We Are the Champions

"We Are the Champions" is a song by the British rock band Queen, released from the band's sixth album News of the World (1977).[2] Written by lead singer Freddie Mercury, it remains among rock's most recognisable anthems.[3] The song was a worldwide success, reaching number two in the UK Singles Chart, number four on the Billboard Hot 100 in the US, number three in Canada and the top ten in many other countries.[4][5] In 2009 it was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame[6] and was voted the world's favourite song in a 2005 Sony Ericsson world music poll.[7] In 2011, a team of scientific researchers concluded that the song was the catchiest in the history of popular music.[8][9][10]

"We Are the Champions"
Wearethechampions.jpg
UK single picture sleeve
Single by Queen
from the album News of the World
B-side"We Will Rock You"
Released
  • 7 October 1977[1]
Recorded1977
GenreArena rock
Length2:59
LabelEMI (UK)
Elektra (US)
Songwriter(s)Freddie Mercury
Producer(s)Queen, assisted by Mike "Clay" Stone
Queen singles chronology
"Long Away"
(1977)
"We Are the Champions" / "We Will Rock You"
(1977)
"Spread Your Wings"
(1978)
Music video
"We Are the Champions" on YouTube

Written with audience participation in mind, Mercury said "We" in the song’s title refers to everyone who is singing it.[11] Brian May called the song "unifying and positive".[12] "We Are the Champions" has become an anthem for victories at sporting events,[13] including as an official theme song for the 1994 FIFA World Cup, and has been often used or referenced in popular culture. The song has also been covered by many artists.

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.[14]

MusicEdit

Written by Freddie Mercury, "We Are the Champions" was built on audience response following a concert at Bingley Hall, Stafford in which the audience sang "You'll Never Walk Alone" to the band.[15][16][17] It embodies numerous elements of arena rock,[18][19] with Brian May stating, "We wanted to get the crowds waving and singing. It's very unifying and positive."[12]

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 four- and five-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.[20]

The single featured "We Will Rock You", which preceded the song on the album, as its B-side. The two songs were often played consecutively at the close of Queen concerts, and are customarily played together on radio broadcasts (in album order).[3] Keeping with tradition, the two songs were 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.[3]

ReceptionEdit

Cash Box said that it contains "heroic lyrics and rapid changes in dynamics and emotional intensity" and praised guitarist Brian May's "dark backing lines and rippling fills."[21]

Music videoEdit

The video for "We Are the Champions" was filmed at a special video shoot with fan club members at the New London Theatre on 6 October 1977 and was directed by Derek Burbridge.[22] Mercury performs in a trademark Harlequin outfit – a half black, half white version – in front of an enthusiastic crowd who wave Queen scarves in a manner similar to English football fans.[22] An alternate version which starts in monochrome before blasting into colour as the drums and guitars kick in was broadcast on the BBC's Top of the Pops 2 and comprises alternate footage shot on the same day.[23]

LegacyEdit

"In some ways the definitive Queen song, from its balladic verses to its anthemic chorus, "Champions" has an eternal lock on sports stadium playlists."

—Gary Graff for Billboard magazine, January 2018.[24]

In 2011, a team of scientific researchers concluded that "We Are the Champions" was the catchiest song in the history of pop music, despite its not reaching #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."[8][10]

The song is popular at sporting events, often being played after a major victory by the home team. For example, it was played at Highmark Stadium after the Buffalo Bills defeated the New England Patriots in the 2021 NFL playoffs.[25]

Chart performancesEdit

In 1977–1978, "We Are the Champions" was released as a single in many countries, reaching number 2 on the UK Singles Chart.[4] number 4 on Billboard in the US,[5] number 3 in Canada, the top 10 in Ireland, Netherlands, and Norway, and top 15 in Germany, Austria and Sweden.[26][27]

In 1992, 1993 and 1998, the single was re-released in France, totalling 45 weeks on the chart and peaking respectively at #19, #14, and #10 during the 1998 FIFA World Cup.[27]

PersonnelEdit

Information is based on the album's Liner Notes[28]

Track listingsEdit

ChartsEdit

Sales and certificationsEdit

Region Certification Certified units/sales
Denmark (IFPI Danmark)[56] Platinum 90,000 
France (SNEP)[57]
Original release
Gold 500,000*
France (SNEP)[58]
1998 re-release
Gold 250,000*
Italy (FIMI)[59] Platinum 50,000 
United Kingdom (BPI)[61] Platinum 962,000[60]
United States (RIAA)[62]
1977 vinyl release
Platinum 2,000,000^
United States (RIAA)[63]
2003 digital release
4× Platinum 4,000,000 

* Sales figures based on certification alone.
^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.
  Sales+streaming figures based on certification alone.

Crazy Frog versionEdit

"We Are the Champions (Ding a Dang Dong)"
 
Single by Crazy Frog
from the album Crazy Frog Presents More Crazy Hits
Released5 June 2006
Recorded2005
Genre
Length3:03
LabelMinistry of Sound
Songwriter(s)Freddie Mercury
Producer(s)Erik Wernquist
Crazy Frog singles chronology
"Jingle Bells/U Can't Touch This"
(2005)
"We Are the Champions (Ding a Dang Dong)"
(2006)
"Last Christmas"
(2006)
Music video
"We Are the Champions (Ding a Dang Dong)" on YouTube

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.

Music videoEdit

The music video depicts Crazy Frog in bed dreaming that he is competing in a football match against Killbots. When the music video was originally released online, it appeared as it was released. However, the current version lacks the ball being kicked and the accompanying sound effects.

After being internationally released, it was shown before the animated movie Cars.

Chart performanceEdit

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.

Track listingsEdit

CD single
  1. "We Are the Champions (Ding a Dang Dong)" (radio edit) – 2:57
  2. "We Are the Champions (Ding a Dang Dong)" (club mix) – 5:49
Maxi single
  1. "We Are the Champions (Ding a Dang Dong)" (radio edit) – 2:57
  2. "We Are the Champions (Ding a Dang Dong)" (house mix) – 6:04
  3. "We Are the Champions (Ding a Dang Dong)" (club mix) – 5:51
  4. "We Are the Champions (Ding a Dang Dong)" (club mix dub) – 5:17
  5. "We Are the Champions (Ding a Dang Dong)" (video)

ChartsEdit

Certifications and salesEdit

Region Certification Certified units/sales
Belgium (BEA)[86] Gold 25,000*
France (SNEP)[87] Gold 200,000*

* Sales figures based on certification alone.

Hank Marvin versionEdit

In 1992 Hank Marvin recorded a version of the song featuring Brian May on the guitar. Royalties from the single were donated to the Terrence Higgins Trust. The song peaked at number 66 on the UK charts.[88]

CD-single track listingEdit

  1. "We Are the Champions" (4:55)
  2. "Moontalk" (3:13)
  3. "Into The Light" (4:00)
  • Tracks 1–2 performed by Hank Marvin featuring Brian May
  • Track 2-3 performed by Hank Marvin

Scorpions versionEdit

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.[89] 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 listingEdit

  1. "You Are the Champion" (3:31)
  2. "You Are The Champion" (Instrumental) (3:31)
  3. "E Sara Perche (Spread Your Wings)" (3:12)
  • Tracks 1–2 performed by Scorpions and Michael Kleitman
  • Track 3 performed by Michael Kleitman

Queen + Adam Lambert versionEdit

"You Are the Champions"
 
Single by Queen + Adam Lambert
ReleasedMay 1, 2020[90]
Recorded2020
GenreRock
Length2:07
LabelVirgin EMI
Producer(s)
Queen + Adam Lambert singles chronology
"You Are the Champions"
(2020)
"The Show Must Go On (Live at O2 Arena, 4 July 2018)"
(2020)
Music video
"You Are the Champions" on YouTube

During the COVID-19 pandemic, May, Taylor and Adam Lambert released "You Are the Champions" on 1 May 2020, with proceeds going to the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund.[91] In 2020, "You Are the Champions" peaked at #46 on the Billboard Hot Rock & Alternative Songs chart.[92] The song also debuted on the UK Singles Chart at #95 in 2020.[93] On 5 August 2020 limited edition CD and 7" vinyl versions of the single were announced with 3,000 copies each.[94] The physical versions both charted on #1 in their specific UK Official Charts on 28 August 2020.[95][96]

Track listingsEdit

  1. "You Are the Champions" – 2:07
  2. "You Are the Champions" (Instrumental version) – 2:07
  • Digital download and streaming[99]
  1. "You Are the Champions" – 2:07

PersonnelEdit

ReferencesEdit

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External linksEdit