Pop Goes The Movies: A KIND OF MAGIC - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

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Pop Goes The Movies: A KIND OF MAGIC

Few artists in the annals of rock history are as memorable as Queen. From their formation in 1970 to the unfortunate death of their lead singer Freddie Mercury in 1991, the band never ceased to captivate audiences. A fusion of operatic vocals, virtuosic guitar play, and their ability to genre-hop made them legendary. Yet, even among their vast catalog of hits, "A Kind of Magic" stands out, not just for its musicality, but also for its association with the world of cinema.

Released in 1986, "A Kind of Magic" was a single from the album of the same name. It was an era where music was increasingly interacting with film. Icons like Kenny Loggins with "Footloose" and Simple Minds with "Don't You (Forget About Me)" from "The Breakfast Club" showcased this evolving relationship between cinema and pop music. Queen, never one to be left behind, marked their presence with "A Kind of Magic."

The song was intrinsically linked with the fantasy action film, "Highlander." A story of immortals battling through time, "Highlander" has since gained cult status. The movie, directed by Russell Mulcahy, needed a sound that was grand, anthemic, and timeless. Enter Queen. The band, having seen cuts from the film, was inspired to create several songs. "A Kind of Magic" is the most notable of them.

Its production was, in true Queen fashion, a confluence of various ideas. Initially, drummer Roger Taylor penned it for a scene where Connor MacLeod, the protagonist, is revived. The band then elaborated on the theme, layering it with Mercury's powerful vocals, Brian May's characteristic guitar riffs, and John Deacon's driving basslines. The result was a track that perfectly captured the otherworldly and timeless essence of "Highlander."

Used within the movie as both an uplifting and thematic narrative piece, "A Kind of Magic" captured the essence of immortality and the euphoria and tragedy associated with it. The song played during key sequences, enhancing the film's atmosphere and deepening the emotional connection with the audience. For many, it's impossible to separate the film from the song or vice versa.

The song was also pivotal in showcasing the evolution of Queen's sound. Moving from their rock roots to a more synth-driven pop sound, it was reflective of the music of the mid-'80s. Yet, it retained Queen's signature style, which made it unique.

On its release, "A Kind of Magic" was met with general acclaim. It charted at number three in the UK and while it didn't achieve similar heights in the US, it remained a fan favorite. Steve Sutherland of Melody Maker mentioned, "Queen's 'A Kind of Magic' is a spectacular amalgamation of their rock roots with the evolving synth-pop of the '80s." However, not all reviews were unanimously positive. A review in NME criticized its departure from classic rock, stating, "While catchy, it lacks the raw energy of classic Queen."

Despite the mixed reviews, the song's legacy has been enduring. Its association with "Highlander" has immortalized it in pop culture. At the 1987 Ivor Novello Awards, "A Kind of Magic" won Best Film Theme or Song, cementing its place in cinematic music history.

Drawing parallels with other songs of that era, one can observe an increasing trend of movies leaning into contemporary pop songs. Dire Straits' "Money for Nothing," used in "Kingsman: The Golden Circle," or Starship's "Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now" from "Mannequin," showcase how pop music was becoming an essential tool for filmmakers. "A Kind of Magic," in this context, wasn't an anomaly but part of a larger trend.

Over the years, Queen's relationship with film soundtracks has been noteworthy. Who can forget "Flash" from "Flash Gordon" or the iconic "Bohemian Rhapsody" that gained resurgence with the biographical film of the same name? Yet, "A Kind of Magic" occupies a unique space. It wasn't just a song for a film but a creation inspired by the cinematic experience. This synergy between film and song is what makes it truly magical.

In conclusion, "A Kind of Magic" is not just a testament to Queen's unparalleled musical genius but also a representation of the beautiful interplay between music and cinema. It's a symbol of a time when rock met film, creating a kind of magic that continues to enchant generations. As films evolve and music changes, the legacy of such synergies will always remind us of the power of collaborative artistry.

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