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Music / Innuendo

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Through the sorrow all through our splendor, don't take offence at my innuendo...

Innuendo is the fourteenth studio album by British Glam Rock band Queen, released in 1991 through Parlophone Records in the UK and Hollywood Records in the US, and the last both completed and released during lead singer Freddie Mercury's lifetime (Mercury attempted to record as much material for Made in Heaven as he could, but only managed to complete three songs before dying, leaving many others in fragments; much of the album was either recorded after the fact or cobbled together from outtakes and past solo material).

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. Nine months after the album's release, Mercury died from pneumonia exacerbated by AIDS; he only publicly disclosed his struggle with the latter the day before his death.

Sound-wise, Innuendo furthers the Revisiting the Roots approach of The Miracle immediately before, this time exploring a modernization of the Progressive Rock sound of Queen II, A Night at the Opera, and A Day at the Races. The band had already ceased live performances following Mercury's AIDS diagnosis, and consequently had unprecedented amounts of room for highly sophisticated production styles and song structures. Thus, Innuendo sees Queen producing and performing with levels of musical ambition not seen in 15 years, most heavily signified by the suitelike structure of its opening Title Track.

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".


  1. "Innuendo" (6:31)
  2. "I'm Going Slightly Mad" (4:22)
  3. "Headlong" (4:38)
  4. "I Can't Live With You" (4:33)
  5. "Don't Try So Hard" (3:39)
  6. "Ride The Wild Wind" (4:42)
  7. "All God's People" (4:21)
  8. "These Are The Days Of Our Lives" (4:15)
  9. "Delilah" (3:35)
  10. "The Hitman" (4:56)
  11. "Bijou" (3:36)
  12. "The Show Must Go On" (4:35)

Principal Members:

  • 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!

  • Alternate Music Video: The UK video for "These Are the Days of Our Lives" is a Performance Video depicting the band miming on a soundstage. The US video, meanwhile, adds in animated clips by Disney, the owners of the band's new US label, Hollywood Records.
  • Art-Style Clash: Music video of "Innuendo" uses various types of rotoscoping, claymation and historical Stock Footage.
  • Book Ends:
    • The music video for the Title Track opens with the camera panning through the halls of a theater. The video ends with the camera exiting the theater.
    • The music video for "The Show Must Go On" opens with Freddie Mercury, as seen in the music video for "I Want to Break Free", opening a closet that leads into a scene from "Innuendo". The video ends with Mercury closing the closet door on a scene from "Headlong".
  • Can't Live with Them, Can't Live Without Them: The entire point of "I Can't Live With You", as it were.
  • Changing Chorus: The second instance of the chorus in "These Are the Days of Our Lives" shifts focus from reminiscing on the past to embracing the present. The third instance switches back to reminiscence.
  • Christian Rock: "All God's People" is a rare example of Queen doing this. It forms a nice bookend with their first album, which features the song "Jesus".
  • Color Motif: White features prominently throughout the album art, to the point where the North American and Japanese CD releases feature a white tray in the jewel case.
  • Clip Show: 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. 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.
  • Darker and Edgier: Innuendo is the sound of a band fully aware that they were on their last leg, and it is palpable throughout the record. The title track starts on a particularly ominous note, and then "I'm Going Slightly Mad" verges on a full-on gothic vibe. It's especially evident when compared to the band's previous album, The Miracle, which is one of their most upbeat records (despite it also being informed by Mercury's impending death).
  • 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 and holds the distinction of being their longest single ever.
  • Freeze-Frame Ending:
    • The music video for "Headlong" closes with a freeze-frame of Freddie Mercury sticking his tongue out at the camera.
    • The music video for "The Show Must Go On" ends with a freeze-frame of Mercury from the "I Want to Break Free" video closing the closet door and striking a pose.
  • 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.
  • Genre Throwback: The music video for "I'm Going Slightly Mad" had to be shot in Deliberately Monochrome to disguise Freddie Mercury's declining health, and the band takes advantage of this by making the video a homage to German Expressionism, featuring a Looks Like Cesare Mercury and his bandmates in a variety of surreal, exaggerated setpieces themed after the lyrics.
  • 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 so that he Looks Like Cesare.
  • 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.
  • Gratuitous Panning:
    • In the Title Track, Freddie Mercury's vocals jump from channel to channel during the first two lines in the orchestral bridge.
    • In "Headlong", the reversed vocals during the outro sweep from the left channel to the right channel with each repetition.
  • Important Haircut: Mercury shaved the beard he sported while promoting The Miracle, appearing in the videos for "I'm Going Slightly Mad" and "These Are the Days of Our Lives" in heavy makeup and with Deliberately Monochrome image processing, tying in with the album's greater focus on his impending mortality. The beard briefly returns in the music video for "Headlong", which was shot before but released between those for "I'm Going Slightly Mad" and "These Are the Days of Our Lives".
  • Kind Hearted Cat Lover: Freddie adored cats. "Delilah" is an ode to his favourite cat.
  • Limited Lyrics Song: "Bijou" features only one verse, tucked within what is otherwise an extended guitar solo.
  • Longest Song Goes First: The album opens with its longest song, the 6.5-minute Title Track.
  • Looks Like Cesare: The music video for "I'm Going Slightly Mad" is a homage to German expressionist films, and as such, Freddie Mercury dons a large, scraggly wig, pale makeup, dark eyeliner, and red lipstick, giving him a corpselike appearance in the Deliberately Monochrome footage. The costume and black and white visuals also doubled as a way to hide Mercury's battle with AIDS.
  • Medium Blending: The music video for the Title Track intersperses live-action stock footage with animations in a variety of styles, ranging from rotoscoping to stop motion to traditional animation.
  • 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: Played with in "These Are The Days of Our Lives". According to Roger Taylor, the song was born out of his own fond memories of Queen's early days, but he wrote it with an overarching message of "today is more important than yesterday," hence the Changing Chorus from "those were the days of our lives" to "these are the days of our lives."
  • Performance Video: The music video for "Headlong" depicts the band miming the track both on a soundstage and in the studio as a throwback to their '70s music videos.
  • Power Ballad: "The Show Must Go On," which had quite a serious subject - Freddie Mercury continuing to perform despite the fact that he was dying - compared to other hard rock ballads of the late 1980s/early 1990s.
  • Rearrange the Song: "I Can't Live With You" was remixed for the 1997 compilation Queen Rocks as the "1997 'Rocks' Retake", featuring new instrumental parts matching the Hard Rock style that Brian May originally envisioned for it.
  • 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 1970s. 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 "I'm Going 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: "I'm Going Slightly Mad" revolves around Freddie Mercury poking fun at his own AIDS-related cognitive problems.
  • Shout-Out:
    • 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. Fittingly, Robert Plant would perform the song with Queen during the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert the following year.
    • In the music video for "Headlong", the studio scenes occasionally feature Brian May in a Bart Simpson tee shirt.
  • Song Style Shift: Midway through "Innuendo", the Middle Eastern sounding Hard Rock song gives way to some classical guitar that sounds very influenced by Mediterranean folk music with a strong Flamenco tinge. This then gives way to an operatic waltz middle eight before going back to the Hard Rock style.
  • 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 "I'm Going 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.
  • Special Guest: Yes guitarist Steve Howe provided the Spanish guitar for the title track.
  • Splash of Color: The music video for "I'm Going Slightly Mad" is mostly shot in black-and-white, but a feather cloak Freddie Mercury tosses up just before saying "and there you have it" and John Deacon's jester hat at the end are both in full color.
  • Stop Motion: The Flamenco section in the Title Track is represented in the music video by a claymation sequence depicting a crowd of jesters doing tricks.
  • Uncommon Time: Certain sections in "Innuendo" are in 5/4.
  • Undercrank: Done for stylistic purposes in the music video for "I'm Going Slightly Mad", a Genre Throwback to German Expressionism; several scenes feature sped-up footage of the band messing around with one another and the various setpieces as a nod to the slightly-too-fast playback associated with silent films.

"The show must go on!"


Video Example(s):


Freddy Mercury

In "I'm Going Slightly Mad", Freddy Mercury is portrayed like a silent movie character with exaggerated make-up and hair.

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Example of:

Main / LooksLikeCesare

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