The Miracle is the thirteenth studio album by British Glam Rock band Queen, released in 1989. A return to the Hard Rock sound of the band's early material while simultaneously blending it with the synth-driven style of their later output, it was welcomed as a veritable comeback album that put the band back on the map outside the UK and got their best reviews in almost a decade. In the UK, they had already made their comeback in 1985 off the success of their iconic performance at Live Aid.
Despite its cheery sound, however, it was recorded during a turbulent period full of personal crisis. Namely, guitarist Brian May was recovering from tensions in his marital life, and more significantly, vocalist Freddie Mercury was diagnosed with AIDS the year after their world tour for A Kind of Magic. Thus, alongside Innuendo and Made in Heaven after it, The Miracle represents a sense of approaching finality for Queen, as the band were forced to confront Freddie's mortality in a time when an AIDS diagnosis was regarded as a death sentence. Indeed, Mercury would die at the end of 1991, months after the release of Innuendo.
As per usual for Queen, The Miracle was a considerable commercial success for the band, topping the charts in the UK, Austria, the Netherlands, Germany, and Switzerland, and peaking at No. 24 on the Billboard 200. The album would go on to become the 14th best-selling album of 1989 in the UK, and would be certified platinum in the UK, Germany, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, and Switzerland, and gold in Australia, Austria, Finland, France, and New Zealand. Well-regarded in its own time, its acclaim has only grown since its release, and among both fans and critics it is nowadays considered a classic in Queen's back-catalog and one of their best albums of the 1980's.
The Miracle was supported by five singles: "I Want It All", "Breakthru", "The Invisible Man", "Scandal", and "The Miracle".
- "Party" (2:24)
- "Khashoggi's Ship" (2:47)
- "The Miracle" (2:47)
- "I Want It All" (4:41)
- "The Invisible Man" (3:55)
- "Breakthru" (4:07)
- "Rain Must Fall" (4:20)
- "Scandal" (4:42)
- "My Baby Does Me" (3:22)
- "Was It All Worth It?" (5:45)
Bonus tracks on the original CD release
- "Hang On In There" (3:46)
- "Chinese Torture" (1:46)
- "The Invisible Man (12 Inch Version)" (5:29)
- 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
Every little trope that's written... it's a miracle!
- Album Title Drop: "The Miracle"It's a miracle!
- As the Good Book Says...: "The Miracle" name-drops Cain and Abel and the Tower Of Babel.
- Badass Boast:
- "Khashoggi's Ship" also counts. Just partying with a famous arms dealer, gun-wielding giants be damned.
- "The Invisible Man" repeatedly boasts about how he is uncatchable and undetectable.
- Cold-Blooded Torture: "Chinese Torture" is named after the water-dripping torture technique, where someone is tied up while a drop of water keeps dripping on his forehead.
- Continuity Cavalcade: The music video for "The Miracle" shows "Little Freddie" in kid-sized versions of Freddie's various outfits over the years, including his black-and-white diamond jumpsuit from 1977, his white shirt and jeans look from Live Aid, and his yellow jacket outfit and white pants look at Wembley in 1986.
- Cool Ship: "Khashoggi's Ship", about the Nabila (now known as the Kingdom 5KR), a superyacht formerly owned by Saudi billionaire Adnan Khashoggi. For those wondering, a financially strained Kashoggi sold the ship in 1988 to Brunei sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, who sold her to American businessman and future president Donald Trump, who sold her to Saudi prince Al-Waleed bin Talal, who as of 2020 is still the ship's current owner.
- Design Student's Orgasm: The album cover sophisticatedly blends the band's faces into one flowing unit seamlessly, with the back cover making a stunningly elaborate honeycomb-like structure out of their eyes, both making use of state-of-the-art digital image manipulation technology.
- Face on the Cover: A very special and literal example of this trope. The band members' faces are composed into one face.
- Food Fight: Mentioned in "Party".We had a food fight in somebody's face.
- Foreshadowing: The title track and "Breakthru" mention "All God's People" and "Headlong" in their lyrics, both songs that would appear on the next album Innuendo.
- The Future Will Be Better: "The Miracle", a song that informs the listener that the day in the future "the time will come, one day you'll see, when we will all be friends".
- Grand Finale: "Was It All Worth It?" was written with this in mind, as Freddie and the rest of the band didn't expect that he'd have much longer to live (given how rapidly AIDS ate away at people before medication for HIV became widely available).
- "I Want" Song: "I Want It All".
- List Song: "The Miracle" names several things Freddie considers to be a miracle.
- Longest Song Goes Last: On LP and cassette copies and all versions of the 2011 remaster, the closing track is "Was It All Worth It?", which at 5:45 outpaces every other song on the record.
- Mona Lisa Smile: "The Miracle"Mona Lisa just keeps on smiling.
- Mondegreen: The title track mentions Captain Cook, but Mercury's pronunciation sounds like "Captain Kirk".
- Mundane Made Awesome: Freddie does this literally in "The Miracle", where among the various things he considers to be a miracle he also lists stuff like "Cain and Abel" and "Sunday mornings with a cup of tea".
- Nightmare Face: The head on the album cover: a composite of the band members' faces.
- Nostalgia Filter: "Was It All Worth It?", where the band looks back on their career and success. Eventually Freddie decides it was!
- One-Man Song: "The Invisible Man".
- One-Word Title: "Party", "Breakthru", "Scandal".
- Pep-Talk Song: "The Miracle", "Breakthru", "Rain Must Fall" are all energetic songs that confirm to the listener that life is great, despite that sometimes "some rain must fall".
- The Power of Love: "Breakthru" and "My Baby Does Me" are powerful love songs.
- Protest Song: "I Want It All" was interpreted both as an anti-apartheid song and as an LBGT anthem, though neither of those meanings were intended by the band. The anti-apartheid interpretation is rather ironic in that Queen was one of the few major groups not to abide with the UN cultural boycott on apartheid South Africa, and they ended up fined and blacklisted. Queen members later argued that they weren't a political group and that the crowd was integrated, missing the point on the policy of de-investment.
- Questioning Title?: "Was It All Worth It?"
- Real Life Writes the Plot:
- "Khashoggi's Ship" was written about billionaire Adnan Khashoggi and his large private yacht "The Nabila" (nowadays the "Kingdom 5KR").
- Not only was "Scandal" inspired by the real-life intrusion of the tabloid press on Freddie as he was secretly suffering from HIV/AIDS, but a certain amount of them were equally intrusive upon Brian's divorce and his entering a relationship with actress Anita Dobson.
- Self-Backing Vocalist: Most of "The Miracle" (Brian and Roger do sing at the end, though), "Scandal, "Rain Must Fall" and a few bits on "Party".
- "The Miracle" name-drops several things that are a miracle, among them The Golden Gate, The Taj Mahal, Captain Cook, The Hanging Gardens Of Babylon, Cain and Abel, Jimi Hendrix, the Tower Of Babel and the Mona Lisa.
- "The Invisible Man" is a shout-out to The Invisible Man. The song has been covered by— of all people— Scatman John!
- "I Want It All" became an anti-apartheid anthem among the youth in South Africa at its release.
- Singer Name Drop: All four band members are name-dropped over the course of "The Invisible Man", in time to when they first make their presences heard.
- Spin-Off Babies: In the music video of "The Miracle" the band is played by children, dressed up as them. The grown-up Queen joins them on the set at the end.
- Spot of Tea: Of course, a Brit would think that "Sunday mornings with a cup of tea" would be a miracle in the title track.
- Step Up to the Microphone: Brian May sings co-lead vocals on "Party" and "I Want It All". Roger Taylor sings co-lead vocals on "The Invisible Man".
- Take That!:
- "Scandal" is an attack on the celebrity-obsessed media, who were giving both Freddie (over his health problems, resulting in a picture of him looking haggard and emaciated on the front page of The Sun) and Brian (over his divorce and subsequent marriage to actress Anita Dobson) a hard time in the late eighties.
- John Deacon once went AWOL during some recording sessions, leaving just a note on his bass saying "gone to Bali", which shocked and upset the rest of the band. To get back at Deacon, the line "we went to Bali" was incorporated into "Was It All Worth It", which Freddie thought at the time would be his swan song (as he didn't think he'd live long enough for another album; he proved himself wrong two years later).
- Traintop Battle: Kind of. In the music video of "Breakthru" the band performs on top of a riding train, battling to keep their balance.
- Trrrilling Rrrs: "The Invisible Man"Rrrrrroger Taylor!
- War Is Hell: "The Miracle", a song with a message for world peace.
- Was It Really...? / Worth It : The gist of the closing song, known as "Was It All Worth It?". According to the band, despite all the effort and heartache they put into it all, even after they knew that Freddie had AIDS, "It was a Worthwhile Experience!"