I'm Going Slightly Mad

Song Review by

By the time Queen recorded Innuendo, Freddie Mercury knew he was close to death due to AIDS but didn’t let this knowledge cramp his style. Indeed, Innuendo is an album full of high spirits and contains several tracks with witty lyrics. The most amusing entry in the later category is "I’m Going Slightly Mad," a tongue-in-cheek tune that became a UK hit for the group. The lyrics are a confession of insanity that achieve humor through approaching their bizarre subject matter with a straight face: "I’m coming down with a fever/I’m really out to sea/This kettle is boiling over/I think I’m a banana tree/I’m going slightly mad." The music takes on a similar mock-serious tack, matching verses that lope along in a moody ballad style with a chorus that achieves a twisted grandeur by slowly ascending in an unusual minor-key style. Queen’s recording pokes fun at gothic rock new and old by incorporating a self-aware spookiness into their sound: chilly synthesizers form the bedrock of the sound while the rest of the band hits a steady midtempo groove that pushes the song along and Brian May contributes an amusingly schizophrenic solo that veers between atonal edginess and a gently melodic tone. Freddie Mercury provides the crowning touch with a ‘basso profundo’ lead vocal that sounds like a combination of Boris Karloff and David Bowie. These touches made "I’m Going Slightly Mad" a song that was both witty and catchy and this duality helped it become a #22 hit in the U.K. It remains popular with Queen fans today because it is a great example of Mercury’s singular wit.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Classic Queen 1992 Hollywood 4:23
No Image 1992 Hollywood 0:00
No Image 1992 Hollywood 0:00
Greatest Hits, Vols. 1 & 2 1995 Hollywood 4:07
Greatest Karaoke Hits 2004 EMI / Toshiba EMI
Greatest Hits/Greatest Karaoke Hits 2007 EMI Music Distribution
The Singles Collection, Vol. 4 2010 EMI Music Distribution 4:25