Radio Ga Ga
|"Radio Ga Ga"|
|Single by Queen|
|from the album The Works|
|B-side||"I Go Crazy"|
|Recorded||August – October 1983|
|Queen singles chronology|
"Radio Ga Ga" is a 1984 song performed and recorded by the British rock band Queen, written by their drummer Roger Taylor. It was released as a single with "I Go Crazy" by Brian May on the original B-side (3:42) and was included on the album The Works. The song also features on the band's compilation albums, Greatest Hits II, and Classic Queen.
The single was a worldwide success for the band, reaching number one in 19 countries, number 2 in the UK Singles Chart and the Australian ARIA Chart, and number 16 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the US. The band performed the song at every concert from 1984 to their last concert with lead singer Freddie Mercury in 1986, including their performance at Live Aid in 1985.
Recorded in 1983 and released in January 1984, the song was a commentary on television overtaking radio's popularity and how one would listen to radio in the past for a favourite comedy, drama, or science fiction programme. It also pertained to the advent of the music video and MTV, which was now competing with radio as an important medium for promoting records. Ironically, Queen had done much to popularize the music video with "Bohemian Rhapsody" in 1975 and the video for "Radio Ga Ga" would receive a Best Art Direction nomination. Roger Taylor was quoted:
That's part of what the song's about, really. The fact that they [music videos] seem to be taking over almost from the aural side, the visual side seems to be almost more important.
Taylor originally conceived of it as "Radio caca" (from something his toddler son once said), which doubled as a criticism of radio for the decrease in variety of programming and the type of music being played. "Radio Ga Ga" in one of the original cassette boxes is called "radio ca ca".
The song makes reference to two important radio events of the 20th century; Orson Welles' 1938 broadcast of H.G. Wells' The War of the Worlds in the lyric "through wars of worlds/invaded by Mars", and Winston Churchill's 18 June 1940 "This was their finest hour" speech from the House of Commons, in the lyric "You've yet to have your finest hour".
The inspiration for this song came when Roger Taylor heard his son utter the words "radio ca-ca" while listening to a bad song on the radio while they were in Los Angeles. After hearing the phrase, Taylor began writing the song when he locked himself in a room with a Roland Jupiter-8 and a drum machine. He thought it would fit his solo album, but when the band heard it, John Deacon wrote a bassline and Freddie Mercury reconstructed the track, thinking it could be a big hit. Taylor then took a skiing holiday and let Mercury polish the lyrics, harmony, and arrangements of the song. Recording sessions began at Record Plant Studios and included Canadian session keyboardist Fred Mandel, who later on would work with Supertramp and Elton John. Mandel programmed the Jupiter's arpeggiated synth-bass parts. The recording features prominent use of the Roland VP330+ vocoder. The bassline was produced by a Roland Jupiter-8, using the built-in arpeggiator.
David Mallet's music video for the song features scenes from Fritz Lang's 1927 German expressionist science fiction film Metropolis and was filmed at Carlton TV Studios and Shepperton Studios, London, in November 1983. It features the band in a car flying over the title city, and later performing the song in front of the city's working class. Freddie Mercury's solo song "Love Kills" was used in Giorgio Moroder's restored version of the film, and in exchange Queen were granted the rights to use footage from it in their "Radio Ga Ga" video. However, Queen had to buy performance rights to the film from the communist East German government, which was the copyright holder at the time. At the end of the music video, the words "Thanks To Metropolis" appear. The video also features footage from earlier Queen promo videos.
Queen finished their sets before the encores on The Works Tour with "Radio Ga Ga" and Mercury would normally sing "you had your time" in a lower octave and modify the deliveries of "you had the power, you've yet to have your finest hour" while Roger Taylor sang the pre-chorus in the high octave. Live versions from the 1984/85 tour were recorded and filmed on the concert films Queen Rock in Rio 1985, and Final Live in Japan 1985. As heard on bootleg recordings, Deacon can be heard providing backing vocals to the song; it is one of the very few occasions he sang in concert.
Queen played a shorter, up-tempo version of "Radio Ga Ga" during the Live Aid concert in July 1985 at Wembley Stadium, where Queen's "show-stealing performance" had 72,000 people clapping in unison. It was the second song the band performed at Live Aid after opening with "Bohemian Rhapsody". "Radio Ga Ga" became a live favourite thanks largely to the audience participation potential of the clapping sequence prompted by the rhythm of the chorus (copied from the video). Mercury sang all high notes in this version. The song was played for the Magic Tour a year later, including twice more at Wembley Stadium; it was recorded for the live album Live at Wembley '86, VHS Video and DVD on 12 July 1986, the second night in the venue.
Paul Young performed the song with Queen at the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert again at Wembley Stadium on 20 April 1992. At the "Party at the Palace" concert, celebrating Queen Elizabeth II's Golden Jubilee in 2002, "Radio Ga Ga" opened up Queen's set with Roger Taylor on vocals and Phil Collins on the drums.
This song was played on the Queen + Paul Rodgers Tour in 2005–2006 and sung by Roger Taylor and Paul Rodgers. It was recorded officially at the Hallam FM Arena in Sheffield on 5 May 2005. The result, Return of the Champions, was released on CD and DVD on 19 September 2005 and 17 October 2005. It was also played on the Rock the Cosmos Tour during late 2008, this time with only Rodgers on lead vocals. The concert album Live in Ukraine came as a result of this tour, yet the song is not available on the CD or DVD versions released 15 June 2009. This performance of "Radio Ga Ga" is only available as a digital download from iTunes. It was again played on the Queen + Adam Lambert Tour with Adam Lambert on lead vocals.
|Order of precedence|
"Relax" by Frankie Goes to Hollywood
|Eurochart Hot 100 number-one single
10 March 1984 – 21 April 1984 (7 weeks)
"Girls Just Want to Have Fun" by Cyndi Lauper
"A Rockin' Good Way" by Shakin' Stevens and Bonnie Tyler
|Irish Singles Chart number-one single
5 February 1984 (1 week)
"My Oh My" by Slade
|Swedish number-one single
6 March 1984 – 20 March 1984 (2 weeks)
"99 Luftballons" by Nena
"Love of the Common People" by Paul Young
|Belgian Ultratop 50 Flanders number-one single
3 March 1984 – 17 March 1984 (3 weeks)
"When the Lady Smiles" by Golden Earring
|Dutch Top 40 number-one single
25 February 1984 (1 week)
- Musical theatre actress Elaine Paige recorded the song on her album of Queen covers The Queen Album in 1988.
- Roger Taylor performed the song with Spike Edney's SAS Band.
- A heavily modified version of the song serves as the introductory number for We Will Rock You, a musical composed of Queen songs.
- The song was covered in 2004 by Electric Six. The band released the song as a single against their wishes under pressure from their label at the time, although the song had been in their repertoire during the band's early Wildbunch days. The video depicts Electric Six frontman, Dick Valentine, as the ghost of Freddie Mercury dancing near his own grave. It was widely misinterpreted that Valentine (as Mercury) was dancing on his grave. He explains on his website's video section "Though some have claimed this video portrays me dancing on Freddie Mercury's grave, actually it's more like we are resurrecting Mr. Mercury for the duration of the song and his grave is the logical starting point."
- Sophie Ellis-Bextor has made a live-cover of this single at the Al Murray's Happy Hour, on ITV.
- Hong Kong rock band Tai Chi released a Cantonese version of the song called "我的愛人/Wǒ de àirén" (English: "My Lover") in 1989.
- Furniss, Matters (2012). Queen – Uncensored On the Record. Coda Books Ltd. p. 71. ISBN 978-1-9085-3884-0.
- Stereo Review. 49. CBS Publications. 1984. p. 76.
Radio Gaga (the single), a skillful merger of contemporary synth-pop and old-time Brill Building panache
- "Classic Queen by Queen". MTV. Viacom. Retrieved 24 July 2013.
- Lazell, Barry (1989). Rock movers & shakers. Billboard Publications, Inc. p. 404. ISBN 978-0-8230-7608-6.
- "Queen Biography for 1984". QueenZone.com. Retrieved 24 July 2013.
- "Queen win greatest live gig poll". BBC News Online. 9 November 2005. Retrieved 24 July 2013.
- Stanford, Peter (24 September 2011). "Queen: their finest moment at Live Aid". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 24 July 2013.
- "Queen live on tour: The Works 1985". Queen Concerts. Retrieved 24 July 2013.
- "Queen live on tour: Magic tour". Queen Concerts. Retrieved 24 July 2013.
- "Rock On The Net: 1984 MTV Video Music Awards". Rock on the Net. Retrieved 24 July 2013.
- "Roger Taylor & John Deacon – 1984 Breakfast Time Interview". YouTube. Retrieved 22 November 2013.
- Roger Taylor speaking in the documentary Queen – Days of Our Lives
- Freestone, Peter (2001). Freddie Mercury: an intimate memoir by the man who knew him best. Omnibus Press. p. 80.
- Avery, Todd (2006). Radio Modernism: Literature, Ethics, and the BBC 1922-1938. Ashgate Publishing. p. 137. ISBN 978-0-7546-5517-6.
- "Instruments on Queen and solo tours". Queen Concerts. Retrieved 24 July 2013.
- "Queen Promo Videos". Ultimatequeen.co.uk. Retrieved 24 July 2013.
- Brooks, Greg; Taylor, Gary. "The Works – Album Details". Queenonline.com. Retrieved 24 July 2013.
- Purvis, Georg (2007). Queen: Complete Works. Reynolds & Hearn. p. 321. ISBN 978-1-90528-733-8.
- Thomas, David (August 1999). "Their Britannic Majesties Request". Mojo Magazine (69): 87. ISSN 1351-0193.
- Ryan Minchin, dir. (2005). "Queen Voted Best Gig-Live Aid". YouTube. Retrieved 24 July 2013.
- "Queen live on tour: Festivals, parties, TV". Queen Concerts. Retrieved 24 July 2013.
- "The Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert". Ultimatequeen.co.uk. Retrieved 24 July 2013.
- "Queen Miscellaneous Live Song Lyrics". Ultimatequeen.co.uk. Retrieved 24 July 2013.
- Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970-1992 (illustrated ed.). St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. p. 243. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
- "Austriancharts.at – Queen – Radio Ga Ga" (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40. Retrieved 24 July 2013.
- "Ultratop.be – Queen – Radio Ga Ga" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50. Retrieved 24 July 2013.
- "Top RPM Singles: Issue 6262." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved 24 June 2013.
- "MusicSeek.info – UK, Eurochart, Billboard & Cashbox No.1 Hits". Archived from the original on 14 June 2006.. MusicSeek.info.
- Nyman, Jake (2005). Suomi soi 4: Suuri suomalainen listakirja (in Finnish) (1st ed.). Helsinki: Tammi. ISBN 951-31-2503-3.
- "InfoDisc : Tous les Titres par Artiste" (in French). InfoDisc. Select "Queen" from the artist drop-down menu. Retrieved 24 June 2013.
- "Offiziellecharts.de – Queen – Radio Ga Ga". GfK Entertainment Charts. Retrieved 24 July 2013.
- "The Irish Charts – Search Results – Radio Ga Ga". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved 24 July 2013.
- "I singoli più venduti del 1984" (in Italian). Hit Parade Italia. Creative Commons. Retrieved 24 July 2013.
- "Nederlandse Top 40 – Queen - Radio Ga Ga" (in Dutch). Dutch Top 40. Retrieved 24 July 2013.
- "Dutchcharts.nl – Queen – Radio Ga Ga" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Retrieved 24 July 2013.
- "Charts.org.nz – Queen – Radio Ga Ga". Top 40 Singles. Retrieved 24 July 2013.
- "Norwegiancharts.com – Queen – Radio Ga Ga". VG-lista. Retrieved 24 July 2013.
- "South African Rock Lists Website SA Charts 1969 – 1989 Acts (Q)". Rock.co.za. Retrieved 24 July 2013.
- Salaverri, Fernando (September 2005). Sólo éxitos: año a año, 1959–2002 (in Spanish) (1st ed.). Spain: Fundación Autor-SGAE. ISBN 84-8048-639-2.
- "Swedishcharts.com – Queen – Radio Ga Ga". Singles Top 100. Retrieved 24 July 2013.
- "Swisscharts.com – Queen – Radio Ga Ga". Swiss Singles Chart. Retrieved 24 July 2013.
- "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 24 July 2013.
- "Queen - Awards". AllMusic. All Media Network. Retrieved 24 June 2013.
- "CASH BOX Top 100 Singles – Week ending APRIL 14, 1984". Archived from the original on 1 October 2012.. Cash Box magazine.
- "Forum - ARIA Charts: Special Occasion Charts – Top 100 End of Year AMR Charts – 1980s". Australian-charts.com. Hung Medien. Archived from the original on 6 October 2014. Retrieved 20 January 2014.
- "Jahreshitparade 1984" (in German). Austrian-charts.com. Hung Medien. Retrieved 20 January 2014.
- "Jaaroverzichten 1984" (in Dutch). Ultratop. Hung Medien. Retrieved 20 January 2014.
- "Top Singles – Volume 41, No. 17, January 05 1985". RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved 20 January 2014.
- "Top 100-Jaaroverzicht van 1984" (in Dutch). Dutch Top 40. Retrieved 20 January 2014.
- "Jaaroverzichten – Single 1984" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Hung Medien. Retrieved 20 January 2014.
- "Schweizer Jahreshitparade 1984" (in German). Hitparade.ch. Hung Medien. Retrieved 20 January 2014.
- "The CASH BOX Year-End Charts: 1984". Archived from the original on 30 September 2012.. Cash Box magazine.
- "Elaine Paige – The Queen Album". AllMusic. All Media Network. Retrieved 5 September 2015.
- "Electric Six – Music + Videos". Retrieved 24 July 2013.
- Martin, Gavin (8 January 2009). "Lady GaGa the new Princess of Pop". Daily Mirror. Retrieved 16 March 2009.
- Rose, Lisa (21 January 2010). "Lady Gaga's outrageous persona born in Parsippany, New Jersey". NJ.com. Retrieved 23 January 2010.
- Dingwall, John (27 November 2009). "The Fear Factor; Lady Gaga used tough times as inspiration for her new album". Daily Record. pp. 48–49. Retrieved 25 January 2011.
- Official YouTube videos: original music video (VEVO), Big Spender/ Radio Ga Ga (Live At Wembley), Queen + Paul Rodgers, at Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert
- Lyrics from Queen official site: lyrics from Live Magic version, lyrics from Live at Wembley '86 version.
- Radio Ga Ga performed by Prisoners in the Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitational Centre