Original Queen version
"We Will Rock You" and "We Are the Champions" were written in response to an event that occurred during the A Day at the Races Tour. The band played at Stafford's Bingley Hall, and, according to Brian May:
We did an encore and then went off, and instead of just keeping clapping, they sang "You'll Never Walk Alone" to us, and we were just completely knocked out and taken aback – it was quite an emotional experience really, and I think these chant things are in some way connected with that.
One version was used as the opening track on 1977's News of the World. This consists of a stomp-stomp-clap-pause beat, and a power chorus, being somewhat of an anthem. The stamping effects were created by the band overdubbing the sounds of themselves stomping and clapping many times and adding delay effects to create a sound like many people were participating. The durations of the delays were in the ratios of prime numbers, a technique now known as non-harmonic reverberation. A tape loop is used to repeat the last phrase of the guitar solo three times as opposed to Brian May playing it three separate times on the recording. The "stomp, stomp, clap" sounds were later used in the Queen + Paul Rodgers song "Still Burnin'".
The music video was filmed alongside "Spread Your Wings" at the back garden of Roger Taylor's mansion.
When performed live, the song is usually followed by "We Are the Champions", as they were designed to run together. The songs are often paired on the radio and at sporting events, where they are frequently played. They were the last two songs Queen performed at Live Aid in 1985.
Queen also performed an alternative version of "We Will Rock You" known as the "fast version", featuring a faster-feeling tempo and a full band arrangement. The band would frequently use this version to open their live sets in the late 1970s and early 1980s, as heard on the albums Live Killers (1979), Queen on Fire - Live at the Bowl (2004), Queen Rock Montreal (2007), and the expanded edition of News of the World (2011). A studio recording of this version is also known to exist, recorded for John Peel's show on BBC Radio 1 in 1977. It is part of a longer cut that starts with the original version. In 2002, the fast version was officially released on a promo single distributed by the tabloid The Sun. The "fast" BBC studio version can also be found on The Best of King Biscuit Live Volume 4. Between the two versions, there is a brief cut of a woman discussing Brahmanism, used in a BBC Radio documentary. The fast version is also used as the curtain call music for the musical of the same title, after the finale, which is a pairing of the original "We Will Rock You" and "We Are the Champions."
It was the most played song during the 2008–2009 seasons of the , National Hockey League and Major League Baseball.