The Show Must Go On (Queen song)

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"The Show Must Go On"
Queen The Show Must Go On.png
Single by Queen
from the album Innuendo
Released 14 October 1991 (1991-10-14) (UK) 6 February 1992 (1992-02-06) (US)
Format
Recorded 1990
Genre
Length 4:31
Label
Writer(s) Queen
(Brian May)
Producer(s)
Queen singles chronology
"These Are the Days of Our Lives"
(1991)
"The Show Must Go On"
(1991)
"Stone Cold Crazy"
(1991)

"The Show Must Go On" is a song by the British rock band Queen, featured as the twelfth and final track on their 1991 album Innuendo. It is credited to Queen, but written mainly by Brian May. The song chronicles the effort of Freddie Mercury continuing to perform despite approaching the end of his life; he was dying from complications due to HIV/AIDS, although his illness had not yet been made public in spite of ongoing media speculation claiming that he was seriously ill.[1] Mercury was so ill when the band recorded the song in 1990, that May had concerns as to whether he was physically capable of singing it. Recalling Mercury's performance, May states; "I said, 'Fred, I don't know if this is going to be possible to sing.' And he went, 'I'll fucking do it, darling' — vodka down — and went in and killed it, completely lacerated that vocal."[2]

It was released as a single in the United Kingdom on 14 October 1991 in promotion for the Greatest Hits II album, just six weeks before Mercury died. Following Mercury's death on 24 November 1991, the song re-entered the British charts and spent as many weeks in the top 75 (five) as it did upon its original release, initially reaching a peak of 16. A live version with Elton John on vocals appeared on Queen's Greatest Hits III album.

The song was first played live on 20 April 1992, during The Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert, performed by the three remaining members of Queen, with Elton John singing lead vocals and Black Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi playing rhythm guitar.[3] It has since been played live by Queen + Paul Rodgers with Rodgers citing one of the performances as the best of his career. Since its release, the song has appeared on television, film, and has been covered by a number of artists.

Songwriting and recording process[edit]

After listening to John Deacon and Roger Taylor playing the chord sequence that later on would be the basis for almost the entire song, Brian May sat down with Freddie Mercury and the two of them decided the theme of the song and wrote some lyrics. May wrote down the rest of the words as well as the melody, and added a bridge with a chord sequence inspired by Pachelbel's Canon.

Demo versions featured May singing, having to sing some parts in falsetto because they were too high. When Brian May presented the final demo to Mercury, he had doubts that Mercury would be physically capable of singing the song's highly demanding vocal line, due to the extent of his illness at the time. To May's surprise, when the time came to record the vocals, Mercury consumed a measure of vodka and said "I'll fucking do it, darling!" then proceeded to perform the vocal line.[2]

For the record, May sang most of the backing vocals (including the very last line) and played Korg M1 synthesiser as well as guitar. Producer David Richards suggested the key-shift in the second verse.

The lyrics are full of allusions, metaphors and other figures of speech, making it somewhat difficult to understand. Thinly disguised tragedy ahead is announced. In the end, the text refers to the determination, the furious desire to live ("I have to find the will to carry on with the show") in spite of vanishing strength ("inside my heart is breaking").[5] From the perspective of harmony, the song begins in B minor; then there is a modulation to C# Minor as if the song implied a hope (an increase of tone); but eventually it falls back to B minor.[6]

Jim Hutton, Freddie's partner who was with him for the last 6 years until his death, mentions the lyric that refers to the use of make up[7] during his last days:

Promotional video[edit]

Due to Mercury having contracted HIV/AIDS, his health started to rapidly deteriorate, as a result, no new footage of the lead singer was shot. The music video instead consisted of a montage of clips spanning Queen's music videos from 1981 to 1991 (but does not include the ones from before 1981) as a precursor to the imminent release of the band's Greatest Hits II album spanning that period.[9] Footage from promo videos from the 1980s are shown in the montage, apart from "Under Pressure" and "Hammer to Fall", including "I Want to Break Free", "Friends Will Be Friends", "I'm Going Slightly Mad", "Radio Ga Ga", "The Miracle", "The Invisible Man", "Headlong", "Calling All Girls", "Innuendo", "Back Chat", "Who Wants to Live Forever" and "One Vision".[9]This, along with the manner of the song's lyrics, continued to fuel long-running media reports that Mercury was seriously ill, although it was still officially denied that anything was seriously wrong. The following month, Mercury finally announced that he was suffering from AIDS, and he died barely 24 hours after this announcement.

The music video was compiled and edited by Austrian director team DoRo, consisting of Rudi Dolezal and Hannes Rossacher.[5]

Live recordings[edit]

Charts and certifications[edit]


Personnel[edit]

Celine Dion version[edit]

"The Show Must Go On"
The Show Must Go On - Celine Dion single.jpg
Single by Celine Dion featuring Lindsey Stirling
Released 20 May 2016 (2016-05-20)
Format Digital download
Recorded 2016
Genre Pop
Length
  • 4:25 (Main Version)
  • 3:30 (Radio Edit)
Label Columbia
Writer(s) Queen
Producer(s) Humberto Gatica
Celine Dion singles chronology
"L'hymne"
(2015)
"The Show Must Go On"
(2016)
"Encore un soir"
(2016)
Music video
"The Show Must Go On" on YouTube

Celine Dion recorded a studio version of Queen's "The Show Must Go On" and released it as a digital single on 20 May 2016. The track features Lindsey Stirling on violin.[27]

Background and release[edit]

Dion performed "The Show Must Go On" live during her Taking Chances World Tour in 2008, paying tribute to Queen and Freddie Mercury. Her performance was released on Taking Chances World Tour: The Concert and Celine: Through the Eyes of the World in 2010. Since 2015, she has performed "The Show Must Go On" for her Las Vegas residency show, Celine.

On 20 May 2016, "The Show Must Go On" was released on iTunes, Amazon.com and other digital platforms, and became available on streaming services, including YouTube and Vevo.[28]

Live performances[edit]

Besides Taking Chances World Tour in 2008, Dion performed the song during the 2016 Billboard Music Awards on 22 May 2016, where she received the Icon Award.[29] It was her first performance outside the Colosseum at Caesars Palace since her husband, René Angélil died in January 2016.[30][31] The performance received rave reviews.[32][33][34] It was released on YouTube and Vevo on 3 June 2016.[35] Dion also performed "The Show Must Go On" during her Summer Tour 2016.[36]

Commercial performance[edit]

In France, "The Show Must Go On" debuted at number twenty-three, selling 1,000 copies in the first week.[37] In Canada, it entered the Hot Digital Songs chart at number twenty-three as well.[38] "The Show Must Go On" also debuted at number eighty-nine on the Canadian Hot 100.[39] In Quebec, Dion entered the ADISQ chart at the top.[40]

In the United States, "The Show Must Go On" entered the Pop Digital Songs chart at number forty-five.[41] In Belgium Wallonia, it peaked at number forty-seven on the Ultratip chart.[42]

Track listing[edit]

Digital single
No. Title Length
1. "The Show Must Go On" (featuring Lindsey Stirling) 4:25
US promotional single
No. Title Length
1. "The Show Must Go On" (Main Version) (featuring Lindsey Stirling) 4:25
2. "The Show Must Go On" (Radio Edit) (featuring Lindsey Stirling) 3:30

Charts[edit]

Chart (2016) Peak
position
Belgium (Ultratip Wallonia)[42] 47
Canada (Canadian Hot 100)[39] 89
France (SNEP)[43] 23
Quebec (ADISQ)[40] 1
Switzerland (Schweizer Hitparade Romandie)[44] 17
South Africa (EMA)[45] 38
US Pop Digital Songs (Billboard)[41] 45

Release history[edit]

Country Date Format Label Ref.
Worldwide 20 May 2016 Digital download [27]
Italy 22 July 2016 Contemporary hit radio Sony [46]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Donald A. Guarisco. Queen – The Show Must Go On Archived 4 September 2011 at the Wayback Machine. Allmusic. Retrieved 23 May 2011
  2. ^ a b "100 greatest singers of all time — Freddie Mercury". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 24 April 2013. 
  3. ^ a b c The Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert: The Show Must Go On Archived 17 July 2012 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved 25 June 2011
  4. ^ "The Show Must Go On". queenpedia.com. Retrieved 10 March 2010. 
  5. ^ a b c The Show Must Go On Ultimate Queen. Retrieved 29 August 2011
  6. ^ Queen Songs – The Show Must Go On Retrieved 3 September 2011
  7. ^ Sherwin, Adam (30 May 2011). "Final Freddie Mercury performance discovered". London: The Independent. Retrieved 19 August 2011. 
  8. ^ "Freddie and Jim: A Love Story". mr-mercury.co.uk. Retrieved 19 August 2011. 
  9. ^ a b Queen Promo Videos – The Show Must Go On Ultimate Queen. Retrieved 3 September 2011
  10. ^ 2006 VH1 Rock Honours Ultimate Queen. Retrieved 29 August 2011
  11. ^ Katy and Adam Honour Queen MTV. Retrieved 7 October 2011
  12. ^ Ryan, Gavin (2011). Australia's Music Charts 1988–2010. Mt. Martha, VIC, Australia: Moonlight Publishing. 
  13. ^ "Ultratop.be – Queen – The Show Must Go On" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50. Retrieved 22 May 2016.
  14. ^ "Hits of the World" (PDF). Billboard. Retrieved 22 May 2016. 
  15. ^ "Lescharts.com – Queen – The Show Must Go On" (in French). Les classement single. Retrieved 22 May 2016.
  16. ^ "Queen - Top Titel" (in German). GfK Entertainment. Retrieved 22 May 2016. 
  17. ^ "The Irish Charts – Search Results – The Show Must Go On". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved 22 May 2016.
  18. ^ "Hits of the World" (PDF). Billboard. Retrieved 22 May 2016. 
  19. ^ "Dutchcharts.nl – Queen – The Show Must Go On" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Retrieved 22 May 2016.
  20. ^ "Charts.org.nz – Queen – The Show Must Go On". Top 40 Singles. Retrieved 22 May 2016.
  21. ^ "Swedishcharts.com – Queen – The Show Must Go On". Singles Top 100. Retrieved 22 May 2016.
  22. ^ "Swisscharts.com – Queen – The Show Must Go On". Swiss Singles Chart. Retrieved 22 May 2016.
  23. ^ "Queen: Artist Chart History" Official Charts Company. Retrieved 22 May 2016.
  24. ^ "Queen – Chart history" Billboard Mainstream Rock Songs for Queen. Retrieved 22 May 2016.
  25. ^ "French single certifications – Queen – The Show Must Go On" (in French). Syndicat National de l'Édition Phonographique. Retrieved 19 August 2012. 
  26. ^ "Italian single certifications – Queen – The Show Must Go On" (in Italian). Federazione Industria Musicale Italiana. Retrieved 30 December 2014.  Select Online in the field Sezione. Enter Queen in the field Filtra. Select 2014 in the field Anno. The certification will load automatically
  27. ^ a b "Celine releases "The Show Must Go On" featuring Lindsey Stirling". celinedion.com. 20 May 2016. Retrieved 21 May 2016. 
  28. ^ "Céline Dion - The Show Must Go On (Audio) ft. Lindsey Stirling". YouTube. 20 May 2016. Retrieved 21 May 2016. 
  29. ^ "Celine Dion to Receive ICON Award & Perform at 2016 Billboard Music Awards". Billboard. 4 May 2016. Retrieved 21 May 2016. 
  30. ^ "Celine Dion Releases a Powerful Queen Cover as Her First Single Since Her Husband's Death". MTV. 20 May 2016. Retrieved 21 May 2016. 
  31. ^ "Billboard Music Awards 2016: What Time Does It Start? Who's Performing?". Rolling Stone. 19 May 2016. Retrieved 21 May 2016. 
  32. ^ Chris Payne (22 May 2016). "The 10 Best Moments From the 2016 Billboard Music Awards". Billboard. Retrieved 29 May 2016. 
  33. ^ Natalie Weiner (22 May 2016). "The 10 Best Performances at the 2016 Billboard Music Awards". Billboard. Retrieved 29 May 2016. 
  34. ^ Chris Payne (22 May 2016). "Celine Dion Salutes Late Husband With 'The Show Must Go On' Performance & Teary Speech at 2016 Billboard Music Awards". Billboard. Retrieved 29 May 2016. 
  35. ^ "Céline Dion - The Show Must Go On (Live on Billboard Music Awards 2016)". YouTube. 3 June 2016. Retrieved 3 June 2016. 
  36. ^ "Céline Dion, bouleversée, lance sa tournée hommage à René (VIDÉOS)" (in French). Webedia. 21 June 2016. Retrieved 21 June 2016. 
  37. ^ "Top Titres : Céline Dion déloge Justin Timberlake du trône, Slimane réussit son entrée" (in French). Webedia. 31 May 2016. Retrieved 31 May 2016. 
  38. ^ "Charts: Hot Canadian Digital Songs". Billboard. 11 June 2016. Retrieved 1 June 2016. 
  39. ^ a b "Celine Dion – Chart history" Canadian Hot 100 for Celine Dion. Retrieved 1 June 2016.
  40. ^ a b "This week's top selling digital tracks based on the digital album sales in Quebec" (in French). ADISQ. Retrieved 4 June 2016. 
  41. ^ a b "Charts: Pop Digital Songs". Billboard. 11 June 2016. Retrieved 1 June 2016. 
  42. ^ a b "Céline Dion - The Show Must Go On" (in French). Ultratop & Hung Medien. Retrieved 3 June 2016. 
  43. ^ "Lescharts.com – Céline Dion – The Show Must Go On" (in French). Les classement single. Retrieved 30 May 2016. 
  44. ^ "Céline Dion - The Show Must Go On". Hung Medien. Retrieved 8 June 2016. 
  45. ^ "EMA Top 10 Airplay: Week Ending 2016-05-26". Entertainment Monitoring Africa. Retrieved 26 May 2016.
  46. ^ "Celine Dion feat. Lindsey Stirling – The Show Must Go On RadioDate". Radioairplay.fm. 22 July 2016. Retrieved 23 July 2016. 

External links[edit]