‘We are the Champions’ sounds exactly the same as ‘The Rite of Spring’ – and life will never be the same again

12 July 2019, 16:53 | Updated: 12 July 2019, 18:08

Queen and Stravinsky
Queen and Stravinsky. Picture: Getty

By Rosie Pentreath

We explain how the bassoon solo at the beginning of Stravinsky’s ‘The Rite of Spring’ sounds just like the chorus from Queen’s huge 1977 hit.

Someone on the Internet reckons the chorus of Queen’s ‘We are the Champions’ sounds the same as the bassoon solo at the start of The Rite of Spring by Stravinsky. We first saw the theory in a Facebook post and, we must say, it has legs.

The post reads: “My friend was humming ‘We are the Champions’ and her daughter said, ‘Why are you humming the bassoon solo from The Rite of Spring’. I bow to her.”

Right. Hum the melody of the chorus in Queen’s ‘We are the Champions’.

“We are the champions my frie-ends”.

Now, if you know it, hum the melody of the bassoon solo in Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring.

Hmmmm, hm hm hmm hmm, hm hmm hm hmm.

Or watch them both below, one right after the other. We don’t even mind which order you watch them in.

See?

They sound pretty similar, right? Listen to them both again and we dare you to tell us they don’t.

Read more: Freddie Mercury's isolated vocals from 'We are the Champions' proves he was one of the finest tenors in history'

Okay, here’s why.

Why Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring sounds just like ‘We are the Champions’ by Queen

The bassoon solo from the beginning of The Rite of Spring starts on a concert C (one octave above middle C) and the main tune goes down one tone in pitch to B, then back up to C before moving to a B, G (two tones lower), E (two tones lower), B again, suspending on A, and finally landing on that first C again.

Stravinksy's 'The Rite of Spring' (opening) score
Stravinksy's 'The Rite of Spring' (opening). Picture: IMSLP

And the ‘We are the Champions’ chorus?

It doesn’t start on the same pitch (F in the original Queen recording). But the melodic pattern of the chorus of Queen’s ‘We are the Champions’ is remarkably similar to that of Stravinsky’s Rite opening.

The chorus is F–, E, F, E, C–, A, D–, A. So, like the Rite, the melody starts with a long note, goes down one tone (to E) and back up to the starting note (F), then it goes down to E again, and then down to C (two tones lower), then A (two tones lower), up to a D and back to A.

Giphy

So, to summarise, they are pretty similar. The key to the similarity is in that long first note, and second-note-returning-to-first-note pattern at the start of both passages. And then it’s that two-tone descending pattern that happens twice in both excerpts that cements the similarity.

So, there we have it: why, factually, ‘We are the Champions’ sounds just like the bassoon solo in The Rite of Spring (and, yes, the world will never be the same. Not for us).

Thank you, Internet.