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Trivia / Queen

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  • All-Star Cast:
    • The Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert.
    • Freddie Mercury's debut solo album had been initially supposed to feature Jeff Beck on guitar and Michael Jackson (who'd just released Thriller) dueting on a song. Oh, if only... (Freddie and MJ did actually collaborate on a song. note )
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    • Queen itself, arguably, since all members were considered to be one of the best (and apart from Freddie, one of the most underrated) at what they did.
  • Based on a Dream: Brian May had a dream about a "great flood" which inspired "The Prophet's Song".
  • Black Sheep Hit: To some extent, "Another One Bites the Dust", a funk song that was pretty much written because it was the particular style John happened to enjoy and it actually wouldn't have been released as a single if Michael Jackson hadn't convinced Freddie that it would be huge. In Britain it was a hit during a period when everything they released shot up the charts, so it generally passed without any particular comment. In America, it's their most successful song and ended up dictating the sound their next album would follow.
  • Breakthrough Hit: "Seven Seas of Rhye" (UK), "Killer Queen" (US).
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  • Career Resurrection: They hadn't exactly fallen into obscurity by that point, but people were starting to regard Queen as old hat and past their prime... until Live Aid, that is.
  • Cash Cow Franchise: The band at least takes great pains to advertise their shows as "Queen + <singer>" to make it clear that neither Paul Rodgers nor Adam Lambert are replacements for the dear departed Freddie Mercury. Reportedly Freddie Mercury said that if anyone could/should replace him as frontman, he would want it to be Paul Rodgers.
  • Channel Hop: Greatest Flix underwent this before release due to the controversial Warner Home Video Rental Drive of '81, being released by Picture Music International through Thorn EMI Video (whose parent company, EMI, distributed their records in the UK), instead of by WEA (who distributed them in the USA) as was originally planned.
    • For the record, the rights to Queen's music itself are another example of this. In the UK, Queen originally released their music through EMI/Parlophone, but they kept their masters and signed a more lucrative deal with Island Records in 2011. Thus, when Universal merged with EMI and had to divest Parlophone to Warner, their music stayed with Island, with 'new' releases being handled by Virgin EMI Records. In the US and Canada, Queen signed to Elektra Records and WEA and released their music under those labels until 1984's The Works, when they moved to Capitol Records (an EMI subsidiary) as a result of the Warner Home Video Rental Drive and Elektra's wariness towards Hot Space. That deal would go on until 1991, when the band signed a new deal with Disney's Hollywood Records (which just so happened to be distributed by Elektra until 1995, when Polygram, and later Universal, took over), taking their back catalog with them. Now, Universal distributes Queen's music worldwide.
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  • Chart Displacement: Their UK #1s were "Bohemian Rhapsody", "Under Pressure"... and "Innuendo", which is not as remembered as their two chart-toppers across The Pond ("Another One Bites the Dust", "Crazy Little Thing Called Love") or all their songs that peaked at #2 ("We Will Rock You"/"We Are the Champions", "Killer Queen", "Somebody to Love", "Radio Ga Ga"). Also, in the U.S., "Under Pressure" did not perform as well as next single "Body Language", which fans also deride for being quite representative of the sound present in the divisive Hot Space.note 
  • Christmas Rushed: A failed example. Innuendo was supposed to be available for Christmas 1990, but was delayed because of Freddie Mercury's health. It was eventually released in February of 1991, nine months before Mercury's death.
  • Colbert Bump: "Let Me Entertain You" got a bump in 2020 because fans mistakenly thought figure skater Yuzuru Hanyu would be skating to it for his short program at the Japanese Nationals. It was later announced he'd be skating to the Robbie Williams song of the same name, but the video for the Queen song got a boost from Hanyu fans checking it out.
  • Creator Backlash:
    • The "It's a Hard Life" video. Brian May isn't a big fan of it and Taylor outright hates it, calling it "the worst music video ever" on the Greatest Hits 2 commentary. They've both admitted loving the song, though. Taylor had also admitted in a recent documentary that it was the most fun he had on a video shoot, he just doesn't like the finished product.
    • Both Deacon and Taylor publicly panned Jazz and Hot Space. The latter was defended by May (who claims that without it there'd have been no ThrillerMichael Jackson agreed that their album was an influence on him) and Mercury (whose debut solo album is basically a Hot Space II). May is also proud of the song "Put Out The Fire" (from Hot Space).
    • Whatever his current sentiments, Brian wanted nothing to do with the hedonistically spirited "Don't Stop Me Now" when it was initially being recorded, and it took a bit of convincing on Freddie's part to get him to throw in guitar bits throughout.
    • Freddie was not pleased with the sound of the Wurlitzer electric piano, which John insisted on playing on "You're My Best Friend". Freddie preferred the sound of the acoustic piano. He still loved the song itself, though.
    • It took lots of fighting and arguing before finally deciding to add a guitar solo to the song "Back Chat", mostly because John Deacon, the composer, wanted to eliminate every possible rock element from this song.
    • Roger Taylor hated "Another One Bites the Dust" so much he refused to play through the song, recording merely a short loop and telling the rest of the band to play to that. It's surprising he didn't just tell the band to use a drum machine so he wouldn't need to be on the song at all.
    • Freddie Mercury and John Deacon both disliked "Gimme the Prize". The movie's director didn't seem to like it either.
  • Creator Breakdown: The entire Innuendo album is widely considered to be Freddie saying his goodbyes. Two of the songs are farewells to his beloved cats.
    • "These Are the Days of Our Lives", "I'm Going Slightly Mad", and "The Show Must Go On" were recorded not long before Freddie Mercury's death of AIDS—all released on an album named Innuendo.
    • "The Show Must Go On" was done in a very interesting way. While the other bandmembers were ambivalent, doubting that Mercury could hit the high notes of the song in his condition, Freddie downed a measure of vodka, said "I'll fucking do it, darling!" and nailed the vocal line in one take with no problems. Quite a note to go out on, really.
      • It also bears mentioning that the song was written by Brian May, most likely his way of coping with his friend and workmate's inevitable death. Freddie is having a Creator Breakdown singing Brian's Creator Breakdown.
    • For another Brian May Creator Breakdown, there's always "Too Much Love Will Kill You", which is a song about being in love with two people and being unable to choose, and also the pain of losing a loved one. It was performed for the first time at a tribute concert for Freddie Mercury shortly after his death. And contrary to popular belief, it was written about the breakup of May's marriage, not about Freddie.
  • Creator Killer: Averted, thankfully. Due to all the multi-tracking and studio effects, A Night at the Opera was the most expensive pop album ever recorded at the time, and Brian May said in later years that if it didn't succeed, the band probably would have broken up. It debuted at #1 on the British charts.
  • Creator's Favorite Episode: Brian May described Made in Heaven as his pick for Queen's best album, stating that "it has so much beauty in it. It was a long, long process, painstakingly put together. A real labor of love."
  • Cross-Dressing Voices: The vocals in "Brighton Rock" are supposed to be a duet between a man and a woman, but Freddie Mercury ended up doing both voices.
  • Cut Song:
    • They have quite a few, some of which are merely unfinished demos. Several are arguably finished, but simply weren't used anywhere. In a more conventional use of the trope, they also have a few B-Sides that many fans argue to this day would've made excellent album tracks. Examples include "A Human Body" from The Game sessions, "Soul Brother" from the Hot Space sessions, and "Lost Opportunity" from the Innuendo sessions. Notably, by those points in time, the first and third of those songs were not sung by Freddie.
    • Of the "finished songs that weren't used at all" variety, we have "Dog with a Bone", a track that was most likely recorded between A Kind of Magic and The Miracle. Likewise, "Face It Alone" (which was recorded in a rough but complete form some point afterwards) is also a notable unused track. Both songs exist around the Internet in varying quality, but always with unavoidable artefacts (such as static being very audible).
  • Died During Production: Freddie died a tragic death from AIDS. He kept it a closely guarded secret and only went public with it less than 24 hours before his death. It has to be said though that there were quite a few hints in their songs and in the fact that Freddie hadn't appeared in any music video since "These Are the Days of Our Lives". In the final months of his life, Mercury recorded as much new material as he could in order for it be released after his death. Those songs ultimately appeared on the band's final album, 1995's Made in Heaven.
  • Fan Nickname: "Bo Rhap" for "Bohemian Rhapsody" (acknowledge by Freddie in some concerts and interviews), "Deacy" (pronounced, and sometimes spelt, "Deaky") for John Deacon (used often by Brian May—Roger and Freddie always called him John, though), "Maylor" for Brian May + Roger Taylor, and "Dr. May" for May (recently a certified PhD, which makes it accurate).
  • Follow the Leader: "Bohemian Rhapsody" is widely credited with popularizing the idea of the Concept Video, a music video that was anything other than just a performance of song. It wasn't actually the first, but it was the first one to really get attention for doing this and inspire imitators.
  • He Also Did: Sidney Sax, orchestra leader on the Flash Gordon Soundtrack, had played violin on several Beatles' songs, including "Yesterday" and "A Day in the Life".
  • I Am Not Spock: Roger formed a parallel band in the 1980s, where he was the lead singer and rhythm guitarist rather than the drummer. He was extremely annoyed by fans and journalists still thinking of him as the drummer. His solo career also suffered a bit from it; Roger sometimes showed annoyance about being considered only as "the drummer", even with Queen. There are some interviews where he introduces himself as "the drummer and one of the vocalists" of the band.
  • In Memoriam: "Life is Real" was dedicated to John Lennon, who had been murdered between the releases of The Game and Hot Space.
  • Keep Circulating the Tapes:
    • Robert Plant hated his take on "Innuendo" at the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert, so it's omitted on home releases.
    • The Elektra Records CDs of News of the World, Queen's Greatest Hits, and The Game went out of print after Queen switched to Capitol Records for U.S. distribution in 1984—just one year after the CD format was introduced outside of Japan. However, Queen didn't release any re-releases of their albums prior to The Works on any format in America between this and their signing on to Hollywood Records in 1991, and while Hollywood did finally start giving Queen's entire backlog reissues in America from that point onward, they've all been remasters of varying quality. As a result, an American buyer's only hope of getting any of Queen's pre-1984 work on a flat-transfer release is to search out the long-out-of-print Elektra pressings, and even then the vast majority of albums not released on CD before 1991 require import copies for that particular format.
  • Limited Special Collector's Ultimate Edition: The 2015 Queen - Studio Collection box set, which comes with all fifteen albums on 18 LPs (Innuendo and Made in Heaven are on two discs, and "Side White" and "Side Black" of Queen II are split into separate discs with an etched B-side) in a variety of colors, along with a special hardcover book. The first production run of the set sold out, but was reissued in 2016 and 2019.
  • Magnum Opus Dissonance: While they certainly agree that it's a very important album for them, the members themselves don't think A Night at the Opera was their best album ever; Brian May personally believes Queen II and Made in Heaven were their finest works.
  • Money, Dear Boy: While they did genuinely enjoy their work, Queen first and foremost was out to make money, and they would happily jump on any trending and popular genre of music of the day to make it. Not that this is a bad thing, as the band would always put their best foot forward in doing it.
    The Rageaholic, from his music mythos retrospective of the band in question: [...] I respect consistency, and I say this as a fan, but Queen...would have played fucking polka music if it had got them paid in the '80s, and don't pretend for one-septillionth of a second that isn't the god's-honest truth. Love 'em, but they were out to make some cold hard cash.
  • Name's the Same: Duran Duran also has a drummer called Roger Taylor. To avoid confusion, Queen's Taylor can be addressed by his full name, Roger Meddows Taylor.
    • There is a separate Brian May, an Australian who composes film scores.
    • In 2018, Brian May co-authored a book on photography with one Professor Roger Taylor.
  • No Export for You: The band stopped touring America after 1982, and with the exception of News of the World, The Game, The Works, A Kind of Magic, and The Miracle, none of their studio albums were available on CD in the US prior to signing on with Hollywood Records in 1991, meaning that if you wanted flat-transfer CDs of the affected studio albums, your only option was to import a copy from Europe.
  • One-Take Wonder: Freddie Mercury was very ill when the band were to record "The Show Must Go On". When Brian May expressed concern that he might not be up to it Mercury reportedly threw back a shot of vodka and did it in one go.
  • The Pete Best: Original bassist and lead singer Tim Staffell, before Freddie and John joined. This isn't counting the various bassists who were in the band after changing their name to Queen but before finding John, since they only lasted roughly a gig or so.
  • Promoted Fanboy: In 1968, Tim Staffell and a friend formed the band Smile. Another friend of his (and fellow Ealing Art College student), Farrokh ("Freddie") Bulsara, became one of the band's greatest fans, soon pestering the band with suggestions for their shows and repeatedly stating his wish to become a rock star himself. When Staffell left the band, Smile was about to disband. Bulsara stepped in and, changing his name to Mercury, persuaded the remaining Smile members to 1) continue, 2) allow him to join as lead singer, and 3) change the band's name to Queen.
  • Reality Subtext: Many of the songs from Innuendo and Made in Heaven were clearly inspired by Freddie's struggle with AIDS.
  • Reclusive Artist: Freddie was one to a certain extent. In contrast to his famously outgoing stage persona, he was quite introverted when he wasn't performing, giving few interviews in comparison to Brian and Roger and mostly keeping to himself (it wasn't publicly revealed that he had AIDS, much less that he was dying, until a day before his death). Since 1997, John has retreated from the music business and public view completely, with only the very occasional picture of him surfacing.
  • The Red Stapler: Good Omens features a running gag about CDs turning into "The Best of Queen" if they're left in a car long enough, name dropping several songs along the way. At the time, there wasn't a Queen album that had every song listed, but fans of the book made such an uproar that one was created.
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  • Screwed by the Network: The release of Queen's Greatest Hits, Pix and Flix, a multimedia project intended to celebrate the band's 10th anniversary, was badly botched in the United States by WEA (Warner, Elektra, Atlantic), with Warner Books passing on Greatest Pix and Warner Home Video attempting to make Greatest Flix a rental-only release against Queen's explicit wishes. Only Greatest Hits would see release under WEA through Elektra Records; Greatest Pix was ultimately published by Quartet Books the next spring, while Greatest Flix was released the same year as Greatest Hits, as part of Thorn EMI Video's North American launch slate. Amazingly, Queen didn't consider parting ways with WEA immediately; the last straw came with how Elektra handled their subsequent album, Hot Space, wary of the band's decision to release a disco album at the height of America's ugly backlash against the genre. Freddie Mercury was reportedly so incensed that he spent the next year buying out the band's contract—and the US rights to all of their albums—from Elektra, resulting in most of their material prior to The Works being out of print in America until the early 90's. Ironically, when the band inked a deal with Hollywood Records, the label was distributed by Elektra at the time.
    Jim Beach: It's a pity these three divisions of Warner Communications couldn't have joined forces for the common good of Warner Communications; now we're in a position where two ostensibly competing companies are going to have to get together to market this piece of product.
  • Serendipity Writes the Plot: "Under Pressure" came into existence only due to an impromptu jam session after David Bowie decided to drop in on Queen while they were recording Hot Space.
  • Swan Song:
    • "The Show Must Go On", is about Freddie Mercury facing death with dignity. When Brian May presented the demo to Freddie, he had doubts that the latter would be able to sing due to his illness at the time. When the time came to record the vocals, Mercury drank a measure of vodka and said "I'll fucking do it, darling!", then recorded it in one take.
      The show must go on
      The show must go on, yeah
      Oooh inside my heart is breaking
      My make-up may be flaking
      But my smile still stays on
    • The last song Freddie wrote by himself, "A Winter's Tale", was coincidentally inspired by watching the swans at Lake Geneva, therefore being his swan song in more than one way. It was recorded after "The Show Must Go On" and "These Are the Days of Our Lives" but before "Mother Love", which he and Brian wrote together.
    • As far as music videos go, "These Are the Days of Our Lives" was the last time Freddie appeared. By this point, his illness had progressed to the point where he needed to wear make-up and have the video shot in monochrome in order to hide how gaunt and physically weak he had become, but he nonetheless delivered a stellar performance that belied his failing health.
  • Throw It In:
    • When he was writing "'39", Brian May asked John Deacon to play string bass on the recording. While he meant it as a joke, Deacon actually could play the string bass, and showed up with one at the recording session, so May decided to use it, resulting in a very interesting skiffle feel.
    • Freddie once broke a mic stand by mistake during a show. Not only did he decide to just keep using the mic instead of having it fixed or replaced, but he then went on to use a "broken" mic for subsequent performances.
    • "Fat Bottomed Girls" has an odd note in the break after the first chorus that could have been deliberate, but sounds very much as if Brian May forgot that his guitar was in drop-D tuning.
  • Trope Namers:
  • Undermined by Reality: Brian May of Queen felt uncomfortable about the closeted Freddie Mercury writing a gay anthem like "Body Language" from Hot Space in 1982, not so much due to Freddie's sexuality as fearing it would alienate the straight Queen fans.
  • What Could Have Been:
    • After Freddie died, it was given serious consideration as to having George Michael take over as full-time lead singer.note 
    • Sylvester Stallone wanted "Another One Bites The Dust" to be in Rocky III but was denied the rights and so Stallone hired Survivor to produce "Eye of the Tiger".
    • Brian May has expressed regrets over not releasing a proper soundtrack for Highlander with Michael Kamen's score complementing the band's compositions.
      • The former was released on CD in 1995, together with scores for the 2 sequels.
    • In a 1986 interview, Freddie suggested that he would eventually stop performing if he felt he was getting too old for it and focus on songwriting and producing instead.
    • Before Freddie's death rumors were spreading of them touring with David Bowie.
    • A rare case of what almost wasn't: Live Aid. Queen was initially opposed to performing for one simple reason: no microphone checks due to the setup of the event (20 minutes total for each band, get in and be done). However, they caved in and well, history was made.
    • Had Queen not performed at Live Aid, they may well have broken up (which was exaggerated in Bohemian Rhapsody claiming that they actually had broken up), as their The Works tour had not gone well and there were tensions within the band. Thanks to Live Aid, we got three more albums and one more tour.
    • Brian and Roger sat in the stands at Live Aid watching the acts before them with David Bowie. But for no good reason, Bowie did not take the stage with them to perform "Under Pressure" live (for what would have been the only time). This happened again during the A Kind of Magic tour; when Queen's famous gig at Wembley was being filmed, there was word of Bowie making an appearance to perform "Under Pressure" live with them (which would have even been recorded for posterity!), but he was a no-show. (Mick Jagger was in attendance but never took the stage with Queen.)
    • Thor: Ragnarok director Taika Waititi stated that not only was Flash Gordon (1980) was an major influence on the film, but if Freddie was still alive, he's like to have gotten Queen to do the film's score.
  • Word of God: A sticking issue Brian had with Freddie, philosophically, was Freddie's increasingly Camp Gay compositions, not so much against Freddie's lifestyle, but because Brian worried that Freddie would rope out and alienate the straight fans, and because Brian believed in Queen's songs being universally relatable. This was Brian's main issue with songs like "Don't Stop Me Now" and "Body Language".

Assorted Trivia

  • The bands logo was designed by Freddie and is based on the band members zodiac signs: Freddie: The Maid, Virgo. Brian: Crab, Cancer. Roger and John: The two lions, Leo.

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