On the UK countdown for the week ending July 28, 1984, Queen scored what was already their 25th UK singles chart entry. Even more impressively, all but one of them were top 40 hits. ‘It’s A Hard Life’ debuted at No.23, in what was proving to be a great year for the band.
They’d scored two top three UK hits, with “Radio Ga Ga” and “I Want To Break Free,” and reached No.2 with the globally successful album The Works, their 11th studio release. The new single was a favourite of Brian May, who said in the commentary of the Greatest Hits 2 DVD: “To my mind this is one of the most beautiful songs that Freddie [Mercury] ever wrote. It’s straight from the heart, and he really opened up during the creation of it, I sat with him for hours and hours and hours just trying pull it away and get the most out of it. It’s one of his loveliest songs.”
The single leapt 17 places to No.6 in its second chart week, as Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s “Two Tribes” continued its long reign at the top. That proved to be the Queen song’s peak position in the UK, but it climbed to No. 2 in Ireland and No. 4 in Holland. It fared less well on the Billboard Hot 100, with a No.72 peak. The band had reached No.16 in the US with “Radio Ga-Ga” but only No.45 with “I Want To Break Free.”
Within two months, Queen were back in the British top 20 with “Hammer To Fall,” before landing a Yuletide hit with “Thank God It’s Christmas.” It marked the first of three occasions on which Queen posted five singles chart entries in a calendar year in the UK, a remarkable feat that they repeated in 1989 and 1991.
“It’s A Hard Life” is on The Works, which can be bought here.
Follow the official Queen Best Of playlist.