The Show Must Go On

Composer: Queen
Album: Innuendo
Single: 14 october, 1991
Meter: 4/4
Key: b minor, c#-minor, a minor

 | Intro (Verse)| Verse | Verse | Chorus (Verse') | 
                | Verse | Verse | Chorus - Solo 1 | 
 | Bridge | Chorus | Solo 2 (Chorus I) - Chorus II' - Outro | 

This time we are going to analyse probably the last Queen song that reached the "anthem" status. The songwriting credit is shared between more of them. The intro sequence is created by Deacon and Taylor, a really unusual contribution inside the band. Note that this intro sequence is used during the biggest part of the song shifted in different keys. Brian May is considered to be the main songwriter of TSMGO, he wrote the majority of the lyrics and developed the song from the sequence. David Richard producer also participated in the songwriting process by suggesting key shifts, which was in fact a very good and important idea.
Except the Bridge the whole song (more closely the Intro, the verses, choruses and solos) is built upon the same harmonic background, even though it's not *** In the songbook of Queen this is something unique, the closest technique is the use of alternate verses in early Taylor songs. (Non-Queen example is ABBA's "The Winner Takes It All")
The bassline is played relatively melodic. Note the 1>5>8 arpeggios occassionally continued with 8>9 appogiaturas that also characterize the bassline of "These Are The Days..."


It's a seven measure harmonic pattern played on synth-strings that will be repeated behing the Verses and the choruses as well. The sus4-sus2 appogiatura applied on the basic chords resembles on to the main hook of Scandal, so it's tad surprising, that John and Roger came up with it.


| B                     A   G                  F# 
| Bm sus2 > | sus4 > m3   | G    b5  | > 6 > 5    |
| i         | -           | VI       | -          |

| Em7 > 6  | F#sus4  F# | Em  Edim |
| iv       | V          | iv       |

Bass enters on the upbeat of measure 3. Drums enter in measure 3 with this pattern played on descending pitched drums.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 : 8/8
     *  *  *  * : drumbeats

The chord progression is the same as in the Intro, so let us concentrate on the lead vocal and the arrangement. The lead tune of the first two phrases (2x2 measures) start identically, but while the ending of the first phrase is descending, in the second phrase the lead melody ascends, and the rest of the section closes the arch-shape. The same technique is used in the Verse of Killer Queen.
We have a nice melodic bass-line with lot of treble figures. Note the spare use of guitar (some tremolo-glissandos, later some antiphonal countermelodies) and the percussive use of drums in the beginning. The first Chorus is briefly introduced with a drums.
Second Verse is in c# minor. Drums play the beat, lead guitar plays continuosly countermelodies for the lead vocal. The only major variation of the lead vocal is the ascending ornament that closes the section. The third Verse adds echo-like antiphonal vocals in two blocks where the second has doubled frequency. Note the countermelodies played on guitar: very nice. The third Verse is added and extra measure to modulate back to b minor. The pivot chord is Em which sounds "exotic" (iii) in context of c# minor, while nicely introduces the b minor (iv).

The intro chord progression keeps repeated during the Choruses. The drums play steady beat, and we also have rhythm guitars. The lead vocal starts one octave higher than the closing note of the Verse. The first two melodic phrases are descending, short and close variants. The third melodic phrase is longer, and after a long step wise oscillation (see also in Miracle) it descends (first Chorus). The key is shifted up by a whole step for second Verse. This change is assisted by a nice guitar fill.
The second Chorus has harmonized title phrases, and backing vocal blocks in the last phrase. The last melodic phrase is extended to overlap the instrumental section (solo).
The Chorus after the Bridge uses similar echo-motif we heard in the second Verse, and what will close the song. The last melodic phrase is altered to drive the song to climactic highs. Guitar harmonies introduce the last Chorus. The first half of the last Chorus is guitar solo,
which has similar ascending runs to the first guitar solo. The lead vocal returns for the second half of the section. The ending is extended. Chords from measure 7:

| Em     | Edim7   | Em    | -  |
| iv     | 

The lead tune is carried by cascaded harmonies, the lead vocal returns only for the last word ("show") with a 6-7-6-5 appogiatura (Em).
The outro consists of cascaded repetition of the upbeat of the Chorus.

The solo is backed with the same chrod progression as the other sections. The solo has a beutiful arch-shape closed with unisono bends. The closing B-A# chromatic line is continued to A, in order to help the distant modulation to a-minor

This section is six measures long. A classic Bridge contrasting gambit is used when key changes to the distant (from b minor) a-minor. The modulation back to b minor is one of the starkest key change in Queen's songbook. A nice Bach-like dissonance is used in measure 1: F > G/F > Em.

/--------- 2x ---------\\
| F  G/F  | Em  Am (G) |  | C#halfdim  | Dsus4 D |
| VI VII  | v   i (VII)|  |            | IV      |
                         b: iihalfdim  | III     |

The arrangement is completed with drum-rolls, guitar arpeggios, and guitar trills (shades of God Save The Queen's ending).