The BBC announced yesterday that Queen Elizabeth II, the UK’s longest-serving monarch, has died at Balmoral aged 96, after reigning for 70 years.
“The Queen came to the throne in 1952 and witnessed enormous social change”.
With her death, her eldest son Charles, the former Prince of Wales, will lead the country in mourning as the new King and head of state for 14 Commonwealth realms.
In a statement, Buckingham Palace said: “The Queen died peacefully at Balmoral this afternoon.”
Queen Elizabeth II is leaving behind a substantial legacy in terms of politics, culture, and media. That much is clear just by looking at the music inspired by the long-running matriarch of the British royal family.
But if you rule a country for 70 years, you’re never going to make everyone happy, and while she was certainly beloved by millions, she inspired her fair share of critics and detractors, too. Opines Joe Lynch, the Billboard writer.
On this occasion, the weekly American music and entertainment magazine published by Penske Media Corp has dressed seven songs to help us remember her legacy in the music industry and what each artist behind the song has said about Queen Elizabeth II over the years.
“Her Majesty,” The Beatles (1969)
While John Lennon returned his Order of the British Empire MBE in protest of Britain’s involvement in various conflicts and wars, Paul McCartney has had kinder things to say about Elizabeth over the years. On the occasion of her Platinum Jubilee in early 2022, he said, “70 beautiful years of Queen Elizabeth the second. Congrats ma’ am!” Listen here.
“God Save the Queen,” Sex Pistols (1977)
While the Sex Pistols’ 1977 single is savagely anti-royal, singer John Lydon later clarified that he’s got nothing against her personally.
“God bless the Queen. She’s put up with a lot,” he wrote in the U.K. paper The Times.
“I’ve got no animosity against any one of the royal family. Never did. It’s the institution of it that bothers me and the assumption that I’m to pay for that.” Listen here.
“The Queen Is Dead,” The Smiths (1986)
Morrissey has been slagging Queen Elizabeth for decades, almost too many times to count. Hell, it was even the name of the Smiths’ third studio album.
Explaining what motivates his hatred for the royals to an Australian outlet in 2016, he said, “Monarchy represents an unequal and inequitable social system.
There is no such thing as a royal person. You either buy into the silliness or else you are intelligent enough to realize that it is all human greed and arrogance.” Listen here.
“Elizabeth My Dear,” The Stone Roses (1989)
Before playing “Elizabeth My Dear” live in 2012, Stone Roses singer Ian Brown expressed frustration with those “celebrating 60 years of tyranny” on the occasion of her Diamond Jubilee. Listen here.
“Dreaming of the Queen,” Pet Shop Boys (1993)
Without taking an explicit stance on the royal family, Neil Tennant explained what inspired him to write about the Queen: “I’d read that one of the most common dreams people share is that the Queen comes round to their house.” Listen here.
“Insect Royalty,” Primal Scream (1998)
Speaking to Pitchfork in 2020, frontman Bobby Gillespie explained what motivated his royal antipathy.
“In 1977, we had the Silver Jubilee and all this crazy patriotism. People wore Union Jacks and worshipped the royal family. As a kid, I f–king hated the royal family — I still do — so buying [Sex Pistols’] ‘God Save the Queen’ really felt like a real anti-authoritarian gesture.” Listen here.
“Illuminati,” Madonna (2016)
After meeting the Queen in 2002, the Queen of Pop reportedly burst out laughing (not to her face) when it became clear to Madge that the British monarch had no idea who she or Die Another Day co-star John Cleese was. Listen here.