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"Somebody to Love" is a song by British rock band Queen, written by singer/pianist Freddie Mercury. It debuted on the band's 1976 album A Day at the Races and was also featured on their compilation album Greatest Hits.[1]

The song offers listeners something similar to that of Queen's earlier hit "Bohemian Rhapsody" with its complex harmonies and guitar solos; however instead of mimicking an English choir, the band turned to a gospel choir. It reached #2 in the UK and #13 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the US.[2][3] This song made it clear to fans that "Queen could swing as hard as it could rock, by channeling the spirit of gospel music."[4]

Written by Mercury at the piano, "Somebody to Love" is a soul-searching piece that questions God's role in a life without love. Through voice layering techniques, Queen was able to create the soulful sound of a 100 voice choir, with that of only three voices: Mercury, Brian May and Roger TaylorJohn Deacon did not sing on the album's track. Mercury's fascination and admiration for Aretha Franklin was a major influence for the creation of this song.

Queen played "Somebody to Love" live between 1977–85, and a live performance of the song is recorded on the album Queen Rock Montreal.[5] In addition to these live performances, there has been collaboration on tributes to "Somebody to Love" after Mercury's death in 1991. The song was played live on 20 April 1992, during The Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert, with George Michael on lead vocals.[6]

Since its release in 1976, the song has appeared in a number of television shows, such as American IdolThe X Factor (UK)Glee and Gossip Girl, as well as movies, including Happy Feetand Ella Enchanted. Additionally, it has been covered by many artists.

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 [hide*1 Song

Song[edit]Edit

Like "Bohemian Rhapsody", the major hit from Queen's previous album A Night at the Opera (1975), "Somebody to Love" has a complex melody and deep layering of vocal tracks, this time based on a gospel choir arrangement.[7] It was the first single from A Day at the Races, on which Mercury, May and Taylor multitracked their voices to create the impression of a 100-voice gospel choir.[8] The lyrics, especially combined with the gospel influence, create a song about faith, desperation and soul-searching; the singer questions both the lack of love experienced in his life, and the role and existence of God.[1] Staying true to Queen's guitar-driven style, it was also filled with intricate harmonies and a notable guitar solo by May, and it went to #2 in the UK Singles Chart and #13 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the U.S.[2][3] The song is in the key of A major. The song possesses a great variety of notes, ranging from F2 in the harmonies on the line "Can anybody find me?", and G#2 to a C5 in full voice up to an A5 in falsetto in the lead vocals, all sung by Mercury.[9] The band have spoken of sections of the song which were recorded but never made it onto the final mix of the song, some of which have been leaked online.

"'Somebody To Love' is Aretha Franklin-influenced. Freddie's very much into that. We tried to keep the track in a loose, gospel-type feel. I think it's the loosest track we've ever done."

—Roger Taylor[10]

A promotional video was made combining a staged recording session at Sarm East Studios (where the A Day at the Races album was recorded) and film footage of the band's record breaking performance at Hyde Park that September.[8][11] Peter Hince, the head of Queen's road crew, recalled to Mojo magazine: "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." [12] The song was included on their first Greatest Hits, released in 1981.[1]

Live performances[edit]Edit

This was also one of few tracks where Deacon sang backing vocals when performed live. His voice was clearly heard on bootlegs from the band's performance at Earls Court in June 1977 and at the Houston Summit in December 1977.[13] From 1977-78, it was played about every show.[13][14] For the Jazz and Live Killer tours, it was also played consistently.[15] In The Game Tour, it was only played early in the tour. It was also played for South America Bites The DustLive at the Bowl and Queen Rock Montreal.[5][16] Later in The Works Tour, a shortened version was played as a medley preceding "Killer Queen".[17] A Live version from the 1984/85 tour was recorded and filmed on the concert film, Final Live in Japan 1985.[18]

When performed live, Mercury would often alter the melodies of the song, but would generally hit the sustained A4 notes throughout the song. The A4 at the peak of the building line "can anybody find me" on the studio version was not part of Mercury's original melody, but the other band members felt that it worked better than his. Mercury sings his original take on this line when live.

Even after Mercury's death in 1991, renditions of "Somebody to Love" have been performed live with the remaining band members, May and Taylor, and a number of different lead singers. At the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert held atWembley Stadium, the song was performed by George Michael. Michael's performance of "Somebody to Love" has been hailed as "one of the best performances of the tribute concert".[19][20] It was even given serious consideration as to having George Michael take over as full-time lead singer of Queen.[21] The song was later rereleased in 1993 as the lead track of an EP called Five Live which went to #1 in the UK. This version is also available on Greatest Hits III, released in 1999.[1]

Personnel[edit]Edit

Notable covers[edit]Edit

  • George Michael performed the song with Queen's remaining members at the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert in April 1992.[6]
  • Anne Hathaway sang this song in her role as Ella in the movie Ella Enchanted.[22]
  • Brittany Murphy sang this song in the movie Happy Feet as her emperor penguin character Gloria.[23]
  • The cast of Glee covered it in the episode "The Rhodes Not Taken" (2009).[24]
  • Ednita Nazario, the Puerto Rican diva singer, made a cover of this song in Spanish called "Un Hombre Para Mí" in her 1992 album Metamorfósis.
  • Mia Martini, an Italian singer, made a cover of this song in Italian called "Un uomo per me" in 1977.
  • Mocedades, a Spanish band, made a cover of this song in Spanish called "Un poco de amor" in your 1981 album Desde que tú te has ido.[25][26]
  • Edurne, a Spanish singer, made a cover of this song in Spanish called "Un poco de amor (Somebody to love)" in her 2008 album Première.
  • Spandau Ballet frontman Tony Hadley often performs the song live at his solo concerts.
  • In the film Late Last NightSteven Weber's character sings the song during a drug-infused dreamy scene.
  • In 2009, the singers at BBC's Children in Need Wales, the song was sung as the finale of the concert at Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff. Notable singers included Bonnie TylerOnly Men AloudKerry Ellis and John Owen-Jones.
  • In 2010, a group of 60 students from The Hebrew University performed a Lip dub version of the song,[27] which received critical acclaim, including a review by Brian May, who wrote: "I ... got quite a lump in the throat. It's very well done, with great heart and joy, and I'm sure Freddie (Mercury, the late Queen soloist) would love it."[28]
  • In 2011, Argentinian rock singer Fito Páez made a cover in Spanish called "Las dos caras del amor" for his album "Canciones para aliens".
  • English folk punk musician Frank Turner often performs the song live at his concerts. It appeared as the b-side to his single "I Still Believe".[29]
  • Garth Brooks for the 2013 "Classic Rock" album in the Blame It All on My Roots: Five Decades of Influences compilation.
  • Ginette Reno for the Radio-Canada 2013 end-of-year Special "En direct de l'univers: spécial du jour de l'An"

Rock Band music gaming platform[edit]Edit

The song was made available to download on 7 December 2010 for use in the Rock Band 3 music gaming platform in both Basic rhythm, and PRO mode which allows use of a real guitar/bass guitar, and MIDI compatible electronic drum kits/keyboards in addition to vocals.

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