"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]