Fat Bottomed Girls
Composer: Brian May
Key: D-major with Mixolydian inflection in the choruses
| Intro I (Chorus')| Intro II |
| Verse | Connector 1 |
| Verse | Chorus | Connector 2 |
| Verse | Chorus | Outro |
Brian has composed for Queen some harmonically simple songs with only a few chords. Fat Bottomed Girls is one of them (more: Tie Your Mother Down, Tear It Up, Las Palabras De Amor, Put Out The Fire, Long Away). The rhythm of the song (especially the rhythm guitars) is much trickier than its harmony.
The song is built up from three Choruses (that is relatively few in the pop-business, for instance) and three Verses with instrumental connectors plus the outro. The song opens with a double intro: an a capella performed Chorus followed by an instrumental introducing the main riff. The single version has shortened instrumental parts resulting in a more radio-friendly shape. Without the instrumental sections the form is simple: C > V > V > C > V > C.
Section by section walkthrough
Intro I and Chorus
It is performed a capella (without instrumental backing). Queen examples for a capella chorus-intros: Bicycle Race, I Want It All (single version). Each three parts are overdubbed to get a really fat sound. The length of the intro is four measures; the two later Choruses are two measures longer. The lead part is on the top, but on stage this arrangement was inverted so that the lead was harmonized both on top (by Roger) and bottom (by Brian). The harmonies are built up from chords. The half-step shift (Db>D) on the first syllable can be found in the rhythm guitar parts, too. Other chords: D, C, G, A (the "guitar" chords), moreover Fm ("fat bottom.."), and Em ("rockING"), and suspended fourth-chords that bridge the D and A, and moreover the D and G chords. Except the half-measure with A chord, the harmoniesuse the flat 7th degree. The lead melody doesn't use it, though; only the "major" 7th during the A-chord is played (in the chorus). The rhythm is shot through syncopations. The chorus is the same as the intro with added instrumental backing and an extra phrase of two measures.
The phrasing is AA'A"BB'.
| D | C G |
| I |bVII IV |
| D | C A |
| I |bVII V |
| D | G (Fm) |
| I | IV biii |
| D A | D G | D A | D |
| I V | I IV | I V | I |
That strange biii chords does not appear in the guitar accompaniment. It's possible to replace it with a C-chord (bVII).
This section has a very simple even phrasing: eight measures and ABA'C. Only the three basic chords are used (I, IV, V), the harmonic rhythm is speeding up during the section.
| D | - | - | A |
| I | - | - | V |
| D | G | D A | D |
| I | IV | I V | I |
Roger uses very simple rhythm during the first Verse hitting only the fourths. The only twist we can find in the Verses is the guitar part as Brian plays some fills seemingly not synchronized with the lead vocal. (See also "The Prophet's Song", "White Man", or listen to Extreme's song "Pornograffiti"). Bass opens the second Verse. Third Verse adds solo guitar and more complex drum part. Second Verse seems to have an extra half-measure added around "blue eye". This effect is caused by the combination of the upbeat and the lead melody featuring a stepping up and a syncopation one or two beats earlier than it was predictable.
The instrumental Intro II is eight measures long (the single version is shortened) and consists of four phrases. Brian, while strumming his guitar (D-chord throughout almost all the eight measures) and playing descending guitar fills, applies some crazy rhythm. Try to count and hold the beats (or the eighths)!
Second rhythm guitar and drums enter by the upbeat of the fourth phrase leaving a hole on the wall of sound during the first phrases. Similar examples: intro of If You Can't Beat Them (1978) and Long Away (1976), and outro of '39 (1975).
It is ten measures long (the single version is shorter). Similarly to Connector 2, it goes with only one guitar (and drums). Started from the middle of the third measure there is a sort of guitar solo with double-stop harmonies upon a "pedal bass" D. This solo, using some off-beat rhythm, will reappear in the Outro. The section ends with a pause of half measure.
The second connector is four and a half measures long. The phrasing (2x2+half) is symmetric, except for the second phrase that gets an extra half measure to introduce the last Verse. The section begins with one of the best known "mistake" on a Queen record: Brian strums a G chord, but the low string is tuned down to D, resulting in an F bass note in the G-chord (*).
| G* D | A D |
| IV I | V I |
| G D | A G | - |
| IV I | V I | - |
The last Chorus ends with fermata introducing the outro with a shout by Freddie. The Outro is almost twenty measures long (single version is again shorter) and dominated by the D chord. Extra track are Freddie's signature shout-ins and some vocal fills with the title phrase similarly as in the outro of Crazy Little Thing Called Love (1979) or Radio Ga Ga (1984). Guitar harmonies enter in the middle of the 5th measure. In the middle of the 13th measure starts the double-tracked guitar solo that we already saw in Connector 2. After this, 11 simple half-measures (2x4+3) close the song with three short D chords at the end.