Somebody to Love (Queen song)

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"Somebody to Love"
Stlove.jpg
Single by Queen
from the album A Day at the Races
B-side
Released12 November 1976
Format7"
Recorded1976
GenreRock
Length4:57
Label
Songwriter(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 also appears on their 1981 compilation album Greatest Hits.[1]

The song has similarities to 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 No. 2 in the UK and No. 13 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the US.[2][3] The song demonstrated 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 from three singers: Mercury, Brian May, and Roger Taylor. John Deacon did not sing backing vocals on the recorded album. Mercury's fascination and admiration for Aretha Franklin was a major influence for the creation of this song.

Queen played "Somebody to Love" live from 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 were collaboration 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 several television shows, such as American Idol, The X Factor, and Glee, as well as films, including Happy Feet and Ella Enchanted. Additionally, it has been covered by many artists.

Background[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] This is reinforced by frequent use of word painting. 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 A2 to a C5 in full voice up to an A6 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.

"Somebody To Love" is Aretha Franklin-influenced. Freddie's very much into that. We tried to keep the track in a loose, gospel-type feel. I think it's the loosest track we've ever done.

— Roger Taylor[10]

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] 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]

The song was performed on the setlists of their Queen + Adam Lambert tours in 2012, 2014-2015 & 2016 featuring Adam Lambert [21] and at the iHeartRadio Festival 2013 as Queen + Fun.[22]

Personnel[edit]

Notable covers[edit]

In other media[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.[28]

The song was used in promos for the 2017 season of The Bachelorette Australia.

Charts[edit]

Certifications[edit]

Region Certification Certified units/Sales
Italy (FIMI)[51] Platinum 50,000double-dagger
United Kingdom (BPI)[52] Gold 400,000double-dagger
United States (RIAA)[53] 2× Platinum 2,000,000double-dagger

double-daggersales+streaming figures based on certification alone

George Michael and Queen version[edit]

"Somebody to Love"
Single by George Michael and Queen
from the album Five Live
B-side"Dear Friends"
Released6 May 1993
Format7"; CD
Recorded20 April 1992
Length5:17
LabelParlophone
Songwriter(s)Freddie Mercury
Producer(s)Queen
George Michael
Roy Thomas Baker
George Michael and Queen singles chronology
"Too Funky"
(1992)
"Somebody to Love"
(1993)
"Killer / Papa Was a Rollin' Stone"
(1993)

George Michael performed the song with Queen's remaining members at the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert in April 1992.[6] It was included as the first track on his 1993 EP Five Live, credited to George Michael and Queen with Lisa Stansfield.[54]

Weekly charts[edit]

Chart (1993) Peak
position
Australia (ARIA)[55] 19
Austria (Ö3 Austria Top 40)[56] 15
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Flanders)[57] 8
Canada Top Singles (RPM)[58] 13
Canada Adult Contemporary (RPM)[59] 11
France (SNEP)[60] 16
Germany (Official German Charts)[61] 21
Ireland (IRMA)[62] 1
Netherlands (Single Top 100)[63] 6
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)[64] 8
US Billboard Hot 100[65] 30

Troye Sivan version[edit]

"Somebody to Love"
Single by Troye Sivan
Released2 November 2018[66]
FormatDigital download, streaming
Recorded2018
Length2:25
Songwriter(s)Freddie Mercury
Producer(s)Leland
Troye Sivan singles chronology
"Revelation"
(2018)
"Somebody to Love"
(2018)
"I'm So Tired..."
(2019)

In November 2018, Australian singer Troye Sivan released a version of the song. The song was released to coincide with the release of the film Bohemian Rhapsody. Universal Music Group released 3 tracks by different artists' channeling their inner Freddie Mercury; this is the third and final instalment, following Shawn Mendes' "Under Pressure" and 5 Seconds of Summer's "Killer Queen" released in October 2018.[67][68][69] Similarly to the aforementioned tracks, proceeds from the single will benefit the Mercury Phoenix Trust.[70][71]

In a statement, Sivan said "I'm so beyond honored to have been asked to cover 'Somebody to Love' by Queen, a masterful song by the most legendary band."[72]

Reception[edit]

Queen's manager, Jim Beach said Sivan's version "is both moving and totally original."[70] Luke Schatz of Consequence of Sound said "While Mercury’s version soared with choir-like vocals and dramatic instrumentation, Sivan employs a more mellow, minimalist approach. Here, his calming voice is accompanied by little more than bass and keys."[72]

References[edit]

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External links[edit]