Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Two-and-a-half Queen sightings

Media Moments: Glee and Airplay
Queen-related: WATC and Radio Gaga

I caught two Queen songs being used in television programs today. I say “used” instead of “played” because the meanings inherent in their lyrics were used in some way to propel a storyline along.

The first was a documentary on the history of radio in the United States called Airplay: The Rise and Fall of Rock Radio. The film is all about the contemporary radio movement in the U.S. and the song snippets used throughout rock radio’s history are pretty much all American artists.

There were a couple of exceptions to this, however. The Beatles make an appearance on American radio (and John Lennon’s death is featured, too), and then Radio Gaga is used repeatedly as a segue between sections of the documentary whenever these kinds of visual title screens (see above) would appear. 

I’ll go out on a limb here and assume it’s because the song has a lot of “radio” in the lyrics, which is great for underscoring the whole radio theme of the video. But why Queen? Wasn’t there an American song they could have used instead so it was more in sync with the American focus of the documentary? I guess not. Besides, Radio Gaga probably speaks to the ebb-and-flow nature of the radio business better than most songs, I would imagine. 

The other Queen song that I noticed being used as a storytelling device was We Are The Champions on Glee. What . . . a Queen song on Glee? No surprise there, I suppose, but since I haven’t watched Glee since the end of last season, I haven’t kept up with the latest developments and had no idea they were going to feature the song let alone use it as the finale for the Nationals episode.

There was some Queen foreshadowing earlier in the episode when Rachel ran into her ex-nemesis, Jesse St. James, and she admitted her respect for his vocal abilities by saying that he nailed Bohemian Rhapsody at last year’s Nationals. (As an aside, although Queen didn’t factor into the song list for the New Directions’ performance at Nationals, a couple of Jim Steinman songs did, so I’m pretty happy about that.)

I must say, though, that whenever Glee does a cover version of a song, they do a pretty good job of it, certainly much better that when American Idol contestants take a go at them.

Employing WATC to round out the celebrations after New Directions won the Nationals song choir championship was apropo. It really captured the emotion of the moment as the Teacher of the Year Award was also presented to Mr. Schue who was brought up on stage during the WATC finale. It reminded me of the finale to the Concert for AIDS Awareness back in 1992 when Liza was directing a similar sing-along.

Speaking of Liza Minnelli, she was on The Talk today but no mention of the Tribute Concert or anything Queen-related when she was asked about current artists that she likes. She did mention Lady Gaga, so I guess that’s an indirect Queen reference.


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