There is no doubt that Queen is one of the most iconic and well-appreciated bands of all time. However, that was not always the case and not all Queen’s works were well-perceived in the ’80s. In fact, in 1984, Queen decided to protest North America as they restricted the band’s creative freedom and failed to understand the artistry in their music.
As you probably know, Queen’s eleventh album ‘The Works‘ was released 37 years ago and February 27 marked the anniversary of this iconic album. The album was, for the first time, recorded in the United States at the Record Plant Studios in Los Angeles and at Musicland Studios in Munich, Germany between August 1983 and January 1984.
The album’s title comes from Roger Taylor’s iconic remark ‘Let‘s give them the works!’ which he made right before they started recording. One of the most famous songs on the album was without a doubt ‘I Want to Break Free‘ which was written by bassist John Deacon. However, the music video of the song became a firestarter, mainly in the United States and Brazil.
The music video of the song is a parody of the famous British soap opera Coronation Street for which Queen members were dressed as women and performed a choreography provided by the Royal Ballet. In Europe, the song was perceived as a powerful and bold anthem of resistance against political oppression, and the music video was appreciated by millions who got the joke and enjoyed seeing something different.
However, that was not the case in the United States where MTV actually banned the music video. In an interview, Brian May said that while people in the United Kingdom understood the connection between the music video and the soap-opera, the United States audience perceived it as a bold declaration of transvestism and Mercury‘s bisexuality.
In fact, shortly after the release of the music video, when Queen was performing in Brazil, some people started throwing rocks at Freddie Mercury. Following that, the band decided not to tour in North America and Roger Taylor stated that MTV ‘was a very narrow-minded station then. It just seemed to be all f*cking Whitesnake.’
After the release of the ‘I Want to Break Free’ music video and Queen’s decision not to tour in North America, ‘The Works’ failed to rank at the top spot in US sales. However, the extreme demand and sales in other continents, and especially Europe, made the sales even better than they expected. ‘The Works’ ended up spending 94 weeks on the UK Albums Chart and sold over 6 million copies worldwide.
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