This week’s ‘The Greatest’ episode, ‘Queen On Video’ celebrates Queen’s pioneering approach to promo making, which resulted in some truly memorable blockbuster videos, although Queen’s sense of adventurous video making was not always universally embraced. You can check ‘Queen On Video’ out in full below.
Having essentially kicked off the era of Video Promo’s with “Bohemian Rhapsody”, the 1970’s saw some classic videos from Queen, which reflected the band’s ever evolving style, courtesy of classic songs such as “Somebody To Love”, “We Are The Champions”, “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” and “Bicycle Race”.
But when it came to the 1980’s, the introduction of TV music stations such as the MTV cable channel took the art of video making to another level.
Freddie Mercury: “Well things have come a long way, of course, they’re becoming film budgets aren’t they? And the technique and everything is, sort of, improved vastly, so, I mean, you can come up with all kinds of things.”
“I remember that in “Bohemian Rhapsody” we wanted these multiple images, and at that time the only way we could only get it was to use a prism. And then we wanted a sort of jagged effect and we had to shake the cameras, somebody had to kick it. Now you have all kinds of things I don’t even know the names for that just do it automatically. It’s beyond me as well, I don’t know what’s going to happen next.”
Naturally, ‘Queen on Video’ were always at the forefront – whether it be with cutting edge animation, outrageous sets and costumes (“A Kind of Magic”, “It’s A Hard Life”), recreating entire scenes from Hollywood movies (“Princes of the Universe”.) or dazzling us with raw power on the back of a fast moving train (“Headlong”.)
In true Queen style, humour was never far away and the band loved to push the limits – which inadvertently earned them the honor of being the first to have a video banned by MTV with “Body Language”, the erotic undertone bath house scenes deemed unsuitable for audiences in 1982. Surprisingly the cable channel ban did not hamper the track’s chart performance; it went on to become Queen’s fifth biggest US hit single of all time, surprisingly outperforming such better known international hits as “Radio Ga Ga” and “Somebody to Love”.
It was a feat repeated two years later when TV executives failed to get the joke on the brilliant “I Want To Break Free” video in which the band members appeared dressed as female character from the British soap opera Coronation Street. This time the ban impacted on the band’s chance of major US success with the single, the song stalling just inside the Top 50.
Roger Taylor: “Well MTV were very narrow minded. It was Whitesnake, and f_ing Whitesnake, and then another Whitesnake track.
“And they decided they didn’t think that men in drag was ‘rock enough’ I guess, and so they didn’t play the video.”
Throughout their history Queen have always been able to amuse, move, entertain and surprise us with their videos, which has resulted in some of the most enduring and iconic visuals in rock music.