Bicycle Race

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For the sport, see Bicycle racing.
"Bicycle Race"
Single by Queen
from the album Jazz
A-side Fat Bottomed Girls
Released 13 October 1978
Format 7"
Recorded 1978
Genre Rock
Length 3:01
Label EMI, Elektra
Writer(s) Freddie Mercury
Producer(s) Queen and Roy Thomas Baker
Queen singles chronology
"It's Late"
(1978)
"Bicycle Race" /
"Fat Bottomed Girls"
(1978)
"Don't Stop Me Now"
(1979)
Music sample

"Bicycle Race" is a single by the English rock band Queen. It was released on their 1978 album Jazz and written by Queen's frontman Freddie Mercury. It was released as a double A-side single together with the song "Fat Bottomed Girls". The song is notable for its video featuring a bicycle race with nude women at Wimbledon Stadium, which was edited or even banned in several countries.

Song and lyrical content[edit]

The song was written by Mercury and was inspired by his observing a stage of the 1978 Tour de France passing where the band were recording 'Jazz' in France.[1][2] It starts with a chorus unaccompanied by instruments. The chorus is followed by two verses connected with a bridge, both followed by a chorus. Around the middle of the song there is a solo played with numerous bicycle bells. The song has an unusual chord progression with numerous modulations, a change of meter (from 4/4 to 6/8) in the bridge, and multitracked vocal and guitar harmonies.[3]

The lyrics are topical for the time and contain social, political and pop-culture references, such as religion, Watergate, drugs, fictional heroes (Peter Pan, Frankenstein and Superman), and the films Jaws and Star Wars. The song also mentions actor John Wayne. The lyrics may also mention of cocaine (known slangily as "coke"), but may also mean Coke the drink (also slangily known as "Coke", also due to one of its former ingredients being from the coca leaf used to make cocaine), or possibly well-known English actor Michael Caine as an amalgamation. The lyrics also mention the exclamatory interjection, "Hot dog!" and the idiom "Cool it, man!"

The song is also intertwined with the band's "Fat Bottomed Girls" single, both lyrically, (with the line "fat bottom girls they'll be riding today") and visually, featuring on the single artwork and the video.

Video[edit]

The video for the song became scandalously famous for featuring 65 naked women, all professional models, racing at Wimbledon Greyhound Stadium. It was filmed by Dennis de Vallance. The group rented the stadium and several dozen bikes for one day for filming the scene; however, when the renting company became aware of the way their bikes were used, they requested that the group purchase all the bicycle seats.[1][4][5] The original video uses special effects to hide the nudity.[6]

Distribution[edit]

The song was released as a single and is also included in the following albums and box sets: Queen, Bohemian Rhapsody, 15 Of The Best, Queen Live In Concert, Greatest Hits and The Singles Collection Volume 1.[7]

The single was mostly distributed in 1978, on 7-inch vinyl records, with "Fat Bottomed Girls" on the B-side and EMI record label. In Argentina, the titles were translated as "Carrera de Bicicletas" and "Chicas Gordas", respectively. The labels were changed to Pepita in Hungary and to Elektra in the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Japan. The Polish issue had the label of Tonpress[8] and either "Spread Your Wing" or nothing on the B-side. Both 7-inch and 12-inch records were issued in the US; there the song also appeared in 1979, on the B-side of the single "Crazy Little Thing Called Love". In nearly all countries, the covers featured a backside photo of a naked woman on a racing bike, with a red bikini painted over the original photo.[9][1] A bra was added to the US covers.[10][11]

Personnel[edit]

Chart performance and cover versions[edit]

Country Peak
position
Held during Charted
for (weeks)
Australia 28[12] 9
Austria 21[13] Jan 1979 4
Germany 27[14] 11–18 Dec 1978 12
Ireland 10[15] 7
New Zealand 20[13] 8
The Netherlands 5[13][16] 25 Nov – 2 Dec 1978 11
Norway 7[13] 9
UK 11[12][17] 25 Nov – 9 Dec 1978 12
US 24[12][18]


Bicycle Race/Fat Bottomed Girls

The song was covered by

The song's chorus was sampled in "C'mon Let Me Ride" by Skylar Grey featuring Eminem.

Alternate artwork[edit]

A bicycle race with nude women was held to promote the Jazz album, the single and the "Fat Bottomed Girls" single. This photo was included as a fold-out poster with the album Jazz. It was also included as an alternate single cover.[19]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Phil Sutcliffe; Peter Hince; Reinhold Mack (15 November 2009). Queen: The Ultimate Illustrated History of the Crown Kings of Rock. MBI Publishing Company. pp. 122–. ISBN 978-0-7603-3719-6. Retrieved 23 February 2011. . Sutcliffe counters a popular belief that Mercury was inspired by seeing the Tour through a hotel window in Nice by that the Tour did not pass through Nice that year.
  2. ^ M. Felsani; M. Primi; M. Saita (1997). Queen. Tutti i testi con traduzione a fronte. Taylor & Francis. pp. 16–. ISBN 978-88-09-02418-2. Retrieved 23 February 2011. 
  3. ^ Queen Songs – The Book: Bicycle Race. Queensongs.info. Retrieved on 2011-02-20.
  4. ^ The great rock and roll tour | Mail Online. Dailymail.co.uk. Retrieved on 2011-02-24.
  5. ^ Peter Buckley (28 October 2003). The rough guide to rock. Rough Guides. pp. 7–. ISBN 978-1-84353-105-0. Retrieved 23 February 2011. 
  6. ^ Queen Promo Videos – Bicycle Race Ultimate Queen. Retrieved 3 September 2011
  7. ^ Queen Non-UK Albums Discography. Ultimatequeen.co.uk. Retrieved on 2011-02-20.
  8. ^ Nielsen Business Media, Inc. (1 September 1979). Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. pp. 97–. ISSN 0006-2510. Retrieved 24 February 2011. 
  9. ^ For the original photo see c. 47:00 of the BBC video Queen – Days of Our Lives, pt. 1
  10. ^ BICYCLE RACE as an a-side, pcpki.com
  11. ^ Bicycle Race (Велогонка) — Queen, Music-facts.ru
  12. ^ a b c Queen International Singles Chart Positions. Pcpki.com. Retrieved on 2011-02-20.
  13. ^ a b c d Queen – Bicycle Race. austriancharts.at. Retrieved on 2011-02-20.
  14. ^ Die ganze Musik im Internet: Charts, News, Neuerscheinungen, Tickets, Genres, Genresuche, Genrelexikon, Künstler-Suche, Musik-Suche, Track-Suche, Ticket-Suche. musicline.de. Retrieved on 2011-02-20.
  15. ^ Jaclyn Ward. "The Irish Charts". Fireball Media Group. fireballmedia.ie. Irishcharts.ie. Retrieved 2012-12-25. 
  16. ^ Queen – Bicycle Race. dutchcharts.nl. Retrieved on 2011-02-20.
  17. ^ Queen – Bicycle Race. Chart Stats. Retrieved on 2011-02-20.
  18. ^ Nielsen Business Media, Inc. (26 June 1982). Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. pp. 95–. ISSN 0006-2510. Retrieved 23 February 2011. 
  19. ^ "Sixty-five naked women were perched atop bicycles rented from Halford's Cycles and sent racing around Wimbledon Stadium". Queenpedia.com. Retrieved 2012-12-25. 

External links[edit]