“It’s a Hard Life” is a song by the British rock band Queen, written by lead singer Freddie Mercury. It was featured on their 1984 album The Works, and it was the third single from that album. It reached number 6 in the UK Singles Chart and was their third consecutive Top 10 single from the album. It also reached number 2 in Ireland and number 20 in the Netherlands. It also came 19th on a poll, The Nation’s Favourite Queen Song broadcast on ITV on Tuesday 11 November 2014.
The opening lyric and melody of “It’s a Hard Life” is based on the line “Ridi, Pagliaccio, sul tuo amore infranto!” (Laugh, clown, at your broken love!) from “Vesti la giubba”, an aria from Ruggiero Leoncavallo’s opera Pagliacci.
Musically, the song recreates the feel of “Play the Game” in order to update the story, utilising Mercury’s piano playing and the band’s characteristic technique of layered harmonies. It is recorded very much with the ethos of earlier Queen albums in that it features ‘no synthesizers’. By that time the band had been using synths on record since 1980’s The Game and the gesture of returning to the traditional Queen sound was comforting to some fans.