“Queen The Greatest”: a celebration of 50 of the greatest moments from the Queen story so far.
A 50-week YouTube series celebrating key moments in Queen’s history reminding us why Queen and their music continue to be loved across the world
Queen The Greatest Episode 25. Queen On Video
Having essentially invented the Music Video with Bohemian Rhapsody, Queen went on to create some of the most iconic promos in rock history. Here we celebrate a few of their finest, including a couple that upset the suits at MTV.
“Well MTV were very narrow-minded. It was Whitesnake, and ****ing Whitesnake, and then another Whitesnake track.” Roger Taylor:
This week’s Queen The Greatest episode 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…
Having essentially kicked off the era of Video Promo’s with “Bohemian Rhapsody”, the 1970s saw some classic videos from Queen, which reflected the band’s ever-evolving style.
But when it came to the 1980s, 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 were always at the forefront – whether it be with cutting edge animation, outrageous sets, and costumes…
Recreating entire scenes from Hollywood movies…
Or dazzling us with raw power on the back of a fast-moving train…
In true Queen style, humour was never far away and the band loved to push the limits – which inadvertently earned them the honour of being the first to have a video banned by MTV with “Body Language”, the erotic undertone bathhouse 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 a 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 ****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.
Footnote: Well known as fans of the band, the Foo Fighters, also found themselves fall foul of decency regulators when they used Queen’s “Body Language” in its Hot Buns video promoting its Wasting Light album North American tour 2011 featuring the band members as truckers washing off the grime in a communal shower. A censored version can still be found at YouTube. Verification of age is required to watch the full version.
Next week: Radio Ga Ga
Photo Credit: © Queen Productions Ltd