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Hot Space is the tenth studio album by the British rock band Queen, released on 21 May 1982. Marking a notable shift in direction from their earlier work, they employed many elements of disco, funk, rhythm and blues, dance and pop music on the album.[1][2] This made the album less popular with fans who preferred the traditional rock style they had come to associate with the band.[1]

Queen's decision to record a dance-oriented album germinated with the massive success in the US of their 1980 hit "Another One Bites the Dust" (and to a lesser extent, the UK success of the song too).[2]

"Under Pressure", Queen's collaboration with David Bowie, was released in 1981 and became the band's second #1 hit in the UK.[3] Though included on Hot Space, the song was a separate project and recorded ahead of the album, before the controversy over Queen's new sound (disco-influenced rock music).[4] The album's second single, "Body Language", peaked at #11 on the US charts.

In July 2004, Q magazine listed Hot Space as one of the top fifteen albums where great rock acts lost the plot.[5] Most of the album was recorded in Munich during the most turbulent period in the band's history, and Roger Taylor and Brian May despised the new sound, with both being very critical of the influence Freddie Mercury's manager Paul Prenter had on the singer.[6] Estimated sales of the album currently stand at 3.5 million copies.

Album styles and genres[]

Before 1979, Queen had never used synthesisers on their albums.[7] Beginning with The Game, Queen began using Oberheim OB-X synthesisers on their songs ("Play the Game" and "Save Me" are examples), and continued to do so. On Hot Space the band went even further, introducing the drum machine for the first time. A departure from their trademark seventies sound, most of Hot Space is a mixture of rhythm and blues, funk, dance and disco – while the "rock" songs continued in a pop-rock direction similar to their previous album (an exception is the song "Put Out the Fire").[2][8] Disliking the new sound, Brian May and Roger Taylor were very critical of the influence that Paul Prenter, Freddie Mercury's personal manager between the early 1980s and 1984, had on the singer.[6] Prenter allegedly denied the other members access to Mercury.

Song information[]

"Staying Power"[]

Main article: Staying Power

The horn arrangement for "Staying Power" was added by Arif Mardin (who also produced Chaka Khan and added horn sections to Bee Gees and Aretha Franklin records).[9] "Staying Power" would be performed on the band's accompanying Hot Space Tour, albeit much faster and heavier, with real drums replacing the drum machine and guitars and keyboards replacing the horns (this arrangement contained no actual bass guitar, as John Deacon played guitar in addition to May). It was also played on Queen's The Works Tour, albeit less frequently than on the Hot Space Tour. In Japan, the band released "Staying Power" as a single in July 1982. The song was also issued as a single in the US in November 1982. It failed to chart in either country. Mardin's contributions were recorded at Record Plant Studios in New York. The original demo of the track featured a guitar instead of horns.

"Dancer" []

The bassline of "Dancer" was played on an Oberheim OB-Xa synthesiser by May. The song itself – a fusion of rock and disco – is something of a follow-up to "Dragon Attack" from the band's 1980 album The Game in that it fuses heavy elements of music with danceable ones, as Led Zeppelin did.[9] The phone message at the end of "Dancer" is in German, and was recorded in a hotel room in Munich; it roughly translates to "good morning, this is your wake-up call". The lyrics of "Dancer" are also notable for being the only ones on the album that make reference to the album title itself.[10]

"Back Chat"[]

Main article: Back Chat

"Back Chat", written by Deacon, is the track most influenced by black music. In addition to normal bass duties, Deacon also plays rhythm guitar,[11] lead guitar and synthesiser on the song. As a single, it stalled at #40 on the UK charts. On the video commentary on Greatest Video Hits 2, Taylor made it clear that he hates the music video for it.

"Body Language"[]

"Body Language" is atypical among Queen songs, being the sole single released by the band that does not include guitar (save for during the closing strains, which are made more prominent throughout the 1991 remix). Mercury, who composed the song on synth bass, had previously explored the instrument's potential with his contributions to the Flash Gordon soundtrack.[12] The "Body Language" video, featuring scantily clad models writhing around each other, proved somewhat controversial and was banned in a few territories. The song also appeared in the 1984 documentary film Stripper, being performed to by one of the dancers.

"Action This Day" []

"Action This Day", one of two Roger Taylor songs that appear on the album, was clearly influenced by the new wave movement/style current at the time; the track is driven by a pounding electronic drum machine in 2/4 time and features a saxophone solo, played by Italian session musician Dino Solera.[citation needed] "Action This Day" takes its title from a Winston Churchill catchphrase that the statesman would attach to urgent documents, and recapitulates the theme of social awareness that Taylor espoused in many of his songs. The band performed "Action This Day" live on the Hot Space Tour with a more conventional arrangement, replacing the drum machine and bass synth with a rock rhythm section and an actual synthesizer replacing the saxophone solo. The verse are duets between Taylor and Mercury, and the chorus is sung by both.

"Put Out the Fire" []

"Put Out the Fire" is an anti-firearm song written by May, with lead vocals by Mercury, with May singing lead vocals in falsetto at the end of each verse. May recorded its guitar solo under the influence of alcohol (after many unsuccessful attempts).[12] The lyrics to the first verse strongly hint to John Lennon's murder by Mark Chapman, with lines such as;

"They called him a hero" (Lennon), "In the land of the free" (the west/America), "But he wouldn't shake my hand boy" (uncertain, but Lennon did sign Chapman's record), "He disappointed me", (Chapman was apparently disappointed with Lennon's rejection of God and/or his latest music), "So I got my hand gun, And I blew him away". Lennon's death was recent and raw for many people including fans such as Queen, (The Beatles were a big influence on Queen) and the Mercury penned song "Life Is Real (Song For Lennon)" following immediately after is no coincidence.

Though never released as a single, "Put Out the Fire", the album's most 'traditional' Queen song, later appeared on the Queen Rocks compilation in 1997. A new video was also produced for the accompanying video compilation, featuring a live performance of the song intercut with footage of fire and explosions.

"Life Is Real (Song for Lennon)" []

Mercury wrote "Life Is Real" as a tribute to John Lennon, whose murder in 1980 had also previously prompted the band to perform his song "Imagine" on tour. Like Lennon's songs, "Life Is Real" features a sparse piano-based arrangement and a melancholy tone. It is also one of the few Mercury songs whose lyrics were written before the music ("Killer Queen" being another). The title may be a reference to the lyric 'love is real', from Lennon's 1970 song "Love", or the line 'nothing is real', from The Beatles' "Strawberry Fields Forever". It begins with three bell-like piano notes, meant to recall the opening bells in Lennon's "(Just Like) Starting Over", and "Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy)". Also, the first two words, 'Guilt stains...' are virtually identical interval-wise (though in a different key) to Lennon's first two notes in his song, "Mother".

"Calling All Girls"[]

Main article: Calling All Girls

The first Queen song written by Roger Taylor to be released as a single (albeit in selected countries, including the US and Australia, but not the UK), "Calling All Girls" failed to create much of an impact on the charts where it peaked at #60 in the US and #33 in Canada, despite its music video based on the George Lucas film THX 1138. Taylor composed "Calling All Girls" on guitar, and played the feedback noises during the song's break.[12] Queen never performed the song in Europe, and a live recording from Japan in 1982 is commercially available on the Queen on Fire - Live at the Bowl DVD, where "Calling All Girls" accompanies the photo gallery. The single was released in July 1982.

"Las Palabras de Amor (The Words of Love)"[]

Main article: Las Palabras de Amor

May's lyrics for "Las Palabras de Amor" were inspired by Queen's close relationship with their Ibero-American fans, and have been interpreted as an allegory for the Falklands War.[9] (Actually, the album was released during the war, and must have been recorded long before the war started). A top 20 hit in the UK, "Las Palabras de Amor" marked the band's fourth appearance on Top of the Pops (the first, second and third being for "Seven Seas of Rhye", "Killer Queen" and "Good Old-Fashioned Lover Boy"). For this mimed performance May is seen playing a grand piano though on the recording there are only synths (played by May). May also sang lead vocals for the harmonised line "this night and evermore".

"Cool Cat" []

"Cool Cat", written by Mercury and Deacon, originally featured David Bowie on backing vocals and a few lines of spoken word to a rhythm during the middle eight. According to Mercury in a 1982 television interview, Bowie was unhappy with the results and requested them to be removed days before its parent album was slated to be released. All the instruments are played by Deacon, including drums, guitars, keyboards and synths. On the album version, Mercury sings the entire song in falsetto.[13] The alternate take with Bowie's vocals still intact is widely available on various bootleg recordings[14] and surfaces from an early 1982 vinyl Hot Space test pressing from the US. This is possibly the only Queen studio song on which Deacon uses the popping technique in a "live" track (the other song where popping is audible is "Radio Ga Ga", but such bits there are sampled).

"Under Pressure"[]

Main article: Under Pressure

A famous duet with Bowie, "Under Pressure" was the result of an impromptu jam session in the band's studio in Montreux.[15] When it was released in 1981, "Under Pressure" reached #1 in the UK singles chart. [16] Mercury was the primary director of this track, with he and Bowie as the main lyricists (each writing the lines they sang). Part of the chord progression is based on a rough demo of an unreleased song "Feel Like".[17] The songwriting is credited to all five participants.

Release and reception[]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Allmusic2Star full.svgStar half.svgStar empty.svgStar empty.svg[1]
Chicago Tribune1/4 starsStar empty.svgStar empty.svgStar empty.svg[18]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music1/5 starsStar empty.svgStar empty.svgStar empty.svgStar empty.svg[19]
The Guardian2/5 starsStar full.svgStar empty.svgStar empty.svgStar empty.svg[20]
Rolling Stone3/5 starsStar full.svgStar full.svgStar empty.svgStar empty.svg[8]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide2/5 starsStar full.svgStar empty.svgStar empty.svgStar empty.svg[21]

Due to its dance-pop sound, Hot Space is widely considered by both fans and critics to be one of Queen's most artistically disappointing albums.[22] Stephen Erlewine of All said of the album that "the band that once proudly proclaimed not to use synthesizers on their albums has suddenly, dramatically reversed course, devoting the entire first side of the album to robotic, new wave dance-pop, all driven by drum machines and colored by keyboards, with Brian May's guitar coming in as flavor only on occasion." Alex Petridis of The Guardian gave the album two stars and said: "Like Queen, disco was melodramatic, unrepentantly camp, extravagantly arranged and omnivorous in its influences. Or at least it had been. By the time of 1982's Hot Space, disco had mutated into the weird, skeletal, dubby electronic sound pioneered by DJ Larry Levan, which really didn't suit Queen at all."


Michael Jackson, who was close friends with the band during the time, later cited Hot Space as an influence for his own album Thriller.[23][24] In a 2015 interview with Greg Prato of Songfacts, Extreme guitarist Nuno Bettencourt described how Hot Space was an important album for him as a musician. "I think it's interesting because that album taught me two things. It taught me that even if you're in a band as a guitar player, music doesn't have to be driven by guitar - it's about the song, first. But I think the main thing is that Queen actually did an album like that - it was the fans' least favorite, but it was one of my favorites because it took a risk and branched out. All those synth parts they did and horns, I could always hear them with guitar in my head somehow. But quite oddly enough, or coincidentally enough, the title Hot Space is exactly what it meant: it's all the space between the music. That's what makes it funky and that's what makes it have a pocket."[25]

Track listing[]

Side one
1."Staying Power"Freddie Mercury4:10
2."Dancer"Brian May3:46
3."Back Chat"John Deacon4:31
4."Body Language"Mercury4:29
5."Action This Day"Roger Taylor3:33
Side two
6."Put Out the Fire"May3:15
7."Life Is Real (Song for Lennon)"Mercury3:39
8."Calling All Girls"Taylor3:53
9."Las Palabras de Amor (The Words of Love)"May4:26
10."Cool Cat"Mercury, Deacon3:26
11."Under Pressure" (with David Bowie)Mercury, May, Taylor, Deacon, Bowie4:02
Bonus track (1991 Hollywood Records CD reissue)
12."Body Language" (1991 bonus remix by Susan Rogers)Queen4:44
2011 Bonus EP
1."Staying Power" (Live in Milton Keynes, June 1982)3:57
2."Soul Brother" (B-side)3:36
3."Back Chat" (Single remix)4:12
4."Action This Day" (Live in Tokyo, November 1982)6:25
5."Calling All Girls" (Live in Tokyo, November 1982)4:45
2011 iTunes bonus videos
6."Las Palabras de Amor" (Top of the Pops, 1982) 
7."Under Pressure" (Rah Mix, 1999) 
8."Action This Day" (live in Milton Keynes, June 1982) 


  • Freddie Mercurylead and backing vocals, piano, synthesisers, synth bass on "Staying Power" and "Body Language", Hammond organ on "Under Pressure"
  • Brian Maylead and rhythm guitars, keyboards on "Las Palabras de Amor", backing vocals, synth bass on "Dancer", lead vocals (falsetto lines on "Put Out the Fire" and lead harmony on "Las Palabras de Amor")
  • Roger Taylordrums, electronic drums, programming on "Action This Day", backing vocals, lead vocals on "Action This Day", keyboards and rhythm guitar on "Calling All Girls"
  • John Deaconbass guitar, rhythm guitar on "Staying Power", keyboards on "Back Chat" and "Cool Cat", lead and rhythm guitars on "Back Chat" and "Cool Cat", drums and programming on "Cool Cat"

Additional personnel[]

  • David Bowie – duet vocals, percussion and keyboards on "Under Pressure"
  • Arif Mardin – "hot and spacey" horn arrangement and production on "Staying Power"
  • Reinhold Mack – production, keyboard programming on "Action This Day"
  • Dino Solera – saxophone on "Action This Day"[citation needed]


Main article: Hot Space Tour


  • The cover art of U2's 1997 Pop album, Blur's 2000 Best Of compilation, "Weird Al" Yankovic's 1994 Greatest Hits Volume II, and The Black Eyed Peas's 2010 The Beginning bear some similarity to the Hot Space cover (which, in turn, drew its inspiration from the cover of The Beatles' album Let It Be) and the Kiss solo albums' use of colour. Pop, like Hot Space, was also an attempt to make a dance album, both of which received mixed results. Kiss' 1979 album Dynasty, which also features similar artwork, can be compared to Hot Space and Pop as an attempt by a rock band to make a dance-influenced album.
  • The 1982 Hot Space Tour was Queen's last tour of America until the Queen + Paul Rodgers Tour in 2006. The band stopped touring completely in 1986 due to Mercury's health, and did not tour again until the Queen + Paul Rodgers Tour commenced in 2005.[26]



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  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Queen – Hot Space Stylus Magazine. Retrieved 31 May 2011
  3. 3.0 3.1
  4. Lowry, Max (13 July 2008) The ones that got away The Guardian. Retrieved 3 August 2011
  5. "15 Albums Where Great Rock Acts Lost the Plot". Q magazine. July 2004. Archived at
  6. 6.0 6.1 O'Casey, Matt, dir. (2011) Queen – Days of Our Lives. Part 2. BBC. Queen Productions Ltd. Retrieved 31 May 2011
  7. Roy Thomas Baker & Gary Langan Interview Sound On Sound. Retrieved 3 August 2011
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  10. "Queen – The Complete Words". Retrieved 5 December 2006.
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  13. Milward, John (10 June 1982). "Hot Space Review". Rolling Stone, issue 371. Retrieved 5 December 2006.
  14. "Queen Demos of Released Tracks (A-L)". Retrieved 5 December 2006.
  16. number 1 singles Retrieved 3 December 2016
  17. "Queen Demos of Released Tracks (M-Z)". Retrieved 5 December 2006.
  18. Kot, Greg (19 April 1992). "An 18-record, 80 Million-copy Odyssey". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 19 April 2016.
  19. Larkin, Colin (2011). Encyclopedia of Popular Music (5th ed.). Omnibus Press. p. 2248. ISBN 0857125958.
  20. Petridis, Alexis (15 December 2011). "Queen: Jazz; The Game; Flash Gordon; Hot Space – review". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 19 April 2016.
  21. DeCurtis, Anthony; Henke, James; George-Warren, Holly, eds. (1992). The Rolling Stone Album Guide (3rd ed.). Random House. p. 570. ISBN 0679737294.
  22. [1]
  23. Queen: The Ultimate Illustrated History of the Crown Kings of Rock p.170. Retrieved 9 June 2011
  24. Thriller´, de Michael Jackson, sigue imbatido 25 años después
  25. Songfacts Interview with Nuno Bettencourt Retrieved 15 July 2016
  26. Queen most loved band The Guardian. Retrieved 3 August 2011
  27. Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992. St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  28. Steffen Hung. "Queen - Hot Space". Retrieved 22 February 2012.
  29. Queen" and "Hot" and "Space" and "Top Albums/CDs" Library and Archives Canada
  30. Steffen Hung. "Queen - Hot Space". Retrieved 22 February 2012.
  31. "InfoDisc : Tous les Albums classés par Artiste". Retrieved 22 February 2012.
  32. "". Retrieved 22 February 2012.
  33. 33.0 33.1 "Hit Parade Italia – Gli album più venduti del 1982" (in Italian). Retrieved 3 October 2011.
  34. a-クイーン "– Yamachan Land (Archives of the Japanese record charts) – Albums Chart Daijiten – Queen" Check |url= value (help) (in Japanese). 30 December 2007. Retrieved 14 September 2011.
  35. Steffen Hung. "Queen - Hot Space". Retrieved 22 February 2012.
  36. Steffen Hung. "Queen - Hot Space". Retrieved 22 February 2012.
  37. Steffen Hung. "Queen - Hot Space". Retrieved 22 February 2012.
  38. 38.0 38.1
  39. " – Jahreshitparade 1984". Hung Medien. Retrieved 1 August 2010.
  40. "Top 100 Albums '82". RPM. 25 December 1982. Retrieved 6 December 2010.
  41. "Les Albums (CD) de 1982 par InfoDisc" (PHP) (in French). Retrieved 29 January 2012.
  42. "Complete UK Year-End Album Charts". Retrieved 3 October 2011.
  43. [[[:Template:Certification Cite/URL]] "[[:Template:Certification Cite/Title]]"] Check |url= value (help) (in German). IFPI Austria. URL–wikilink conflict (help)
  44. [[[:Template:Certification Cite/URL]] "[[:Template:Certification Cite/Title]]"] Check |url= value (help) (in Polish). Polish Society of the Phonographic Industry. URL–wikilink conflict (help)
  45. [[[:Template:Certification Cite/URL]] "[[:Template:Certification Cite/Title]]"] Check |url= value (help). British Phonographic Industry. URL–wikilink conflict (help) Select albums in the Format field. Select Gold in the Certification field. Type Hot Space in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.
  46. [[[:Template:Certification Cite/URL]] "[[:Template:Certification Cite/Title]]"] Check |url= value (help). Recording Industry Association of America. URL–wikilink conflict (help) If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH. 

External links[]

Preceded by
Tug of War by Paul McCartney
Dutch Mega Chart number-one album
22 May 1982
Succeeded by
Select by Kim Wilde
Preceded by
Eye in the Sky by The Alan Parsons Project
Austrian Chart number-one album
1 June 1982
Succeeded by
Neuzeit by Various artists