Following News Of The World, an album of raw energy that spawned the mega-hits We Will Rock You & We Are The Champions, on top of their previous successes, was always going to be a very tall order for Queen. But, as always, they weren’t deterred by that, and opted to explore a variety of musical styles on their 7th album (though not including jazz itself as the title might suggest). And it didn’t do them any harm, as the LP peaked at Number 2 in the UK charts (held off the top spot by the Grease soundtrack), and Number 6 on the US Billboard Chart, going Platinum in both countries.
Overall the album perhaps isn’t as stunning as some of their previous work, but only because of the incredibly high bar they’d set themselves, and it’s still really good in its own right. For a start, it gave us their well-loved songs Fat Bottomed Girls, Bicycle Race and Don’t Stop Me Now, a trio that makes it worth the price of entry alone (although surprisingly the latter wasn’t a big hit to begin with). And the other ten tracks are an enjoyable mixture too, with some relatively obscure gems amongst them as usual.
The heavy criticism it received in the music press at the time was certainly unwarranted, with the band even being described as “fascist” and “creeps” with “polluting ideas” by Rolling Stone reviewer Dave Marsh. But it was often fashionable for music critics to bash the band, and reviewers tended to be thrown off guard whenever Queen tried something different (which was always), not knowing how to react to it and simply not ‘getting it’. Queen’s humour and sense of fun often went over journalists’ heads.
Hindsight has been kinder though, with retrospective reviews often being more favourable, such as Loudersound ranking it as their 4th best album, and Rolling Stone magazine admitting they were wrong. It is now rightly acknowledged that the album is rather underrated, as it’s never had as much attention as some of their earlier work.
And so, as the latest instalment in my Queen At 50 series, this post is my personal run-through of all the tracks on the Jazz album, including the usual mixture of alternate versions, live performances, covers and more. I hope you enjoy!
The album was recorded at Mountain Studios in Montreux, Switzerland and Super Bear in Nice, France. The move was partly for tax reasons, but Freddie also loved Montreux anyway, including the Montreux Jazz Festival. So much so that he decided to buy Mountain Studios on behalf of the group, as well as the Mountain View apartment for himself overlooking Lake Geneva. A bronze statue of Freddie has stood by the lake since 1996 to reflect his love for the area, and is constantly adorned with flowers, poems, drawings, photos, etc by visiting Queen fans. I’d love to take a visit one day. The band also brought back producer Roy Thomas Baker for one last time, who had worked on their first 4 albums.
The album and the associated Jazz tour (which resulted in an album of its own, Live Killers, from its European shows), was then launched with one of the band’s lavish parties on 31 October 1978, held at the Fairmont Hotel in New Orleans. 80 reporters and 52 EMI Managing Directors were among the hundreds of guests in attendance. The partygoers and the entertainers covered a huge range of nationalities, ethnicities, sexualities, body shapes and sizes, etc. Everyone was welcome at Queen’s parties as long as they had a good time, Freddie always made absolutely sure of that.
According to Queen themselves, along with UDiscover, Classic Rock magazine and various other sources, the many unusual forms of entertainment included dwarves covered in meat (surprising anyone who tried to take a serving!), naked female mud-wrestlers, fire-eaters, jazz and steel bands, Zulu and voodoo dancers, transsexual strippers, drag artists, unicyclists, and a fat nude lady who would smoke cigarettes from a rather intimate area. Several bars on Bourbon Street reportedly had to close for the night because all of their entertainment was taken. The rumours about dwarves carrying trays of cocaine on their heads have been dismissed as nonsense by some of those involved, but nevertheless it was clearly an expensive and excessive night of delightful debauchery, with lots of food, drink, nudity, music and extreme entertainment. The album may simply have been called Jazz, but Queen knew how to live the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle!
The tracks on the album are as follows. Click their names to jump to the reviews:
- Fat Bottomed Girls
- Bicycle Race
- If You Can’t Beat Them
- Let Me Entertain You
- Dead On Time
- In Only Seven Days
- Dreamer’s Ball
- Fun It
- Leaving Home Ain’t Easy
- Don’t Stop Me Now
- More Of That Jazz
You can see all the videos I mention in this post and many more on my Queen & Covers playlists for this album. So do feel free to check them out (along with my other Queen playlists) and see which versions of each song you like best!
Written by Freddie Mercury
In this rather unusual opening track, it sounds like Freddie is making a Muslim call to prayer during his powerful a cappella intro, before it becomes a catchy rocker with some nice piano and guitar work. The lyrics cannot be fully translated and understood, so it’s not clear whether there’s a deep meaning to the song, or if Freddie’s just messing around, or some combination of both. But he sings powerfully in a mixture of English, Arabic and Persian, including some apparently made-up or obscure phrases. And it clearly ties in to his Parsi background, as he was born in Zanzibar to parents with western Indian roots who practised Zoroastrianism.
It was released as a single in 1979 in Germany & Spain (with Dead On Time as the B-side), along with Bolivia & Yugoslavia (accompanied by In Only Seven Days), but in no other countries.
The song was performed in full at several concerts between 1979 and 1981, with Freddie at the piano after his powerfully sung intro. There are no official professional recordings of it unfortunately, but there is a reasonable quality bootleg example from Hammersmith Odeon, London on 26 December 1979.
Meanwhile at various other concerts, Freddie’s a cappella intro served as the lead-in to other songs, for example:
- Festhalle, Frankfurt, Germany, on 2 February 1979 – Sung instead of the intro section of Bohemian Rhapsody, available on the Live Killers album.
- Yoyogi National Gymnasium, Tokyo, Japan on 11 May 1985 – Introducing Hammer To Fall, released on the video We Are The Champions: Final Live In Japan.
There’s also a very rare performance of Brian May singing the intro, as a lead-in to Back To The Light, during a show at Wildparkstadion, Karlsruhe, Germany on 22 June 1993.
There are a fair number of varied covers for this song that I’ve added to my covers playlist, including a version by Triad from their T.R.I.A.D. album, a version by Lucie Halamíková at the piano, an orchestral rendition by Gotland Wind Orchestra, and a 15-minute interpretation by C. Kögel’s Queen Jazz Live.
Written by Brian May
This classic and catchy rock song is a very enjoyable and cheeky celebration of the larger lady. It did cause a little wave of controversy among a few music critics and other people who felt it was sexist or objectified women – but Queen didn’t intend any harm by it, and the overwhelming majority of Queen fans love it.
Brian May, who shares lead vocals with Freddie on the track, once explained: “It brought us a lot of flak, but it’s a piece of fun. It was meant to be very complimentary, I mean, that’s the way I certainly felt about it.” And in an interview with Mojo Magazine in 2008, he said: “On the face of it, it’s a heterosexual song because it’s called ‘Fat Bottomed Girls’, but I was totally aware of Freddie’s proclivities and the fact he was going to sing it. Plus, some of the inspiration for the song came from stuff that I saw in Freddie’s life as well as my own. So it’s actually not so much of a heterosexual song as you might think. It’s a sort of pansexual song. There are so many ways you can take it.”
The track was released as a double A-side single with Bicycle Race, because both songs make reference to each other – in Fat Bottomed Girls, Freddie declares “Get on your bikes and ride!”, whilst in Bicycle Race the band sing “Fat bottomed girls, they’ll be riding today”. The single reached number 11 in the UK (spending 12 weeks in the chart, 4 of them in the top 20) and number 24 in the US – so not as successful as some of their other singles, but still a fairly decent result.
It’s interesting how there are sections during the first 90 seconds of the full track where the guitar is focused purely on the left channel, which is of course most noticeable when listening with headphones. It’s an odd effect, but it makes the complete mix feel all the more powerful when it kicks in seconds later.
When the album version of the song was remastered by EMI, it suffered from a tape glitch, where a pop or click sound can be heard at the start of the second line in the intro. This appeared on the 1994 CD release of Jazz, the Queen Rocks compilation and on the B-side of the Let Me Live CD single. The anomaly was finally repaired for the album’s 2011 reissue, which I was glad about as it had always niggled me when hearing the song!
Alternate Edits & Remixes
The single edit (included on Greatest Hits in the UK and as a bonus track on the 2011 reissue of the Jazz album), is shorter than the album version by almost a minute, trimming a lot of the great guitar sections to get to the vocals faster, and fading out before the end. It’s very effective for those who want to get straight into the meat of the song, and works better for radio airplay for that reason. But the album version is undoubtedly better, as the additional guitar work is of course great.
Other versions that have been released include:
- Instrumental – This slightly trimmed version of the single edit, retaining the backing vocals in the choruses, appeared on Greatest Karaoke Hits.
- A Brian Malouf Remix was also included on the 1991 Hollywood Records reissue of the album. It doesn’t mess around with the track too much, just adding some minor effects to the vocals, guitar and drums. It’s the outro section that’s of most interest, however, because it features additional vocals from Freddie that aren’t on the original version, which were either unused parts from the multitracks or have been lifted from an alternate take.
The multitracks for this song that have been shared online consist of the usual elements. The vocals consist of powerful delivery from Freddie as always, and there are nice harmonies in the chorus, while Brian gives a solid and exciting performance on guitar (and this is one of only a few Queen songs to be played with Drop-D guitar tuning). Roger’s steady percussion is the least exciting track, as it’s very basic until it gets to the chorus, and doesn’t have much of major interest thereafter, apart from a few nice fills. But John’s bass is the catchy, rhythmic, hidden gem amongst it all, as it gets so buried in the final mix you barely pay it attention, which is a shame as it’s very cool with nice variations throughout. There are also some fascinating alternate vocals and guitar parts out there as well.
The music video for this song was filmed at the Dallas Convention Centre in Texas on 28 October 1978, during rehearsals for the 1978 North America & Canada tour. With a bare-chested Freddie in shiny PVC trousers taking centre stage, the band play under their huge ‘Pizza Oven’ lighting rig from the tour, so named as it gave off a lot of heat.
The video uses the single edit of the song, and has been included on a few different releases, ending with either a fade-out (on Greatest Flix & Greatest Karaoke Hits) or the closing drums from the album version (on the US-only Greatest Hits VHS, Queen Rocks & the Greatest Video Hits 1 DVD). The Queen Rocks video also mixes in footage of mud wrestling from Magic Years Volume 2.
Brian and Roger give an audio commentary on the GVH1 DVD, where they criticise how it was directed and edited, as Brian and John don’t get much coverage and it feels very ‘static’ overall, and they explain how the band didn’t have much control over the video production process.
There are lots of live performances of this song, many of which I’ve added to my album playlist. So here are just a few notable examples.
The song was, and still is, a fabulous rocker live on stage, and Queen performed it between 1978 and 1982. Freddie does a great job on lead vocals as usual, while Brian and Roger provide lower and higher harmonies respectively during the choruses. This is a slightly different arrangement to the studio recording, where it’s actually Brian who sings the lead vocals during the chorus. Freddie often dedicates the song to the girls in the audience, or tells them that it’s about “great big tits and a great big ass”, eliciting a cheer from the crowd as he gives his own backside a slap.
Examples of their performances include:
- Pavillon de Paris, France on 27 February 1979 & 1 March 1979– After the song was featured in the American Tour section of the Bohemian Rhapsody movie, the full Paris performance from 27 February 1979 was a surprise and welcome inclusion on the soundtrack album, the first of 3 consecutive nights at the venue.
- Estádio Cícero Pompeu de Toledo, São Paulo, Brazil on 20 March 1981 – Broadcast live on Brazilian TV. Freddie introduces the song by saying it’s about “great big tits and a great big ass”, and the slapping of his own backside draws an emphatic cheer from the crowd.
- Milton Keynes Bowl on 5 June 1982 – Released on Queen On Fire – Live At The Bowl, and as a bonus video on the 2011 iTunes reissue of Jazz.
From 2005-2008 the song was included on the band’s collaborative tours with Paul Rodgers, and it suits his singing style. This is also where Brian starts to play around on the guitar more for this song, extending the intro and outro sections as he sees fit. The most readily available example is from Hallam FM Arena, Sheffield on 9 May 2005, released on Return Of The Champions. Live versions have also been officially issued on the 2005 Super Live In Japan and 2008 Live In Ukraine releases.
And the song has continued to be a hit with audiences during the Queen + Adam Lambert gigs, with a few examples including:
- iHeartRadio Music Festival, MGM Grand Garden, Las Vegas, Nevada on 20th September 2013 – Featuring guest stars Nate and Jack from fun., who joined them for Somebody To Love and this song.
- Super Sonic Festival, QVC Marine Field, Chiba, Tokyo, Japan on 17 August 2014 – Released on Live In Japan.
- Central Hall Westminster, London on 31 December 2014 – From the band’s special New Year’s Eve show, Rock Big Ben Live, broadcast on BBC One.
- American Airline Center, Dallas on 23 July 2019 – Released on Live Around The World. There are a couple of trims in the version on the audio CD, to cut down Brian’s guitar jam and the closing applause, but the Blu-ray contains the full version. The performance is special because it features the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders, who don’t match the title of the song but are great fun to watch. It was naturally a very special experience for them, as discussed on their website by Director Kelli Finglass and Choreographer Judy Trammell.
The catchy, feel-good nature of this song has inspired a myriad of artists to cover it in a variety of styles. I’ve added lots of interpretations to my covers playlist so, again, here are just a small number of illustrative examples.
Stage and screen versions include:
- We Will Rock You Musical at Musical Dome, Cologne, Germany – Released on the 2005 German Cast Recording, but performed in English, this is the only time the song has appeared on any official soundtrack album from the musical. It begins by playing the opening vocals of Queen’s original track, before the character of Killer Queen takes over, with minor adaptations to the lyrics to suit her character and the story.
- Glee Cast – Performed the song in Season 2, Episode 12: Silly Love Songs in 2011, and live on stage in New Jersey for the 3D Concert Movie. In addition, a complete studio recording was released on Glee: The Music, Volume 5, mirroring the structure of Queen’s original album version with the extra guitar parts.
- Jeffster – A cover by fictional duo Jeffrey Barnes & Lester Patel from the US TV series Chuck, released on the show’s official soundtrack album. The actors Scott Krinsky & Vik Sahay also performed the song in character at San Diego Comic-Con in 2009.
- Al Murray’s Happy Hour – On this comedy chat show, musical guests would join the host to cover a Queen song at the end of each episode. The song was first performed by The Feeling in Series 1, Episode 2 – for which there isn’t a clip available, but you can see them performing it live at the University of East Anglia on 16 February 2007, the first of many times they would play the song during their tour that year. The song was then played again on Al Murray’s show by Bryan Adams in Series 2, Episode 9.
- The Daily Politics – The song made a completely unintended appearance during an episode of this topical discussion show in 2014, when BBC political editor Nick Robinson‘s phone went off, revealing it to be his ringtone!
The song has also been featured or referenced on TV and in movies in various other ways, including:
- Father Ted – Series 3 Episode 4 (The Mainland) – Father Noel Furlong (played by Graham Norton) can be heard singing the song whilst trapped beneath a pile of rocks in The Very Dark Caves, having brought them down with his loud screeching. His character also gave a rendition of Bohemian Rhapsody earlier in the episode.
- My Name is Earl – Season 2, Episode 17: The Birthday Party – When Earl is mocking Joy during her pregnancy.
- Nip/Tuck – Season 3, Episode 11: Abby Mays – During a scene of lower-body liposuction.
- Super Size Me – Used as the opening theme for this 2004 documentary.
- This Is Spinal Tap – The track itself isn’t featured in this 1984 movie, but Michael McKean has cited it as the inspiration for the song Big Bottom.
- Samy Fat Home Hair Colour – An adaptation of the song was used for this commercial.
The song has also proven to be very popular with country and bluegrass musicians, and is sometimes much faster than the original. The most well-known country covers are by The Band Perry & Hayseed Dixie, both of whom have performed it live on many occasions.
As for more standard rock & metal covers, the most famous name on that front is Marc Martel, who has performed it several times, including a single with Ultimate Queen Celebration & live in Hammersmith with Queen Extravaganza. In the description for his version, Marc notes: “It is one of the more polarizing songs in the Queen catalog, from my own experience. It’s almost always included in the set list, no matter where I play with a band. If we are overseas – anywhere overseas – it goes over like some lesser-known deep cut, even in Queen’s homeland of England. But the moment we sing that harmonic intro in the USA, everyone is on their feet and ready to party. I guess maybe we have the American Food & Drug Administration for that. Thanks, FDA! America, especially, loves Fat Bottomed Girls, and they are none too shy to show it. Always a good time. Thanks to Brian May for penning a good ol’ fashioned down and dirty barn-burner!”
- There are also mashups of the song with Come Together by The Beatles, Sweet Home Alabama by Lynyrd Skynyrd and Big Girl (You Are Beautiful) by Mika, which seem to be quite popular.
Written by Freddie Mercury
This is a beautiful little ballad, its theme very obvious from the title. It was released in April 1979, as the 4th and final single from the album, in the USA, Canada, New Zealand & Brazil, with Fun It as the B-side. It was also the only single they released in the USSR, where the flipside was Don’t Stop Me Now. It didn’t get anywhere in the charts though, and they never performed it live either. So it is one of their lesser-known, underrated pieces, which is a shame.
The song has lovely vocals, harmonies and piano playing by Freddie, and also features a nice sitar-like sound on the acoustic guitar, as Brian explained in the January 1983 issue of Guitar Player in the US: “I have a very old, cheap Hairfred which makes that buzzy sound that’s on Jealousy [Jazz] and White Queen [Queen II]. I’ve never seen another one like it. I made it sound like a sitar by taking off the original bridge and putting a hardwood bridge on. I chiseled away at it until it was flat and stuck little piece of fretwire material underneath. The strings just very gently lay on the fretwire, and it makes that sitar-like sound.”
Brian was slightly misquoted there though, as it later transpired he was actually referring to a Hallfredh guitar, which on his website he later confirmed he also used on The Night Comes Down (on their debut album).
However, that clarification is minor compared to a significant correction to the track itself. The original release of the song had the bass drum part accidentally omitted, and the error was only rectified decades later on the 2011 reissue of the album, along with the compilation Deep Cuts: Volume 2. In all other respects the song remains the same. I still have my copy of the 1994 CD release, and in comparison to the 2011 remaster I can clearly hear the difference.
There are a small selection of covers out there, which I’ve added to my covers playlist, with a few examples including live performances by Robby Valentine at the 2011 & 2012 Dutch Queen Conventions, an acoustic version by Lucie & The Diamonds (plus lead singer Lucie Halamíková singing a solo version at the piano), a piano instrumental by Jazzy Fabbry, and an extended jazz instrumental by C. Kögel’s Queen Jazz Live.
Written by Freddie Mercury
Note: Due to the nudity in the promo video shoot, some videos here are age-restricted on Youtube, meaning you need to be over 18 and signed in to a Youtube account in order to view them.
Another of Queen’s classic hits, Freddie was inspired to write this entertaining, lively, silly song when he saw the Tour de France passing by his hotel in Montreux. It was released as a double A-side single with Fat Bottomed Girls, with both tracks making reference to each other, as explained earlier for that song.
Bicycle Race is a complex composition as well, including wonderful vocal and guitar harmonies, a solo of bicycle bells, unusual chord progressions, and changes in time signature between 4/4 and 6/8. Plus there are several cultural and topical references in the lyrics, which don’t necessarily reflect Freddie’s personal interests, as Brian May explained on his website:
“Did you ever read Moby-Dick? I always remember the first words were ‘Call me Ishmael‘. But of course Herman Melville wasn’t Ishmael. As with a novel, just because a song is written in the first person doesn’t mean it’s in any way autobiographical. As I remember, Freddie liked Star Wars a lot, and he actually wasn’t very keen on riding his bicycle (if he even had one!) – he preferred being driven in a Rolls-Royce! But he created a character in the song, and this character can say what he wants, and he can ride his bicycle where he likes!”
And to prove the Star Wars point further, Freddie even sat on Darth Vader’s shoulders during some of the band’s shows!
- Instrumental Version – This was included in the 2011 reissue of the album, and is really cool to hear, as it omits all the lead and backing vocals so you can focus purely on the music, but you do hear Freddie doing a short count-in at the start. A Karaoke Version that retains the backing vocals had previously been released on Greatest Karaoke Hits.
- There were also a couple of rare vinyl releases in the US. One was a 1978 12″ promo record that had both Bicycle Race and the single edit of Fat Bottomed Girls on both sides of the record. Side A played Fat Bottomed Girls first, while Side B played Bicycle Race first. Then in 1979 a 12″ Columbia release of Crazy Little Thing Called Love featured a version that was extended by restarting the song when it reached the bell-ringing section, but in all other respects was the same as the original mix.
Given the complexities of this song, it’s fantastic to be able to hear the individual parts from the multitracks in isolation. There are several aspects that get buried or are just easily missed in the final mix, so all the stems hold little moments that you’ve probably never noticed before. The vocals are wonderfully sung and harmonised for starters of course. Meanwhile Freddie’s beautiful piano playing and Brian’s excellent guitar work (including his racing solo) can be much more thoroughly appreciated, as they deserve to be. We also get one of the more interesting percussion tracks by Roger here, as there’s a lot of variation. And John’s entertaining counter-melodies on the bass are fabulous yet, as ever, sadly overlooked by many.
The notorious promo shoot for this song, filmed by Dennis De Vallance on 17 September 1978, featured 65 naked female models cycling around Wimbledon Greyhound Stadium in London. The band had hired the venue and the bikes for the day, but cycling rental firm Halfords insisted that they purchase all the saddles instead of returning them, after learning what they were being used for!
Photos of the naked bicycle race appeared in some newspapers, and a poster from the shoot was included with many releases of the Jazz album. In America, however, to avoid causing offence, an order form was included instead, so that people could send off for the free poster if they wanted it. A small version of the poster was also included with the Crown Jewels box set. Also, in most countries, the covers of the Fat Bottomed Girls/Bicycle Race single included an image of a naked woman on a bike, viewed from the rear with a red bikini bottom painted over the top (plus a bra in American editions). An alternate single cover on some releases used a small version of the poster mentioned above.
A few different versions of the promo video have come out over the years:
- Original Version – This is a collage video that was released on the Greatest Flix, Greatest Hits & Greatest Karaoke Flix VHS tapes. It mixes glimpses of the band performing in Hyde Park in 1976 with animated visuals relating to the lyrics, plus footage of the naked bicycle race that has been heavily censored using colourful special effects (though that still didn’t stop the video being banned in several countries, including China).
- Greatest Video Hits Version – David Mallet created a completely new video for the Greatest Video Hits I DVD in 2002, using uncensored footage of the bicycle race from 17 September 1978 that had been discovered in the vaults, combined with visuals of Queen performing the song at the Convention Center in Dallas, Texas on 28 October. The audio commentary with the song mainly features archive audio of Freddie talking about making promo videos for other countries and the chemistry between the band members. There’s no actual discussion of the song or video itself, other than a brief line from Roger saying they wished they were at the shoot because it looked like fun.
- A clean version of the promo video was included with the 2011 iTunes reissue of the Jazz album. It features only the visuals of Queen performing the song in Dallas, excluding the bicycle race entirely, apart from a fleeting glimpse of bicycle bells being rung during that brief solo.
Further extracts from the video shoot were also shown in a couple of documentaries:
- Killer Queen (Channel 4, 2002) – Accompanied by interviews with Halford’s marketing manager, one of the racers, Status Quo and Brian May.
- Days Of Our Lives (DVD & Blu-ray, 2011) – Accompanied by interviews with Brian about the Tour De France inspiring the track and ‘Fat Bottomed Girls’, and interviews with Roger and Roy Thomas Baker about the video.
Queen played the song as part of a medley during concerts on their Jazz tour, including Festhalle, Frankfurt, Germany on 2 February 1979 (released on the Live Killers album) and Nippon Budokan, Tokyo, Japan on 25 April 1979. It was very popular too, so much so that cycling shops near the gig venues would quickly sell out of bicycle bells, as fans snapped them up in order to ring them during the song.
There were also a few rare instances where scantily-clad women on bikes did actually join Queen on stage, cued by the line “Get on your bikes and ride!” near the end of Fat Bottomed Girls. This happened at Madison Square Garden, New York, USA on 17 November 1978, then the following year at Rudi-Sedlmayer-Halle, Munich, Germany on 10 February & 11 February 1979. While there isn’t video evidence from the concerts themselves, there is some fun footage of Queen rehearsing the song with the girls on bikes, in a German TV report about the second Munich show. Only 6 songs from the actual gig were filmed for broadcast on German TV, not including Fat Bottomed Girls or Bicycle Race.
More recently the song has been resurrected in concert by Queen + Adam Lambert. During the 2017-18 tour Adam would sit on a tricycle with a basket of flowers on the back. Then during the Rhapsody Tour from 2019 onwards he straddles a large motorcycle that emerges from beneath the stage. One such example of many can be seen from The Forum, Inglewood, Los Angeles, California on 19 July 2019.
As with its sister song Fat Bottomed Girls, there are a lot of covers for this too, which I’ve added to my covers playlist. Just a few notable interpretations include:
- Between The Buried And Me – On their covers album The Anatomy Of, plus a live performance.
- Blümchen / Blossom – A happy hardcore version on the compilation Queen Dance Traxx 1, with a trippy music video to match. It was also released as a single containing the On Air Mix and an extended Long Race Mix, and was included on their German greatest hits album Forever And Ever (The Best Of Blümchen). You can also see live performances here & here.
- Joshua Burniece – A nice piano instrumental.
- Marc Martel & Ultimate Queen Celebration – Amashup with Seven Seas Of Rhye.
- Strictly Come Dancing: Victoria Pendleton & Brendan Cole – A paso doble performance in Week 7 of Series 10 in 2012.
- The Wombats – The Liverpool indie band performed the song on Series 2, Episode 7 of Al Murray’s Happy Hour on 23 February 2008, but there isn’t a video available for that.
- Parodies by Bob Rivers (about being bisexual, from his Twisted Tunes collection) & Kaiser Willys Jeep (about driving a Willys Jeep).
- Skylar Gray featuring Eminem – C’mon Let Me Ride – During the chorus of this song, Eminem gives a nod to Queen by singing “you want to ride my bicycle, you want to ride my bike”, to the Bicycle Race melody.
Written by John Deacon
This is a fun and catchy rock song by John about getting stuck in and playing others at their own game, particularly in the entertainment industry, with references to being wined and dined and then bound to a legal contract. All of the guitars on the track are played by Brian, which is relatively unusual.
This was a popular song in concert, for the brief period it was in the setlist in the late 70s. While no recordings of it have yet been officially released on their live albums, there is an example online from Pavillon de Paris, France on 28 February 1979.
As this is a little-known and thus under-appreciated album track, there are barely any covers of this song. The only ones of any note are by:
- Throw That Beat In The Garbagecan! – On their album Sex Tiger.
- Klaus Cornfield – On his album Comes.
- Lucie & The Diamonds – On their Youtube channel.
Written by Freddie Mercury
Not to be confused with a rather well-known song by a certain Robbie Williams, this very different but fabulous Freddie composition is also about stirring up the crowds, and demonstrates the band’s power as rock gods. It would have worked well as the opening track on the album.
The lyrics contain references to the band’s tour manager (Gerry Stickells, who passed away in 2019) and their record labels at the time – “If you need a fix, if you want a high, Stickells will see to that. With Elektra and EMI, we’ll show you where it’s at.” There are also nods to Cruella De Vil from 101 Dalmatians, Breakfast At Tiffany’s, and Teo Torriate from A Day At The Races (“we’ll sing to you in Japanese”).
An alternate mix of the track was played at the 2006 Dutch Fan Club Convention – hence the audience recording available online is poor quality, and there are the regular “Property Of Queen Productions” voiceovers. Nevertheless, it’s interesting to hear, as it has a ‘live’ drum track, and the outro is extended with a group of people singing the chorus of We Are The Champions.
This song was obviously designed with concerts in mind, and so was always a fantastic rocker on stage, heavier and faster than the studio version. It appeared in their gigs from 1978-81, appropriately played near the start each time. It tended to be the second or third song, usually coming after the fast version of We Will Rock You, but it was the opener at a few gigs on their Crazy Tour, including their first night in Newcastle on 3 December 1979.
I’ve included several versions on my album playlist, a few examples of which include:
- Europe 1979 – A recording from an unknown venue on Live Killers.
- Estadio Do Morumbi, São Paulo, Brazil on 20 March 1981 – Released on the 6 CD On Air box set.
- Montreal Forum, Canada on 24/25 November 1981 – A brilliant performance released on Queen Rock Montreal, and as a bonus track on the 2011 reissue of Jazz. There’s a great opportunity to listen more closely to Freddie’s vocals and Roger’s percussion in the Semi-Acappella mix that a fan has extracted from the surround sound tracks. There’s also a commentary by Brian & Roger on the DVD & Blu-ray of the concert. They reflect on the fact that the show was a little bit difficult, not just because it had a few new songs, but also because the cameramen often got in the way, upsetting Freddie in particular. Plus they remark on the lyrics of the song and notice John dancing about.
Being another deep album cut, not many people have covered this song, but I’ve added the ones I can find to my covers playlist, including:
- Marc Martel – Performed with a backing band, followed by an extensive interview with Marc and a deep dive into the multitracks, which you can download for free if you sign up to Produce Like A Pro. The same performance, without the additional material, can also be seen on Marc’s channel, where he just spends a couple of minutes at the start explaining how it came about and crediting the band members. He also released the performance as a single.
- Talisman – On their album Truth. Frontman Jeff Scott Soto released a live version on his solo album Live At The Gods.
- Lockdown performances in 2020 by Cello vs Guitar, Christian Bruni & LiUK and Tyler Warren & Neil Fairclough.
Written by Brian May
Frantic and intense, this isn’t just a banger of a track, it’s an explosion, with every band member on fire. Brian and Roger impressively showcase their speedy skills on the guitar and drums, with John solidly backing them up on the bass, while Freddie is practically rapping and nails a couple of top C♯5 belts. Brian gave a closer look at part of the guitar work for this song in his Star Licks video.
The song also makes a fleeting reference to the band’s first single, Keep Yourself Alive, with those particular words printed in capitals in the enclosed lyrics. And it’s also arguably the first time a special guest appears on a Queen track, given that the liner notes include the credit “Thunderbolt courtesy of God”. Brian had recorded the sound himself on a portable recorder during a heavy storm, and it was used to close the song.
As much as Queen loved – and were extremely good at – playing some of their songs hard and fast live on stage, the aggressive tempo and associated complexity of Dead On Time is presumably why it was never performed in concert. Which is a great shame, because it would have sounded awesome. There were brief allusions to it in some of Brian’s guitar solos in the Jazz and Works tours, but that was it.
Just as Queen never performed it live, very few others have tried to tackle it either. But there are a few covers worth mentioning by:
- Lucie & The Diamonds & Oniric – A music video collaboration.
- JML Students– An impressive live version in Stockholm.
- Lurex Queen – One of the few tribute bands to have included it in concert.
- C. Kögel’s Queen Jazz Live – An unexpected but fun jazz instrumental.
Written by John Deacon
In complete contrast to the previous song, this beautiful little ballad about a fleeting holiday romance is the second of John’s two tracks on the album, and was released as the B-side to Don’t Stop Me Now. John also plays both acoustic and electric guitars on the song, forming part of the lovely instrumentation behind Freddie’s vocals. They never performed it live in concert though, sadly.
As it’s another under-appreciated album track, there are only a few covers of this, including:
- Solo performances with a backing track by Brian Caceres & Hey It’s Phae, and with acoustic guitar by Austin Broom.
- Duets by Andrei Tase Music (with piano & drums), Hellga Black & Lensky (with piano) and Rafael Leiróz & Kiko Imamura (with Kiko playing all the backing music).
- Instrumental piano versions by Otmar Binder & Yumeddie, and a saxophone cover by Lito Relativo.
Written by Brian May
The tempo slows down further now, courtesy of this sweet bluesy number with a New Orleans vibe, about keeping a departed lover alive in one’s nightly visions. Brian wrote it as a tribute to Elvis Presley, who died aged 42 the year before Jazz was released – though it doesn’t explicitly mention him, so the listener can interpret it however they wish. It could be applied to a relationship that has broken up, or to someone who has passed away, for example.
The 2011 reissue of the album includes a really nice Early Acoustic Take from August 1978 as a bonus track. John Deacon is absent, and all of the guitars are acoustic, on this simplified and lovely work-in-progress iteration.
The song was also beautifully performed by the band in concert, with Freddie getting the audience to clap along, while Brian and Roger would imitate brass instruments with their mouths. Examples include:
- Palais Des Sports, Lyon, France on 17 February 1979 – Released on Live Killers.
- Pavilion De Paris, France on 1 March 1979 – Released as a streaming video with Absolute Greatest.
There have been a small number of covers of this song, which I’ve added to my covers playlist. A few examples include an a cappella version by The Magnets on All This Time, a piano backed solo by Laura Noejovich on Laura Has New Standards, a group version by Lucie & The Diamonds, a live solo performance by Robby Valentine at the 2012 Dutch Queen Convention, and a live brass instrumental by Izzy Foster with her backing band.
Written by Roger Taylor
On this catchy, funky, disco style song, with an intro beat that sounds a bit like Another One Bites The Dust, Roger and Freddie share the vocals, while Roger also plays most of the instruments, including electronic Syndrum pads. It was released as the B-side of Jealousy in the US, Canada, Brazil and New Zealand.
Written by Brian May
Another change of pace with this beautiful ballad by Brian, about the mixed emotions in getting away and making a fresh start on one’s own. He sings all the lead and harmony vocals here, including the female bridge part, which was achieved by slowing the tape down during recording, and then playing it back at normal speed. This is yet another song that Queen sadly never performed live.
Again there are barely any covers for this. The few I’ve found include:
- Dylan Leggett – One-man band with harmonies.
- MNB & Meli Mizrahi – Piano & vocal duet.
- Fede Vilchez, Juan Paso Viola & Sunny Boy Bart – Solo performances with acoustic guitar.
- Family Singers Vocal Ensemble – A cappella performance from Sweden.
- Otmar Binder – Piano instrumental.
Written by Freddie Mercury
It’s rather hard to comprehend how it’s possible, but this fabulously catchy, fun and easy to sing-along with banger of a tune wasn’t a huge hit on its original release. In the UK the single entered the chart at number 44, and slowly climbed for 7 weeks until it eventually peaked at Number 9 in March 1979, where it was still firmly beaten by Gloria Gaynor singing I Will Survive, The Village People performing In The Navy & The Sex Pistols singing Friggin’ In The Riggin’, which made up the Top 3. Don’t Stop Me Now then immediately dropped out of the Top 10 again the following week.
So, while it did reasonably well during its 10 weeks in the Top 40, it didn’t make the same impact as some of their other popular hits. It was still much better than America though, to be fair, where it only managed to reach Number 86.
But over the years its popularity has skyrocketed, and it’s now regarded by many as the most uplifting song of all time. In fact, that was scientifically proven by cognitive neuroscientist Dr. Jacob Jolij in 2015, who showed that it has all the necessary elements to make it a success, given that it’s performed in a third major key, with a fast tempo of around 150 beats per minute, and has cheerful lyrics. He even wrote an equation that takes into account the tempo, musical scale and the number of different chords used:
Rating = 60 + (0.00165 * BPM – 120)^2 + (4.376 * Major) + 0.78 * nChords – (Major * nChords)
You don’t need complicated maths to state the obvious though. Just reading the figures on streaming services clearly illustrates its popularity today. At the time of publishing this post in March 2022, the song has over 753 million views on Youtube, and well over 1.2 billion streams on Spotify!
And it’s also topped various polls, including:
- The Best Driving Song – Voted for by viewers of Top Gear in 2005, and the award was given to Roger Taylor on the show. In the song’s audio commentary on Absolute Greatest Hits, Roger reflects that “James May flew out and presented me with the cheapest, nastiest trophy they could find, [and so] I threw it in the sea”, referring to the fact that it was badly made, with the title of the song engraved as just “Stop Me Now”.
- The Best Queen Lyrics – In a 2011 poll by music store HMV for the band’s 40th anniversary, 1 in 5 fans agreed the best Queen lyric was the chorus “Don’t stop me now, I’m having such a good time, I’m having a ball.”
- The Best Motivational Song – From a poll of 2,000 Brits in 2021.
Brian & Roger Interviews
It’s no secret that Brian May has always felt a bit uneasy about this track, as it refers to Freddie’s over-indulgent lifestyle at the time, including lyrics about being a “sex machine” and “out of control”. As Guardian columnist Alexis Petridis pointed out in an article about Freddie, the song is “a direct product of his hedonism and promiscuity: an unrepentant, joyous, utterly irresistible paean to gay pleasure-seeking. You find yourself wondering if its title might not have been aimed at his censorious bandmates.”
Summarising their thoughts on the song, Brian and Roger have mentioned it several times in interviews:
- Absolute Greatest Hits Commentary (2009):
- Brian: “It was very much Freddie’s pop side, and I remember thinking I’m not quite sure if this is what we should be doing. I think there was also a feeling that it lyrically represented something that was happening to Freddie which we kind of thought was threatening him, and probably it was in a sense. But having said that, it’s full of joy and optimism and stuff.” And Roger observes:
- Roger: “Yeah, I think it’s very joyous, and actually I still think he had his tongue slightly in his cheek. “I’m a rocket ship”, “I’m like an atom bomb” – they’re great lines.”
- Brian: “Yeah, very witty as usual.”
- Roger: “Mr Fahrenheit there, yeah, that’s a great line. You’ve gotta have your tongue in your cheek to say that, to call yourself that.”
- Days Of Our Lives (2011):
- Documentary – Brian remarks: “I’ve been quoted as saying that I don’t like the track. I kind of do like the track, but I had mixed feelings, because in a sense it represented a sort of separatism. It was very much Freddie’s world and reflecting what he was going through.” DJ Paul Gambaccini then talks about Freddie’s huge love of the New York gay scene, and there’s an old chat with Freddie where he shows how keen he is to have as much fun as possible.
- Blu-ray Bonus Feature – Brian talks about how he recorded a heavy rhythm guitar track, as he felt the song needed it, and an extract of that ‘Long Lost Guitars’ version is played for comparison. But it didn’t really work, and Freddie wanted the song to be driven by the piano. He did very much like Brian’s guitar solo though, so they kept that in. We’re also treated to some rare footage from a live performance of the song, taken from the Concert For Kampuchea at the Hammersmith Odeon in London on 26 December 1979.
- Absolute Radio (2011):
- Brian May Interview – “I thought it was a lot of fun but, yes, I did have an undercurrent feeling of “Oh, aren’t we talking about danger here?”. Because we were worried about Freddie at this point, and I think that feeling lingers. But it’s become almost the most successful Queen track, as regards to what people play in their car or play at their weddings or whatever. It’s become a massive, massive track. It’s a sort of anthem to people who want to just be hedonistic, and yeah, I have to say, kind of a stroke of genius from Freddie.”
- Mojo Magazine:
- Brian is quoted as saying after Freddie’s death that the song was from a period of time when Freddie was “taking lots of drugs and having sex with lots of men”, and so he has difficulty with the lyrics given that context.
- Roger told Mojo in 2019 that: “Don’t Stop Me Now is the one that has surprised us all. It wasn’t a big song at the time. Freddie wrote it on the piano and Brian had to find a way to insert himself in there. I don’t necessarily think it’s one of our best songs but I love the sentiment, “Call me Mr Fahrenheit.” It’s hilarious and it’s become a sort of rallying cry.”
The music video was directed by J. Kliebenstein, and filmed at the Forest Nationalle, Brussels, Belgium on 26 January 1979. It was included on the Greatest Flix VHS and the Greatest Video Hits 1 DVD, as well as other video compilations by the band around the world. It simply features the band doing a mimed performance to the song, on a stage setup used for their tour.
As Brian and Roger explain in their DVD commentary, they had to stay closely bunched so the director could get shots of the whole band at once, and as such they weren’t able to energetically move around the stage like they would in a live show. So it’s not fully representative of a live Queen performance, and it’s nothing outstanding as music videos go. But Freddie looks cool and brings it to life of course, so it’s still good fun to watch, as the approximately 750 million views testifies!
40 years later, in 2019, Queen celebrated Bohemian Rhapsody becoming the first pre-1990s music video to reach a billion views on Youtube, with their You Are The Champions campaign. They invited fans around the world to record themselves dancing for Bohemian Rhapsody, Don’t Stop Me Now and A Kind Of Magic, for some special collaborative music videos.
So for Don’t Stop Me Now they posted a dance tutorial and demonstrated the full routine, led by Polly Bennett, the movement choreographer for Rami Malek in the Bohemian Rhapsody movie. All the subsequent contributions – 10,000 in total, from 1,822 dancers in over 120 countries – were then whittled down and compiled into an entertaining fan music video.
- Long Lost Guitars – Released as a bonus track on the 2011 remaster of the album, this is the version discussed in the Days Of Our Lives Blu-ray bonus feature mentioned above. Brian recorded an extensive guitar backing track during the original studio sessions, as he felt the song might need it, but it was ultimately rejected, and therefore remained hidden away on the multitrack tapes. So here we get to hear that mix for the first time, with a lot more guitar throughout the song, and a different solo too. It’s not better than the original necessarily, I can see why Freddie wanted the piano part to be prominent. But it’s still a pretty cool alternative version.
- Revisited – This new mix was included on the 2018 Bohemian Rhapsody movie soundtrack. It features a brand new guitar part by Brian and a harder percussion sound from Roger, designed to more closely represent the band’s current sound in their shows with Adam Lambert. And Freddie’s vocal outro doesn’t fade out, giving the song a more definitive end. Again it doesn’t beat the original, but it’s still quite good.
- Bohemian Rhapsody Credits Mix – This version, not included on the soundtrack album, uses the original studio mix, but with changes to the start and end. As the band leave the stage after Live Aid in slow motion, Freddie’s intro vocals are sung a cappella initially, with an echo effect added along with pauses between each line. Then the full mix kicks in, and text about Freddie appears on screen, as he sings “I’ll turn it inside out”. The music video for the song is then shown alongside the credits. At the end of the song, as with the Revisited mix, Freddie’s vocals come to a proper end rather than fading, again with an echo effect. The credits then continue, accompanied by The Show Must Go On.
- Rock Band Mix – Made available as part of the Queen Extravaganza 02 download pack for this video game, this is the original studio version, but it ends with an abrupt piano chord. It also visually emphasises just how little guitar there is in the song, given the 77-bar countdown on screen, and then you can see just how complex the solo is to play.
- Karaoke Version – This instrumental mix, with some backing vocals included, was released on Greatest Karaoke Hits. A piano note accompanies the opening clicks to help you start in the right key.
In November 2011 fans were invited to remix the song as part of a Talenthouse competition. And to facilitate that, 9 instrumental stems were released for download, the only time Queen have ever officially released a multitrack set from any of their songs. Other multitracks people have shared online have mainly been extracted from the Rock Band video games.
The stems give a great insight into the composition of the song. Hearing the full instrumental without vocals gives a great sense of how all the backing components go together of course, and it works as a fabulous tune in its own right that way. But it’s great to be able to break everything down into its individual parts.
Freddie’s excellent piano track forms the heart of the song of course, with the powerful lead vocals and nicely constructed backing harmonies on top. And using the stems allow you to hear different combinations, such as all the vocals together, lead vocal with piano and all vocals with piano. The latter works pretty well as a complete song in its own right, a further testament to Freddie’s skills as a composer and performer.
But of course the other band members all add vital enhancements, that elevate the song further beyond its strong foundations. Brian’s guitar part may be shorter than he wanted, but he makes it count with a super solo. Roger’s drumming is solid and catchy, and in the multitracks it’s divided into its individual parts (snare drum, kit drum, kick drum, and an extra track for the bell and tambourine elements). And the often unfairly overlooked bass part by John has some interesting counterpoints to the main melody.
As it wasn’t deemed to be a big hit, the band only played the song live on the Jazz and Crazy tours in 1979. Brian plays guitar throughout, unlike his reduced involvement on the final studio version, and there’s an extended guitar and drum break in the middle of the song. But surprisingly it was never performed in America at all, even on the 1978 dates at the start of the Jazz tour. Only the intro was ever played in the US, during a gig in Chicago.
So the best way to hear it is the version from Europe 1979 that was released on the Live Killers album (the exact venue and date are unknown). Also, part of a performance from the Concert For Kampuchea, Hammersmith Odeon, London on 26 December 1979 is included in a bonus feature on the Days Of Our Lives documentary Blu-ray (but not the DVD version).
In more recent years, however, with the song holding much higher status, it’s been an integral part of every Queen + Adam Lambert tour, with the audience eagerly joining in. So there are several videos of it being performed by Queen and Adam. I’ve added several to my album playlist, including versions from:
- New City Of Rock, Rio De Janeiro, Brazil on 18 September 2015 – Part of the Rock In Rio festival.
- Bela Vista Park, Lisbon, Portugal on 20 May 2016 – Part of the Rock in Rio Lisboa VII festival, and released on the Live Around The World album, DVD & Blu-ray. A video gallery of fan photos, accompanied by this performance, was also posted online to celebrate the album’s release.
- Herbalife Nutrition’s Europe & Africa Extravaganza in Stockholm, Sweden in September 2020 – An exclusive solo performance by Adam, along with an interview, during the pandemic when Queen were unable to tour.
- Platinum Party At The Palace, Buckingham Palace, London on 4 June 2002 – Part of the band’s opening set, sandwiched between Rock You and Champions, as part of the special concert marking The Queen’s 70 years on the throne.
We Will Rock You Musical
This song is performed by the Killer Queen character during the Queen musical, before Khashoggi alerts her to the escape of Galileo and Scaramouche. Killer Queen then launches into Another One Bites The Dust as she deals with Khashoggi’s failure.
On the original 2002 soundtrack album, Killer Queen only performs the intro of the song before Khashoggi interrupts her. However, this has changed over the years as the show has evolved. In the recent touring production that I attended in March 2022, Killer Queen performs the song in its entirety, with Khashoggi then singing the outro after the final chorus, before Killer Queen interrupts him instead.
The 2004 British comedy horror film Shaun Of The Dead, written by and starring Simon Pegg, is largely responsible for the track’s huge resurgence in popularity among a new generation in the 21st century, as it played during a memorable zombie fight scene in a bar, that’s cleverly choreographed in time with the song. Another Queen song, You’re My Best Friend, plays during the closing credits of the film.
Some people even argue that it overshadows any other movie that tries to incorporate the track as a result – although an understandable exception can be made for the 2018 Bohemian Rhapsody biopic, that gave us alternate mixes of the song as discussed earlier, and thus further boosted its appeal.
Nevertheless, several other films have also used the track, including:
- Space Riders (1984) – A British motorcycle racing drama.
- National Lampoon’s Blackball (2003) – A British comedy about lawn bowls.
- Notte Prima Degli Esami (Night Before The Exams) (2006) – An Italian teen comedy. The song features in the trailer as well as the movie itself.
- Amigos… (2011) – Used during a scene in this Spanish comedy about 3 friends fighting over a dead mate’s fortune.
- Video Games: The Movie (2014) – Played over the opening credits of this American documentary.
- Hardcore Henry (2015) – Used during the big fight climax and in the trailer of this American sci-fi action film, shot exclusively in first-person view.
- Breaking And Entering (2017) – Used during a scene in this low-budget horror film.
- Animal Crackers (2017) – A 3D-animated film about a circus, with a lot of big names as voice actors.
- Game Night (2018) – An American action comedy film.
- Shazam! (2019) – Used during a scene in this American superhero film.
- Sonic The Hedgehog (2020) – An American animated action comedy.
The song has appeared on countless TV shows. I’ll mention some here, but there are many others on my covers playlist, including lots of talent show performances.
McFly’s cover of the song was the first single from their third album Motion In The Ocean in 2006. It was released as a double A-side with their own composition Please, Please and went straight to Number 1, making them the only group to chart higher with a Queen song than the original band. It spent 5 weeks in the Top 40 overall.
Some of the money from sales of the song went to Sport Relief 2006, and it was played in various BBC sport programmes, including the theme tune for the Sport Relief Mile that McFly took part in, and highlights from the 2006 FIFA World Cup. Drummer Harry Judd also went to India with various celebrities in aid of the charity, to visit some of the poorest areas and take part in some sports. You can see the music video & behind-the-scenes video they made for Sport Relief 2006, as well as various live performances online.
In Doctor Who, an enjoyably catchy 1920’s jazz cover of the song was performed by British singer Foxes in Series 8 Episode 8: Mummy On The Orient Express in 2014. The singer had a lot of fun appearing on the show. The full song was used for a BBC promo video, incorporating clips from the series, while the Instrumental backing track was exclusively released on the download edition of Murray Gold’s Series 8 soundtrack. There’s also a Short Version posted by Foxes on her own Youtube channel with slightly different instrumentation, and the song can be heard playing in the background in Clara’s Diner (her Tardis) in the Series 9 finale Hell Bent.
Queen’s recording of the song has also appeared in:
- Nip/Tuck – Season 6 Episode 11: Dan Daly from 2010.
- Skins – Series 3 Episode 2: Cook from 2009.
- The Umbrella Academy – Plays during an action scene from Season 1 in 2019, when the character Number Five is ambushed by assassins Hazel and Cha-Cha.
In terms of UK comedy shows, the song has appeared in:
- Al Murray’s Happy Hour:
- A brief cover was used for the theme song of the comedian’s chat show – either sung by Al himself, or an instrumental version.
- A guest band or singer would perform a Queen cover with Al at the end of every episode. Don’t Stop Me Now was performed by McFly in Series 1 Episode 3 (more on them later), and then by Cerys Matthews in Series 2 Episode 1.
- Al has also performed the song at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, firstly singing with Abi Roberts, on her Musical CID comedy confessional show in 2014, and then on the drums with Massaoke in 2016.
- Fast & Loose:
- David Armand – The comedian does a very funny mime to the lyrics during Series 1 Episode 6 in 2011, for guests Pippa Evans & Ruth Bratt to try and guess the song, as they’re prevented from hearing it.
- A League Of Their Own:
- James Corden & We Will Rock You cast – A short version is performed in Series 6 Episode 5 of the panel game show in 2012.
And it’s been in American comedies too…
- American Dad:
- The Late Late Show With James Corden:
- 2 February 2017 – Front Man Battle – This is the first track that James attempts to sing, as part of his musical duel with Adam Lambert, to see who would make a better frontman for Quen, who were also present.
- 20 January 2019 – The Show’s Ending Now – A parody version about that day’s football games, sung as a duet by James and, again, Adam Lambert.
- Saturday Night Live:
- Alec Baldwin & Robert De Niro – In this opening sketch from the season 44 finale in 2019, Alec & Robert play Donald Trump & Robert Mueller respectively, as the President and his staff reveal their summer plans, using rewritten lyrics.
- The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon:
- Paul Rudd – A brief mime to the song, as part of a lip sync battle with the host on 25 February 2014.
The song has also been used to advertise many brands and products, including:
- Cadbury Dairy Milk – In their 2008 truck race advert.
- Central Japan Railway Company – Introducing the Tokaido Shinkansen N700S series of trains in 2020, and giving people a bit of hope during the pandemic.
- Emirates Airlines – Showcasing a variety of destinations, inviting the viewer to fly with them to “A World of Good Times”.
- Google Doodle – A beautifully animated celebration of Freddie Mercury that featured on Google’s home page, marking what would have been his 65th birthday on 5 September 2011.
- Google Photos App – Promoting the app’s ability to free up space, as people try to take special photos but get a “Storage Full” error message. It aired during the 2016 Rio Olympics.
- L’Oreal – Singer Camila Cabello lip syncs and dances to the song as she applies lipstick and makes a chocolate sundae. The song was also used in another advert for their Infallible Foundation.
- La Redoute – Using a cover version as we see a young girl growing up as she enjoys riding her bike, to advertise the French fashion brand.
- Ptaceks IGA – An advert for the family-run grocery store in Prescott, Wisconsin, with the staff having fun in the aisles.
- Silk Almond Milk – Using a cover version as various people engage in physical fitness activities.
- Sony MiniDisc – From a 1996 advert, with a guy losing himself in the music and a rather sensual dream, until he realises he’s not been unobserved.
- Team GB – A lip synced video by several members of the British squad to celebrate their success in the London 2012 Olympic Games.
- Tesco – Used for their 2021 Christmas advert, with the tagline “This Christmas, Nothing’s Stopping Us”, after the previous festive season was spent in lockdown due to the pandemic. Queen’s version is played throughout, but a few carol singers also sing the refrain at one point. The advert attracted more than 1,500 complaints, mainly from anti-vaxxers, who felt that Santa Claus presenting his Covid Pass at border control to avoid quarantine was coercive and discriminatory. But it was sensibly cleared by the advertising watchdog.
- Thomas Cook – For their Real Good Times advert in early 2020, unfortunately just before the pandemic did put a stop to everything.
- Toyota Camry – Using a remix of just the vocals from Queen’s track as they promote their latest car.
- VH1 – A promo for the TV music channel, featuring various music stars and some animated lyrics.
- Visa – From their 2013 Feel Faster, Flow Faster promo for contactless payments promo.
- Flakefleet Primary School – From the Series 13 auditions in 2019, this performance quickly becomes far more epic than anyone expects, resulting in lots of smiles and tears as it tugs at everyone’s emotions, and earns the brave and talented 4-11 year olds the first Golden Buzzer of that year’s series. At the timing of writing the video has over 28 million views, placing it higher than the 24 million for James Corden singing with Adam Lambert!
- Nicholas Bryant, The Collaborative Orchestra & Singers – From the first week of the Series 10 auditions in 2016, where the judges and the crowd are surprised with a huge flash mob performance. It has over 27 million views at the time of writing, not far behind the primary school above!
- Alfie Boe & Gary Barlow – Performed during Gary’s Big Ben Bash Live, broadcast on BBC One on New Year’s Eve 2013. Several years later, in 2020, they also did an online version at the start of the Covid pandemic.
- John Barrowman – The star of Doctor Who and Torchwood has performed the song live in concert, with backing dancers as well as a band.
- Katy Perry – Live at the 2009 Hurricane Festival in Germany. This was a regular part of her setlist that year. She does it in her own style, and changes the melody quite significantly to suit her range, which doesn’t work for me personally but seems to appeal to some
- Marc Martel – Often regarded as sounding a lot like Freddie, Marc’s powerful vocals and his catchy original instrumentation make this version work very well. It’s included on his Thunderbolt & Lightning album. He’s also sung it on many other occasions, including solo versions at the piano during appearances on The Project NZ on New Zealand TV & ALT 98.3 FM Radio, and a live concert version with the Philharmonic Orchestra Of Mexico.
- Matt Hancock – The Tory MP was filmed singing… well, shouting… along with the track during karaoke, after the Conservative Party Conference in 2018. And yet, astonishingly, it turned out not to be the most embarrassing, toe-curling, cringeworthy thing he would ever be filmed doing. So let’s try not to imagine him singing that he’s a “sex machine ready to reload”, and move swiftly on instead…
- Miley Cyrus – After references to other Queen songs and a cover of We Will Rock You, Miley performed the intro to Don’t Stop Me Now at the NCAA Final Four Concert at Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis on 3 April 2021. It was part of a performance paying tribute to frontline workers. She also posted a rehearsal clip as well.
- Thomas Cameron – The tenor teamed up with a host of musical friends to record this single in December 2021, in aid of Bristol Children’s Hospital.
- The Vandals – Sung by guitarist Warren Fitzgerald instead of their usual lead singer Dave Quackenbush, this punk rock version was released on their 2004 album Hollywood Potato Chip. There’s also a music video, where the singer dons a moustache, vest, shorts and braces, and sings it in the street, to the bemusement of passers-by. And there’s a BBC Session on their 2008 rarities compilation BBC Sessions & Other Polished Turds. Plus they’ve performed it live many times.
- Westlife – Performed the song live as part of a Queen medley during their Twenty Tour.
- Budapest Jazz Orchestra – A jazz version as the name implies.
- The Caravan Cowboys – A country version.
- The Carstomites – A ska version.
- Peacherine Ragtime Society Orchestra – A ragtime version.
- Postmodern Jukebox & Melinda Doolittle – A soul version.
- Radius & Maya Lisa – A cool funk version.
- Paweł Zadrożniak – A very clever and entertaining version using his ‘Floppotron’ orchestra of computer hardware.
- Entertaining rewrites about the Covid-19 pandemic by Gett Band, Sour Pickles TV (Don’t Be That Guy), Stevie Ray Plarre (Please Stop This Now) & Viagrawal (Don’t Lock Me Down).
- Fun videos by students nearing the end of their studies from GW Law Revue 2013 & Neuro Transmissions (Postdoc Me Now).
- CavemanFilms (Flee For Your Life) – Minecraft parody.
- LUMA Partners – An investment banking parody.
- Y-Studs A Cappella – A catchy Hanukkah celebration, including a chorus of We Are The Champions at the end.
- Gerry Phillips – An impressive hand-farting ‘manualist’ version. Yes, really!
- Jamie Cocker – A comedian doing interpretive sign language miming of the lyrics
The song has also appeared on various song and dance talent shows. Most aren’t noteworthy, but there are a couple of performances from Britain’s Got Talent that went viral:
The song has also been performed on Strictly Come Dancing a couple of times, by Mark Wright & Karen Hauer (a showdance from Series 12 in 2014) and Graeme Swann & Oti Mabuse (a jive from Series 16 in 2018)
Over in the USA, meanwhile, the Season 17 Promo of American Idol, broadcast during the Oscars, featured the stars of the show performing the song.
Other Cover Versions
Apart from the TV & film-related covers mentioned already, there are a ton of other interpretations of the song out there. I’ve added loads to my covers playlist for you to look through, so here are just a very small number of notable examples relative to the hundreds there are in total:
The song also seems to be popular with K-Pop artists from Korea, and has been a massively popular choice for lip dub and marryoke videos, where groups of people lip sync to the track. There are also tons of other sung versions and instrumentals in all sorts of styles.
Finally, there are quite a few amusing parodies as well, including:
Written by Roger Taylor
The album could have ended with Don’t Stop Me Now quite easily, with Freddie singing about going off to party for the night. But we actually get one more track by Roger to finish with, on which he sings powerful lead vocals, reaching some impressive high notes (peaking with an E5). He provides a good drum beat too, and there’s a lot of nifty guitar and bass work throughout. So while it’s not one of the best songs on the album, it’s still pretty solid.
It also draws the album to a very suitable conclusion, as it ends with a rapid medley of clips from most of the other tracks, before Roger proclaims that there’s “no more, no more, no more of that Jazz”. Some people do find the random insertion of song extracts rather clunky though, so Youtuber Andy McH has made a Straight Forward Edit that skips the medley and goes right to the end, which works well too.
An edited instrumental version of the song was included on the Queen video game The eYe, which repeats selected sections of the song 6 times, and doesn’t include the closing medley.
And that’s it, another album completed. Queen’s final studio record of the 1970s is another enjoyable variety of songs, with the usual mix of smash hits and obscure gems, with all the band members making fantastic contributions to the writing and performances. And they would still have a lot of treats in store in the 1980s as well.
Check out my Queen & Covers playlists for this album, to explore the official videos, live performances, rarities, and other versions of the songs. I’ll update them in the future as I become aware of new videos. And if there are others I should check out and consider adding to these or any of my Queen playlists, do let me know. And I’ll review the next album soon!