. Eventually, Mercury's health declined so heavily that he was unable to perform on-screen at all, leading to "The Show Must Go On" simply receiving a clip compilation rather than a proper music video.
Upon release in February, the album was received like any other Queen album post-Hot Space: fairly well by British audiences, lukewarmly by American ones, and tepidly by critics on both sides of the pond, who called the album's music banal and cartoonish. However, Freddie Mercury's confirmation of his battle with AIDS the following November and his death just hours later brought the album's content into a whole new and far more voyeuristic light, as it became more than abundantly clear that Innuendo was Mercury writing his death dirge. As a result, the album rapidly skyrocketed in stature, and is now considered one of Queen's greatest works.
Innuendo produced five hit singles: "Innuendo", "Headlong", "I'm Going Slightly Mad", "The Show Must Go On" and "These Are the Days Of Our Lives".
- "Innuendo" (6:31)
- "I'm Going Slightly Mad" (4:22)
- "Headlong" (4:38)
- "I Can't Live With You" (4:33)
- "Don't Try So Hard" (3:39)
- "Ride The Wild Wind" (4:42)
- "All God's People" (4:21)
- "These Are The Days Of Our Lives" (4:15)
- "Delilah" (3:35)
- "The Hitman" (4:56)
- "Bijou" (3:36)
- "The Show Must Go On" (4:35)
- John Deacon - bass, guitar, keyboard
- Brian May - guitar, backing and co-lead vocals, keyboard
- Freddie Mercury - lead vocals, piano, keyboard, synthesizer
- Roger Taylor - drums, backing and lead vocals, guitar, keyboard
The tropes must go on!
- Can't Live With Them, Can't Live Without Them: The entire point of "I Can't Live With You", as it were.
- Christian Rock: "All God's People" is a rare example of Queen doing this.
- Clip Show: The video for "The Show Must Go On" consists of clips from earlier Queen videos.
- Deliberately Monochrome: The videos for "I'm Going Slightly Mad" and "These Are The Days Of Our Lives" were shot in black and white to disguise Freddie's deteriorating health.
- Epic Rocking: The title track "Innuendo", which runs to over 6 and a half minutes long.
- Gallows Humor: "I'm Going Slightly Mad". A comical song written by a man dying of AIDS about the various hallucinations and irrational behaviors caused by his condition.
- Go Out with a Smile: "These Are the Days of Our Lives" was written and released shortly before Freddie Mercury's death. At the end of the music video (filmed in black and white to de-emphasise his frailty) Freddie looks directly at the camera and whispers "I still love you," his last ever words on camera. The fans all knew he was saying goodbye, and we cried.
- Goth Rock: Dabbled with on "I'm Going Slightly Mad", which uses a combination of atmospherically dark, eerily hollow synth pads and lyrics about, well, going slightly mad, that invoke a distinctly haunting vibe. This is further exemplified in the music video, which features Mercury made up to look like an expy of Robert Smith.
- Grand Finale: A million times "The Show Must Go On", but really the whole album qualifies. It's so much this trope that some fans actually consider the band's actual final album, the 1995 Posthumous Collaboration Made in Heaven, an optional epilogue of sorts, so that this album (and specifically, this track) doesn't lose its "ultimate final farewell" status.
- Kind Hearted Cat Lover: Freddie adored cats. "Delilah" is titled after his favourite cat.
- Longest Song Goes Last: Inverted; the album instead opens with its longest song, the 6.5-minute Title Track.
- Mundane Made Awesome: "Delilah" is an ode to one of Freddie's cats, who "make[s] [Freddie] slightly mad" when she "pee[s] all over [his] Chippendale Suite".
- Nostalgia Filter: "These Are The Days Of Our Lives".
- Other Common Music Video Concepts: Eventually, Freddie's health had deteriorated so much that he couldn't make a new video. So, the video for "The Show Must Go On" is composed entirely of clips from previous Queen videos, an example of "Remembering the Old Videos". The move was also done to promote a then-upcoming Greatest Hits Album that focused on the 1984-1991 period of their discography, hence why all the previous videos featured are from that era.
- Revisiting the Roots: Innuendo harks back to the mix of hard, glam, and progressive rock that defined Queen's sound during the first half of the 1970's. Additionally, compare songs like the title track and "All God's People" to the stuff Queen would write on their debut: very religious subtext-y stuff that never really shows up on any other albums.
- Sanity Slippage Song: "I'm Going Slightly Mad", which has a bit of unfortunate Reality Subtext to it with Freddie's increasingly poor health probably bringing on these feelings.
- Self-Backing Vocalist: "Delilah" and bits of "Slightly Mad". Most of "All God's People" as well, though Brian and Roger do sing at some points as well. Brian sang lead and all backing vocals on the demo of "The Hitman", but the former was replaced by Fred.
- Self-Deprecation: Again, "I'm Going Slightly Mad".
- The album and its associated singles utilize a variety of illustrations by 19th century French caricaturist J.J. Grandville as a visual motif. The album cover specifically is a modified version of "Juggler of Universes" from Grandville's 1844 story Un Autre Monde.
- The lyrics of "Innuendo" (which were started by Freddie, but were mostly Roger's work) are intended as a shout-out to "Kashmir" by Led Zeppelin.
- Song Style Shift: Midway through "Innuendo", the Middle Eastern sounding song gives way to some classical guitar that sounds very influenced by Greek folk music, with a bit of flamenco for good measure.
- Spear Carrier: Mike Moran, Freddie's friend and partner in crime for his off-Queen career (co-songwriter, co-arranger, co-producer and pianist), has an uncredited appearance on "Slightly Mad" as a few seconds of his piano piece "The Fallen Priest" (co-written by both of them) are sampled (backwards) near the end of the track. Of course, he's also got a credited performance on "All God's People", both as a keyboard player and as co-author.
- Surprise Creepy: The music video for "I'm Going Slightly Mad".