Best Bridges In Songwriting - Queen - We Are The Champions

3년 전

Have you seen the new Freddie Mercury movie yet? It is excellent! The lead actor playing Freddie was spectacular and the screenplay honored Queen's music and story in a thoroughly entertaining way.

Let's take a closer look at We Are The Champions for our next installment in the Best Bridges series.


We Are The Champions 1.jpg


This song doesn't actually have a Bridge in the traditional sense. The two Billy Joel tunes previously examined featured an entirely new section that took the music to a different place - there is no such section in We Are The Champions. Instead, Queen does something particularly genius: one single chord changes everything! Let's look at this one chord: C7 (Fifth line, first bar):


We Are The Champions.jpg


What makes this chord so special? It is a modulation - It changes the sense of key center from Eb (a lower key) to F (a higher key). Our ears and hearts feel this as a lift in the music. But why is this specific lift so special?

The answer lies in the lyrical content:


I've paid my dues
Time after time.
I've done my sentence
But committed no crime.
And bad mistakes
I've made a few.
I've had my share of sand kicked in my face but I've come through.
(And I need to go on and on and on)

We are the champions, my friends...


What is Queen describing? This song is about being a champion- overcoming adversity- achieving greatness. This means one has to push beyond another level, a higher level, to be crowned champion.

Here lies the genius of Queen's modulation: The Bb chord would set us up perfectly to return to the normal Eb key center from which the song emerges, but returning to the normal would not fit the message! Anyone can be "normal," but only he who pushes harder and farther can be a champion.


This sense of "lift" in the music echoes the feeling of a champion "lifting" himself beyond the competition and being "lifted" in the hearts of spectators.

Without this modulation the song would feel lifeless, flat, and boring! It would never have the same intensity that we know and love today.

Since this one chord bridges the first section from the second, I feel it qualifies for the Best Bridges In Songwriting series. It may not be a whole section, but sometimes in music we have to leave room for creativity- for artistry. It's what separates "I've paid my dues..." from "We are the champions," and it also happens to be what separates Queen from hundreds of other bands.



This is an original post for Steemit by @CosmicVibration on 11 November 2018.

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