Music

Queen - "Somebody to Love" (Singles Going Steady Classic)

"Somebody to Love" was Queen's take on gospel.

Chris Ingalls: While the Freddie Mercury-penned "Bohemian Rhapsody" showed how a brilliant rock quartet could bring opera to the masses, "Somebody to Love" -- from the 1976 follow-up album, A Day at the Races -- was their take on gospel. It's hard to imagine four British guys attempting to channel the Mighty Clouds of Joy, but they pull it off, and bring their own brash glam leanings to the party, complete with Brian May's typically brilliant guitar leads, John Deacon's fluid bass lines and Roger Taylor's tumbling drum fills. But Mercury (who also wrote this) is the star here, all camp and theatrics while still maintaining a real level of emotional honesty. Queen were never really comfortable with a simple love song; they always had to kick it up a few notches. It doesn't have the ambition of "Bohemian Rhapsody" -- a song to which it will likely always be compared -- but it's more down-to-earth, with more heart and soul. [10/10]

Pryor Stroud: Freddie Mercury's voice remains one of the most dissected, copied, parodied, praised, and studied instruments in all of pop music. That's because it's an anomaly -- an utterly singular admixture of air and melody fitted for one body and one body alone. But one could also argue that it isn't even a voice as such, that fleshly phenomenon of glottis and throat and quivering diaphragm all striving together to throw incantations up from the stomach and out through the lips. Indeed, it could be a sensory substance of an entirely different kind: a rapture of hard-rock volume, a silk of proudly effeminate balladeering, a rush of unmitigated gospel force. The latter is the form that his voice inhabits in "Somebody to Love", and the result is a euphoric, naked-to-the-core Aretha Franklin homage that extricates itself from its forebear and becomes a towering achievement all its own. At the end of the singalong bridge, Mercury moves through a trembling, falsetto shout-revelation that is so saturated with religious feeling that you can almost feel the eternity Aretha imagined in "I Say a Little Prayer" within it: "Forever and ever, you'll stay in my heart / And I will love you / Forever and ever, we never will part", the Soul Queen belts, and the "Forever" she envisions is the exact same "Forever" that Mercury pines for in "Somebody to Love", a place where souls are intertwined and bodies entangled. But there's a key difference to note. Aretha's lover always comes home to her; Mercury's is nowhere to be found. [10/10]

Emmanuel Elone: Queen had so many strengths as a band that their music was more than simply Freddie Mercury's epic singing or the harmonious backing vocal melodies or the grand and elegant instrumentation, but all of it combined. At its core, "Somebody to Love" is a slow-burning piano ballad that winds and twists with each passing moment, having new instruments pick up where old ones left off. The drums, piano and bass work together to form a rhythm that's as fast as it is beautiful, and Mercury's voice atop it all melts sweetly like butter slow-roasted yams. "Somebody to Love" is just one in a long list of brilliant Queen songs, and it's because the band was as focused on songwriting and showmanship as it was with making an interesting, emotional song that would last for decades to come. [10/10]

Chad Miller: I can't say I'm the biggest Queen fan in the world, but I really like this Aretha Franklin-inspired piece. It's extremely cheesy, but the strength of the music easily makes up for that, not to mention Mercury's excellent vocal performance. He does a good enough job selling the overly extravagant lyrics. [10/10]

SCORE: 10.00


Music

Books

Film

Recent
Film

The Dance of Male Forms in Denis' 'Beau travail'

Claire Denis' masterwork of cinematic poetry, Beau travail, is a cinematic ballet that tracks through tone and style the sublimation of violent masculine complexes into the silent convulsions of male angst.

Music

The Cradle's 'Laughing in My Sleep' Is an Off-kilter Reflection of Musical Curiosity

The Cradle's Paco Cathcart has curated a thoughtfully multifarious album. Laughing in My Sleep is an impressive collection of 21 tracks, each unapologetic in their rejection of expectations.

Music

Tobin Sprout Goes Americana on 'Empty Horses'

During the heyday of Guided By Voices, Tobin Sprout wasn't afraid to be absurd amongst all that fuzz. Sprout's new album, Empty Horses, is not the Tobin Sprout we know.

Film

'All In: The Fight for Democracy' Spotlights America's Current Voting Restrictions as Jim Crow 2.0

Featuring an ebullient and combative Stacey Abrams, All In: The Fight for Democracy shows just how determined anti-democratic forces are to ensure that certain groups don't get access to the voting booth.

Music

'Transgender Street Legend Vol. 2' Finds Left at London "At My Peak and Still Rising"

"[Pandemic lockdown] has been a detriment to many people's mental health," notes Nat Puff (aka Left at London) around her incendiary, politically-charged new album, "but goddamn it if I haven't been making some bops here and there!"

Music

Daniel Romano's 'How Ill Thy World Is Ordered' Is His Ninth LP of 2020 and It's Glorious

No, this is isn't a typo. Daniel Romano's How Ill Thy World Is Ordered is his ninth full-length release of 2020, and it's a genre-busting thrill ride.

Music

The Masonic Travelers Offer Stirring Rendition of "Rock My Soul" (premiere)

The Last Shall Be First: the JCR Records Story, Volume 1 captures the sacred soul of Memphis in the 1970s and features a wide range of largely forgotten artists waiting to be rediscovered. Hear the Masonic Travelers "Rock My Soul".

Music

GLVES Creates Mesmerizing Dark Folktronica on "Heal Me"

Australian First Nations singer-songwriter GLVES creates dense, deep, and darkish electropop that mesmerizes with its blend of electronics and native sounds on "Heal Me".

Music

Otis Junior and Dr. Dundiff Tells Us "When It's Sweet" It's So Sweet

Neo-soul singer Otis Junior teams with fellow Kentuckian Dr. Dundiff and his hip-hop beats for the silky, groovy "When It's Sweet".

Music

Lars and the Magic Mountain's "Invincible" Is a Shoegazey, Dreamy Delight (premiere)

Dutch space pop/psychedelic band Lars and the Magic Mountain share the dreamy and gorgeous "Invincible".

Film

What 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' Gets Right (and Wrong) About America

Telling the tale of the cyclops through the lens of high and low culture, in O'Brother, Where Art Thou? the Coens hammer home a fatalistic criticism about the ways that commerce, violence, and cosmetic Christianity prevail in American society .

Music

Alexander Wren's "The Earth Is Flat" Wryly Looks at Lost Love (premiere + interview)

Singer-songwriter Alexander Wren's "The Earth Is Flat" is a less a flat-earther's anthem and more a wry examination of heartache.

Music

Big Little Lions' "Distant Air" Is a Powerful Folk-Anthem (premiere)

Folk-pop's Big Little Lions create a powerful anthem with "Distant Air", a song full of sophisticated pop hooks, smart dynamics, and killer choruses.

Music

The Flat Five Invite You to "Look at the Birdy" (premiere)

Chicago's the Flat Five deliver an exciting new single that exemplifies what some have called "twisted sunshine vocal pop".

Music

Brian Bromberg Pays Tribute to Hendrix With "Jimi" (premiere + interview)

Bass giant Brian Bromberg revisits his 2012 tribute to Jimi Hendrix 50 years after his passing, and reflects on the impact Hendrix's music has had on generations.

Jedd Beaudoin
Music

Shirley Collins' ​'Heart's Ease'​ Affirms Her Musical Prowess

Shirley Collins' Heart's Ease makes it apparent these songs do not belong to her as they are ownerless. Collins is the conveyor of their power while ensuring the music maintains cultural importance.

9
Books

Ignorance, Fear, and Democracy in America

Anti-intellectualism in America is, sadly, older than the nation itself. A new collection of Richard Hofstadter's work from Library of America traces the history of ideas and cultural currents in American society and politics.

By the Book

Democratizing Our Data: A Manifesto (excerpt)

Just as big tech leads world in data for profit, the US government can produce data for the public good, sans the bureaucracy. This excerpt of Julia Lane's Democratizing Our Data: A Manifesto will whet your appetite for disruptive change in data management, which is critical for democracy's survival.

Julia Lane

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.