Google is celebrating what would have been the 65th birthday of Queen frontman Freddie Mercury with a “Google Doodle” animation that depicts the singer acting out the lyrics of the band’s 1979 single “Don’t Stop Me Now.” Mercury’s birthday was actually yesterday, but the company decided to hold off the animation in the United States until today so that people wouldn’t miss it because of Labor Day. The clip is only a minute and a half long, but it’s jam-packed with references to other Queen classics and guaranteed to make you miss the larger-than-life and one-of-a-kind rocker.
The doodle was designed by a team lead by Jennifer Hom, a 24-year-old graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design. “We knew that we couldn’t have a regular illustration to celebrate his birthday,” she tells Rolling Stone. “We wanted to do something really extraordinary for him because his visual style is so unique. We couldn’t justify one of his costumes or one of his music videos, so we wanted to chronicle his career through all the different looks that he sported in his lifetime.”
Hom felt that Queen’s 1979 hit “Don’t Stop Me Now” was the perfect song to accompany the animation. “It has a locomotive rhythm to it,” she says. “And it’s just so energetic and lively and happy. Also, from an artistic standpoint it has great lyrical imagery. Some of the lines from the second verse contain a tiger, Lady Godiva and a race car. That’s a pretty good jumping off point to start storyboarding a music video.”
Some of the animation in the video is reminiscent of a 1980s Nintendo game. “I realized that the time Queen was performing was also the time of video games,” says Hom. “There was Super Nintendo and all these new platforms and they all had a very distinct look and they were all very adventurous. The scenes in the video that we wanted to capture were equally adventurous, so we thought it would make sense to use that style of animation.”