A Kind of Magic (song)

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This article is about the song A Kind of Magic. For the album, see A Kind of Magic.
"A Kind of Magic"
Single by Queen
from the album A Kind of Magic
B-side "A Dozen Red Roses for My Darling"
"Gimme the Prize (Kurgan's Theme)" (US)
Released 17 March 1986 (UK)
4 June 1986 (US)
Format 7"/12" vinyl single
Recorded September 1985 – January 1986
Genre Rock
Length
  • 4:25 (Album version)
  • 3:37 (CD bonus track: "A Kind of 'A Kind of Magic'")
  • 6:23 (12" extended version)
  • 4:10 (Original Highlander version)
Label EMI, Capitol
Writer(s) Roger Taylor
Producer(s) Queen, David Richards
Queen singles chronology
"One Vision"
(1985)
"A Kind of Magic"
(1986)
"Princes of the Universe"
(1986)

"A Kind of Magic" is a rock song written by Roger Taylor for the film Highlander, for which Queen wrote the music. The song reached number three in the UK Singles Chart, top ten in a number of European countries, and #42 on the US Billboard Hot 100. The song is the opening track on the band's compilation albums, Greatest Hits II, and Classic Queen.[1]

Recording[edit]

Name[edit]

The phrase "a kind of magic" is actually used in the film by Christopher Lambert, and impressed Roger Taylor so much that he used it as inspiration for the song. There are references to the film in the lyrics: "one prize, one goal"; "no mortal man"; "there can be only one".

Composition[edit]

Taylor wrote the melody and chords for the version that appeared in the film, which Brian May described as "quite lugubrious and heavy."[2] Freddie Mercury composed a new bass line, added instrumental breaks, and changed the song's order to make it more chart friendly. Mercury and David Richards produced this new version. The song was still credited only to Taylor. Whilst Taylor's version is at the end of the film, Mercury's version appears on the album. Taylor's version of A Kind of Magic did not see official release until it was included on the extra EP for the 2011 special edition of the album.

Live performances[edit]

The song was a live favourite on The Magic Tour of the same year, which proved to be Queen's last with the original foursome.

Taylor often included the song in solo set lists, and those with his band The Cross. On the Rock the Cosmos Tour of Europe, Taylor took lead vocals for the song at some concerts.

Music video[edit]

The music video for this song was directed by Russell Mulcahy, director of Highlander. Notable is that Brian May did not use his famous Red Special guitar in the music video, but instead a 1984 copy. In the video, Mercury is dressed as a magician type figure. He enters an abandoned theatre (The Playhouse Theatre in London) where May, Taylor and John Deacon (all dressed as stereotypical tramps) are asleep until awakened by Mercury's entrance. Mercury transforms the hobos into the Queen members, dressed regularly with their instruments, then back to hobos again as he leaves. Throughout the video, cartoon images dance to the beat of the song which was produced by the Walt Disney Corporation. As May later remembered, the theater was old and derelict, and lacking central heating, so the band were quite cold during the March filming.

Legacy[edit]

The single was certified platinum in Brazil for more than 100,000 digital downloads of the single.[3] On Last.fm the song has more than 48,000 hits and is the sixteenth most listened Queen song ever.[4]


Queen's compilations The Platinum Collection, Classic Queen, and Greatest Hits II all make an unsubstantiated claim that the song reached #1 in 35 countries around the world,[5] but to date, there is no known territory where the song did reach the top position.

Chart positions[edit]

1986 Charts Position
UK Singles Chart 3
Irish Singles Chart 3
Swiss Singles Chart 3
Dutch Singles Chart 4
French Singles Chart 5
German Singles Chart 6
Australian Singles Chart 6
Austrian Singles Chart 12
U.S. Singles Chart 42

Sales and Certifications[edit]

Region Certification Sales/shipments
Brazil (ABPD)[6] Platinum 100,000*

^shipments figures based on certification alone

Personnel[edit]

Usage in other media[edit]

  • The music was used in the trailer for the film The Adventures of Pinocchio.
  • A promotional music video, made by Boeing, was released called, Hornet Magic was released on VHS. The video was music video of the song set to video footage of F/A-18E/F Super Hornet fighter planes. In the video, the word "magic" appeared on screen every time it was mentioned in the song.
  • A shortened version of the song is used in the opening credits of the children's animated series A Kind of Magic.
  • The song was heard on a launch promo of Disney Channel in the UK in 1995, but also in 2009 for the launch in the Netherlands and Flanders.
  • A sample of Mercury saying "Ha ha ha ha ha, it's magic" also appears in the Queen version of the song "I Was Born to Love You" from their 1995 album Made in Heaven.
  • M-Net have used the song in promo's several times, as their motto is "we call it magic".
  • The BBC used the song as the background music for the 1986 edition of the The Rock 'n' Roll Years (aired in 1994) when featuring footage from the all-Merseyside FA Cup final of that year, in which Liverpool beat Everton 3-1 at Wembley Stadium.
  • The BBC also used the song in a montage showing clips from Series 1 of Merlin.
  • The Brazilian telephony company Claro used the song in the launch campaign for their first 3G cellphones. The commercials depicted people using the new features only possible with 3G technology with "A Kind of Magic" as the background music.
  • It was used as the ending song for the #18 episode of the Queer as Folk series' first season; the episode was directed by Russell Mulcahy.
  • It was used by the BBC for the introduction of the opening ceremony in the 1986 Commonwealth games in Edinburgh.
  • It's a Kind of Magic was also the theme tune to the Park 'Christmas' Catalogue advert in the United Kingdom.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Queen Album: Classic Queen MTV. Retrieved 2 July 2011
  2. ^ Purvis, Georg (2011). Queen Complete Works. London: Titan Books. p. 209. 
  3. ^ ABPD | Associaçăo Brasileira de Produtores de Disco
  4. ^ Queen’s Charts — Top Songs by Queen — Last.fm
  5. ^ Jenkins, Jim; Smith, Jacky; Davis, Andy; Symes, Phil (2000). The Platinum Collection (CD booklet). Queen. Parlophone. p. 11. 7243 5 29883 2 7. 
  6. ^ "Brazilian single certifications – A Kind of Magic" (in Portuguese). Associação Brasileira dos Produtores de Discos. 
  1. "A Kind Of Magic by Queen Songfacts". Songfacts. Archived from the original on 23 December 2007. Retrieved 31 December 2007. 

External links[edit]