The Nation’s Favourite Queen Song
Tuesday 11 November at 9pm on ITV
This clip features members of Queen discussing dressing in drag for their I Want To Break Free music video.
Having racked up nearly fifty top 30 hits, Queen are a national treasure whose music has rocked the planet for forty years.
The Nation’s Favourite Queen Song uncovers the origins of their best-loved tunes and tells the stories behind the band’s bold and inventive music videos.
Featuring interviews with celebrity fans and Queen friends including Katy Perry, Tony Hadley, Mel C, Tony Iommi (Black Sabbath), Al Murray, Noddy Holder, Dame Zandra Rhodes, McFly’s Tom Fletcher, and Arlene Phillips, this 90 minute special counts down Britain’s 20 favourite Queen songs.
As rock’s ultimate showmen, the band formed an irresistible combination with Brian May on guitar, Roger Taylor on drums, John Deacon on bass and Freddie Mercury commanding audiences up front. The programme features brand new interviews with band members Brian and Roger, plus archive interviews with Freddie Mercury.
The Nation’s Favourite Queen Song hears from Freddie Mercury’s friends and band members about the singer’s decline in health towards the end of his life.
When discussing their 1989 hit I Want It All, Brian May says: “The first time we played it live was at the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert and I played it with Tony Iommi and Roger Daltrey. I just wish Freddie had been there to enjoy it because that song was made for him, he would have made such a good job of it live.”
Arlene Phillips, a friend of Freddie’s, discusses the poignancy of The Show Must Go On, released six weeks before Freddie’s death in 1991. She says: “My favourite song is The Show Must Go On, because ‘The Show’ means life. I think because of what was happening to Freddie, with all of that knowledge there’s an emotion in it you can never take away.”
Brian reveals what this song meant to him, saying: “I heard the lyric ‘My soul is painted like the wings of butterflies’. To me, it expressed all that I felt about Freddie and that, unbelievably, we might be losing him.”
As well as memorable lyrics and inimitable showmanship, Queen were pioneers in creating innovative music videos. On filming the video to Bohemian Rhapsody, Freddie said: “People think we took hours and hours to make that video, in fact it took about four hours.”
When discussing their video for I Want To Break Free, which featured the band in drag on a Coronation Street-style set and a surreal ballet sequence, Roger Taylor says: “The English and the Europeans absolutely loved that video and all the dressing up as women and everything. The Americans absolutely hated it.”
Brian May adds: “That’s what alienated us from a huge part of America for the next few years because they just couldn’t deal with us being in drag for no apparent reason.”
Queen not only had unique videos and unforgettable melodies, their songs had distinctive lyrics. Discussing the lyrics to Killer Queen, US superstar Katy Perry says: “I was 15 and I heard this song and my world just kind of stopped and went into slow motion, listening to the lyrics. I just couldn’t believe that anyone could be so magical with their words in that way.”
Spandau Ballet front man Tony Hadley similarly applauds Queen’s songwriting, saying: “I can’t actually think of another band that each member of the band individually wrote top ten songs. That’s incredible.”
On Freddie’s performance-style, former Spice Girl Mel C says he is “The ultimate performer.” In an archive interview, Freddie himself says: “I like to really ham it up and perform a song. I like to enjoy myself.”
The countdown, narrated by Matt Lucas, includes:
– Under Pressure – two rock greats came together as the band made a duet with David Bowie, although Brian May reveals there were tensions behind the scenes saying, “I think it was the only time in Queen history where I’ve bowed out.”
– These Are The Days of Our Lives – the last video Freddie recorded. Arlene Phillips says: “It’s the hardest video to watch. I get emotional when I see it or hear it.”
– I Want It All – Brian May reveals the idea for the song came from his wife Anita Dobson saying ‘I want it all and I want it now!’
– Radio Ga Ga – which the band played at Live Aid and saw 72,000 people mirror Freddie’s ‘hand clapping’ move from the video
– Another One Bites The Dust – the song Michael Jackson convinced the band to release as a single
– Plus many more hits including: We Are The Champions, A Kind Of Magic, Somebody to Love, Don’t Stop Me Now, We Will Rock You, You’re My Best Friend and many more.
The 20 classic Queen tracks featured in the show have been voted for by a representative panel of ITV viewers from across the country.