On the 20th anniversary of Freddie Mercury’s death we look at the legacy of Queen on movie soundtracks… altogether now… ‘Flash ahhhhhhh….’
On the 24th of November 1991, Freddie Mercury – lead singer of Queen – died of bronchopneumonia brought on by AIDS, one day after acknowledging publicly that he had the disease. Mercury was 45. Over the course of his career, Mercury created many classic songs and still continues to be voted one of the greatest singers of all time.
On the 20th anniversary of the death of Freddie Mercury, Movies.ie takes a look at the greatest uses of Mercury’s music on the big screen.
Flash – Flash Gordon (1980)
Flash Gordon was Queen’s ninth studio album, and the first of two movie soundtracks produced by the band. While most of the album is instrumental, the title track, Flash – which was released as a single – is sung as a duet between Mercury and Brian May, and contains dialogue cut from various parts of the movie. The song is noted for it’s repetitive bass line and the camp humour of the film dialogue used, including; ‘Flash, Flash! I love you! But we only have 14 hour to save the Earth!’ Genius.
The soundtrack to Flash Gordon reached number 1 in the Australian album chart, number 2 in Germany and number 10 in the UK. The album was re-released in 2011 to coincide with the band’s 40th anniversary.
Who Wants to Live Forever – Highlander (1986)
After the success of Flash Gordon, Queen went on to contribute music to the movie Highlander. Michael Kamen composed the original score, but there are several original Queen songs used in the film, including Hammer to Fall and Princes of the Universe. While there was no official soundtrack released, Queen’s album A Kind Of Magic contains many of the songs written for the movie.
Who Wants to Live Forever was written to capture the emotion of the scene where Connor McLeod watches his wife Heather growing old and dying, while he – an immortal – remains young forever. Brian May and Freddie Mercury shared lead vocals on the track.
Bohemian Rhapsody – Wayne’s World (1992)
The year after his death, Wayne and Garth paid ultimate tribute to Mercury by singling along with and head banging to Bohemian Rhapsody at the start of the Wayne’s World. This sent Bohemian Rhapsody back to number two in the US Billboard chart almost 20 years after it was first released, and has become an iconic use of the song. A new video for the song was released, which won Queen their only MTV Video Music Award for Best Video from a Film. When accepting the award, Brian May said that ‘Freddie would be tickled’.
The Show Must Go On – Moulin Rouge (2001)
Moulin Rouge is a jukebox musical film – meaning it used previously released pop songs as it’s musical score. Released in 2001, the film featured Queen’s The Show Must Go On, which was the final track on Queen’s 1991 album Innuendo, and primarily written by Brian May. The song chronicles Freddie Mercury’s struggle to perform towards the end of his life.
In Moulin Rouge, the song is performed by Nicole Kidman as Satine and Jim Broadbent as Zidler. The song is used to narrate Satine’s despair at having to choose between the man she loves and the career she has worked for. The Show Must Go On was rearranged as a dark operatic song for the film.
Don’t Stop Me Now – Shaun of the Dead (2004)
Don’t Stop Me Now featured on Queen’s 1978 album, Jazz. The song was released as a single in 1979 and reached number 9 in the UK charts.
In Shaun of the Dead, Don’t Stop Me Now is used near the middle of the film when Shaun, Liz and Ed beat the zombie pub landlord in the Winchester. The trio beat the zombie in rhythm with the song while David makes the lights in the building flash, lending the invading hoardes of zombies the look of fans at a concert. This, coupled with the upbeat feel of the song, completely contradict the no-win situation Shaun is in and lead him to utter the now famous line; ‘David, kill the Queen!’
One Vision in Iron Eagle (1986),
We Are The Champions in Revenge of the Nerds (1984)
A Kind of Magic in Highlander II: The Quickening (1991).
Words – Brogen Hayes