Graded on a Curve:
Queen, “We Are the Champions” b/w
“We Will Rock You”

Greetings, fellow totalitarians! Have I got the single for you! I’m talking some real Triumph of the Will shit! The real Blitzkrieg Bop! You’ve heard of arena rock? Well I’m talking Nuremberg Rally rock! Seriously–if this baby had been around in Hitler’s day, he’d have played the living fuck out of it!

In 1977 Queen declared themselves the champions of the world, and they did so via this two-sided monolith that has everything in common with totalitarian architecture. “We Are the Champions” (the A-side) and “We Will Rock You” (just flip the damn thing over) crushed the competition by means of pure jackboot stomp, and like your best Nazi architecture were custom-designed (Albert Speer would be proud) to convey iron fist power, brute virility, and sheer truncheon force. This ain’t combat rock; it’s Mechanized Mood Music for the Fourth Reich. And what I want to know is, where is Winston Churchill when we need him?

“We Will Rock You” would make the perfect soundtrack for invading Poland, and “We Are the Champions” the perfect song to play while popping a champagne cork atop the still smoking rubble of Warsaw. Of course nobody invades Poland nowadays–damned political incorrectness has ruined everything–so “We Are the Champions” became the theme song of every high school football team in America (and sports teams everywhere else) instead.

I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, “Aren’t you making too much of a pair of big, dumb, rabble-rousing anthems you can’t help but sing along with? Whatcha gonna do next? Write off Gary Glitter’s “Rock and Roll Part 2” as Nazi agitprop?”

Well, let me just say for starters that “Rock and Roll Part 2” did indeed provide the template for “We Will Rock You,” before admitting that perhaps I do go too far. My fiancee snorted with derision when I hipped her to my thesis for this review, and she’s a level-headed woman despite her love for some really godawful Goth rock bands.

Both songs sing the Triumph of the Vulgarians–Queen crushes nuance underfoot, while Freddie Mercury sings the praises of Total Victory like a valkyrie. And to think people accused the punk rockers of dabbling with fascism–Mercury, Brian May, and Company were out there perfecting it. Football chants–and that’s definitely what these songs are–are designed to activate the lizard brain, cement tribal loyalty, and induce mass hysteria, and I shudder to think what Joseph Goebbels might have done with them.

I hear Panzer tanks crushing bodies whenever they come on, and I hear blood lust too. It has a lot to do, I suppose, with the fact that I’ve never sided with the champions of this world–I’m a loser and proud of it.

I mean, what does it say about “We Are the Champions” that it’s the jock anthem par excellence and sounds best played through the shitty sound system of a high-school football field? And while the “Stomp, stomp, clap, pause” of “We Will Rock You” make it one of the most ponderously heavy songs to ever steamroll human ears, I’ll be damned if it doesn’t sound, well, militarized.

But hey, I know I’m in the minority when it comes to these songs. The popularity of “We Are the Champions” extends well beyond the jock set; a Sony Ericsson poll declared it the “World’s Favorite Song” back in 2005. On a more sinister note, in 2011 a team of intrepid scientific researchers, who looked at the song from the perspectives of math, science, engineering, physics, and who knows what else, declared it “the catchiest song in the history of pop music.”

Do you think this was an accident? That a quartet of English rock stars stumbled upon this ideal blond Aryan of a song by sheer happenstance? I don’t think so. It is my suspicion that a team of crack German scientists, working out of a carefully soundproofed underground bunker near Hitler’s Reich Chancellery in Berlin, pooled their expertise to create the perfect Nazi Vengeance Weapon from the Grave, one that would inspire all good Germans, both literally and figuratively, to fashion a Fourth Reich.

You’ve heard of the V2? Well let’s just call “We Are the Champions” the V8.

Look: I don’t think I need to say this is all tongue in cheek. The simple truth is that when Queen went arena rock, they went arena rock in the biggest way possible. Thing is I hate arenas, and this pair of oafish stomp-rockers gives me a headache. And the passage of time, which often softens my opinion of songs I despise, has done nothing to temper my dislike for them.

The Queen biopic Bohemian Rhapsody is coming soon to a theater near you, and it looks great; it’s good to see Freddie Mercury finally get his due. In the meantime, my totalitarian friends and neighbors, we always have this wonderful aural equivalent of Leni Riefenstahl’s Triumph of the Will.

Stomp! Stomp! Clap! Pause! Shout “Sieg Heil!”

GRADED ON A CURVE:
D
Is for Dystopia.

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