On this day
  • 1973: Queen live at Leciester University JCR Hall, Leicester, UK. John\'s...
  • 1975: Queen live on A Night At The Opera Tour at Apollo, Glasgow, Scotland.

Read all 6 events for 15 December at diary.QueenSongs.info

The Kiss

Composer: Freddie Mercury
Orchestration: Howard Blake
Album: Flash Gordon (1980)
Meter: 4/4 (with occassional half measures)
Key: a minor
Form:

| Part A I-II | Part B I-II |

Part B II = Part A I'

Chronologicaly this song is halfway between The Game and Hot Space albums when "Another One Bites The Dust" is topping the charts one year or so after that Queen closed their no-synth period. This semi-symphonic "song" and the whole album cannot really be seen as a link between the neighbour albums.
 Unfortunately it's unsure (until someone asks the right persons) how much input Howard Blake into the framework of "The Kiss" besides writing the score for the orchestra and conduct them. The main theme that recurs in several variants during the piece is certainly Freddie's creation. The chord pogression with tritone leaps and chain of diminished seventh chords is maybe Freddie's input, while the details like the added ninth chords and second inversions (omitted in the chord transcriptions below), the instrumentation can be Blake's contribution. Queen started thinking about using real orchestra around the "Races" sessions, but somehow Brian has always managed to desire the band's need. The task of writing a filmscore for the "Flash Gordon" inspired Mercury writing something pseudo-classical. And not just Freddie: Brian also arranged sketches in a no less symphonic style, which stayed in his drawer until 1992 ("The Dark" - Back To The Light).
The "song" has roughly two bigger section with many "crosstalk" between them (melody variants), which also contributes much for the symphonic quality of this piece. There is no lyrics for the lead vocal.


Walkthrough

Part A I-II
The whole section is 15 measures long (plus a half measure upbeat). The phrasing is 3+6+2+4, that can be grouped to two subsections. The arrangement is sparse: dreamy toned synth, lead vocal (unisono multitracked) and harmony vocal in the third phrase. The main motif starts the song with a two beat pickup. It's close variant is repeated in the third measure (with upbeat). The second phase starts with oscillating melodic 9-8 appogiatura foreshadowing the 9-8 harmonic appogiaturas in Part B. Measures 6-7 there is diminished chord with top-line rising in minor thirds, similarly as in the last phrase of the "song". The last phase only prolonges the closing Am chord, plus a short electric piano figure is played in the very last measure with the 9-8 appoggiatura.

a:

3.4.
|... | Am   | -    | Dm   |
     | i    | -    | iv   |

| Dm   | -    | Ddim  | Ddim7  | Am   | -    |
| iv   | -    | ivdim | -      | i    | -    |


| Dm   | -    |
| iv   | -    |

| Am   | -    | -    | - (9)|
| i    | -    | -    | -    |


Part B I-II
This section can be divided to a two measure introduction (ta-da-da-da-daaam), and two bigger subsection. The phasing is 2 + 4+4+5 + 4+4 where the 5 measure phrase is only 16/4 long due two half measures.
The section is introduced with dramatic fortissimo figure that breaks to silent preceding it.

| Amadd9 | -    |

The following section's legato arrangement contrasts with the introduction. The chord progression creates tonal ambiguity that last until the E > Am progression that re-establish the homekey. The third phrase is mainly the same as the second one whole step lower the lead tune is a variant of the main motif.

| F    | -    | Cmadd9  | -    |
| VI   | -    | iii...

| Eb   | -    | Bbmadd9 | -    |

The fourth phrase has the most unique chord progression and harmonization. All the chords are major, almost every chord change (except F > Bb) is non-diatonic: III, bVI, bV, bV, IV, bV ( > IV), so these are not really functional harmonies.

        half        half
| Db   | F  | B    | F  | Bb E |
                         ... V |

Particularly juicy parallel harmonies can be found in this phrase.
Sketch: 

lead top : F    E  Db  | C  | B   Bb Gb | F
middle   : Db   C  Ab  | A  | Gb  F  Eb | C
bottom   : Ab   G  F   | F  | Eb  C  B  | A

The second subsection with the last two phrases are a variant of the first two phrases of Part A creating a high level ABA structure in the song (in contrast with the Part A - Part B structure). The lead tune with the main motif is played by strings and accompanied with orchestra. The arrangement is completed with harp arpeggios in the second. In the first phrase we can hear the eletric piano figure that we heard just before Part B, but this time played with half tempo.

a:
| Am    | -    | Dm   | -    |
| i     | -    | iv   | -    |

| Bdim7 | -    | Am   | -    |
| iidim | -    | i    | -    |

The Bdim7 chord is mainly identical with Ddim7 in Part A, but this time the B note is played with the most sustain.
The lead vocal returns in the last measure with the familiar 9-8 motif.