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"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.
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 the original recorded length of the track, which is two choruses more than the 1977 edited single.
Musically, it is based on Mercury's piano part, with Roger Taylor and John Deacon providing a 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.
The video for the song was filmed at a special video shoot with fan club members at the New London Theatre Centre on 6 October 1977 and was directed by Derek Burbridge. An alternate version which starts in monochrome before blasting into colour as the drums and guitars kick in was broadcast on Top of the Pops 2 and comprises alternate footage shot on the same day.
In 2011, a team of scientific researchers concluded that the song was the catchiest song in the history of pop music, despite its 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 determine pitch and harmony, to the hi-tech digital processors and synthesisers which can add effects to make a song catchier. We've discovered that there's a science behind the sing-along and a special combination of neuroscience, math and cognitive psychology that can produce the elusive elixir of the perfect sing-along song.
A cover version by Crazy Frog titled "We Are the Champions (Ding a Dang Dong)" was released as a single on 5 June 2006, to coincide with the 2006 FIFA World Cup. Vocal arrangements include a sample portion of Queen's original recording.
The music video depicts Crazy Frog in bed dreaming that he is competing in a soccer match against Killbots. Though outnumbered, he easily defeats and humiliates them. One goal rebounds off the net knocking him out and causing him to briefly wake up. Having defeated his enemies he finds himself hovering in a soccer universe.
He happens to glance at hundreds of clones marching toward him. He panics and runs in fear. He reaches a tall stairway leading up to a giant gold trophy. Crazy Frog becomes exhausted near the top unlike his indefatigable pursuants. The trophy turns into a giant soccer ball that begins to roll rapidly down toward Crazy Frog.
Crazy Frog is crushed and falls with the ball all the way back to the ground, startling him enough to wake up. When the music video was originally released online, it appeared as it was released. However, the current version lacks the soccer ball being kicked and the accompanying sound effects.
After being internationally released, it was shown before the animated movie Cars.
The single had its greatest success in France. It went straight to #1 on 10 June 2006, and stayed at this position for five weeks. It remained for nine weeks in the Top 10, seventeen weeks in the top fifty, and twenty five weeks in the chart. On 30 August 2006, it was certified Gold disc two months after its release by SNEP, the French certifier, and became the fifteenth best selling single in 2006 in that country.
"We Are the Champions (Ding a Dang Dong)" (radio edit) - 2:57
"We Are the Champions (Ding a Dang Dong)" (club mix) - 5:49
"We Are the Champions (Ding a Dang Dong)" (radio edit) - 2:57
"We Are the Champions (Ding a Dang Dong)" (house mix) - 6:04
"We Are the Champions (Ding a Dang Dong)" (club mix) - 5:51
"We Are the Champions (Ding a Dang Dong)" (club mix dub) - 5:17
In 2004, German rock band Scorpions with Michael Kleitman released their version retitled "You Are the Champion". This special version was recorded in honor of Michael Schumacher winning his seventh F1 Formula One Championship. The song was slightly re-written, most notably changing "We" to "You" which is a direct reference to Schumacher. The song peaked at number 92 on the German Singles Chart. It was subsequently included on the album Stand Up for the Champion - Michael Schumacher in 2006 when he decided to retire from Formula One racing.
CD-single track listing
"You Are the Champion" (3:31)
"You Are The Champion" (Instrumental) (3:31)
"E Sara Perche (Spread Your Wings)" (3:12)
Tracks 1-2 performed by Scorpions and Michael Kleitman
Track 3 performed by Michael Kleitman
Other versions and samplings
1992: Hank Marvin covered the song as an instrumental and released it as a single and in his Into The Light album. This recording also featured May on guitar.
The song was used in the Fox series Glee in the third-season episode "Nationals", and is also featured on the album Glee the Music: The Graduation Album.
2017: Queen released a Raw Sessions version of the track in celebration of the album's 40th anniversary. It was made from previously unheard vocal and instrumental takes from the original multi-track tapes. It also presents for the first time the original recorded length of the track, which is two choruses more than the 1977 edited single.
^Huang, Hao (2012). Music in the 20th century. 3. Coda Books Ltd. p. 508. ISBN978-1-9085-3884-0. Queen (...) proved expert at creating crowd-pleasing and long lasting anthems such as "We Will Rock You" and "We Are the Champions" -- popular songs for the burgeoning stadium-rock circuit.