We Will Rock You

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"We Will Rock You"
We Will Rock You by Queen (1977 French single).png
One of the French single picture sleeves
Single by Queen
from the album News of the World
A-side "We Are the Champions"
Released7 October 1977 [1]
Genre Arena rock [2]
Length2:02
Label
Songwriter(s) Brian May
Producer(s)
Queen singles chronology
"Long Away"
(1977)
"We Are the Champions" / "We Will Rock You"
(1977)
"Spread Your Wings"
(1978)
Music video
"We Will Rock You" on YouTube

"We Will Rock You" is a song written by Brian May and recorded by British rock band Queen for their 1977 album News of the World . [3] Rolling Stone ranked it number 330 of "The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time" in 2004, [4] and it placed at number 146 on the Songs of the Century list in 2001. In 2009, "We Will Rock You" was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. [5] [6]

Contents

Other than the last 30 seconds, which contains a guitar solo by May, the song is generally set in a cappella form, using only stomping and clapping as a rhythmic body percussion beat. In 1977, "We Will Rock You" and "We Are the Champions" were issued together as a worldwide top 10 single. [7] Soon after the album was released, many radio stations began playing the songs consecutively and without interruption. [8]

Since its release, "We Will Rock You" has been covered, remixed, sampled, parodied, referred to, and used by multiple recording artists, TV shows, films and other media worldwide. [9] [10] It has also become a popular stadium anthem at sports events around the world, due mostly to its simple rhythm. [11] [12] On 7 October 2017, Queen released a Raw Sessions version of the track to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the release of News of the World. It features a radically different approach to the guitar solo and includes May's count-in immediately prior to the recording. [13]

Music

"We Will Rock You" and "We Are the Champions" were written in response to an event that occurred during the A Day at the Races Tour. [14] The band played at Stafford's Bingley Hall, and, according to Brian May:

We did an encore and then went off, and instead of just keeping clapping, they sang "You'll Never Walk Alone" to us, and we were just completely knocked out and taken aback – it was quite an emotional experience really, and I think these chant things are in some way connected with that. [15]

One version was used as the opening track on 1977's News of the World . This consists of a stomp-stomp-clap-pause beat, and a power chorus, being somewhat of an anthem. The stamping effects were created by the band overdubbing the sounds of themselves stomping and clapping many times and adding delay effects to create a sound like many people were participating. The durations of the delays were in the ratios of prime numbers, a technique now known as non-harmonic reverberation. [16] A tape loop is used to repeat the last phrase of the guitar solo three times as opposed to Brian May playing it three separate times on the recording. [17] The "stomp, stomp, clap" sounds were later used in the Queen + Paul Rodgers song "Still Burnin'". [18]

When performed live, the song is usually followed by "We Are the Champions", as they were designed to run together. [7] The songs are often paired on the radio and at sporting events, where they are frequently played. [7] They were the last two songs Queen performed at Live Aid in 1985. [19]

Queen also performed an alternative version of "We Will Rock You" known as the "fast version", featuring a faster-feeling tempo and a full band arrangement. The band would frequently use this version to open their live sets in the late 1970s and early 1980s, as heard on the albums Live Killers (1979), Queen on Fire - Live at the Bowl (2004), Queen Rock Montreal (2007), and the expanded edition of News of the World (2011). A studio recording of this version is also known to exist, recorded for John Peel's show on BBC Radio 1 in 1977. It is part of a longer cut that starts with the original version. In 2002, the fast version was officially released on a promo single distributed by the tabloid The Sun . The "fast" BBC studio version can also be found on The Best of King Biscuit Live Volume 4. Between the two versions, there is a brief cut of Roger Taylor quoting Hermann Hesse's novel Siddhartha , used in a BBC Radio documentary. The fast version is also used as the curtain call music for the musical of the same title, after the finale, which is a pairing of the original "We Will Rock You" and "We Are the Champions". It was the most played song during the 2008–2009 seasons of the National Football League, National Hockey League and Major League Baseball. [12]

Music video

The music video for "We Will Rock You" was filmed in January 1977 alongside "Spread Your Wings" at the back garden of Roger Taylor's mansion. [20] It sees the band lip synching the song, hand clapping with gloves and foot stomping on a frozen ground. [21] In an interview with Billboard , Taylor spoke on filming the video:

We shot it on the grounds of a country house I'd just bought in Surrey and we hadn't completed the sale, so we weren't allowed in the house. We figured, 'we might as well shoot it here.' It was absolutely freezing cold and we did three takes. [22]

Chart performance

Certifications and sales

RegionCertification Certified units/sales
Denmark (IFPI Denmark) [43] Platinum90,000Double-dagger-14-plain.png
France (SNEP) [44]
We Will Rock You / We Are The Champions
Gold500,000*
Germany (BVMI) [45] Gold250,000Double-dagger-14-plain.png
Italy (FIMI) [46] 2× Platinum100,000Double-dagger-14-plain.png
Japan (RIAJ) [47] Gold100,000*
Japan (RIAJ) [48]
Chaku-Uta-R
2× Platinum500,000*
United Kingdom (BPI) [49]
sales since 2011
Platinum600,000Double-dagger-14-plain.png
United States (RIAA) [50] 4× Platinum4,000,000Double-dagger-14-plain.png

* Sales figures based on certification alone.
Double-dagger-14-plain.png Sales+streaming figures based on certification alone.

Notable cover versions

Five + Queen version

"We Will Rock You"
Wwry 5ive.jpg
Single by Five + Queen
from the album Invincible
B-side
  • Megamix
  • Keep on Movin' (The Five-A-Side Mix)
Released2000
Length3:08
Label Sony BMG
Songwriter(s) Brian May
Producer(s)
  • Richard Stannard
  • Julian Gallagher
Five singles chronology
"Don't Wanna Let You Go"
(2000)
"We Will Rock You"
(2000)
"Let's Dance"
(2001)
Queen singles chronology
"Under Pressure (Rah Mix)"
(1999)
"We Will Rock You"
(2000)
"Flash (Vanguard Mix)"
(2003)
Music video
"We Will Rock You" on YouTube

In 2000, British boy band Five released a cover of "We Will Rock You". It was the fourth single released from their second studio album, Invincible (1999). The song features two members of Queen: Brian May on guitar and Roger Taylor on drums; however, they do not sing any vocals on the track. Freddie Mercury had died in November 1991, nearly a decade before this version's release, and John Deacon had retired from public life three years before the release of the Five cover.

The song charted at number one on the UK Singles Chart, making it Five's second number-one single, and their ninth consecutive top-ten hit. [51]

Track listing

UK CD1
  1. "We Will Rock You" (Radio Edit) – 3:08
  2. "Keep on Movin'" (The Five-A-Side Mix) – 3:32
  3. "We Will Rock You" (Video) – 3:08
UK CD2
  1. "We Will Rock You" (Radio Edit) – 3:08
  2. "Invincible Megamix" (including "We Will Rock You") – 4:19
  3. "Invincible Megamix" (Video) – 4:19
UK cassette single
  1. "We Will Rock You" (Radio Edit) – 3:08
  2. "Keep on Movin'" (The Five-A-Side Mix) – 3:32
  3. "Invincible Megamix" (including "We Will Rock You") – 4:19
European CD single
  1. "We Will Rock You" (Radio Edit) – 3:08
  2. "Invincible Megamix" (without "We Will Rock You") – 3:43
  3. "We Will Rock You" (Video) – 3:08

Chart performance

KCPK version

A remix by KCPK, sung by a chorus of children, was released in a series of animated Evian adverts which aired in France, Germany and Belgium. The remix was later released as a single and entered the local charts. [73]

Other versions

Sampling

Live cover performances

1990s

2000s

2010s

Remixes

Parodies and references to the song

See also

Related Research Articles

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