The Enduring Popularity of Queen's "Don't Stop Me Now"

Queen perform in 1979
Photo Credit
Richard E. Aaron/Redferns

Take a look at Queen's most streamed tracks. You might not be surprised by some of the biggest: "Another One Bites the Dust," "Bohemian Rhapsody" and "Under Pressure" - all considerable hits in their day - each have more than a billion streams apiece, no doubt cementing their reputations as one of the best-loved rock bands of the last century. But take a look at the fourth song to have hit the billion mark and you might do a double take, especially if you were a big fan of Queen in their heyday.

"Don't Stop Me Now," the second single off the band's 1979 album Jazz, is Queen at their most classic. A soaring vocal from Freddie Mercury (and those sublime, multitracked harmonies), a shift from grandiose solo piano to uptempo rocker (complete with a blistering solo by Brian May) - and that breakdown! It's really no surprise it sits comfortably among the band's best loved work - but it is a surprise it's only taken that place in the last decade or so.

READ MORE: Six Facts About Queen's "Another One Bites the Dust"

The single performed admirably in the group's native England when it was issued, becoming their seventh career Top 10 single and besting its predecessor, the double A-side "Bicycle Race" and "Fat Bottomed Girls," by two spots at a peak of No. 9. But in the U.S., the song stalled in the bottom half of the charts - nowhere near the Top 20 placement of "Bicycle" - and was quickly overshadowed by some of the other billion-streamers.

So what gives? The answer lies with a pair of British slackers and a zombie outbreak.

READ MORE: The Story of Queen and David Bowie's Dynamic Duet

The 2004 horror-comedy Shaun of the Dead featured the song in a hilarious, pivotal moment, giving the song a second wind that's extended to commercials, concerts and even the end credits of Queen's own blockbuster biopic Bohemian Rhapsody. And the low-budget film was lucky to secure its use: co-writer/director Edgar Wright later revealed they were ready to go with a back-up (Boney M's "Rasputin") had the price been too high. "We wouldn't have a scene without it," Wright reflected.

Ironically, it was the song's lack of presence throughout Queen productions that convinced Wright he should go for it. "I was really convinced it should be in Shaun of the Dead when it was barely featured at all in the Queen musical [We Will Rock You]," he tweeted in 2019. "Seemed their most obvious showstopper to me. Perfect for killing zombies."

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