Somebody to Love (Queen song)

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"Somebody to Love"
Single by Queen
from the album A Day at the Races
B-side "White Man"
Released 12 November 1976
Format 7"
Recorded 1976
Genre Glam rock, gospel
Length 4:56
Label EMI, Elektra
Writer(s) Freddie Mercury
Producer(s) Queen
Queen singles chronology
"You're My Best Friend"
(1976)
"Somebody to Love"
(1976)
"Tie Your Mother Down"
(1977)

"Somebody to Love" is a song by the British rock band Queen, written by the lead singer/pianist Freddie Mercury. It debuted on the band's 1976 album A Day at the Races and was also featured on their compilation album Greatest Hits.[1]

The song offers listeners something similar to that of Queen's earlier hit "Bohemian Rhapsody" with its complex harmonies and guitar solos; however instead of mimicking an English choir, the band turned to a gospel choir. It reached #2 in the UK and #13 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the US.[2][3] This song made it clear to fans that "Queen could swing as hard as it could rock, by channeling the spirit of gospel music."[4]

Written by Mercury at the piano, "Somebody to Love" is a soul-searching piece that questions God's role in a life without love. Through voice layering techniques, Queen was able to create the soulful sound of a 100 voice choir, with that of only three voices: Mercury, Brian May and Roger Taylor. John Deacon did not sing on the album's track. Mercury's fascination and admiration for Aretha Franklin was a major influence for the creation of this song.

Queen played "Somebody to Love" live between 1977–85, and a live performance of the song is recorded on the album Queen Rock Montreal.[5] In addition to these live performances, there has been collaboration on tributes to "Somebody to Love" after Mercury's death in 1991. The song was played live on 20 April 1992, during The Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert, with George Michael on lead vocals.[6]

Since its release in 1976, the song has appeared in a number of television shows, such as American Idol, The X Factor (UK), Glee and Gossip Girl, as well as movies, including Happy Feet and Ella Enchanted. Additionally, it has been covered by many artists.

Song[edit]

Like "Bohemian Rhapsody", the major hit from Queen's previous album A Night at the Opera (1975), "Somebody to Love" has a complex melody and deep layering of vocal tracks, this time based on a gospel choir arrangement.[7] It was the first single from A Day at the Races, on which Mercury, May and Taylor multitracked their voices to create the impression of a 100-voice gospel choir.[8] The lyrics, especially combined with the gospel influence, create a song about faith, desperation and soul-searching; the singer questions both the lack of love experienced in his life, and the role and existence of God.[1] Staying true to Queen's guitar-driven style, it was also filled with intricate harmonies and a notable guitar solo by May, and it went to #2 in the UK Singles Chart and #13 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the U.S.[2][3] The song is in the key of A major. The song possesses a great variety of notes, ranging from F2 in the harmonies on the line "Can anybody find me?", and G#2 to a C5 in full voice up to an A5 in falsetto in the lead vocals, all sung by Mercury.[9] The band have spoken of sections of the song which were recorded but never made it onto the final mix of the song, some of which have been leaked online.

A promotional video was made combining a staged recording session at Sarm East Studios (where the A Day at the Races album was recorded) and film footage of the band's record breaking performance at Hyde Park that September.[8][11] Peter Hince, the head of Queen's road crew, recalled to Mojo magazine: "Aesthetically, you had to have all four around the microphone, but John (Deacon) didn't sing on the records. By his own admission he didn't have the voice. He did sing on-stage but the crew always knew to keep the fader very low." [12] The song was included on their first Greatest Hits, released in 1981.[1]

Live performances[edit]

This was also one of few tracks where Deacon sang backing vocals when performed live. His voice was clearly heard on bootlegs from the band's performance at Earls Court in June 1977 and at the Houston Summit in December 1977.[13] From 1977-78, it was played about every show.[13][14] For the Jazz and Live Killer tours, it was also played consistently.[15] In The Game Tour, it was only played early in the tour. It was also played for South America Bites The Dust, Live at the Bowl and Queen Rock Montreal.[5][16] Later in The Works Tour, a shortened version was played as a medley preceding "Killer Queen".[17] A Live version from the 1984/85 tour was recorded and filmed on the concert film, Final Live in Japan 1985.[18]

When performed live, Mercury would often alter the melodies of the song, but would generally hit the sustained A4 notes throughout the song. The A4 at the peak of the building line "can anybody find me" on the studio version was not part of Mercury's original melody, but the other band members felt that it worked better than his. Mercury sings his original take on this line when live.

Even after Mercury's death in 1991, renditions of "Somebody to Love" have been performed live with the remaining band members, May and Taylor, and a number of different lead singers. At the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert held at Wembley Stadium, the song was performed by George Michael. Michael's performance of "Somebody to Love" has been hailed as "one of the best performances of the tribute concert".[19][20] It was even given serious consideration as to having George Michael take over as full-time lead singer of Queen.[21] The song was later rereleased in 1993 as the lead track of an EP called Five Live which went to #1 in the UK. This version is also available on Greatest Hits III, released in 1999.[1]

Personnel[edit]

Notable covers[edit]

Rock Band music gaming platform[edit]

The song was made available to download on 7 December 2010 for use in the Rock Band 3 music gaming platform in both Basic rhythm, and PRO mode which allows use of a real guitar/bass guitar, and MIDI compatible electronic drum kits/keyboards in addition to vocals.[30]

Trivia[edit]

In the final verse, when Mercury sings "some day I'm gonna be free" the 'choir' sing "one day I'm gonna be free".

[31]

Certifications[edit]

Region Certification
Italy (FIMI)[32] Gold

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Queen: Somebody to Love Allmusic. Retrieved 6 July 2011
  2. ^ a b Whitburn, Joel (2006). The Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits. Billboard Books
  3. ^ a b Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums. London: Guinness World Records Limited
  4. ^ Fox, Brian. "John Deacon on Queen’s ‘Somebody to Love'". Bass Player. Retrieved 27 March 2012. 
  5. ^ a b Queen Rock Montreal Allmusic. Retrieved 1 September 2011
  6. ^ a b The Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert: Somebody to Love Retrieved 25 June 2011
  7. ^ Queen interview: Brian May on Somebody to Love Absolute Radio. Retrieved 18 December 2011
  8. ^ a b A Day At The Races Queen Online. Retrieved 1 September 2011
  9. ^ "Freddie Mercury's highest notes". YouTube. Retrieved 2011-01-05 
  10. ^ "Somebody To Love". queenpedia.com. Retrieved 2010-03-13. 
  11. ^ Queen play Hyde Park BBC. Retrieved 1 September 2011
  12. ^ Somebody To Love Songfacts
  13. ^ a b Queen live on tour: News Of The World: Setlist Queen Concerts. Retrieved 2 July 2011
  14. ^ Queen live on tour: Day At The Races (world): Setlist Queen Concerts. Retrieved 2 July 2011
  15. ^ Queen live on tour: Jazz Queen Concerts. Retrieved 1 September 2011
  16. ^ Queen live on tour: S. America Bites The Dust Queen Concerts. Retrieved 1 September 2011
  17. ^ Queen live on tour: The Works 1984 Queen Concerts. Retrieved 1 September 2011
  18. ^ Final Concert Live In Japan: Somebody To Love Ultimate Queen. Retrieved 1 September 2011
  19. ^ h2g2 – Queen's Greatest Hits 3. BBC (1997-01-17). Retrieved on 2011-04-21.
  20. ^ Queen Greatest Vol 3. Albumlinernotes.com (1997-01-17). Retrieved on 2011-04-21.
  21. ^ Queen – Television Tropes & Idioms. Tvtropes.org (2010-01-01). Retrieved on 2011-04-21.
  22. ^ Ella Enchanted Original Soundtrack Allmusic. Retrieved 1 September 2011
  23. ^ Happy Feet Soundtrack Soundtrack Net. Retrieved 1 September 2011
  24. ^ 'GLEE: The Music, Volume 1' Track Listing Revealed Broadway world. Retrieved 16 July 2011
  25. ^ (Dutch) http://www.bol.com/nl/p/30-aniversario/1000004002325073/
  26. ^ http://www.mocedades.com/disco14.htm
  27. ^ "Lipdub -somebody to love - GLEE - the Hebrew University of Jerusalem" (Video). Hebrew University of Jerusalem campus, Jerusalem, Israel. 2010-10-10. Retrieved 2011-02-11. 
  28. ^ May, Brian (February 2010). "Letters". Retrieved 2011-02-05. 
  29. ^ "Frank Turner - Announces Full UK Tour After Headlining a Sold". Xtramile recordings.
  30. ^ Fahey, Mike (3 December 2010). "A Double Dose Of Queen For Rock Band 3". Kotaku. Gawker Media. Archived from the original on 20 November 2012. Retrieved 20 November 2012. 
  31. ^ false
  32. ^ "Italian single certifications – Queen – Somebody to Love" (in Italian). Federation of the Italian Music Industry. Retrieved 14 November 2014.  Select Online in the field Scegli la sezione. Select Week -- and Year ----. Enter Queen in the field Artista. Click Avvia la ricerca

External links[edit]