Queen

The Show Must Go On

Song Review by

Released barely a month before Freddie Mercury's tragic death from A.I.D.S.-related bronchial pneumonia on November 24 1991, "The Show must go On" was Queen's fortieth U.K. single. Despite his continual denials to the press that he'd even contracted the H.I.V. virus, the charismatic vocalist's health had become the subject of heightened media scrutiny throughout the year. Simply put, when combined with his openly bi-sexual lifestyle of years past, Mercury's increasingly rare public appearances and thin, gaunt look in the video for "Those were the Days of our Lives" had given British gossip rags plenty of reason to speculate upon his impending doom. Yet, for many of Queen's loyal fans, admitting the very possibility had become a serious no-no -- as if to utter the term A.I.D.S. would only serve to validate the mere possibility and make it true. Yet, this was finally the case, and barely a day after Mercury's public admission of his disease. Framed against such dreadful events, "The Show must go On" provided as dramatic, yet fitting a soundtrack to a real life tragedy, and the fact that its b-side reprised the band's first-ever A-side "Keep Yourself Alive," should, in retrospect, have been evidence enough that the band expected this to be their last. The song's music video was equally poignant. Premiered on Top of the Pops four days prior to street date, it combined vintage concert footage with memorable scenes from many of Queen's famous videos, resulting in a perfect visual scrapbook for the sad occasion. Even more important was the song itself, of course, whose beauty and drama epitomized Mercury's courage and refusal to give in until the very end. A testament to his humanity and spirit as made clear by its climax: "I'll face it with a grin…I'm never giving in…On with the show."

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Innuendo 1991 Hollywood 4:32
Greatest Hits III 1999 Hollywood 4:35
Greatest Hits: I II & III: The Platinum Collection 2001 Hollywood 4:34