"Play the Game" is a song by British rock band Queen, written by Freddie Mercury. It is the first track on the first side of their 1980 album The Game. It commences with a series of overlapping rushing noises on an Oberheim OB-X synthesizer, heralding the band's acceptance of electronic instruments into their once explicitly "no synths" sonic repertoire. They played it in their live shows from 1980 to 1982. The single was a hit in Queen's home country reaching #14 in the charts. In America, however, it gained small response at reaching only #42.

The song features a soft vocal by Mercury including a strong G4 rising in pitch all the way to C5 in chest voice, contrary to the other C5s being hit in falsetto. He also played piano on the track.

The B-side, "A Human Body", was for many years one of the few Queen songs only available on vinyl. It appeared on the bonus album "Complete Vision" in the 1985The Complete Works box set. It was eventually released on CD in 2009 as part of The Singles Collection Volume 2 and also included on the bonus disc of the remastered version of the album The Game in 2011.

The cover of the single, as well as its promotional video directed by Brian Grant,[1] marked the first time Freddie Mercury appeared in either format with what later became his trademark moustache. The video is also notable in that Brian May did not use his trademark Red Special guitar, instead using a Fender Stratocasterreplica made by Satellite. This was likely due to the risk of damage involved in the shot in which Mercury snatches the guitar from May, then appears to throw it back to him which was played back in reverse so that it would be easier for May to play the solo after "catching" the guitar in the video.[1] A shot of the band in the unedited blue screen set for the video was later used for the cover of the "Another One Bites the Dust" single release.

Later singles "It's a Hard Life" and "You Don't Fool Me" revisit the theme presented in "Play the Game", with Mercury writing from the same lover's perspective years later in the former song, and reflecting on the memories of the failed relationship in the latter. Both "Play the Game" and "It's A Hard Life" are of a similar structure, revolving around Mercury's piano playing and the band's multi-layered harmonies.

Personnel[edit source | editbeta]Edit

Charts[edit source | editbeta]Edit

Country Peak


UK 14
Germany 40
Netherlands 15
Norway 6
Switzerland 8
US 42

Beach House cover[edit source | editbeta]Edit

The Baltimore, Maryland indie rock duo Beach House recorded a cover of "Play the Game" that was contributed for the iTunes Store release of the Red Hot Organization's 2009 compilation, Dark Was the Night. The track was released as an iTunes only bonus track.

Downloadable content for Rock Band[edit source | editbeta]Edit

The song was made available to download on December 7, 2010 for use in the Rock Band 3 music video game 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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