‘Flash’: Queen’s Movie Hit Arrives To Save Every One Of Us

Queen’s ‘Flash Gordon’ single theme made its chart debut in the week that the movie, directed by Mike Hodges, took its cinematic bow.

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Queen artwork: UMG
Queen artwork: UMG

The UK chart countdown for the week of December 6, 1980 echoed to new entries by Adam & the Ants with “Antmusic,” Jona Lewie’s seasonal hit with “Stop The Cavalry” and rockabilly revivalists the Stray Cats’ “Runaway Boys.” But there was also a big new film theme song debuting that week, in the shape of Queen’s “Flash.”

With perfect coordination, the Brian May song made its entrance in the week that the Flash Gordon movie, directed by Mike Hodges, took its cinematic bow. The successful big screen revival of the old science fiction adventure serial, first published as a comic strip in 1934, starred Sam L. Jones, Melody Anderson and Max Von Sydow, in the memorable role of Ming the Merciless. It also had the benefit of an entire soundtrack by Queen, with orchestral work by TV/film composer Howard Blake.

The end of a chart-topping year

“Flash” provided a successful end to a year in which Queen had basked in chart-topping US glory with “Another One Bites The Dust,” in addition to No.1 rankings in America, the UK and elsewhere for the album Hot Space. The new film theme made a relatively modest British chart debut at No.30, and had a slightly unusual sales trajectory. It appeared to have peaked at No.12 in the week before Christmas, but the film helped give it a festive boost and a belated two-week run at No.10 in the new year of 1981.

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The song went on to take its place on Queen’s record-breakingly popular first compilation, Greatest Hits, released the following October. That retrospective is recognised by the Official Charts Company as the best selling individual artist album in UK chart history, selling over 6.3 million copies in the band’s home territory.

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4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. Ritchie

    December 6, 2016 at 5:02 pm

    Correction: Hot Space was released in 1982, following the Flash Gordon soundtrack and Greatest Hits. You’re thinking of The Game which included Another One Bites The Dust.

    • Brad Marcus

      December 6, 2019 at 8:35 pm

      Thanks for posting..you beat me to it

  2. Stu Rankin

    December 6, 2017 at 8:53 pm

    ah yes, that single cover takes me waaay back. Awaiting my 7th birthday and having this single. Great days! Go Flash go!

  3. Sophie

    December 7, 2017 at 7:42 am

    I believe that hot space had some moments that are arguably more relevant today than then, yet at the time the album was slammed perhaps due to it was time to chop the poppies head off and that hindsight is wonderful. Imagine a contemporary version of ‘body language’ or ‘cool cat’ and I must admit I felt this a number of years ago. Just a thought!

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