Because Queen took the better part of 1981 off to work on the follow-up to their big 1980 hit The Game, fans were confident that the band's next release would follow in their winning tradition of classic albums. Unfortunately, this would not be the case. Unlike its predecessor, Hot Space was an inconsistent effort, marred by unfocused songwriting and material that was simply not as strong as their earlier work. Since they had just previously enjoyed a massive hit with the disco-fied "Another One Bites the Dust," Queen decided to dedicate the entire first side of the album to dance music, something that alienated their longtime rock fans. And while the single "Body Language" nearly cracked the U.S. Top Ten, the rest of the dance material was easily forgettable -- "Back Chat," "Staying Power," "Action This Day," and so on -- however, the album was not a total washout. The more rock-oriented second side did contain some great tracks, such as "Put Out the Fire," "Calling All Girls," "Las Palabras de Amor," and the David Bowie collaboration "Under Pressure." But it was not enough to save Hot Space from a cruel critical and commercial fate, as its ensuing world tour marked the last time Queen would perform in the U.S. ~ Greg Prato, Rovi
Anybody who was a little dismayed by the pop inclinations of The Game would have been totally distressed by Queen's 1982 follow-up, Hot Space, an unabashed pop and dance album. The band that once proudly proclaimed not to use synthesizers on their albums had suddenly, dramatically reversed course, devoting the entire first side of the album to robotic, new wave dance-pop, all driven by drum machines and colored by keyboards, with Brian May's guitar coming in as flavor only on occasion. The second side is better, as it finds the group rocking, but there are still electronic drums. But the Beatlesque "Life Is Real (Song for Lennon)" is a sweet, if a bit too literal, tribute and with "Calling All Girls," Queen finally gets synth-driven new wave rock right, resulting in a sharp piece of pop. But the album's undeniable saving grace is the concluding "Under Pressure," an utterly majestic, otherworldly duet with David Bowie that recaptures the effortless grace of Queen's mid-'70s peak, but is underscored with a truly affecting melancholy heart that gives it a genuine human warmth unheard in much of their music. Frankly, "Under Pressure" is the only reason most listeners remember this album, which is as much a testament to the song's strength as it is to the rather desultory nature of the rest of Hot Space. [The 2001 reissue adds a bonus disc made up of three live tracks, a remix of "Back Chat," and the B-Side "Soul Brother."] ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine, Rovi
Track samples provided courtesy of iTunes
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