fun. Could Have Been The Next Queen

There. I said it, and I mean it wholeheartedly. If not for the band’s indefinite hiatus, fun. could have (and still very possibly could) become a modern-day cultural phenomenon, level to the insurmountable popularity of Queen.

I know that’s a big statement and an even bigger comparison. Nonetheless, before someone assumes I believe that Nate Ruess, lead singer of fun., is the next Freddie Mercury, let me set the record straight—that’s exactly what I’m saying.

If you are unfamiliar with the band fun., let us reminisce of the 2012 hits “Some Nights,” “We Are Young,” and “Carry On”— all of which made their debut under the band’s sophomore album, Some Nights. This trio, referring to both the singles and the band, flooded radio airtime and continues to rake in hundreds of millions of plays on various streaming platforms.

These are probably the only songs the majority of the population knows from the band, and for the longest time, those were the only songs I knew as well. It wasn’t until a random night during senior year of high school that I was enlightened to the true musical genius that they held.

While driving one of my friends home, my friend announced that me not knowing this particular song was practically criminal. In response, I told him to take control of the aux. What happened next can only be described as an alteration in my brain chemistry.

As “Some Nights – Intro” by fun filled the airwaves of my car, I must have ascended into some otherworldly sphere. This sounds dramatic, but there’s simply no other way to convey the level of shock I experienced. A band I had written off as a three-hit wonder exceeded all of my expectations. With no exaggeration, the first comment I remember making as I came back into myself was, “This sounds like Queen!”

“Some Nights – Intro,” while starting off small and timid, soon explodes into a cacophony of symphonic strings, call-and-response operatic harmonies, piano arpeggios, and Mercury-esque belts from Ruess. It effortlessly sets the stage for the remainder of the album while succeeding in becoming its own mini-masterpiece, one that I have sustained a personal obsession over for years. It emits the same supposed lyrical absurdities of Queen’s “Bicycle Race” while building up to an explosive climax like that of “The Millionaire Waltz.” The simplicity of sound itself is used by both in such an intoxicating and full way that the listener is entirely pulled into any song— I was captivated by the first listen to say the least.

“Some Nights – Intro” isn’t the only evidence of Queen’s influence on fun., as the opener for the latter’s debut album Aim and Ignite holds the same amount of awe. “Be Calm” is anything but what the title may suggest, as it has similar theatrical mountains and valleys to that of Queen’s “The March Of The Black Queen.” Moments of actual calm are quickly overshadowed by a burst of energy and sound, emulating much of Queen’s iconic “Killer Queen.”

Queen’s “It’s A Hard Life” and fun.’s “Why Am I the One” are driving ballads where the lead singer is backed by powerful harmonic vocals to emphasize crucial moments in the song’s lyrics. “All the Pretty Girls” by fun. without a doubt mimics Queen’s “Fat Bottomed Girls,” both jump starting with a blended, direct rendition of the main chorus and then continuing to both (strangely) idolize and objectify women.

It’s as clear as day that fun.’s tones are akin to Queen. Not only do I think that they musically mirror each other, but there are very few male artists who have the vocal flexibility and talent of Nate Ruess. His ability to sustain higher register notes while keeping the oomph of a lower range is far from dissimilar to Freddie Mercury.

Of course, no band can be the next Queen, verbatim— nor would anybody, or at least myself personally, want there to be an exact replica of any band. Nevertheless, fun. sure was on their way to becoming a modern-day version of Queen, strategically combining their own taste with the influence of an older generation.

Though, maybe this all just a projection. Queen’s rise to rock stardom was such a pronounced moment in time, one that I believe fun. should’ve had the opportunity to experience themselves. They hold the same unique musical prowess that Queen did during their era, and fun. easily could have skyrocketed to the top more so than they already had. It took Queen years before they had their big break; fun. could follow a similar trajectory.

Like Queen, I believe their music was ahead of its time; underappreciated by a musical culture that favored catchy pop and hip-hop songs. I myself didn’t appreciate them until I had expanded my own musical palette, better able to appreciate experimental pop music. Now, I wish there was more out there for me to enjoy.

Though the band hasn’t released any music since 2014, they haven’t broken up according to their official band website. Hopefully—and really, I’m hoping— they find some musical inspiration to come together again soon, and we can see if they finally gain the recognition that they rightfully deserve.