Rock band Queen and singer Adam Lambert are raising money for health workers fighting COVID-19 with new single “You Are The Champions”, an updated version of the classic hit “We Are The Champions” recorded on mobile phones under lockdown.
The track is for “all those in the frontline, all around the world… the people who are risking their lives to save us and save our families,” guitarist Brian May told Reuters in a video conference call interview from his home in London.
The single came to life when May posted a video online of himself playing his part, inviting the public to jam. He then urged drummer Roger Taylor and Lambert, who tours with the band in the place of late singer Freddie Mercury, to join in.
The band discussed whether to update the lyrics. In the end, Lambert swapped in “you” for “we” in the final verse, and left the rest of the words unchanged. It was an unusual move for Queen to alter even a single word of a classic song written by Mercury more than 40 years ago.
“But I think this is the type of event that warranted such a change. And it really, because it’s such a well-known title, changing that one word makes a huge impact,” Lambert told Reuters from his home in Los Angeles.
The lyrics still stand as the ideal anthem for the fight against coronavirus, he added: “It’s really a song about overcoming obstacles. It’s a song about, you know, defying the odds. And I think that’s what we’re doing right now.”
Taylor’s wife filmed him adding drums from his home in the English county of Cornwall. He listened to May’s track on headphones and played along while watching on a computer.
“It was quite tricky because Brian was just playing without a metronome or anything,” Taylor confided to Reuters.
The musicians and Mercury’s estate are donating their proceeds to a World Health Organization fund for health workers. The music video shows footage of frontline workers around the world, including Taylor’s daughter, Dr Rory Taylor, a family doctor in West London.
“People feel it in themselves,” May said of Mercury’s song. “They feel this challenge. They want to be the best. They want to win. And the song just has it. So it’s become a wonderful way of expressing triumph and determination in the face of something very difficult.”
The band was meant to be on the road now but had to postpone a 27-date UK and European tour. May said it was “heartbreaking” to call off shows after fans bought 400,000 tickets, and the band hopes to reschedule for next year.