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We Are the Champions

See also Af banen (Danish film also known as We Are the Champions)

"We Are the Champions" is a power ballad written by Freddie Mercury, recorded and performed by Queen for their 1977 album News of the World. One of their most famous and popular songs, it has since become an anthem for sporting victories and has been often used or referenced in popular culture (see below). The song has been covered by many artists.

Original version

Music

Musically, it is based around Mercury's piano part, with Roger Taylor and John Deacon providing a drums and bass guitar backing. Brian 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, and in live performances, Mercury often deferred to let Taylor handle the highest parts of the melody.

The single featured "We Will Rock You" as a B-side, and preceded 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.

Thematic relation

The verse has some similarities to the Stephen Sondheim song, Send in the Clowns, both in melodic pattern and rhythm. The main difference is the key. Sondheim starts in major key, Mercury in the minor. The similarity may be intentional.

The chorus can be heard entirely as a set of modulations of the common children's 'taunting song', 'na nana na na', a melody also associated with many other nursery rhymes, e.g. It's Raining, It's Pouring.

Queen about the song

Certainly it's a relationship that could be, but I was thinking about football [soccer] when I wrote it. I wanted a participation song, something that the fans could latch on to. It was aimed at the masses; I thought we'd see how they took it. It worked a treat. When we performed it at a private concert in London, the fans actually broke into a football chant between numbers. Of course, I've given it more theatrical subtlety than an ordinary football chant. You know me. I certainly wasn't thinking about the press when I wrote it. I never think about the British music press these days. It was really meant to be offered the musicians the same as the fans. I suppose it could also be construed as my version of "I Did It My Way." We have made it, and it certainly wasn't easy. No bed of roses as the song says. And it's still not easy.
-Freddie Mercury (1978)
I have to win people over, otherwise it's not a successful gig. It's my job to make sure people have a good time. That's part of my duty. It's all to do with feeling in control. That song "We Are the Champions" has been taken up by football fans because it's a winners' song. I can't believe that somebody hasn't written a new song to overtake it.
-Freddie Mercury (1985)

Chart performances

In 1977-1978, "We Are the Champions" was released as a single for the time in many countries, including U.S. where it reached number 4 on the Billboard Pop Singles, UK, Ireland and Norway where it reached the top ten, and Germany, Austria and Sweden where it was a top 15 hit.

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. The song has thus its greatest success during the 1998 World Cup because the French team was the winner then.

Personnel

  • Freddie Mercury: lead vocal, piano
  • Brian May: electric guitar, backing vocals
  • John Deacon: bass guitar, backing vocals
  • Roger Taylor: drums, backing vocals

Track listings

7" single (1977 release)

  1. "We Are the Champions" — 3:00
  2. "We Will Rock You" — 2:00

3" CD single (1988 release)

  1. "We Are the Champions" — 3:02
  2. "We Will Rock You" — 2:02
  3. "Fat Bottomed Girl" — 3:23
CD single (1992 release)

  1. "We Are the Champions" — 2:59
  2. "We Will Rock You / We Are the Champions" — 5:00

Certifications

Country Certification Date Sales certified Physical sales
France Gold 1978 500,000 624,000+
Silver September 30, 1998 125,000 165,000+
U.S. Platinum April 25, 1978 2,000,000*

  • until 1989 U.S. single's Platinum certification was 2,000,000 copies sold

Charts

Chart (1977-1978) Peak
position
U.S. Billboard Pop Singles 4
Austrian Singles Chart 12
German Singles Chart 13
Irish Singles Chart 3
Norwegian Singles Chart 6
Swedish Singles Chart 14
UK Singles Chart 2
Chart (1993-1994) Peak
position
Dutch Singles Chart 27
French Singles Chart 14
Chart (1998) Peak
position
French Singles Chart 10
Chart (2006) Peak
position
U.S. Billboard Hot Digital Songs 61
End of the year chart (1978) Position
Austrian Singles Chart 25
End of the year chart (1998) Position
French Singles Chart 72

Crazy Frog version

"We Are the Champions" was also covered by Crazy Frog under the title "We Are the Champions (Ding a Dang Dong)". It was released as a single on June 5, 2006. A cover of the 1977 Queen song of the same name, it was released to coincide with the 2006 World Cup, but Queen's vocals are featured in the song.

Track listings

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

Chart performances

The single had its greatest success in France. It went straight to #1 on June 10, 2006, and stayed at this position for five weeks. Then, it kept on dropping in the chart. It remained for 9 weeks in the top 10, 17 weeks in the top 50 and 25 weeks in the chart. On August 30, 2006, it was certified Gold disc two months after its release by SNEP, the French certificator, and became the 15th best selling single in 2006 in that country.

Certifications and sales

Country Certification Date Sales certified Physical sales
Belgium Gold September 9, 2006 20,000
France Gold August 30, 2006 200,000 205,908

Charts

Chart (2006) Peak
position
Australian Singles Chart 13
Austrian Singles Chart 4
Belgian (Flanders) Singles Chart 10
Belgian (Wallonia) Singles Chart 2
Danish Singles Chart 3
Dutch Singles Chart 100
Euro 200 3
Finnish Singles Chart 10
French Singles Chart 1
German Singles Chart 10
Irish Singles Chart 23
Italian Singles Chart 13
New Zealand Singles Chart 20
Spanish Singles Chart 2
Swedish Singles Chart 11
Swiss Singles Chart 5
UK Singles Chart 11
World Singles Chart 22
End of the year chart (2006) Position
Austrian Singles Chart 44
Belgian (Flanders) Singles Chart 36
Belgian (Wallonia) Singles Chart 12
French Singles Chart 15

Other cover versions

Uses in popular culture

Live cover performances

  • Green Day covered the song at the famous Live 8 in 2005. Also, they have often covered the song at their shows.
  • The Bad Plus performs a jazz cover of this song in Blunt Object: Live in Tokyo (2005).
  • Japanese singer-songwriter Angela Aki performs the song along with "We Will Rock You" in her live concert (2006).
  • The Jonas Brothers, Rooney, and the entire tour crew performed the song at their final concert for the 'When You Look Me In The Eyes' tour. The brothers pulled their entire family onstage and sang with the fans.

Sampling and parodies

See also

External links

References

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