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Who Wants to Live Forever

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"Who Wants to Live Forever"
Wwtlfq.jpg
UK single picture sleeve
Single by Queen
from the album A Kind of Magic
B-side"Killer Queen" (2nd A Side track on the 12" single, with the album version of "Who Wants To Live Forever" as the 1st B Side track for the 12" single, along with "Forever" as the 2nd B Side track)[1]
Released15 September 1986
Recorded1986
Length
LabelEMI
Songwriter(s)Brian May
Producer(s)
Queen singles chronology
"Pain Is So Close to Pleasure"
(1986)
"Who Wants to Live Forever"
(1986)
"I Want It All"
(1989)
Music video
"Who Wants to Live Forever" on YouTube

"Who Wants to Live Forever" is a song by the British rock band Queen. A power ballad,[2] it is the sixth track on the album A Kind of Magic, which was released in June 1986, and was written by lead guitarist Brian May for the soundtrack to the film Highlander.[3] Queen was backed up by an orchestra, with orchestrations by the co-composer of the film's score, Michael Kamen. The song peaked at No. 24 in the UK charts.[4] In 1991 it was included in the band’s second compilation album Greatest Hits II.[5]

Since its release, the song has been covered by many artists. Seal performed a live version of the song at The Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert in 1992. In 2014, Rolling Stone readers voted it their fifth favourite song by Queen,[6] and in 2018 it was listed at number 15 in "The top 20 Queen songs of all time" by Smooth Radio.[2]

Recording[edit]

In the 1986 film Highlander, the song is used to frame the scenes in the film where Connor MacLeod must endure his beloved wife Heather MacLeod growing old and dying while he, as an Immortal, remains forever young. Brian May wrote the song in the backseat of his car after seeing a 20-minute first cut of the scene of Heather's death.[7] It was later used in the Highlander television series episodes "The Gathering", "Revenge is Sweet", "The Hunters", "Line of Fire", and "Leader of the Pack".

In the film version, Freddie Mercury provides all the main vocals. On the album version, May sings lead vocals on the first verse before Mercury takes over, with May also singing "But touch my tears with your lips" during Mercury's verse and the closing line "Who waits forever anyway?". An instrumental version of the song, entitled "Forever", was included as a bonus track on the CD version of the album. This instrumental featured only a piano, with keyboard accompaniment during the chorus sections. The piano track was recorded solely by May. Queen were backed up by an orchestra, with orchestrations by the co-composer of the film's score, Michael Kamen.[3]

Music video[edit]

The video was directed by David Mallet and filmed in a (now demolished) warehouse at Tobacco Wharf at London's East End on 16 September 1986.[8] It featured the National Philharmonic Orchestra with forty choirboys and several hundreds of candles which remain lit throughout filming as well as Mercury wearing a tuxedo suit.[8] The video also features bass guitarist John Deacon playing a white double bass, despite not performing on the original recording.

An alternate version with clips from the film Highlander (which the song appears in) appears on the video single with "A Kind of Magic" in October 1986 and later as a hidden music video on the Queen Greatest Video Hits II DVD in November 2003.[8][9]

Track Listing[edit]

7" Single

A Side. "Who Wants To Live Forever" (Single Version) - 4:01

B Side. "Killer Queen" - 2:59[10]

12" Single

A1. "Who Wants To Live Forever" (Single Version) - 4:01

A2. "Killer Queen" - 2:59

B1. "Who Wants To Live Forever" (Album Version) - 5:15

B2. "Forever" - 3:20[11]

Personnel[edit]

Queen
  • Freddie Mercury – lead and backing vocals
  • Brian May – lead and backing vocals, synthesiser, electric guitar, orchestral arrangements
  • Roger Taylor – drum machine, backing vocals
Additional musicians

Chart performance[edit]

Chart (1986-1992) Peak
position
Netherlands (Dutch Top 40)[12] 7
UK Singles (OCC)[13] 24

Charts[edit]

Year-end charts[edit]

Chart (2019) Position
Portugal (AFP)[14] 1661

Sales and certifications[edit]

Region Certification Certified units/sales
Italy (FIMI)[15]
sales since 2009
Gold 35,000double-dagger
United Kingdom (BPI)[16]
sales since 2011
Gold 400,000double-dagger

double-dagger Sales+streaming figures based on certification alone.

Legacy[edit]

Tributes[edit]

Funeral music[edit]

In a 2005 poll conducted by digital television station Music Choice on what song Britons would most like played at their funeral, the song was voted the fifth most popular.[22]

Dune version[edit]

"Who Wants to Live Forever"
Dune - Who wants to live forever - Cover.jpg
Single by Dune
from the album Forever
Released23 October 1996
GenreClassical
Length3:54
Label
  • Orbit Records
  • Virgin
Songwriter(s)Brian May
Dune singles chronology
"Million Miles from Home"
(1996)
"Who Wants to Live Forever"
(1996)
"Nothing Compares 2 U"
(1997)
Music video
"Who Wants to Live Forever" on YouTube

German band Dune released their cover of "Who Wants to Live Forever", from their album, Forever, as a single in October 1996. It is sung by German singer Verena von Strenge and sold more than 500,000 copies in Germany alone, after reaching number 2 there. The single also peaked at number 3 in Austria, number 8 in Hungary, number 9 in Switzerland, number 12 in the Netherlands and number 59 in Sweden. On the Eurochart Hot 100, it reached number 13 in January 1997. "Who Wants to Live Forever" was nominated to the 1997 Echo Awards for the most successful national dance single.[23]

Music video[edit]

The music video for "Who Wants to Live Forever" was directed by Matt Broadley.[24] It was shot in the Scottish Highlands. The video begins on an old churchyard, where Oliver Froning plays a man who stands by a grave. He sees von Strenge appearing in ghost-like form, dressed in a white dress, singing to him. When Froning leaves the churchyard, he walks into the highlands. By a river, he stops for drinking some water, and again sees von Strenge standing in front of a waterfall, singing to him. In the end, he reaches the top of the mountains, where he is united with von Strenge.

Track listing[edit]

  1. Who Wants to Live Forever (Sixtysix Radio Mix) (3:54)
  2. Who Wants to Live Forever (South Bound Mix) (3:58)
  3. Highland Trilogy: One Day in Glencoe (4:49)
  4. Highland Trilogy: Valley of Tears (4:58)
  5. Highland Trilogy: In the Air, Part 2 (10:29)

Remixes[edit]

Released: 4 December 1996

  1. Who Wants to Live Forever (Komakino Remix) (5:32)
  2. Who Wants to Live Forever (Future Breeze Remix) (7:03)
  3. In the Air, Part 1 (5:13)

Charts[edit]

Sarah Brightman version[edit]

"Who Wants to Live Forever"
Brightman Who Wants to Live Forever.jpg
Single by Sarah Brightman
from the album Timeless
Released1997
GenreOperatic pop
Songwriter(s)Brian May
Producer(s)Frank Peterson
Sarah Brightman singles chronology
"Just Show Me How to Love You"
(1997)
"Who Wants to Live Forever"
(1997)
"Tu Quieres Volver"
(1997)

Soprano Sarah Brightman released her cover of "Who Wants to Live Forever", from her album Timeless/Time to Say Goodbye, as a single in 1997 (See 1997 in music). The single peaked at No. 45 in the UK singles chart.[36]

Track listing[edit]

CD single[edit]

  1. "Who Wants to Live Forever" (Album version)
  2. "Who Wants to Live Forever" (Xenomania club mix)

Maxi CD single[edit]

  1. "Who Wants to Live Forever"
  2. "A Question of Honour"
  3. "Heaven Is Here"
  4. "I Loved You"

12" vinyl[edit]

  1. "Who Wants to Live Forever (Trouser Enthusiasts 'Cybernetic Odalisque' Mix)"
  2. "Who Wants to Live Forever (Xenomania Club Mix)"
  3. "Who Wants to Live Forever (Xenomania Dub Mix)"
  4. "Who Wants to Live Forever (X-Citing Mix)

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Queen "A Kind Of Magic" album and song lyrics". www.ultimatequeen.co.uk.
  2. ^ a b Eames, Tom (23 October 2018). "The top 20 Queen songs of all time". Smooth Radio. Retrieved 29 November 2020.
  3. ^ a b Who Wants To Live Forever. UltimateQueen.co.uk
  4. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums. London: Guinness World Records Limited
  5. ^ "Queen Greatest Hits II". Allmusic. Retrieved 13 March 2019.
  6. ^ "Readers' Poll: 10 Greatest Queen Songs". Rolling Stone. 12 March 2014. Retrieved 1 December 2018.
  7. ^ Georg Purvis (28 August 2012). Queen: The Complete Works. Titan. p. 935. ISBN 978-1-78116-287-3. Retrieved 9 August 2017.
  8. ^ a b c Queen Promo Videos: Who Wants To Live Forever, Ultimate Queen. Retrieved 13 November 2019
  9. ^ Greatest Video Hits 2 playlist on YouTube (Queen Forever)
  10. ^ "Queen "Sheer Heart Attack" album and song lyrics". www.ultimatequeen.co.uk. Retrieved 10 December 2020.
  11. ^ "Queen "A Kind Of Magic" album and song lyrics". www.ultimatequeen.co.uk. Retrieved 10 December 2020.
  12. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40 – Queen" (in Dutch). Dutch Top 40. Retrieved 21 August 2020.
  13. ^ "Queen: Artist Chart History". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 21 August 2020.
  14. ^ "Top AFP - Audiogest - Top 3000 Singles + EPs Digitais" (PDF) (in Portuguese). Associação Fonográfica Portuguesa. Retrieved 11 August 2020.
  15. ^ "Italian single certifications – Who Wants To Live Forever" (in Italian). Federazione Industria Musicale Italiana. Retrieved 26 November 2020. Select "2020" in the "Anno" drop-down menu. Select "Who Wants To Live Forever" in the "Filtra" field. Select "Singoli" under "Sezione".
  16. ^ "British single certifications – Who Wants To Live Forever". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 9 November 2020.
  17. ^ "Queen / Seal Who Wants To Live Forever". Allmusic. Retrieved 13 March 2019.
  18. ^ The Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert: Who Wants To Live Forever Ultimate Queen. Retrieved 20 August 2011
  19. ^ "Diana princess of Wales - Tribute". Billboard. 22 November 1997. Retrieved 3 October 2020.
  20. ^ "Isle of Wight Festival: Queen pay tribute to Orlando shooting victims". BBC. 14 June 2016.
  21. ^ Richardson, Hollie (28 January 2021). "It's A Sin: all the music from the hit Channel 4 series". Stylist.
  22. ^ "Angels 'favourite funeral song'". BBC News. 10 March 2005. Retrieved 24 February 2013.
  23. ^ "Congratulations to the nominees for the 1997 Echo-Award" (PDF). Music & Media. p. 9. Retrieved 22 December 2019.
  24. ^ "Credits - Matt Broadley". mattbroadley.com. Retrieved 29 January 2017.
  25. ^ "Austriancharts.at – Dune – Who Wants To Live Forever" (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40. Retrieved 20 April 2018.
  26. ^ "Music & Media: Eurochart Hot 100" (PDF). Music & Media. Retrieved 5 May 2018.
  27. ^ "Offiziellecharts.de – Dune – Who Wants To Live Forever" (in German). GfK Entertainment Charts. Retrieved 19 March 2019.
  28. ^ "Top 10 Hungary" (PDF). Music & Media. Retrieved 5 May 2018.
  29. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40 – Dune" (in Dutch). Dutch Top 40. Retrieved 20 April 2018.
  30. ^ "Dutchcharts.nl – Dune – Who Wants To Live Forever" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Retrieved 20 April 2018.
  31. ^ "Swedishcharts.com – Dune – Who Wants To Live Forever". Singles Top 100. Retrieved 20 April 2018.
  32. ^ "Swisscharts.com – Dune – Who Wants To Live Forever". Swiss Singles Chart. Retrieved 20 April 2018.
  33. ^ "Top 100 Single-Jahrescharts" (in German). GfK Entertainment. Retrieved 7 August 2015.
  34. ^ "1997 Year-End Sales Charts: Eurochart Hot 100 Singles" (PDF). Music & Media. Retrieved 19 December 2019.
  35. ^ "Top 100 Single-Jahrescharts" (in German). GfK Entertainment. Retrieved 17 April 2018.
  36. ^ "who wants to live forever | full Official Chart History". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 27 November 2018.

External links[edit]

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