Roger’s on a rage again.
And what a rage.
Once again, we’re taken to strange, experimental places. Slightly more successfully than on Fun it, but with a darker edge that makes it slightly less striking.
It still feels way ahead of its time.
Loop driven, the song is basically a pile of ominous guitars, stripped around threatening, miserablist vocal parts.
And of course, there’s that montage.
I love the laconic misery of the lyrics though. I want to pick out some of them before I try and pull why I find this song so strange and appealing.
Only our team
Is the real team
Bring out the dogs
Get on your feet
Lie on the floor
Kinda think I’ve heard that line before
It’s biting, cruel and dark.
Perhaps I’m attaching too much weight to it, on account of its appearance in that ludicrous computer game I’ve already mentioned. It’s a little bit of instrumental that suits the dystopian setting, and looping on its own, it gets increasingly dread-filled.
But it’s still stripped down and unusual. Feeling like a dark metal track, slowed down industrial, or maybe just some overdriven post-punk.
It’s a dark collage. Less electronic that Fun it, but sharing it’s stripped down approach, and of course, it has it’s own nod to hip hop, again, likely by accident.
Towards the end of the song there is a montage of the rest of the album, a collage of snippets run together. Licks and lyrics blend into each other, and we get a micro tour of the rest of that Jazz.
It’s a striking moment, and would just be a tape cutting oddity if it weren’t for the glorious mix back in. As the vocal of Fat bottomed girls blasts out, the guitar slowly returns, and places a wonderful minor inflection on the lyric. I would genuinely love to make that mix work live. It’s the perfect kind of juxtaposition. The only problem is it fades to quickly. When you’ve got a harmony like that, and a rhythm match so perfect, I don’t know why you’d let it go.
Perhaps this is why I go wrong.
Anyway, I think it makes the song. Not just for the pleasing blend, and the way it reforms the song (and the other song) in a new context, shifting mood and tone, and bringing a satisfying darkness. But also in the way it shifts a lot of that bitterness inwards.
Like Let me entertain you, there’s an undercurrent of self loathing. There’s a fear beneath the anger. Roger hates on competitive cultural identity, but worries he’s become part of it.
All you’re given
Is what you’ve been given
A thousand times before
By repeating the motifs of the album, Roger notes that Jazz is just more of that jazz. It’s a self doubting bookend, attempting to undermine the whole. Whilst also being one of the most experimental, shocking and bold moves of the record. It’s brooding guitar loop may be formulaic, but the whole is strange and eerie. It actually isn’t more of that jazz, it’s something else.
I don’t know exactly what, but I have a feeling it’s going to haunt me.
Which is a testament to Taylor’s song-writing.
It’s also an ending. A threat, maybe, or a parting challenge.
What a way to go.
I don’t know what to make of this record. It might be a mess, or it might be a line in the sand. It feels self aware, and surprisingly challenging. It alternates between breezy lightness and surprising darkness. It is a record of contradictions. Some of the greatest pop songs, alongside some of the weirdest digressions.
It’s very Queen.
Of that jazz
The outro is perfect. The final drums are perfect. Everything stripped away.
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.