“We Are the Champions” is a song by the British rock band Queen, first released on their 1977 album News of the World. Written by lead singer Freddie Mercury, it is one of Queen’s most popular songs, and one of rock’s most recognisable anthems.
The song was a worldwide success, reaching number two in the UK Singles Chart, and number four on the Billboard Hot 100 in the United States. In 2009, “We Are the Champions” was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame and was voted the world’s favourite song in a 2005 Sony Ericsson world music poll. In 2011, a team of scientific researchers concluded that the song was the catchiest in the history of popular music.
“We Are the Champions” has become an anthem for victories at sporting events, including an official theme song for the 1994 FIFA World Cup, and has been often used or referenced in popular culture. The song has also been covered by many artists.
On 7 October 2017, Queen released a Raw Sessions version of the track to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the release of News of the World. It was made from previously unheard vocal and instrumental takes from the original multi-track tapes. It also presents for the first time originally recorded length of the track, which is two choruses more than the 1977 edited single.
Written by Freddie Mercury, “We Are the Champions” was built on audience response, with Brian May stating, “We wanted to get the crowds waving and singing. It’s very unifying and positive.”
Musically, it is based on Mercury’s piano part, with Roger Taylor and John Deacon providing drums and bass guitar backing. May overdubbed some guitar sections, initially subtle, but building to a “solo” played simultaneously with the last chorus. Mercury employed many jazz chords (major and minor 6th, 7th, 9th, 11th and 13th harmonies), and the choruses featured these voiced as 4 and 5-part vocal harmonies. The lead vocal is very demanding and strident (highest point is a C5 both belted and in falsetto), with one of Mercury’s most notable performances taking place at the Live Aid concert, at Wembley Stadium, London in 1985.
The single featured “We Will Rock You” as a B-side, and followed the song on the album. The two songs were often played consecutively at the close of Queen concerts, and are customarily played together on radio broadcasts (in album order). Keeping with tradition, it was also used to close the 1992 Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert with all the show’s acts joining in behind the lead vocal of Liza Minnelli.
In 2011, a team of scientific researchers concluded that the song was the catchiest song in the history of pop music, despite it’s not hitting #1 in the charts in any major market. Dr Daniel Mullensiefen said of the study, “Every musical hit is reliant on maths, science, engineering and technology; from the physics and frequencies of sound that determines pitch and harmony to the hi-tech digital processors and synthesisers which can add effects to make a song more catchier. We’ve discovered that there’s a science behind the sing-along and a special combination of neuroscience, maths and cognitive psychology that can produce the elusive elixir of the perfect sing-along song.”
In July 2016 the song was used to introduce Donald Trump to the first session of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland. Queen immediately issued a statement denouncing Trump’s use of the song as not authorized by the band. (Licensing for the public performance of the song is administered by the performing rights organization Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI).)
In 1977–1978, “We Are the Champions” was released as a single in many countries, reaching number 2 on the UK Singles Chart. number 4 on Billboard in the US., the top 10 in Ireland, Netherlands, and Norway, and top 15 in Germany, Austria and Sweden.
In 1992, 1993 and 1998, the single was re-released in France, totalling 45 weeks on the chart and peaking respectively at #19, #14, and #10 during the 1998 FIFA World Cup.
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