📻 “Radio Ga Ga”
“Radio Ga Ga” is a 1984 song written by Queen drummer Roger Taylor. The band performed this song at every concert from 1984 to their last concert with Freddie Mercury in 1986. It was the second song the band played at Live Aid concert on 13 July 1985 at Wembley Stadium, after opening with “Bohemian Rhapsody”, and the crowd spontaneously executed the overhead clap during its chorus. It was the audience participation through the clapping sequence prompted by its rhythm that made the song a live favourite.
This song is a commentary on television overtaking radio’s popularity and how people loved listening to the radio in the past for a favourite comedy, drama, or science fiction programme. But with the advent of the music video and MTV, which was then competing with the radio as an important medium for promoting records, lots of young people enjoyed watching the channel instead of listening to the radio..
The inspiration for this song came when Roger Taylor heard his part-French son Felix utter the words “radio ca-ca” They were in Los Angeles and the toddler was trying to say the song he was listening to on the radio was bad. He also claimed that he was inspired to write this after watching MTV and noticing that lots of young people enjoyed watching the channel instead of listening to the radio.
Originally conceived of it as “Radio caca” , it was a critique of radio stations, which were becoming commercialized and playing the same songs over and over.
Taylor liked the title, but the rest of the group objected and asked for a re-write. As a result, it went from a song condemning radio (“Ca-Ca”) to praising it (“Ga Ga”).
The song is therefore the commentary on television taking over radio’s popularity and the fact that music videos – the visual side – seems to have become more important than the actual song itself. Anyway, the video to “Radio Gaga” would ironically be nominated for an MTV Video Music Award in 1984.
It features scenes from the 1927 science fiction film “Metropolis” directed by Fritz Lang. Queen had to buy performance rights to the film from the German government, which was the copyright holder at the time.
The song makes reference to two important radio events of the 20th century; Orson Welles’ 1938 broadcast of H. G. Wells “The War of the Worlds” in the lyric “through wars of worlds/invaded by Mars”, and Winston Churchill’s 18 June 1940 “This was their finest hour” speech from the House of Commons, in the lyric “You’ve yet to have your finest hour”.
Lady Gaga took her stage name from this song. Born Stefani Germanotta, she stated that she “adored” Queen, and since one of their hits was ‘Radio Gaga’, she concluded: “That’s why I love the name”.
When in Italy in 1984. Queen were forced to sing in playback with the audience clapping in time. This happened when they were invited to Sanremo Music Festival, as international guests. The Festival is the most popular Italian song contest, held annually in the town of Sanremo, Liguria. It started in 1951 and is broadcast by RAI (the national public broadcasting company of Italy, owned by the Ministry of Economy and Finance) every year
During the 80s artists (both competitors and guests) had to lip-sync songs, i.e. pretend to be singing when in fact they were just moving their lips silently in synchronization with a pre-recorded soundtrack.
These were the broadcast rules at that time and organizers couldn’t do any exception for Queen. This didn’t happen only at Sanremo, but at “top of the pops” and Montreux, too.