A lot of weird things flourished in the 70’s: communes, fondue, key parties, Queen. It was like a brief window when society decided that rules didn’t matter anymore and anybody could just wig out and do whatever they wanted. Out of all the things that … Continue reading Somebody to Love
Queen is enjoying a lot of attention today, thanks to being in a movie and whatnot, and honestly it is heartwarming to witness a new generation of teenage fans celebrating Freddie Mercury’s life and legacy as though he was only alive yesterday. No one could … Continue reading Show Must Go On
“People are used to hard rock, energy music from Queen, yet with this single you almost expect Noel Coward to sing it. It’s one of those bowler hat, black suspender belt numbers – not that Coward would wear that. (…) It’s about a high class call girl. I’m trying to say that classy people can be whores as well. That’s what the song is about, though I’d prefer people to put their interpretation upon it – to read into it what they like.” – Freddie Mercury
Think of Queen as the world’s hardest rocking barbershop quartet, then. They produced some very muscular rock’n’roll, but at the same time they flaunted some distinctly un-rock influences. That’s the conundrum of Queen. They were one of the campiest groups of all time, from the name down, but they were never stigmatized as ‘too gay’. They’re known as a hard rock band, but half their songs are faux- Noel Coward stuff that barely qualifies as rock’n’roll (which I mean in a good way.) They’re really fucking weird and yet extremely popular. A totally unscientific poll done by me reveals Freddie Mercury to be the number one man-crush for young heterosexual males. Why? Who knows. As far as my research shows, Mercury was a flagrant bisexual, and not particularly shy about it. He was in the closet, but he wasn’t seriously expecting to be taken for a big, butch heterosexual. So what it is about him that straight dudes find him bromantically appealing rather than discomfiting, I’m not sure. Why is Queen, out of all the gender flouters to come out of the glam rock glitterbomb, considered safe to be a fan of? You can listen to all Queen all day and all night and still be macho. This band’s music gets played at football games, for gawd’s sakes! Either the camp element flies straight over people’s heads, or on the contrary, people have more sophisticated tastes than I’ve been giving them credit for.
Is there anything more festive for the holidays than Freddie Mercury’s mustache? No, nothing. Nothing is more festive than Freddie’s ‘stache. Freddie achieved legendary status in his lifetime, and even more so after his death; now he lives among us as a timeless meme. Obviously, being immortalized as a rage comic is the highest honor the internet can bestow. The internet love Freddie Mercury. What would the real Freddie think about his new fame as a little comic figure used to signify the general concept of “Fuck Yeah”? Hopefully he’d be amused. It’s admittedly a very weird way of being an icon. It’s like taking something that was already iconic and making it meta-iconic. As only the interwebs can do. There’s a lot to be said about how the internet weirds reality. I don’t have time to delve into it, but you can think about it all you want.
May the Spirit of Freddie Mercury be with you this Thanksgiving.
Queen was influenced as much by the barbershop quartet as any rock band, and sometimes it shows. Like now. The video has lots of leather and a motorbike – on a catwalk. If it looks cheezy, that’s only because everybody and their dog has already copied it. In 1979 it must have been brand spanking shiny. It’s funny how every time you tune up a new hit video you see people emulating Freddie. Bands want the big theatrical vocals and solos, the swagger, the sexual ambiguity. We barely pay attention to them. It takes seeing Freddie Mercury prancing about in his leathers to remember “oh, that’s where it all came from!” Sadly, all the artists on the top ten today, taken together, might barely add up to one half of Freddie’s mustache.
I think this must be the most bizarre and unlikely chart topping oldies radio hit ever. How on earth did this ever make it on the radio at all? Beats me. By all rights it should be a little cult song that only hardcore Freddiemaniacs cherish. It’s nice to see that something so eccentric can catch on. It’s heartwarming, that’s what it is. And it’s also nice that Queen is still popular.
Another One Bites the Dust, Queen, The Game, 1980
Still in hitsville…
The famous story about Queen; sometime in the 70s they toured America, opening for Lynerd Skynerd. They endeared themselves to heartland audiences who somehow missed all the rainbow flags and didn’t even think that Queen was anything but straight-up cock rock. Looking at it now it’s impossible to miss the gayness, but back then heartland audiences were more innocent. It may seem weird that it took years for folks to catch on to Freddie Mercury’s incredible gayness. However, Mercury was an original. He invented templates of gay masculinity that have by now passed into cliche. Back in the day, there was nobody like him. Just as some people viewed Mercury as a straight frontman, so the band itself has been viewed as hard rock on the strength of a few singles. Some Queen songs do rock pretty dang hard. Yet on many album tracks they sound like the world’s rockingest barbershop quartet. Queen is more complex than just hard rock.