Bridging the Generation Gap: A review of Innuendo by Queen
Since the 1970’s, Queen has been a household name. The uniqueness of their music still attracts fans today, with over 34 million monthly listeners on the popular modern music streaming service Spotify, showing that the band has an amazing reach and crosses the generation gap.
Confronting mortality, Innuendo was the last album released in Freddie Mercury’s lifetime and is a letter to the friends, family and fans, one full of heartbreak, humour and a nod to the great unknown.
Innuendo begins with the track title. Opening with a dramatic flair, the song is a nod to Bohemian Rhapsody, a mad mix of genres, creating a musical medley of genius. Innuendo quickly transitions from rock to flamenco to opera to heavy metal as Mercury screams ‘Keep on trying.’ The lyrics of this song hit an emotional note as well, discussing the human urge to search for meaning in life and mankind’s inability to live with each other. This is shown in the lyrics ‘While we live according to race, colour or creed/While we rule by blind madness and pure greed/Our lives dictated by tradition, superstition, false religion/Through the eons and on and on.’
In comparison, the songs I’m Going Slightly Mad, Headlong and Delilah add a lighthearted, comedic aspect to the album. I’m Going Slightly Mad and Headlong have gibberish, tongue in cheek lyrics while Delilah is an ode to Mercury’s cat of the same name. Sweet and to the point the songs are catchy but do not capture the heart.
The rest of the songs on the album contain powerful lines like ‘I’m walking a fine line between hope and despair’ (I Can’t Live Without You), ‘ All prime ministers (yeah) and majesty around the world, yeah/ Open your eyes, look, touch and feel (All Gods People) and ‘Sometimes it seems like lately- I just don’t know/ The rest of my life’s been just a show’ (These Are The Days Of Our Lives). When listening to the album, these lines stand out because they capture the essence of what it means to be human, to be constantly searching for answers and be trapped by your emotions.
The Show Must Go On, the swan song of the album, is the best example of this. Mercury hits amazing notes as he sings about hiding inner feelings and holding onto the mask society sees. The lyrics in this song are a masterpiece, they grab the heart and act as a window into the soul of Mercury and the songwriter, Brian May: ‘The show must go on, yeah/Inside my heart is breaking/ My makeup may be flaking/ But my smile, still, stays on.’
Innuendo, like everyday life, has some amazing moments in it; some humour, sadness and bits that miss the mark. That is why Queen bridges the generation gap and is still one of the most beloved bands of all time; because using their lyrics they capture the emotion of what it means to be human.