Saturday, March 27, 2010

Running Essentials: Training Plan

Some readers have asked about my training schedule so here's a brief overview.

I've tried a few training plans: SmartCoach through the Runner's World website (you have to be a member to use it now, but signing up is free), the FIRST program (see here), and Hal Higdeon's training program (see his website here). Runner's World has a new feature where they will customize a training program for you (for a small fee) - I haven't tried this program, but it's worth mentioning.

I like the SmartCoach program the best because I have the most control over the variables. I plug in a recent race time, how long I want the schedule to last and how hard I want to train and SmartCoach spits out a list of runs that I post on my bulletin board at work. No thinking involved!

I run between 15-25 miles each week. These runs are spread out over 3-5 days. I really don't like running 5 days a week so I try to combine shorter runs when possible (I consider anything less than 3 miles to be a shorter run). SmartCoach divides up runs into four different types: easy, long, tempo, and speed.

So what do these words mean?

An easy run is just that - easy. You should run at a pace at which you can carry on a full conversation. No huffing and puffing or gasping for air. For a lot of people, this pace translates into about 1 minute per mile slower than their 10K pace (i.e. my most recent 10K was at a 10:30 pace so I do most of my easy runs at a 11:30 pace).

Your long run should be about the same pace as your easy run although slightly slower is okay.

Tempo runs aid your body in building endurance to keep a faster pace over a longer period of time. You should be able to hold your tempo pace for an hour although most tempo runs aren't that long. My tempo runs are typically between 3-5 miles with 1 mile warm up and 1 mile cool down (at any pace). My tempo speed is my 10K pace so about 10:30.

Speed workouts are short and fast with periods of rest built in. The idea is to get your body used to running at a pace faster than your race pace (though not by much!) A typical speed workout for me is 1 mile warm up (at any pace), followed by 4 repeats of 800 m (1/2 mile) at 4:25 (so run 1/2 mile in 4:25) with 400 m (1/4 mile) rests at any pace, and finally finish the workout with 1 cool down mile at any pace.

In addition to this schedule, I use a heart rate monitor to train (see review of Garmin Forerunner 305 here). Easy runs should be at about 65-70% of your max heart rate. Tempo runs should be at about 80-85% of your max heart rate and speed runs should be at about 90-95% of your max heart rate. Here is an explanation of how to find your max heart rate.

I heart rate trained all winter (while following a SmartCoach program for maintenance) and was shocked at how disciplined my heart became in just a few months. I went from averaging 166 bpm during a 8 mile run to averaging 161 bpm at a pace 10 seconds per mile faster. It may not sound like a lot, but the idea is that as you train your heart, you can run at a faster pace using the same amount of exertion (so as a result can race faster at a higher level of exertion).

And while I do find it necessary to have a training schedule, if there's a day that I'm simply not in the mood to run, I don't. I ran one summer during our vacation to Maine. I got up at 6am and ran up to 9 miles because I was training for my first half marathon and was terrified of not being prepared. The only thing that ended up happening is that I resented running for a good few weeks after my vacation because it hadn't really been a vacation after all, had it? I've since taken as long as two weeks off of running (for personal reasons) and can very easily get back on the wagon. So don't feel bad about taking a day (or two) off - chances are, your body is trying to tell you something!

Happy running!

*Disclaimer (because I'm a legal loser)* - I am not a medical doctor or a personal trainer. I am posting my training schedule and accompanying explanations for informational purposes only. Do not begin an exercise plan without consulting your doctor. If you feel faint or dizzy while exercising, stop immediately.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Queen Song of the Week: Sheer Heart Attack

Because Queen is a bunch of tricky guys, the song Sheer Heart Attack is not on the album Sheer Heart Attack. However, this album cover is great so I wanted to include it.  I found a hysterical quote allegedly by Freddie Mercury: "God, the agony we went through to have the pictures taken, dear. Can you imagine trying to convince the others to cover themselves in Vaseline and then have a hose of water turned on them?" I say allegedly because I can't find the direct quote online, but the interview would be close to 40 years old so I'm not discounting the possibility that it exists simply because I can't find it using Google.

Sheer Heart Attack (the album) was released in 1974, but Sheer Heart Attack (the song) was not finished yet. In fact, Queen released two more studio albums (1975's A Night at the Opera and 1976's A Day at the Races) before the song was finally finished. As another aside, it is completely astonishing to me that in the span of four years, Queen released four absolutely amazing albums!

Sheer Heart Attack (the song), written by RT, was ultimately included on 1977's News of the World. RT wrote the song about the up-and-coming punk scene, many of whom he felt were talentless (note the tongue-in-cheek lyric, "I feel so inarticulate.") The song is unusual in that up until that point, RT had sung all of his own compositions, but here Freddie Mercury sings the lead vocals. Some suggest that RT is singing the chorus ("Do you know, do you know, do you know, just how I feel?"), but it is very clearly Freddie Mercury (for confirmation, listen to Freddie sing the song live here)

The song itself is three and a half minutes of pure energy. In the Audio Commentary to the Queen Rock Montreal Blu Ray, RT laments about what a difficult song it was for him to play and it always seemed to come at the end of the setlist when he was already exhausted. The opening lyric always makes me think of the Beatles song I Saw Her Standing There ("Well you're just seventeen") but then the song takes off in a pseudo-punk direction and doesn't let up. Halfway through, the band experiments with feedback which is initially a little grating (don't have your volume turned up too high), but does add an interesting element to the song. The drum solo going back into the last chorus is great (and for some reason gives me a mental image of RT banging on trash cans as opposed to drums - they just have a real unusual sound to them).

Played live this song turns into a "wall of noise" (that's straight from RT's mouth on the Audio Commentary) and he's absolutely right. Some people may not go for that because it does sound like a bit of a hot mess. I think it's great - one of my favorite things is when music gets so complex and layered that it sounds like a disaster but beneath the surface it's still very calculated. The individual members are essentially playing their own thing while still keeping the main thread of the song going and having a great time.

So check out Sheer Heart Attack (the song) and while you're at it, Sheer Heart Attack (the album) too - I'll pick a song off that album for next week!

Happy Listening!

And one last thing - I'm such a dork that I'm tickled that I have 39 followers right now because of this. Can a few more people please follow me and put me out of my Queen-dorkness misery!?!?

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Queen-esque News: Taylor Hawkins & the Coattail Riders

Listen to Way Down (along with a few other tracks) from Taylor Hawkins & the Coattail Riders upcoming album Red Light Fever here.

Both Dr. May and RT are featured on the new album (see here) and it sounds like Dr. May contributed some vocals to Way Down. There's been no definite confirmation, but the rumor is that Dr. May also co-wrote this song.

I like the song a lot. I wouldn't exactly consider myself a Taylor Hawkins fan, but I always enjoyed the Foo Fighters and if the rest of the album sounds like this song, I might consider downloading some of it.

Red Light Fever is set for release in the U.S. on April 20, 2010.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Running Essentials: Running Skirt

The first time I went for a "run" in my adult life, I was 21 years old. I was home for the summer and my mom and I would run around the track at our gym. 15 laps equaled 1 mile. We'd walk/run 1 mile, maybe 2. Then we'd go home.
A few years later, I started running races. I had realized a few things by then: (1) it was not a good idea to eat dinner and then immediately go for my run, as my mom and I had been doing up until that point; (2) it was not a good idea to wear the free race shirt while running the race; and (3) races happen rain or shine and since you paid your money, you should probably get out there even if it's raining. It was this last realization that encouraged me to start buying moisture-wicking running clothes.

"UGH," I know you are thinking, "Again with the moisture wicking?" But, people, I can't help it. It makes such a difference. So fast forward to January 2009. I'm training for my Disney Princess Half Marathon and a running buddy tells me she has purchased a new purple running skirt just for the occasion. My ears immediately perked up: Purchased? Purple? Running? Skirt? Um those are like four of my favorite words and they had been strung together into one sentence. "Tell me more," I requested.

After hearing about these wonderful things called running skirts, I purchased one too (in pretty pink to match my homemade tutu). (This picture was taken post-half marathon and look, my tiara is still sitting perfectly on my head. I really am a princess!) The point of the picture, however, is to show that I was a vision in pink: tank top, tutu, and running skirt.
I was amazed at how much I liked the skirt. It didn't ride up while I was running as shorts tend to do(especially with someone who has larger thighs *ahem* like me). The underlining of the skirt is sewn in a way that the seam is facing out not in towards your body so no chaffing! Yay! And I look adorable! Following the race, I swore I'd never run in shorts again.

And I haven't! There seems to be a pretty definite line in the female running community on running skirts: ladies either love them or loathe them. I wonder, though, if the ladies who don't like running skirts have ever actually run in them. There are tons of companies out there jumping on the running skirt trend, but Cindy and Christy at are my favorite. I own five of their skirts (I prefer the Athletic Style, size 4) and they are great. They've held up well, fit great, and are moisture wicking material! Yay!

The first time I ordered from them, Husband placed the order and goofed. Instead of a pink Athletic Style Skirt, size 4, he ordered a pink Running Style Skirt, size 2. Zoinks! I emailed customer service and that same day (it was around Christmas time) got a call from Christy herself! She arranged for me to return the skirt I had and then reserved two sale skirts for me in the warehouse so I got two skirts for the price of one! I think she felt bad for me that Husband had ordered such a small size!

These skirts have pockets on each side to stash GU, chapstick, or keys. I wouldn't pack these pockets too full (or else the skirt starts to slide down!), but there is definitely enough room for lightweight essentials.  There are a number of colors and sizes available and if you are ordering for a large group, they'll give you a discount!

Happy Running!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Queen Song of the Week: Pressure On

I briefly flirted with the idea of not picking a Queen Song of the Week this week. I was going to post a catty remark about how if RT was going to be so stingy about releasing new solo material and he and Dr. May were going to refuse to release any of the Queen back catalog that I didn't want to post a song every week because I'd run out of songs!

But who would that punish? Not RT. Not Dr. May. No, it would punish you, readers, and that wouldn't be fair.

The last time I picked a RT solo song as the Queen Song of the Week, it happened to fall the day after I got a little angry at him (see here). I picked the song to emphasize what it is about RT that I enjoy so much and as a consequence, why I get so frustrated with him when he pulls one of his stunts. Since I'm not too pleased with my boy right now, I am highlighting another one of his songs this week in hopes that it will remind me that RT's solo work is getting consistently better as he ages and even if he doesn't release a new album for a year (or at this rate, ten), the end result will be amazing and that's what is important.

Pressure On is a Roger Taylor solo track from his 1998 album Electric Fire. It is the first track on the album and the first single as well reaching #45 on the U.K. charts.

Electric Fire is arguably his best solo album, but unfortunately also his most recent. To promote Electric Fire, RT did a small tour throughout the U.K. which was very well received by fans. He also did one of the first ever internet gigs which for a time was listing in the Guinness Book of World Records. He released a documentary that's a mix of pre-show, show, and post-show clips. The documentary is available in six parts on Youtube - here is the first bit.

I watched the documentary before I owned this album. As the first part ran on my computer, I kept thinking to myself, "What is that song that keeps playing?" By the time RT took the stage and began singing Pressure On, it's opening riff had already burrowed its way into my mind.

Pressure On is RT's swan song. It's absolute perfection. He creates a mood with the opening that doesn't let up until the song comes to an end more than five minutes later. Treana Morris provides lovely background vocals and RT plays most of the instruments on the track. This song is, however, a RT song through and though ("politics, schmolitics, I'm developing tics, clean out of tricks" he sings in the second verse). On paper, it's laughable, but it works here in a way that his lyrics don't work in other songs. The musical elements of the song are thoughtfully layered and complex - at each listen, I pick up on a clap or a beat that I'd previously missed. All those components together result in this gem which was the perfect choice to lead off an incredibly strong album.

Pressure On is also a great example of RT using studio effects effectively and not just because he has a new sound board that he wants to try out. About 3/4 of the way through the song, right before the final chorus, he uses what I can only describe as a metal crank. I have no idea what it is, but it fits absolutely perfectly into the song. As a funny aside, I had this song playing in my car once with a co-worker. The volume was turned down low but she heard the cranking noise and thought something was wrong with my car. "No," I assured her, "that's the song." To which she responded, "What exactly are we listening to?"

Honestly, I don't know why RT's never had commercial success as a solo artist. He should have had it following the release of Strange Frontier in 1984, but was unable to truly promote the album due to Queen's The Works tour. Happiness? from 1994 saw his three biggest solo hits to date and should have been a jumping off point for him, but wasn't. Then there's Electric Fire filled with amazing songs like Pressure On and yet outside of the loyal Queen community, it barely made a splash.

RT has assured us that he is working on new material so at this point we're just playing the waiting game. I certainly understand him not wanting to rush things, but I kind of wish he'd stay quiet about all this if he's not ready to deliver any time soon. I mean he's famous enough; he's rich enough; he doesn't have to do anything so I guess fans should be pleased that he wants to put new music out there at all. However, I'd be lying to say that I'm not a bit worried that by the time he finally releases something, no one (even his most loyal fans) will care anymore.

In any event, Pressure On is one of my absolute favorite RT songs, if not songs period. Check it out!

Happy Listening!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

RT news is coming! RT news is coming! RT news is here!

Post today from the QueenOnline administrator: They have just come in...I will get to it tomorrow.

So this means what? If the administrator just sent along a dozen questions, did RT answer each one directly? If my question was picked, that basically means that I'm practically having a conversation with him directly (look he's talking to meeeeee!)

I do not think I can stand waiting for tomorrow (although since the boards are on U.K. time, tomorrow is sooner for them than it is for me so that's good news).

Here are my absolute wildest dreams about what the news could be.

1) New album, but released as a box set that includes previously unreleased solo material, The Cross songs, and live songs that I absolutely love but cannot figure out how to legally (heck even illegally) download off Youtube (see his first solo single from 1977 I Wanna Testify and its B side Turn On the TV, his cover of Led Zeppelin's Rock and Roll, and his absolutely stunning version of Say It's Not True which differs from the album version where RT, Dr. May and Paul Rodgers share lead vocals.) And don't even get me started on everything by The Cross which was available for like fifteen minutes, twenty years ago, in Zimbabwe only.

2) Tour. I'm assuming this is a no brainer as well, but I'd absolutely die if he came to the U.S. Seriously, RT - one show anywhere in the U.S. and I'll be there. For some reason, even Alaska seems closer than freakin' England. If the tour is U.K. only, that makes things a little dicy. Husband mentioned a vacation to Spain later in the summer - perhaps I can convince him to change our earlier in the summer...and to England. ARG - RT just come to me! Why must you make things so difficult?

In my dreams, he'll do a tour of the East Coast. I would follow this man from D.C. to Boston (and beyond) if I had a chance to see him live more than once! I guess it all depends on how likely it is that Dr. May is interested in touring again. The rumor has always been that RT is the one who loves being on the road so if the prospects of a full blown Queen tour are slim, that might mean it's more likely that he'll do something larger scale on his own.  It might sound crazy that I'm willing to trade a Queen tour for a RT solo tour but here's the thing: if Queen tours again, they'll shack up with another singer which doesn't really appeal to me. My favorite part of the 2005 and 2008 tours were when RT set up his kit at the front of the stage and sang or when he and Dr. May took turns singing accoustically (see here and here). I wish they'd do that for a full tour, but I'm sure they won't so I'd rather have RT doing his RT thing which I know is awesome.

I'm not opposed to a tour with Taylor Hawkins either, but he seems to be pretty busy himself (see here) and the rumor is that the Foo Fighters are back in the studio this fall so that means anything RT does with him is going to have to be super quick which means likely limited to one continent which I'm 99.9% sure wouldn't be mine! Sorry Taylor, but you have to go!

3) He's moving to the U.S. full time. Actually, he's moving to my town full time and he'd like my opinion on which grocery stores, restaurants, and golf courses are the best. He'd also like to buy the house next door to me so we can be neighbors. He thinks we should get married and as a wedding gift, he'll give me this:
Oh just kidding! I don't need the guitar.

Seriously, tomorrow cannot come soon enough!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Queen Song of the Week: Chorus? We Don't Need No Stinkin' Chorus, Part III

The Millionaire Waltz - Dr. May called this song "[Queen's] great musical excess," and it was recorded after BoRhap so take that into account when listening to this complex song! Here, John Deacon plays some truly spectacular bass (and remember, I'm not the biggest John Deacon fan), Freddie Mercury plays piano, and, of course, Dr. May and RT play guitar and drums, respectively.

The song itself changes key, time, and genre abruptly several times throughout. It begins with Freddie Mercury on the piano joined by Deacon's catchy bass riff (click here to hear someone playing the bass part over the rest of the song). Soon RT and Dr. May join in for some lovely layered harmonies and at the end of the first verse, Dr. May's guitar is featured for the first time. The second verse slows the tempo slightly with an emphasis on the band's harmonies. The next few bits of the song abruptly change style so often and so quickly it's futile for me to attempt to describe them! I can say that Dr. May's guitar solo is in waltz (6/8) time and mimicks a classical waltz sound.
The night after I heard this song the first time, I couldn't sleep because it was running through my head, especially the "Come back come back to me!" harmonies which are typical Queen utilizing the vocal overdubbing technique. This is one of the last songs to utilize the vocal capabilities of the band members so effectively and so much throughout the song. That's one of the reasons why I love this song. It's unfortunate that Queen got away from the complex harmonies right around the time that the music industry was likely developing tools which would make recording them much easier! I do wonder if the band strayed from vocal layering because of the impossibility of replicating the sound on stage. Especially since in the 1980s, Queen became one of the greatest arena bands of all time.

Queen did play this song live frequently through the 1970s, often as a medley with You're My Best Friend and Bring Back that Leroy Brown.

So there you go - three Queen songs and not a chorus to be found in any of them!

Happy Listening!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Queen Song of the Week: Chorus? We Don't Need No Stinkin' Chorus, Part II

BoRhap - oh where to begin. The story goes that Freddie Mercury played the opening part of the song ("Mama, just killed a man.") for the rest of the band, stopped playing, told them, "And that's where the opera bit starts up. Let's get lunch."

As the band worked tirelessly in the studio on the layers and layers of harmonies, Freddie would come in with lyrics scribbled on scraps of napkins for them. It was all in his head - he just needed to recreate it on tape. What many don't realize is that the background vocals of BoRhap were performed entirely by Freddie Mercury, Dr. May and RT. No additional vocalists were used! Each sang his part over and over again, the tapes were overdubbed and spliced together using Scotch tape, and the result is the stunning choral-like harmonies that make BoRhap immediately recognizable from its first note. Additionally, it was RT, not Freddie Mercury, who sang the song's signature high note, a piercing B5 ("For meeeeeeeee") right before the guitar solo begins.

When it came time to release the first single off the album A Night at the Opera, the band chose BoRhap and stood behind their choice even when the record company insisted that at nearly six minutes, the song was too long. Ultimately it was Freddie Mercury who convinced a friend, a local DJ, to play BoRhap on the radio and from there the record company relented. To choose the B-side of the single was just as difficult. The rumor is that RT so badly wanted I'm In Love With My Car (featured here) to be the B-side that he locked himself in a cupboard until Freddie Mercury agreed.

Unfortunately, the complexity of BoRhap made it impossible to play live in full. Typically the band began with Freddie Mercury on the piano and following Dr. May's solo when the opera section kicked in, they'd play a recording while the band left the stage, finally at the end they'd reappear in time to play the hard rock portion ("So you think you can stone me and spit in my eye.") and the outro of the song.

In 2002, RT and Dr. May played the song live in full for the first time with the cast of the musical "We Will Rock You" at the Queen's Golden Jubilee. RT admitted after the show having to ask the musical's drummer how to play the operatic bit of the song because it had been nearly thirty years since he had last played it. More recently, the recording artist Pink has been performing the full version of the song on her Funhouse tour. (No offense, boys, but I like Pink's version better. BoRhap is campy and over-the-top enough, it doesn't need the "musical theater" treatment. Pink's traditional gospel choir is much truer to the original recording).

Finally, not only is BoRhap universally recognized as one of the greatest rock songs of all time, it also played a significant role in launching the music video industry. Because Queen set off on tour immediately following release of the song, they weren't available to perform on Top of the Pops, as each week the artist with the #1 song was invited to do. To make up for their absence, the band spent about three hours and 4500 pounds to make a music video which aired in place of a live performance. While technically not the first music video, the use of the video appealed to other artists who would no longer have to be available to play live on television in order to get their song played.

Stay tuned tomorrow for my discussion of The Millionaire's Waltz.

Happy Listening!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Queen Song of the Week: Chorus? We Don't Need No Stinkin' Chorus, Part I

I'm out of town this weekend (at my father-in-law's wedding), but being the diligent little blogger I am, I still have some posts to keep everyone entertained! I'm sure I'll have tons of pictures of my outfits that I'll post when I get back, but for now everyone have a Queen-tastic weekend!

This week I'm highlighting three songs. It has struck me as I write this feature every week that there is tons of really fascinating information out there about the recording of Bohemian Rhapsody, but since the whole point of this weekly feature is to draw your attention to more obscure Queen songs, it isn't really appropriate to discuss BoRhap.

Ah, but being the clever little thing that I am, I've figured out a way to not only give BoRhap the attention that it clearly deserves, but also to point you in the direction of two other amazingly epic Queen songs: The March of the Black Queen and The Millionaire Waltz.

The March of the Black Queen, written by Freddie Mercury, was released in 1974 on the Queen II album.

Bohemian Rhapsody, written by Freddie Mercury, was released in 1975 on the A Night at the Opera album. It has been released as a single several times where it spent 9 weeks in the #1 spot on the U.K. charts in 1975 and another 5 weeks in the #1 spot in 1991. In the U.S., the song peaked at #9 in 1976 and at #2 in 1992 (thanks in part to Wayne's World).

The Millionaire Waltz, written by Freddie Mercury, was released in 1976 on theA Day at the Races album. I've mentioned this song before (see here) as it was written in 6/8 time.

At some point over the course of music's existence, someone decided that every song should have a chorus. Somebody forgot to tell that to Freddie Mercury because these songs are just three examples of Queen songs without any real chorus. Each song is at least five minutes long, but without a chorus or even a consistent musical style as Freddie Mercury hops around from opera to waltz to rock and back again. Despite this, or perhaps because of this, each of these songs is recognized by die hard Queen fans as some of their greatest works.

The songs (discussed in chronological order):

The March of the Black Queen - I'll admit that sometimes it takes me a few listens before the awesomeness of a Queen song smacks me right in the face. It happened with '39, Tenement Funster, and then again with The March of the Black Queen. This is one of those songs that if you ever are alone with a die hard Queen fan, they will insist that you listen to. At first, I didn't get it - I downloaded the song, listened to it, and thought, "Yeah, that's okay, I guess." Then it sat forgotten on my iTunes playlist.

A few weeks later, I decided to try again. I moved The March of the Black Queen to my running playlist. Now this is a risky move, people, because once a song is on my running playlist, if it comes on while I'm on a run, I'm stuck with it. I tuck my iPhone in my jacket pocket during runs so it isn't accessible for me to skip songs that I don't want to listen to. As if iTunes knew what I was playing at, it randomly selected the song to play in the first five runs that it was on my playlist.

That's pretty much all it took for me to be a convert. When I'm running, I like to focus on something. When I'm not running with music, it can be my breathing, the scenery, or my thoughts. When I'm running with music, I focus on the music. So for five straight runs, I focused on The March of the Black Queen and man, it's a great song.

Portions of the song are actually written in two different time signatures (12/8 and 8/8) simultaneous so it was essentially impossible to play live (although the band did incorporate bits of it into medleys onstage). This song is divided into six separate sections: it starts with a piano intro straight into some great harmonies and high notes before the first verse begins. This whole section is on a bit of an upward spiral, getting faster and higher as the song continues. Following the first two verses is the culmination of the upward spiral with a guitar solo and some more lovely harmonies. Freddie then brings the listener right back down the spiral with the next section which is soft and melodic. Then the more traditional rock portion of the song begins (can listeners identify the two lines of the song where RT sings lead?) which has a great beat and, of course, more harmonies. Finally, the last section is a fast-paced and fun outro. The song ends rather abruptly because on the album it flows directly into the next song, Funny How Love Is.

For anyone interested in a ridiculously thorough actual musicial analysis of the song, check out this amazing webpage.

Many consider The March of the Black Queen to be a bit of a precursor to BoRhap (since it was released the previous year, experiments with various musical styles and utilizes the same vocal layering technique). Despite the potential similarities, The March of the Black Queen is a really stunning song and I'm glad I gave it a few extra listens. I hope you all do as well!

I'll be posting about the other two songs on Saturday and Sunday so check back!

Happy Listening!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Horrible Queen News: Application Rejected!

I've mentioned previously how Dr. May and RT collaborated with Ben Elton several years back to create a musical using Queen songs titled "We Will Rock You" (see here).

As I was poking around the We Will Rock You website, I discovered a satellite website titled Schools Will Rock You.  The site licenses schools to perform We Will Rock You. The cost to license the show is shockingly cheap (120 pounds , or about $180, for 7 performances over 18 months!)

Since my mother is a drama teacher, I immediately demanded that she apply for a license which she did. Today she received an email with the subject "Schools Will Rock You: Application Rejected" then it says that she didn't meet the criteria for a license.


I am highly upset for several reasons. First, not living in Europe, this was my chance to actually see the musical. I mean I talk so much about it, I'd like to have an actual educated opinion as to whether it's any good! Second, I had already appointed myself in charge of publicity, i.e. contacting Dr. May and RT and inviting them to opening night, so now I'm out of my unofficial (and imaginary) job!

I told my mom she should appeal.

Come to think of it, I should just complain to RT directly. Perhaps if I offer him more studio effects (see here and here), I can change his mind. Honestly, at this point he could record his entire album singing into a megaphone and I wouldn't care: just release some new music and let my mom's school perform We Will Rock You! See I'm easy - that's seriously all I want!
Oh and this, but we can discuss that later!

This is not over, Schools Will Rock You. Sleep with your eyes open!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Queen Song of the Week: I Want to Break Free

It occurred to me that all of my Songs of the Week so far have been from the 1970s. I would suggest there is a very good reason for that (*ahem* that's when they recorded their best stuff); however, I do recognize that many do enjoy the more "pop" songs that Queen recorded in the 1980s and very early 1990s.

I Want to Break Free was written by bassist John Deacon and appeared on the 1984 album The Works. The song was released as a single, remained on the U.K. charts for fifteen weeks, and peaked at #3.

This is a catchy song and probably one of the few John Deacon songs I really like. It is pure 100% pop, which I'll admit is sometimes nice. This song isn't really a great example of a Queen song though - the drums are rather muted (John Deacon was apparantly not a fan of big drums), the "guitar" solo is actually a synthesizer, and there is a distinct lack of harmonies. But at the end of the day, it is reflective of Queen being willing to take chances, go outside their comfort zone, and try different things which is a heck of a lot better than some bands nowadays whose songs all sound the same.

For anyone with Rock Band, this song is available as a download and it is tremendously fun to play (especially drumming and singing at the same time, RT style). Probably the best thing about the song, however, is the music video. At first blush, people think it must have been Freddie Mercury's idea for the band to dress in drag; however, it was RT's idea and the rest of the band was apparantely very excited to get all dolled up for the occasion (in the photograph above left to right they are: RT, Dr. May, Freddie Mercury, and John Deacon)! And it was Freddie who thought to bring in the Royal Ballet Company for the instrumental interlude. How classy!

Happy Listening!