Why Queen dropping a song from an album wasn’t really ‘woke ‘n’ roll’ after all

Chuck the word ‘woke’ into any contentious argument, and social media will light up as folk howl at the moon from opposite sides of the debate.
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The biggest noises in the empty vessel that once was Twitter – sorry, calling it ‘X’ is just dumb – often froth with woke-ist anger, shaping the debate before the actual truth has strapped its boots on.

Last week’s “outrage”? Rock band Queen dropped the song ‘Fat Bottomed Girls’ from the new edition of their greatest hits album; another victim of ‘woke culture’ which mainly exists in the empty heads of supposedly grown up, apparently intelligent, but often red-faced, angry, middle aged-men.

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The 1978 hit is a rollicking track with a lyric which you could argue celebrates plus size women, but that is neither here nor there, because it didn’t fall victim to any woke culture, and the whole debate was just nonsense.

British rock group Queen in concert (Photo by Express Newspapers/Getty Images)British rock group Queen in concert (Photo by Express Newspapers/Getty Images)
British rock group Queen in concert (Photo by Express Newspapers/Getty Images)

The latest curation of their best hits was for Yoto, an online radio service for children. Nope, me neither. There again, the average age of their listener is, apparently, five. I cannot think of any bairn that young opting to listen to tracks such as Tie Your Mother Down or Spread Your Wings ahead of, say, Let It Go from Frozen or whatever Bob The Builder is singing these days.

Yoto also uploaded them with a wee warning that the recordings were unedited - as they should be (commercial radio stations take note!) - and while there were no swear words, parental discretion was advised, which just reminded me of those pointless black and white stickers slapped on album covers back in the 1990s which simply made folk like me even more determined to buy them. Seem to recall they came on the back of similar pre-internet hysteria whipped up by the ‘moral majority’ in America who suddenly discovered rock stars swear and sometimes write rude things. Who knew?

But, I’m all for shaping young minds with great rock music, and if their parents can bend their ears to Queen, the Stones, Springsteen, and rockers from Iron Maiden to Deep Purple, I’ll happily make them a playlist. There is probably more chance it’ll make them deaf rather than outraged or upset by any lyrics - that’s if they could make them out in the first place. My teenage years were spent with my folks saying “what’s he singing about? Cannae make out a lbloomin’ word…” which is exactly how it should be.

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And changing track listings is nothing new when it comes to compilation albums, so the woke row just falls apart once the ringing in your ears from the commentators finally subsides.

I’m guessing those shouting the loudest have probably forgotten about the real noise which accompanied the release of the album featuring the track. Pretty sure everyone at school bought the Jazz album purely for the poster which slipped out of the sleeve - three folded sheets of naked models on bikes to promote the song and Bicycle Race. I vaguely recall lots of gnashing of parental teeth as we pinned the poster up in our bedrooms…

My guess is Fat Bottomed Girls would only spark sniggers from its young audience rather than any offence or upset, so perhaps we can put this manufactured row to bed once and for all. Until the next one comes along.

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