This song is sung in a gospel style, with the voices of Freddie Mercury, Brian May and Roger Taylor multitracked to sound like a choir. According to Brian May, the gospel sound was inspired by the music of Aretha Franklin.
Freddie Mercury wrote this. The lyrics reflect a man calling out to God, asking why he works so hard, but can't find love. At the end of the song, he finds hope and decides he will not accept defeat.
This is widely reputed to have been Freddie Mercury's favorite song he ever wrote.
Queen performed this with Elton John on lead vocals in Paris in January 1997.
On the Greatest Hits III
album, which is a tribute to Freddie Mercury, George Michael sings lead.
Anne Hathaway sang this during a musical number in the 2004 movie Ella Enchanted.
Peter Hince, the head of Queen's road crew, recalled to Mojo magazine September 2009 that "among the road crew there were songs you liked and songs you didn't like." He added that this was, "always one of Queen's best. The studio version was very polished, but on-stage there was so much more guts to it."
Hince recalled to Mojo the video was "filmed at Wessex Studios while they were making the A Day at the Races album." He added: "Aesthetically, you had to have all four around the microphone, but John (Deacon) didn't sing on the records. By his own admission he didn't have the voice. He did sing on-stage but the crew always knew to keep the fader very low."
Several bootleg recordings and live videos exist where evidently John's mic was not turned down, and it becomes painfully obvious that the above statement is true - one particular live performance of "In The Lap Of The Gods" is wince-inducing!
In October 2009 a remake by the cast of the Fox TV musical comedy Glee returned this song to #28 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #26 on the UK singles chart. Their version was featured in the episode "The Rhodes Not Taken."
Frank Turner covered this for the B-side to his vinyl release of "I Still Believe
" in 2011.
The Voice contestant Jordan Smith's rendition took the song back into the upper reaches of the Hot 100. The week after his performance of the song on the December 7, 2015 episode of the singing competition, Smith's version debuted at #21 on the chart.
This was used in a commercial for the Honda Ridgeline that debuted during the 2016 Super Bowl. In the spot, a flock of sheep sing this song, having heard it when they were transported in a Ridgeline with a truck-bed audio system, which we're sure is quite handy for teaching songs to sheep.