Radio Ga Ga

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"Radio Ga Ga"
UK single picture sleeve
Single by Queen
from the album The Works
A-side"Radio Ga Ga" (extended version)[2]
B-side"Radio Ga Ga" (instrumental)[2]
Released16 January 1984[1]
  • 5:48 (7" album version)
  • 4:23 (USA radio edit)
  • 6:53 (12" extended version)
  • 6:01 (12" instrumental version)
Songwriter(s)Roger Taylor
Queen singles chronology
"Back Chat"
"Radio Ga Ga"
"I Want to Break Free"
Music video
"Radio Ga Ga" on YouTube

"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 as the B-side. It was included as the opening track on the album The Works and is also featured on the band's compilation albums Greatest Hits II and Classic Queen.[6]

The song, which makes a nostalgic defence of the radio format, was a worldwide success for the band, reaching number one in 19 countries, number two on the UK Singles Chart and the Australian Kent Music Report and number 16 on the US Billboard Hot 100, becoming the band's final original single to reach the US top 40 in Freddie Mercury's lifetime on that chart (not counting their live performance with George Michael on Somebody to Love at #30 whereas their follow-up singles would give them frequent top 40 appearances on the Mainstream Rock chart).[7][8][9][10] 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.[11][12][13][14]

The music video for the song uses footage from the 1927 silent science fiction film Metropolis. It received heavy rotation on music channels and was nominated for an MTV Video Music Award in 1984.[15]


"Radio Ga Ga" was released in 1984. A nostalgic defence of radio, it 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.[7] It also addressed the advent of the music video and MTV, which was then competing with radio as an important medium for promoting records. At the 1984 MTV Video Music Awards the video for "Radio Ga Ga" would receive a Best Art Direction nomination.[16] 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.[17]

The song makes reference to two important radio events of the 20th century; Orson Welles' 1938 broadcast of H. G. Wells's 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".[18]


Queen and producer Mack recorded the song at Record Plant Studios, Los Angeles through August and early September 1983

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.[19] After hearing the phrase, Taylor began writing and developing the song when he locked himself in a studio for three days with a synthesizer and a LinnDrum drum machine.[20] 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 in Los Angeles in August 1983 – the band's only time recording in North America.[21] It included Canadian session keyboardist Fred Mandel. 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.[22]

Track listings[edit]

7" single[2]

  • A-side. "Radio Ga Ga" (Album Version)
  • B-side. "I Go Crazy" (Single Version)

12" single[2]

  • A-side. "Radio Ga Ga" (Extended Version)
  • B1. "Radio Ga Ga" (Instrumental Version)
  • B2. "I Go Crazy" (Single Version)

Music video[edit]

Shepperton Studios, London, where the video was shot by David Mallet in November 1983

David Mallet's music video for the song features scenes from Fritz Lang's 1927 German expressionist science fiction film Metropolis and also includes footage of the band traveling through Metropolis and singing the song in a stylized re-creation of its underground machine rooms, which is interconnected with people donning gas masks and taking shelter in their homes during wartime and of one such family passing the time in various ways that include listening to the radio.[23] The video also features footage from earlier Queen promo videos.[24] At the end of the music video, the words "Thanks To Metropolis" appear.

The video was filmed at Carlton TV Studios and Shepperton Studios, London, between 23/24 November 1983 and January 1984.[24] It led to a 1984 re-release of the film with a rock soundtrack.[25] 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.[26]

Live versions[edit]

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 for the concert films Queen Rock in Rio 1985 and Final Live in Japan 1985.[27] 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.

"I remember thinking 'oh great, they've picked it up' and then I thought 'this is not a Queen audience'. This is a general audience who've bought tickets before they even knew we were on the bill. And they all did it. How did they know? Nobody told them to do it."

Brian May on the audience participation in clapping to "Radio Ga Ga" at Live Aid.[28]

Queen played a shorter, up-tempo version of "Radio Ga Ga" during the Live Aid concert on 13 July 1985 at Wembley Stadium, where Queen's "show-stealing performance" had 72,000 people clapping in unison.[11][29] It was the second song the band performed at Live Aid after opening with "Bohemian Rhapsody".[12][30] "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.[14]

Paul Young performed the song with Queen at the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert again at Wembley Stadium on 20 April 1992.[31] 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.[32]

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 Lambert on lead vocals.[33][34]



Additional personnel[edit]

  • Fred Mandel – synthesizer arrangement, synthesizer programming, synthesizer
  • Reinhold Mackrecording engineer
  • Mike Beiriger – additional recording engineer
  • Eddie DeLena – additional recording engineer
  • Stefan Wissnet – additional recording engineer



Certifications and sales for "Radio Ga Ga"
Region Certification Certified units/sales
Denmark (IFPI Danmark)[77] Gold 45,000
Italy (FIMI)[78] Platinum 50,000
United Kingdom (BPI)[79] Platinum 600,000
United States (RIAA)[80] Platinum 1,000,000

Sales+streaming figures based on certification alone.


American pop singer Lady Gaga credits her stage name to this song.[81][82] She stated that she "adored" Queen, and that they had a hit called 'Radio Ga Ga'. "That's why I love the name".[83]

In Slovenia the song was used as the opening and ending of a radio show with the same name, radio GA-GA – a satirical show with host Sašo Hribar – from the first broadcast in 1989 until the final on Friday, 8 September 2023 before the host's sudden death.[84]

See also[edit]


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External links[edit]