A Kind of Magic

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A Kind of Magic
Studio album by
Released2 June 1986[1]
RecordedSeptember 1985 – April 1986
Queen chronology
The Complete Works
A Kind of Magic
Live Magic
Singles from A Kind of Magic
  1. "One Vision"
    Released: 4 November 1985 (UK)
  2. "Princes of the Universe"
    Released: 12 March 1986 (US)[4]
  3. "A Kind of Magic"
    Released: 17 March 1986 (UK)
  4. "Friends Will Be Friends"
    Released: 9 June 1986 (UK)[5]
  5. "Pain Is So Close to Pleasure"
    Released: 20 August 1986 (US)[6]
  6. "Who Wants to Live Forever"
    Released: 15 September 1986[7]
  7. "One Year of Love"
    Released: September 1986 (France)[8]

A Kind of Magic is the twelfth studio album by the British rock band Queen, released on 2 June 1986 by EMI Records in the UK and by Capitol Records in the US. It is based on the soundtrack to the film Highlander, directed by Russell Mulcahy.

A Kind of Magic was Queen's first album to be released since they had received acclaim for their performance at Live Aid in 1985. It was an immediate hit in the UK, going straight to number one and selling 100,000 copies in its first week. It remained in the UK charts for 63 weeks,[9] selling 600,000 in the UK alone. The album spawned four hit singles: the album's title track "A Kind of Magic", "One Vision", "Friends Will Be Friends",[10] and "Who Wants to Live Forever", which features an orchestra conducted by Michael Kamen, while the album's final track, "Princes of the Universe", is the theme song to Highlander.[11]

Although Queen would release another two albums with Freddie Mercury still alive, A Kind of Magic would turn out to be his last album promoted with a concert tour, due to his diagnosis with AIDS the following year.

Background and recording - A Kind of Magic and Highlander[edit]

The album enjoys the status of an unofficial soundtrack for the 1986 film Highlander, for which no official soundtrack album was released. The title, "A Kind of Magic", derived from one of the lines character Connor MacLeod (Christopher Lambert) says to describe his immortality.[12] Six out of nine songs on the album appeared in the film, although in different versions. The three songs that did not appear in Highlander are "Pain Is So Close to Pleasure", "Friends Will Be Friends" and "One Vision", which was featured a year earlier in the film Iron Eagle. Conversely, a recording of "Theme from New York, New York" made specifically for a scene in Highlander does not appear on A Kind of Magic, and in fact has never been released in album form to date. Band member Brian May, according to a statement he made on the Greatest Video Hits 2 DVD (2003), had, at least at that point, the intention to work on a proper Highlander soundtrack in the future. In one scene, a snippet of "Hammer to Fall" plays on a radio, a song from the previously released The Works album.


Side one[edit]

"One Vision"[edit]

After Queen's contribution to Live Aid, Freddie Mercury was enthusiastic about the band and soon after called them to go to the studio and write a song together which became "One Vision". All four band members were credited as songwriters; however, Roger Taylor stated in an interview with Australian TV that originally it had been his song, with lyrics reflecting Martin Luther King Jr. He joked that "that rotter Freddie" changed all his lyrics with additions like "one shrimp, one prawn, one clam, one chicken", and even name-checked John Deacon. Brian May played the opening synth section using a Yamaha DX-7. The sessions were filmed and later released on the 2003 DVD set Greatest Video Hits 2. The song does not appear in Highlander, but was used in the 1986 movie Iron Eagle.

"A Kind of Magic"[edit]

"A Kind of Magic" was written by Taylor. He has admitted writing down some lyrics, which proved to be the basis for both "One Vision" and "A Kind of Magic", something made obvious by the demo of the song appearing for the first time on the 2011 Universal bonus EP, which mixes some lyrics. Later on, unbeknownst to Taylor who had gone to the US for a few days, Mercury took it over, "polished" the lyrics, added the bassline, some connectors and re-arranged the structure. Regardless, the new, more pop-oriented version was still credited to Taylor. It was this version that was featured on the album, released as a single and included their auxiliary live musician, Spike Edney, playing some keyboards. The heavier, rockier alternate version, also making its official debut on the 2011 Universal bonus EP, played during the end credits of Highlander. The song was covered by Elaine Paige in 1988 on her album called The Queen Album.

"One Year of Love"[edit]

"One Year of Love" is a song by John Deacon. The album version features him playing Yamaha DX7 synth, a string orchestra conducted by Lynton Naiff and a saxophone played by Steve Gregory. Deacon decided to substitute the guitar components with a saxophone solo after a discussion with May, who does not appear in the song. It was released as a single only in France and Spain, and appeared during a bar scene and an instrumental piano version appeared in a scene where Connor Macleod was in Brenda Wyatt's apartment in Highlander. It was also covered by Elaine Paige on The Queen Album in 1988 and later by Dutch singer Stevie Ann in 2006.

"Pain Is So Close to Pleasure"[edit]

"Pain Is So Close to Pleasure" was written by Mercury and Deacon. Beginning as a riff idea by May, Deacon and Mercury subsequently turned that into a Motown-style song, with Deacon playing rhythm guitar. A slightly remixed and reworked version was released as a single in 1986, reaching No. 26 on the Dutch charts. The title also appears as a line in "One Year of Love".

"Friends Will Be Friends"[edit]

"Friends Will Be Friends" is a song by Mercury and Deacon, with lyrics written by Mercury.[13] It is one of the last of Mercury's piano ballads, and bears some similarity to "Play the Game" and "We Are the Champions". It did not feature in Highlander. It was noted as being a modern update of the 1970s Queen rock anthems "We Are the Champions" and "We Will Rock You", and reached No. 14 in the UK. During the Magic Tour, the song was played between "We Will Rock You" and "We Are The Champions", the traditional closing songs of Queen live performances.

Side two[edit]

"Who Wants to Live Forever"[edit]

"Who Wants to Live Forever" was composed by May, and sung in the album version as a duet between himself and Mercury. Synthesizer parts are played on a Yamaha DX-7 by May, and the orchestra was arranged and conducted by Michael Kamen. Deacon did not participate, and Taylor played some drum-machine parts and contributed backing vocals. Percussion was taken over by the orchestra as well as double bass, in spite of Taylor and Deacon miming those parts respectively in the video. It serves as somewhat of a "love theme" of Highlander, as it adds to the sub-plot of the movie. In the film, Mercury sings the opening of the song as well, unlike the album version, which has May singing.

"Gimme the Prize (Kurgan's Theme)"[edit]

"Gimme the Prize" was written by May. This song is widely known for its heavy metal features. It is featured in Highlander, and also samples various lines from the film, most notably "I have something to say: It's better to burn out than to fade away" and "There can be only one", spoken by actors Clancy Brown (The Kurgan) and Christopher Lambert (Connor MacLeod) respectively. Director Russell Mulcahy states in the DVD commentary that this was his least favourite of the band's songs used in the film because he does not like heavy metal. May also commented to a Japanese magazine in 1986 that both Mercury and Deacon hated the song.

"Don't Lose Your Head"[edit]

"Don't Lose Your Head" was composed by Taylor and features singer Joan Armatrading in a vocal cameo. The song takes its name from a line spoken in Highlander, and is played for a short time when Kurgan kidnaps Brenda. The song then segues into a cover of "Theme from New York, New York", though it is only a small clip. It is also featured in an episode of Highlander: The Series titled "Free Fall". An instrumental version of the track entitled "A Dozen Red Roses for My Darling" is featured as the B-side to "A Kind of Magic".

"Princes of the Universe"[edit]

"Princes of the Universe" is the film's theme song and the only song on the album for which Mercury received sole credit. It is quite a complex and heavy work, showing Queen returning to their hard rock roots. The song is played in the opening credits of Highlander.[14] The music video uses clips and scenery from the movie, as well as a cameo by Christopher Lambert, who fights with Mercury on part of the film set at Elstree Studios, London on 14 February 1986. The song's name comes from the original working title of the film.[1]


  • Queen recorded "One Vision", released in the UK on 4 November 1985, the first after their much-lauded appearance at the Live Aid concert. It did well on the charts, reaching No. 7 in the UK and making the top ten throughout Europe. The song appeared in Iron Eagle.
  • "A Kind of Magic", released in the UK on 17 March 1986, reached No. 3 on its home chart. While charting well everywhere else, it peaked at No. 42 in the US and has been played on radio mostly in New England (similar to their first single "Keep Yourself Alive"). Russell Mulcahy, director of Highlander, directed the song's accompanying video.
  • "Friends Will Be Friends", released on 9 June 1986, reached No. 14 in the UK and made the top 40 throughout Europe.
  • "Who Wants to Live Forever", released on 15 September 1986, reached No. 24 in the UK. The National Philharmonic Orchestra featured in the song's video, along with forty choirboys and 2000 candles.
  • "Pain Is So Close to Pleasure", released in the US and parts of Europe only.
  • "One Year of Love", released in France and Spain only.
  • "Princes of the Universe" was never released as a single in the UK. It was, however, released as a single in Australia, and became a mild hit, reaching No. 28 in the spring of 1986. The song has been a cult favourite, due to Highlander, in the US. It was also used as the theme music for the Highlander television series, which aired from 1992 to 1998. The music video featured Christopher Lambert and the band on part of the film set at Elstree Studios in London and is cut with scenes from the film. The song also appears on Greatest Hits III.[15] It was released as a single in the Netherlands on 28 February 2000.



Professional ratings
Review scores
Chicago Tribune[17]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music[18]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide[20]

Rolling Stone described the album as "heavy plastic", concluding: "This band might as well put some pomp back in its rock. Its members are never going to make it as dignified elder statesmen".[21] The Times described the album as one of "the most spectacularly successful releases this year", yet questioned its appeal, asking, "why does it not extend to those of us who are given the records to review?"[10] People Weekly wrote: "There's hardly a personal expression, let alone an intimate one, in this album... The group can be dazzling. In this case they're just overbearing".[22] Kerrang!'s Paul Henderson wondered "how much of the album is the 'real' Queen and how much is the result of the constraints/musical slant imposed upon them by writing material to go with a movie", concluding that "only a band of Queen's stature (...) could put out an album of such diverse songs without disappointing a sizeable portion of their fans".[19]

In a retrospective review, Greg Prato of AllMusic wrote: "It may not have been as cohesive as some of their other albums, but A Kind of Magic was their best work in some time".[16] Queen biographer Mark Blake wrote: "The album's confused origins made for a somewhat uneven listening experience... only the title cut and 'Who Wants to Live Forever' were songs that would survive the album's natural shelf life. Like every Queen record since Jazz, A Kind of Magic was a so-so album, cleverly loaded with two or three potential hit singles".[23]

In the 1994 edition of The Guinness All Time Top 1000 Albums, the album was voted No. 171 in the all-time greatest rock and pop albums.[24] In 2006, a national BBC poll saw the album voted the 42nd-greatest album of all time.[25] In 2007, Classic Rock ranked A Kind of Magic the 28th-greatest soundtrack album of all time.[26]

Track listing[edit]

All lead vocals by Freddie Mercury unless noted.

Side one
1."One Vision"5:11
2."A Kind of Magic"Taylor4:24
3."One Year of Love"Deacon4:27
4."Pain Is So Close to Pleasure"
  • Mercury
  • Deacon
5."Friends Will Be Friends"
  • Mercury
  • Deacon
Side two
No.TitleWriter(s)Lead vocalsLength
6."Who Wants to Live Forever"MayMercury and Brian May5:15
7."Gimme the Prize (Kurgan's Theme)"May 4:33
8."Don't Lose Your Head"TaylorMercury with Joan Armatrading4:38
9."Princes of the Universe"Mercury 3:33
Total length:40:42
  • Sides one and two were combined as tracks 1–9 on the CD release.
Extra tracks (CD release only)
No.TitleWriter(s)Lead vocalsLength
10."A Kind of 'A Kind of Magic' " (Second half of the extended version of "A Kind of Magic"[28])Taylor 3:38
11."Friends Will Be Friends Will Be Friends..." (Extended version of "Friends Will Be Friends"[29])Mercury, Deacon 5:58
12."Forever" (Piano version of "Who Wants to Live Forever"[27])MayInstrumental3:20
Total length:52:58
Bonus tracks (1991 Hollywood Records CD reissue)
11."One Vision" (Extended Version)6:23
Total length:50:25
Disc 2: Bonus EP (2011 Universal Music CD reissue)
1."A Kind of Magic" (Highlander version)4:22
2."One Vision" (Single Version)4:00
3."Pain Is So Close to Pleasure" (Single Remix)3:57
5."A Kind of Vision" (Demo, August 1985)3:23
6."One Vision" (live at Wembley Stadium, 11 July 1986)5:12
7."Friends Will Be Friends Will Be Friends..."5:59
Total length:30:13
Bonus videos (2011 iTunes deluxe edition)
8."One Vision" (Extended promo video[30])6:28
9."Princes of the Universe" (Promo video[31])3:31
10."A Kind of Magic" (live at Wembley Stadium, July 11, 1986[32])6:46
Total length:46:18


Track numbering refers to CD and digital releases of the album.


  • Freddie Mercury – lead vocals (all tracks), backing vocals (1-6, 8-9), keyboards (2, 4, 5, 8, 9), sampler (1, 2, 4, 5)
  • Brian May – electric guitar (all but 3), backing vocals (1, 5, 6, 9), synthesizer (1, 6), sampler (1), lead vocals (6)
  • Roger Taylor – drums, backing vocals (1, 2, 5, 6, 9), drum machine (2, 6, 8), electronic drums (1, 5), tambourine (3)
  • John Deacon – bass (all but 6), electric guitar (4, 5, 8), synthesizer (3, 4), sampler (3, 4), drum machine (3, 4), backing vocals (1)

Additional personnel



Region Certification Certified units/sales
Austria (IFPI Austria)[57] Platinum 50,000*
Brazil (Pro-Música Brasil)[58] Gold 100,000*
France (SNEP)[59] Gold 100,000*
Germany (BVMI)[60] 3× Gold 750,000^
Italy (FIMI)[61]
sales since 2009
Gold 25,000
New Zealand (RMNZ)[62] Gold 7,500^
Poland (ZPAV)[63]
2008 Agora SA album reissue
3× Platinum 60,000*
Spain (PROMUSICAE)[64] Platinum 100,000^
Switzerland (IFPI Switzerland)[65] 2× Platinum 100,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[66] 2× Platinum 600,000^
United States (RIAA)[67] Gold 500,000^
Yugoslavia[68] Gold 50,000[68]

* Sales figures based on certification alone.
^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.
Sales+streaming figures based on certification alone.


  1. ^ a b c Brooks, Greg; Taylor, Gary. "Discography: A Kind Of Magic". Queenonline.com. Archived from the original on 20 March 2016. Retrieved 26 September 2014.
  2. ^ "Queen – A Kind Of Magic (1986, Gatefold, DMM, Vinyl)". Discogs.com. 1986.
  3. ^ "A Kind Of Magic Liner Notes". QueenVault.com.
  4. ^ "Queen singles".
  5. ^ "Queen singles".
  6. ^ "Queen singles". Queen Vault.
  7. ^ "Queen singles".
  8. ^ "Queen singles".
  9. ^ A Kind Of Magic Chart Stats. Retrieved 15 August 2011
  10. ^ a b A Kind of Magic review. The Times. 21 June 1986. Archived at queenarchives.com
  11. ^ Bartkowiak, Mathew J. (2010) Sounds of the Future: Essays on Music in Science Fiction Film p. 19. Retrieved 15 August 2011
  12. ^ "Quotes from "Highlander"". IMDb.
  13. ^ May, Brian (30 July 2006). "Bri's Soapbox". brianmay.com. Retrieved 29 December 2008.
  14. ^ Freestone, Peter (2001). Freddie Mercury: An Intimate Memoir by the Man who Knew Him Best. London: Omnibus Press. p. 96. ISBN 978-0-71198-674-9. Retrieved 1 September 2011.
  15. ^ "Queen – Greatest Hits III". Allmusic. Retrieved 1 September 2011.
  16. ^ a b Prato, Greg. "Queen A Kind of Magic review". Allmusic. Archived from the original on 10 November 2010. Retrieved 19 November 2010.
  17. ^ Kot, Greg (19 April 1992). "An 18-record, 80 Million-copy Odyssey". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 19 April 2016.
  18. ^ Larkin, Colin (2011). Encyclopedia of Popular Music (5th ed.). Omnibus Press. p. 2248. ISBN 978-0857125958.
  19. ^ a b Henderson, Paul (26 June 1986). "Queen 'A Kind of Magic'". Kerrang!. Vol. 123. London: United Magazines. p. 12.
  20. ^ "Queen: Album Guide". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 11 June 2012.
  21. ^ Coleman, Mark (9 October 1986). "Queen – A Kind of Magic". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 13 September 2011.
  22. ^ "'A Kind of Magic' review". People Weekly. 25 August 1986. Archived from the original on 4 March 2012 – via QueenArchives.com.
  23. ^ Blake, Mark (2011). Is This the Real Life?: The Untold Story of Queen. Aurum Press. ISBN 978-1845137137. Archived from the original on 31 December 2018. Retrieved 30 December 2018.
  24. ^ "The Guinness All Time Top 1000 Albums 1994". Rocklistmusic.co.uk. 14 December 2015.
  25. ^ "BBC Radio 2 Top 100 Albums". Rocklistmusic.co.uk. 28 August 2006.
  26. ^ "Classic Rock's 49 Best Soundtrack Albums". Rocklistmusic.co.uk. October 2007.
  27. ^ "Queen "A Kind Of Magic" album and song lyrics". UltimateQueen.co.uk.
  28. ^ "Queen "A Kind Of Magic" album and song lyrics". UltimateQueen.co.uk.
  29. ^ "Queen "A Kind Of Magic" album and song lyrics". UltimateQueen.co.uk.
  30. ^ "Queen Extended Version lyrics". UltimateQueen.co.uk.
  31. ^ "Queen "A Kind Of Magic" album and song lyrics". UltimateQueen.co.uk.
  32. ^ "Queen "Live At Wembley Stadium" 2011 reissue DVD and song lyrics". UltimateQueen.co.uk.
  33. ^ Steffen Hung. "Queen – A Kind of Magic" Archived 9 November 2010 at the Wayback Machine. capif.org.ar Retrieved 1 September 2011
  34. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (illustrated ed.). St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  35. ^ "Austriancharts.at – Queen – A Kind of Magic" (in German). Hung Medien. Retrieved 22 April 2022.
  36. ^ "Top RPM Albums: Issue 0715". RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved 22 April 2022.
  37. ^ "Dutchcharts.nl – Queen – A Kind of Magic" (in Dutch). Hung Medien. Retrieved 22 April 2022.
  38. ^ Pennanen, Timo (2006). Sisältää hitin – levyt ja esittäjät Suomen musiikkilistoilla vuodesta 1972 (in Finnish) (1st ed.). Helsinki: Kustannusosakeyhtiö Otava. p. 166. ISBN 978-951-1-21053-5.
  39. ^ "Le Détail des Albums de chaque Artiste – Q". Infodisc.fr (in French). Archived from the original on 22 October 2014. Retrieved 9 June 2012. Select Queen from the menu, then press OK.
  40. ^ "Offiziellecharts.de – Queen – A Kind of Magic" (in German). GfK Entertainment Charts. Retrieved 22 April 2022.
  41. ^ "Classifiche". Musica e Dischi (in Italian). Retrieved 27 May 2022. Set "Tipo" on "Album". Then, in the "Artista" field, search "Queen".
  42. ^ Oricon Album Chart Book: Complete Edition 1970–2005 (in Japanese). Roppongi, Tokyo: Oricon Entertainment. 2006. ISBN 4-87131-077-9.
  43. ^ "Charts.nz – Queen – A Kind of Magic". Hung Medien. Retrieved 22 April 2022.
  44. ^ "Norwegiancharts.com – Queen – A Kind of Magic". Hung Medien. Retrieved 22 April 2022.
  45. ^ "Swedishcharts.com – Queen – A Kind of Magic". Hung Medien. Retrieved 22 April 2022.
  46. ^ "Swisscharts.com – Queen – A Kind of Magic". Hung Medien. Retrieved 22 April 2022.
  47. ^ "Queen | Artist | Official Charts". UK Albums Chart. Retrieved 22 April 2022.
  48. ^ "Queen Chart History (Billboard 200)". Billboard. Retrieved 22 April 2022.
  49. ^ "Italiancharts.com – Queen – A Kind of Magic". Hung Medien. Retrieved 22 April 2022.
  50. ^ "Ultratop.be – Queen – A Kind of Magic" (in French). Hung Medien. Retrieved 22 April 2022.
  51. ^ "Spanishcharts.com – Queen – A Kind of Magic". Hung Medien. Retrieved 22 April 2022.
  52. ^ "Oficjalna lista sprzedaży :: OLiS - Official Retail Sales Chart". OLiS. Polish Society of the Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 22 April 2022.
  53. ^ "Austriancharts.st – Jahreshitparade 1984". Hung Medien. Retrieved 1 August 2010.
  54. ^ "Top Selling Albums of 1986 — The Official New Zealand Music Chart". Recorded Music New Zealand. Retrieved 5 February 2022.
  55. ^ "Hitparade.ch – Schweizer Jahreshitparade 1986". Hung Medien. Retrieved 17 October 2011.
  56. ^ "Complete UK Year-End Album Charts". Archived from the original on 11 January 2012. Retrieved 3 October 2011.
  57. ^ "Austrian album certifications – Queen – A Kind of Magic" (in German). IFPI Austria.
  58. ^ "Entregas de disco de platino não têm controle confiável-Os Premiados". Acervo Digital - Folha de S.Paulo. p. 6.
  59. ^ "French album certifications – Queen – A Kind of Magic" (in French). InfoDisc. Select QUEEN and click OK. 
  60. ^ "Gold-/Platin-Datenbank (Queen; 'A Kind of Magic')" (in German). Bundesverband Musikindustrie.
  61. ^ "Italian album certifications – Queen – A Kind of Magic" (in Italian). Federazione Industria Musicale Italiana. Select "2021" in the "Anno" drop-down menu. Select "A Kind of Magic" in the "Filtra" field. Select "Album e Compilation" under "Sezione".
  62. ^ "New Zealand album certifications – Queen – A Kind of Magic". Recorded Music NZ. Retrieved 28 November 2019.
  63. ^ "Wyróżnienia – Platynowe płyty CD - Archiwum - Przyznane w 2009 roku" (in Polish). Polish Society of the Phonographic Industry. 8 July 2009.
  64. ^ Solo Exitos 1959-2002 Ano A Ano: Certificados 1979-1990. Iberautor Promociones Culturales. 2005. ISBN 8480486392.
  65. ^ "The Official Swiss Charts and Music Community: Awards ('A Kind of Magic')". IFPI Switzerland. Hung Medien.
  66. ^ "British album certifications – Queen – It's a Kind of Magic". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 25 April 2021.
  67. ^ "American album certifications – Queen – A Kind of Magic". Recording Industry Association of America.
  68. ^ a b "Freddie Mercury's European in-house sales awards for A Kind Of Magic". 20 February 2023.

External links[edit]