Okay. Okay. I literally just said they weren’t going to double down on the guitars. And yet, here we are, with May in charge, and a squadron of guitars is going straight for it.
The first thing you hear is actually just some starkly pounded drums (weirdly, it’s a very similar drum beat to that on the synth drums an intro earlier, but who is counting).
To be fair. Here May conspires with Taylor’s simple stomping drum beat, and Freddie at full tilt to create a solid, simple, and perfectly outrageous rocker. There is almost no depth here, but the surface is immaculate. For any other band, this would be a stone cold hit, the track you immediately put to the front and sell as hard as you can. But of course, this is Queen, and this is the Works.
So this is basically a forgotten B-side.
The lyrics are almost literally nonexistant.
My favourite bit is actually the chorus of people going ‘oh yeah’ in response to some particularly cliched rock nonsense.
But maybe that’s a bit harsh.
We’re centred on a rock foundation so traditional it actually gets away with equating Freddie’s sexuality to a wind up train.
I wanna be a toy at your birthday party
Wind me up – wind me up – wind me up – let me go
That is literally the only lyric that couldn’t have been written by a four year old with the assignment to say ‘what rock sounds like’ and it’s possible that they would still do it if they were close to their next birthday.
But it doesn’t matter. This sort of rock is about attitude, a kind of macho sass. And that’s what it has. My guess is that Brian thought he had to prove something to the audience, or that it might be worth having a back up single in case the poppier stuff didn’t cut it. If Radio Ga Ga had bombed, I imagine this would’ve been the next single.
In case of emergency, break glass.
Tear it up
Stir it up
Stake it out – and you can’t go wrong
There was, of course, no need. Queen had shifted, metamorphosised, and found their way back into synch with the market. Even the rockingest rocks were ready for theatrics at this point.
Oh god. I wasn’t paying enough attention. At the last minute I’ve found another exhibit for the ‘Brian May’s Creepy Creeping’ museum.
It ain’t not time for sleepin’ baby
Soon it’s round you street I’m creeping
-You better be ready –
At least he’s getting more self aware, I guess.
Although that’s basically worse.
Anyway. It’s rock, we aren’t supposed to look at it like that, it’s the sonic embodiment of the male gaze. The brash guitars and power fantasies are the bread and butter of this sound. And to be fair to Queen, one of their charms is how often they undermine that.
But not always, as we’ve seen.
But hey, at least it sounds like a thumping classic.
I gotta tell you baby you’re driving me Ga Ga
Queen: An Exploded Diagram is me having big and little thoughts about every Queen song in chronological order. If you want to support me, making it more financially viable and easier to explain to people at parties, please back my patreon.
Illustration by Emma.