Remember when Queen released an enchanting Christmas song?
15 December 2023, 10:38
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"Thank God it's Christmas".
It's a sentiment we've all shared at some point, mainly for those of us that get some time off during the Christmas holidays to sink into festivities and ignore the reality of daily life.
But Christmas is also a time for reflection, to take stock of the positives in our lives and think of others that aren't quite as privileged.
The beautiful and rare Queen song is up there with the greatest of Christmas songs, but doesn't necessarily receive the attention and adoration it deserves.
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- When Freddie Mercury admitted there was "nothing else left" between him and Queen bandmates
- Queen's 20 greatest songs ever, ranked
Released in 1984, Queen were still a huge draw in the UK, so the lack of chart success was surprising - 'Thank God It's Christmas' peaked at just No.21.
It was the year before Queen were blasted back into global superstardom after their iconic Live Aid performance, so it wasn't even in consideration for the US charts.
So why was it largely ignored? Well, guitarist Brian May seems to think it was a combination of reasons, but insists it was nothing to do with Band Aid's show-stopping Christmas song 'Do They Know It's Christmas?' which hit number one that year.
Queen - Thank God It's Christmas (Official Lyric Video)
Written by Roger Taylor, the Queen drummer struggled to come up with a suitable chorus for 'Thank God It's Christmas' so brought it to Brian.
Once the pair completed the song, they handed it over to Freddie Mercury, who added his typical vocal magic which brought their first Christmas offering together.
Talking to Ultimate Classic Rock in 2018, Brian elaborated on how the song came to being, and why it wasn't as successful as they'd hoped.
"This was Roger's composition, mainly, except he didn't have a chorus," Brian said. "So I contributed the chorus and we worked on it together, to cut a long story short."
"And then, when it was almost finished, we presented it to Freddie, who loved it and did a beautiful vocal. I think it's just the most understated vocal, and I love it, you know."
Though he wouldn't attribute the success of Live Aid's 'Do They Know It's Christmas' as the reason why 'Thank God It's Christmas' was a relative flop.
"The funny thing is, it doesn't get that much attention in Britain as a Christmas single, because it doesn't have a video," he continued.
"Everything's about video these days and we never made a video for that song. It's all in your mind. But I'm very fond of it. I think it's a very different kind of Christmas song."
Especially during the MTV era, an accompanying music video might've changed the fortunes of Queen's Christmas effort.
When Brian and Roger worked on the track together making two separate demos, with Roger's version turning into 'Thank God It's Christmas'.
Brian's demo however was given to his wife Anita Dobson, who released the Christmas single 'I Dream Of Christmas' in 1987.
Brian May & Anita Dobson - I Dream Of Christmas
'Thank God It's Christmas' did eventually get its own music video release in 2019, when Queen released a heart-warming animated video depicting a snowy night-time winter scene in a city.
When the new video was revealed, thirty-five years after the original release of 'Thank God It's Christmas', both Roger and Brian issued accompanying statements.
"Ironically, Christmas tends to be such a stressful time for so many of us," said Taylor. "So many emotions, joyful memories of past Christmas' as delighted children and responsible adults / parents. It's just a great relief when it finally happens."
"The video goes a little further," added May, "by including a subtle reminder that we as humans now need to feel a responsibility for the welfare of ALL creatures on Earth - not just for our own benefit, and that of our grandchildren, but out of respect for the rights of the animals themselves."