Song Lyric Sunday – Radio Ga Ga – No Nonsense

Our friend Amy Braun, from the blog ailovemusic, has provided the prompt for this week’s Song Lyric Sunday, hosted by Jim Adams, and it’s a good one. She has asked us to find a song with nonsense lyrics. I was stumped at first and then I got to thinking about it and remembered one of my favorite songs, Radio Ga Ga by Queen. To me it never seemed like nonsense lyrics. I mean, really, whoever cared about the lyrics to rock songs? it was all about the music and who doesn’t remember the great Freddie Mercury’s performance at the Live Aid concert at Wembley Stadium?

The Song

Queen drummer Roger Taylor wrote this song. When it charted, all four members of the group had written at least one Top 10 hit either in the US or UK.

Roger Taylor wrote this as a critique of radio stations, which were becoming commercialized and playing the same songs over and over (and this was before radio was deregulated, allowing companies to own multiple stations in a market, resulting in more corporate ownership, less competition and generally bad radio).

Taylor claimed that he was inspired to write this after watching MTV. He noticed that lots of kids were watching the channel instead of listening to the radio.

The video is based on the 1926 movie Metropolis, directed by Fritz Lang. Queen had to pay the German government to use clips of it in the video.

Originally, this was “Radio Ca-Ca,” which was something Roger Taylor’s part-French son Felix exclaimed one day in trying to say the radio was bad (“radio, CACA!). The phrase stuck with Taylor and inspired the anti-commercial radio themes in the lyrics.

Taylor liked the title, but the rest of the group objected and asked for a re-write. As a result, it went from a song condemning radio (“Ca-Ca”) to praising it (“Ga Ga”). Interestingly however, even in the final recorded version, the phrase “Ca-Ca” is present – maybe as a compromise for Taylor?

Queen stole the show at Live-Aid when Freddie Mercury, battling laryngitis, got everybody in Wembley Stadium singing the chorus of this song.

The extras in the video got the clapping sequence right on the first try, but it took practice for the members of Queen to get it down. Director David Mallet was surprised the extras picked up the routine so easily, considering they’d never heard the song, which hadn’t yet been released.

The rock band Electric Six recorded this on their 2005 album SeΓ±or Smoke. In the video, their lead singer Dick Valentine is shown as the ghost of Freddie Mercury appearing in front of his grave, which caused controversy amongst Queen fans. Valentine was quick to stress that it was meant in tribute, not to denigrate the group – the band were massive Queen fans.

Lady Gaga took her name from this song. Born Stefani Germanotta, she started using the moniker when she needed a stage name. Who came up with the name is a matter of dispute, as her former producer Rob Fusari claims that he originated it, while the singer says it was given to her by her co-workers in her burlesque days.

When director David Mallet was coming up with the concept for the music video, he wanted to stray from the usual performance pieces full of guitar solos and drum fills. “And even [guitarist] Brian May agreed to that,” Mallet told the documentary series Video Killed the Radio Star. Freddie Mercury suggested the Metropolis concept, but Mallet wanted to make sure the band still played a key role in the clip. “So we built that funny car and them flying through the air, and used the wide shots from Metropolis … All I was trying to do is find some way of fitting Metropolis into a different setting, and I thought, what if we make the whole video a period – wartime, for instance, or semi-wartime, and it would tie it all together. And it did.”

Some critics feel the choreography in the hand-clapping scene is a reference to Nazis, an idea that Mallet dismisses: “It didn’t really have any bearing on Nazi rallies at all.” Roger Taylor added: “That section was meant to sort of portray the mind control of the workers in the movie Metropolis.”

An extended version was released as a 12″ single at the same time.

Fun Facts

  • Freddie Mercury was born in Zanzibar, went to boarding school in India, and came to England with his parents in 1964. His birth name is Farrokh Bulsara, but due to racial abuse he suffered in his early teens, he legally changed his name in 1972.
  • Mercury died of AIDS the day after announcing he had the disease. He died the morning of November 24, 1991 at age 45.
  • May is an accomplished scholar. He studied astronomy and physics at Imperial College in London.
  • All four members wrote at least one of their hits. Since they all wrote, it gave them a very diverse sound.
  • Before forming Queen, May and Taylor were in a psychedelic band called Smile.
  • Brian May’s guitar is called the Red Special, and was made with the help of his father, who was an engineer, while Brian was still in high school. The body was made from an old mantelpiece that a family friend had discarded while renovating his house and the whammy bar was made from parts of an old bicycle kick stand. It is the interesting mix of materials that make May’s guitar tone impossible to duplicate and why he sounds so original. It has a unique tone, which has become his signature, and it allowed him to create various sound effects found on many of Queen’s songs, such as “Get Down, Make Love.”
  • They first toured the US as the opening band for Mott The Hoople in 1974.
  • In 1981, they did the soundtrack for the movie Flash Gordon, which was a huge flop.
  • All of the members are very intelligent. In addition to May’s degree in astronomy, they have degrees in biology (Taylor), illustration (Mercury), and electronics (Deacon).
  • They proudly declared that no synthesizers were used in their music until 1980. Roger Taylor was the first member of Queen to get a synth. Taylor recalled to Mojo: “Freddie was all over it – ‘Ooh what does this do?’ It changed the way we did things.”
  • When Mercury moved to England in 1959, he lived less than a football field distance from May, but the two never met until 1970.
  • Mercury’s stamp collection was purchased by the British Postal Service for almost $5,000. It is currently on display at the National Postage Museum.

The Lyrics

I'd sit alone and watch your light
My only friend through teenage nights
And everything I had to know
I heard it on my radio

You gave them all those old time stars
Through wars of worlds invaded by Mars
You made 'em laugh, you made 'em cry
You made us feel like we could fly

So don't become some background noise
A backdrop for the girls and boys
Who just don't know or just don't care
And just complain when you're not there

You had your time, you had the power
You've yet to have your finest hour
Radio, everybody!

All we hear is radio ga ga
Radio goo goo
Radio ga ga
All we hear is radio ga ga
Radio blah blah
Radio, what's new?
Radio, someone still loves you

We watch the shows, we watch the stars
On videos for hours and hours
We hardly need to use our ears
How music changes through the years

Let's hope you never leave, old friend
Like all good things, on you we depend
So stick around 'cause we might miss you
When we grow tired of all this visual

Had your time, you had the power
You've yet to have your finest hour

All we hear is radio ga ga
Radio goo goo
Radio ga ga
All we hear is radio ga ga
Radio goo goo
Radio ga ga
All we hear is radio ga ga
Radio blah blah
Radio, what's new?
Radio, someone still loves you


Writer/s: Roger Taylor 
Publisher: Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC
Lyrics licensed and provided by LyricFind

Courtesy of Songfacts

  21 comments for “Song Lyric Sunday – Radio Ga Ga – No Nonsense

  1. Christine Bolton
    December 16, 2021 at 8:25 am

    Thank Angie. Yes, it was all so shocking at the time. Poor Freddie 😒

  2. December 13, 2021 at 4:20 pm

    Thanks for all the cool info to go with an awesome Queen song. πŸ’•πŸŽΆπŸ’ƒπŸΌ
    I still remember when Freddie announced he had AIDS, then died. 😒😭

    • Christine Bolton
      December 16, 2021 at 9:03 am

      Thank Angie. Yes, it was all so shocking at the time. Poor Freddie 😒

  3. December 12, 2021 at 5:52 pm

    Long live Freddie through his music. I was hoping to hear this today πŸ™‚

    • Christine Bolton
      December 12, 2021 at 7:55 pm

      Thanks Jilly. Yes, he will live forever for me β˜ΊοΈπŸ’•

  4. December 12, 2021 at 10:33 am

    What an impact Freddie Mercury and Queen had on us. Great choice, Christine.

    • Christine Bolton
      December 12, 2021 at 7:49 pm

      Yes Maggie. There was not another band like them. Thanks so much β˜ΊοΈπŸ’•

  5. December 12, 2021 at 9:54 am

    I liked Flash Gordon but it did get bad reviews. Thanks for selecting this classic Christine and you can never go wrong with Queen.

    • Christine Bolton
      December 12, 2021 at 7:48 pm

      Thanks Jim. Ga ga and goo goo is definitely nonsense 🀣

  6. December 12, 2021 at 5:50 am

    Brilliant choice and really interesting facts πŸ™‚

    • Christine Bolton
      December 12, 2021 at 9:56 pm

      Thanks Kristian β˜ΊοΈπŸ’• I’m happy you liked it.

  7. December 12, 2021 at 1:58 am

    Really interesting to read about a song I know so well, but knew so little about. My cat is named Freddie after Mercury (although his surname is Fluffballs πŸ˜‚)

    • Christine Bolton
      December 12, 2021 at 7:54 pm

      Thanks Ingrid. It’s fun to research a song you like so much. Always something knew to learn. Did you see the movie Bohemian Rhapsody? It was a wonderful film. I love your kitty cat’s name. Mr. Freddy Fluffballs! ☺️

      • December 12, 2021 at 7:55 pm

        Oh, yes: I love the movie 🀩

  8. December 11, 2021 at 11:24 pm

    I loved Queen with Freddie. Tragic loss…

    • December 12, 2021 at 2:43 am

      Wonderful choice very much one of my favourite Queen numbers. You also made it so interesting πŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ’œ

      • December 12, 2021 at 5:22 am

        Definitely my favorite Queen Song!!!

      • December 12, 2021 at 5:50 am

        Yes absolutely great ☺️

      • Christine Bolton
        December 12, 2021 at 9:57 pm

        Thanks Janis β˜ΊοΈπŸ’•

      • Christine Bolton
        December 12, 2021 at 9:57 pm

        Thanks Willow. I loved the Live Aid performance πŸ’•πŸ’•β˜ΊοΈ

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