Queen alienated their American fan base by dabbling in disco on Hot Space. It’s much more dated sounding than their seventies records, and lyrically it’s also one of their worst efforts too; apart from Mercury’s Lennon tribute ‘Life Is Real’ and May’s love song ‘Les Palabras De Amor’. Hot Space is superficially unappealing, especially the disco-based material that dominates the first side, even though the second side is much more conventional.
Mercury’s ‘Body Language’ is arguably the worst song Queen ever recorded – like ‘Get Down, Make Love’ stripped of all energy and humour. Taylor’s two songs are also misses; they’re oversimplified and bland, and not terribly interesting. On the disco side May’s two songs deliver gratifyingly head-banging choruses, Mercury’s horn-laden ‘Staying Power’ is too overtly camp to be a Queen classic but it’s entertaining all the same, while Deacon’s ‘Back Chat’ is perhaps the most successful of the disco pieces, employing an infectious bass line.
The second side’s more conventionally Queen like, but lacklustre in places; ‘Life Is Real’ lacks a knock out melody, but is heartfelt all the same, while the Deacon/Mercury co-write ‘Cool Cat’ is an interesting exploration into R+B. Which leaves the album’s two best songs; May’s ‘Les Palabras De Amor’ is one of Queen’s best ballads, featuring a nice swirling synthesiser line. The Bowie collaboration ‘Under Pressure’ seems tacked on since it was included on the previous year’s Greatest Hits, but it’s excellent nonetheless.
Hot Space is often regarded as the weakest Queen album, and due to the dated textures this is understandable, but given a chance it isn’t lacking too much in creativity. Still, there’s no reason to prioritise Hot Space when Queen have plenty of other albums that aren’t so embarrassingly locked in the early eighties.