Queen

Bicycle Race

Song Review by

After the release of 1977's News of the World, Queen's career had finally attained maximum velocity in America, which had embraced the album's double-A-side single "We Are the Champions"/"We Will Rock You" as bona fide anthems, to be used and abused in all manner of sporting events for eternity to ever after. Following up this remarkable achievement was undoubtedly a daunting task for the band, which proceeded to make their seventh album, 1978's Jazz, possibly their most eclectic thus far -- and that's a hell of a statement when it comes to Queen. Knowing a good trick when they found one, the band then decided to repeat the "dual single" concept with two inextricably linked (though less obviously so) tracks, namely the frivolous "Bicycle Race" and the hard-rocking "Fat Bottomed Girls." Besides lyrically quoting one another, the two songs (released as a double-A-side single a month before the album on October 13) also inspired a highly comical and even more controversial promotional event, bringing together over 60 well-endowed and stark-naked models in a bicycle race staged at Wimbledon Stadium. And that it did, provoking the ire and vocal disapproval from a number of non-too-chuffed women's lib groups to what they claimed was a disrespectful and misogynistic display (not to mention the leasing company's refusal to take back the used bike seats). All the better for press coverage, of course, but media coupe notwithstanding, "Bicycle Race" (inspired by the Tour de France's swing through Nice, where the band was working on the Jazz album) was a classic example of the by now staple Freddie Mercury vehicle, fitting a double entendre-laced story line both boisterous and racy to Queen's tightly multi-tracked chorused vocals. All the while backed by a diverse set of pop savvy, yet technically complex musical backdrops culminating in, you guessed it, a mini-symphony of ringing bicycle bells. Another blockbuster for the band, the single finally stalled at number 24 in the U.S and peaked at number 11 in Britain.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Jazz 1978 Island / Universal 3:00
Queen 40: Limited Edition Collector's Box Set, Vol. 2 2012 Hollywood / Hollywood Records (UK) / Universal Distribution 3:10