Bicycle Race

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"Bicycle Race"
Queen Bicycle Race1.png
UK single picture sleeve
Single by Queen
from the album Jazz
A-sideFat Bottomed Girls" (double A-side)[1]
Released13 October 1978
RecordedJune–July 1978
GenreRock
Length3:01
Label
Songwriter(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 video
"Bicycle Race" on YouTube

"Bicycle Race" is a single by the British rock band Queen. It was released on their 1978 album Jazz and written by Queen's lead singer Freddie Mercury. It was released as a double A-side single together with the song "Fat Bottomed Girls", reaching number 11 in the UK Singles Chart and number 24 in the Billboard Hot 100 in the US.[2][3] The song is included in their 1981 Greatest Hits compilation. It is also one of the most downloaded bicycle-themed songs.[4]

The song is notable for its video featuring a bicycle race with nude women at Wimbledon Stadium, which was controversial at the time, with the video being edited or even banned in several countries. The song itself has appeared in various media with a bicycle theme.[5]

Composition[edit]

The song was written by Freddie Mercury and was inspired by watching the 18th stage of the 1978 Tour de France passing Montreux, where the band were recording Jazz in the Mountain Studios.[6][7] 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 is a solo played with numerous bicycle bells. The song has an unusual chord progression with numerous modulations, a change of metre (from 4
4
to 3
4
) in the bridge, and multitracked vocal and guitar harmonies.[8]

Lyrics[edit]

The lyrics are topical for the time and contain social, political, and pop culture references, such as religion, Vietnam War, Watergate, cocaine, fictional characters (Peter Pan, Frankenstein and Superman), and the films Jaws and Star Wars.

Brian May has said that the song was not an autobiographical portrait of Mercury and that Mercury did not particularly enjoy bicycling, also noting that despite the lyric "I don't like Star Wars", Mercury was a Star Wars fan.[9]

The song references the band's song "Fat Bottomed Girls" with the lyric "fat bottomed girls, they'll be riding today". "Fat Bottomed Girls" reciprocates with the lyric: "Get on your bikes and ride!" The two songs were released together as a double A-sided single.

Video[edit]

Filmed by Denis de Vallance, the promotional video featured 65 nude women, all professional models, bicycle racing at Wimbledon Greyhound Stadium, southwest London. The group rented the stadium and several dozen bicycles 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.[6][10] The original video used special effects to hide the nudity.[11] However, due to the nudity, the video is age-restricted on YouTube and banned in several countries, including China.

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.[12]

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[13] and either "Spread Your Wings" 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.[6][14] A brassiere was added to the US covers.[15][16]

Personnel[edit]

Chart performance[edit]

Country Peak
position
Held during Charted
for (weeks)
Australia[17] 28 9
Austria[18] 21 Jan 1979 4
Belgium[18] 15 Jan 1979 5
France[19] 7 November – December 1978 11
Germany[20] 27 11–18 Dec 1978 12
Ireland[21] 10 7
New Zealand[18] 20 8
The Netherlands[22] 5 25 Nov – 2 Dec 1978 11
Norway[22] 7 9
UK[17][23] 11 25 Nov – 9 Dec 1978 11
US Billboard[17][24] 24 Jan 1979 12


Sample[edit]

The song's chorus was sampled by Eminem in "C'mon Let Me Ride" by Skylar Grey.[25]

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.[26]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Bicycle Race - Queen | Song Info". AllMusic. Retrieved 2 April 2019.
  2. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2006). The Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits. Billboard Books.
  3. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums. London: Guinness World Records Limited.
  4. ^ "Tour de France: 10 most downloaded bike-themed songs revealed!". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 19 June 2021.
  5. ^ "Victoria Pendleton back on her bike for Strictly Come Dancing". The Independent. Retrieved 19 June 2021. She and professional partner Brendan Cole are due to perform a paso doble to the Queen hit Bicycle Race. Her arrival is expected to be reminiscent of the flying bike scene in movie hit ET
  6. ^ 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. p. 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.
  7. ^ M. Felsani; M. Primi; M. Saita (1997). Queen. Tutti i testi con traduzione a fronte. Taylor & Francis. p. 16. ISBN 978-88-09-02418-2. Retrieved 23 February 2011.
  8. ^ "Queen Songs – The Book: Bicycle Race". Queensongs.info. Archived from the original on 21 July 2011.
  9. ^ Van Luling, Todd (5 September 2014). "5 Things You Didn't Know About Queen, Even If You Know Every Word Of 'Bohemian Rhapsody'". Huffington Post. Retrieved 24 December 2015.
  10. ^ Peter Buckley (28 October 2003). The rough guide to rock. Rough Guides. p. 7. ISBN 978-1-84353-105-0. Retrieved 23 February 2011.
  11. ^ Queen Promo Videos – Bicycle Race Ultimate Queen. Retrieved 2011-09-03.
  12. ^ Queen Non-UK Albums Discography. Ultimatequeen.co.uk. Retrieved on 2011-02-20.
  13. ^ Nielsen Business Media, Inc. (1 September 1979). Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. pp. 97–. ISSN 0006-2510. Retrieved 24 February 2011.
  14. ^ "BBC Two – Queen – Days of Our Lives, Episode 1". Bbc.co.uk. 5 September 2015. Retrieved 13 October 2016.
  15. ^ BICYCLE RACE as an a-side, pcpki.com
  16. ^ "Bicycle Race (Велогонка) — Queen : Интересные факты о песне". Music-facts.ru (in Russian). 30 May 2014. Retrieved 13 October 2016.
  17. ^ a b c "Queen International Singles Chart Positions". Pcpki.com. Retrieved 13 October 2016.
  18. ^ a b c Steffen Hung. "Queen - Bicycle Race". Austriancharts.at. Retrieved 13 October 2016.
  19. ^ "InfoDisc : Les Tubes de chaque Artiste commençant par Q". www.infodisc.fr.
  20. ^ "Die ganze Musik im Internet: Charts, Neuerscheinungen, Tickets". Musicline.de. Archived from the original on 11 October 2012. Retrieved 13 October 2016.
  21. ^ "The Irish Charts". Irishcharts.ie. Archived from the original on 2010-01-05. Retrieved 2012-12-25.
  22. ^ a b Steffen Hung. "Queen - Bicycle Race". Dutchcharts.nl. Retrieved 13 October 2016.
  23. ^ "Official Charts Company". Retrieved 2011-02-24.
  24. ^ Nielsen Business Media, Inc. (26 June 1982). Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. pp. 95–. ISSN 0006-2510. Retrieved 23 February 2011.
  25. ^ "Eminem Sings Classic Queen Hook on Skylar Grey's New Single". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 5 April 2019.
  26. ^ "Sixty-five naked women were perched atop bicycles rented from Halford's Cycles and sent racing around Wimbledon Stadium". Queenpedia.com. Retrieved 25 December 2012.

External links[edit]