A Second-By-Second Breakdown of Dolly Parton’s ‘We Are the Champions’ Video

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Dolly Parton wearing a silver dress sings in side profile, her arms outstretched at her sides.
Dolly Parton imploring you to please, please watch the Paris Olympics ... an entire year from now. (YouTube)

I’ve been trying to ignore the press releases for Dolly Parton’s imminent album Rockstar, on which the country superstar is joined by guest stars to cover a variety of rock classics. (And also Miley Cyrus’ pop hit “Wrecking Ball” because: goddaughter). Some find Dolly duetting with the original artists (like “Every Breath You Take” featuring Sting, or “Heart of Glass” featuring Debbie Harry), and some feature random stars (like her version of “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” with P!nk and Brandi Carlile). The album also contains a few original tracks, on which Dolly collaborates with the likes of Judas Priest’s Rob Halford and human garbage truck Kid Rock.

One of the first tastes we’re getting of Rockstar is the brand new video for a solo Dolly performing Queen’s “We Are the Champions,” in anticipation of the Summer 2024 Olympics in Paris. Queen’s 1977 hit was already played out as a sporting anthem when the San Francisco Giants decided to play it into our unwilling ears at every game following their 2012 World Series win, but sure, let’s keep flogging that dead horse, shall we?

Dolly, perhaps keen to differentiate her sporty use of “We Are the Champions” from other sporty uses of “We Are the Champions,” has also tacked a gratuitous rendition of “We Will Rock You” onto the end. Because apparently good sense was entirely absent in the Rockstar recording sessions.

The video for the final awkward-combo song was released today. As you might expect, it’s a thing to behold! Here then, is our (admittedly cynical) rundown of everything that happens in the video.

0:05: Dolly sits somberly on empty bleachers wearing the same facial expression she might adopt before singing “Me and Little Andy,” her classic track in which an abandoned six-year-old child and her cute little dog beg strangers for help, then unceremoniously drop dead. Who feels like goin’ to the Olympics?! Woo!

Dolly Parton, wearing a white jumpsuit, sitting alone in the center of bleachers, head bowed.
Dolly Parton: Very much not at a pep rally and obviously sad about it. (YouTube)

0:36: Fireworks explode behind the Eiffel Tower and sports montages begin, complete with a backing track of roaring crowds. Do you feel that, everyone? It’s the sound of trying to get excited about something that doesn’t start for another year! Yay!


0:40: Dolly’s wearing a gold dress now. You know: Like the medal. Because if this song isn’t literal enough already, by God, Dolly can and will hammer it home with a wardrobe choice.

0:49: She’s wearing silver now. Because winning a silver medal is also perfectly respectable, and Dolly wouldn’t want you to think otherwise. Inclusion!

0:52: An image of two athletes literally fighting to accompany the line “We’ll keep on fighting ’til the end.” Subtle imagery is everywhere!

0:56: Oh, snap! Dolly’s wearing bronze now! Five dollars says she’s about to show up dressed as a participation certificate.

0:59: Gold, silver and bronze Dolly are singing in front of the Eiffel Tower now, together. Strong bachelorette-party-with-too-many-of-your-drunk-aunts-in-Vegas vibes emanate from the screen.

Three Dolly Partons performing on stools together, wearing matching silver, gold and bronze dresses.
Cool. (YouTube)

1:26: The line “I’ve taken my bows” is accompanied by — what else? — a runner taking a bow. A handful of my brain cells just died.

1:40: A montage of athletes biting the dust, in slow motion, on their respective fields. “No time for losers” and now this? This doesn’t feel very supportive, Dolly!

2:28: Dolly is in the bleachers again, now surrounded by a wholesome group of perfectly still young people who stare intently at her face, even if it means twisting around in their seats to do so. Two questions: 1) Is this a cult? And, 2) Is there about to be a human sacrifice? ‘Cause this is weird. First one to move is the loser!

Dolly Parton seated on bleachers surrounded by a diverse crowd of people of varying ages.
“Hey, extra No. 46. You look a bit like Zendaya. Go ahead and sit directly behind Dolly.” (YouTube)

2:45: Oh, crap. The wholesome humans are singing along en masse now, thereby signaling that we’re all losers.

3:04: Oh, crap. The “We Will Rock You” segue has begun and things are about to get considerably worse, I can just feel it.

3:19: Director: “Hey, video people? Listen. Clearly some of you have no rhythm, so instead of doing full handclaps and foot stomps as Queen originally intended, just limply do a single handclap at the end of each section. Is that cool? Cool. We have zero faith in any of you.”

3:52: The camera pans out from Dolly’s corner of the stadium to show bleacher after bleacher of limply clapping people. Feel the American glory!

3:55: Diamonds with “Paris 2024” written inside them flash onscreen along with the NBC logo. I should’ve known that network had something to do with this. NBC was also responsible for the Dollywood/NBC infomercial that was Dolly Parton’s last (mind-melting) Christmas movie, Dolly Parton’s Magic Mountain Christmas.

You can watch Dolly Parton’s “We Are the Champions/We Will Rock You” in full below, if you dare:

Dolly Parton’s ‘Rockstar’ will be released on Nov. 17, 2023. You have been warned.