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Queen guitarist Brian May wrote this, and claimed the idea for the song came in a dream. He told Mojo magazine October 2008 that he wanted to "create a song that the audience could participate in."
Freddie Mercury wrote the song that follows on the album, "We Are The Champions
." Although Queen did not intend it this way, the two songs are usually played together. The songs segue together on the album, so disc jockeys would let them play, which is how listeners got used to hearing it. "We Will Rock You" was released as a double A-side single with "We Are The Champions."
According to Rolling Stone, December, 2004, Sid Vicious from the Sex Pistols once asked Freddie Mercury if he was "bringing ballet to the masses," so Freddie was pleased when Queen responded with this rocker. (thanks, Mariko - London, England)
This was featured in an episode of Cheers, where people in the bar gradually form the famous drumbeat with glasses, pool cues, and whatever items were handy.
The remaining members of Queen performed this at their induction into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in 2001. Brian May and Roger Taylor took turns on the vocals.
On Queen's next album, they had another set of songs disc jockeys played together. "Bicycle Race" and "Fat Bottomed Girls
" were segued together on their album Jazz
. Those songs were also released as a double A-side single.
In the US, this is often played at sporting events in an effort to intimidate the opposing team. It plays well in stadiums where fans are encouraged to stomp their feet and make a lot of noise.
In London, a Queen musical called We Will Rock You opened in 2002. The show is about a futuristic world where there are no musical instruments and a lack of creativity, but with the help of Queen's music, a bunch of renegades liberate the planet. It was panned by critics, but became a very popular show. In 2004, the show opened in Las Vegas.
This was featured in the 2001 movie A Knight's Tale.
This was featured in a episode of Full House where Laurie Laughlin's character was giving birth and doing Lamaze breathing exercises and Bob Saget's character was humming the melody to the song. (thanks, Britney - Calabasas, CA)
In 2004, this was used in a lavish commercial for Pepsi that ran in the UK. The ad featured Brian May, Roger Taylor, Britney Spears, Beyoncé and Pink dressed up as ancient Romans.
Queen recites a passage from Hermann Hesse's novel Siddhartha in their 1977 BBC re-take of the song. (thanks, Kaity - Harrisburg, PA)
Queen often performed a faster version of the song at their concerts. In the late '70s and early '80s, they would often open their shows with this version. This can be heard on their 1979 Live Killers album. (thanks, Bertrand - Paris, France)
Brian May in Q
magazine March 2008: "At the opposite extreme stylistically (referring to the musical excess of "The Millionaire Waltz
"), there's almost nothing in this. It's our 'three ages of man' anthem."
Queen never released this as a single in the UK. However in 2000 the boy band Five decided they wanted to cover the track and they approached the remaining members of Queen. Not only did they say yes, but also Brian May and Roger Taylor agreed to play on it. This version, which was credited to Five and Queen, spent one week at the top of the UK singles chart.
In an interview with National Public Radio's Terry Gross, Brian May said that his degree in astrophysics helped in the recording of the crucial 'stomp-stomp-clap!" rhythm of the song. He explained: "Being a physicist, I said, 'Suppose there were 1,000 people doing this; what would be happening?' And I thought, Well, you would be hearing them stamping. You would also be hearing a little bit of an effect, which is due to the distance that they are from you. So I put lots of individual repeats on them. Not an echo but a single repeat at various distances. And the distances were all prime numbers."
May continued: "Now, much later on, people designed a machine to do this. But that's what we did. When we recorded each track, we put a delay of a certain length on it. And none of the delays were harmonically related. So there's no echo on it whatsoever, but the clapped sound - they spread around the stereo, but they also kind of spread from a distance from you - so you just feel like you're in the middle of a large number of people stamping and clapping."
May told NPR how recording the song in a church helped with its sound. "We were very lucky," he said. "We were working in an old, disused church in North London, and it already had a nice sound. And there were some old boards lying around, but they just seemed ideal to stamp on."
According to a survey by royalty-distribution service BMI, based off data from MLB, NFL and NHL games in 2009-2010, this is the most-played song at sporting events. The #2 song was Kevin Rudolf's "Let It Rock
," followed by Nickelback's "Burn It To The Ground
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