Bohemian Rhapsody
Single by Queen from A Night at the Opera
Released 31 October 1975
Recorded August-September 1975 at:
Sarm Studios, London
Roundhouse Studios, London
Scorpio Sound, London
Wessex Sound Studios, London
Rockfield Studios, Rockfield, Monmouthshire
Length 5:56
Genre Progressive rock, baroque rock, hard rock
Label EMI, Elektra, Parlophone, Hollywood
Writer Freddie Mercury
Musicians Mercury, May, Deacon, Taylor
Producer(s) Roy Thomas Baker, Queen

Single Chronology
Last single Now I'm Here (1975)
This single Bohemian Rhapsody (1975)
Next single You're My Best Friend (1975)
Last track Good Company
This track Bohemian Rhapsody
Next track God Save the Queen
"Bohemian Rhapsody" is an operatic rock song from the A Night at the Opera album, written by Freddie Mercury. The track has a very unusual song structure, more akin to a classical rhapsody rather than popular music. The song has no chorus, instead consisting of three main parts: including an operatic segment, an a cappella passage, and a heavy rock solo, incorporating a brief intro and outro.

When it was released as a single, "Bohemian Rhapsody" became a huge commercial success, staying at the top of the UK Singles Chart for nine weeks. It reached number one again in 1991, following Freddie Mercury's death, achieving total sales of 2,176,000 thus becoming the UK's third best selling single of all time - beaten only by Band Aid's "Do They Know It's Christmas?" and Elton John's "Candle In The Wind 1997".

The single was accompanied by a promotional video; considered groundbreaking, as it helped establish the visual language of the modern music video. Although critical reaction was initially mixed, particularly in America, "Bohemian Rhapsody" is often considered to be Queen's magnum opus and one of the greatest songs of all time.

Video Edit

Though some artists had made video clips to accompany songs (including Queen themselves; for example, their earlier singles "Keep Yourself Alive", "Liar", "Seven Seas of Rhye" and "Killer Queen" already had "pop promos", as they were known at the time), it was only after the success of "Bohemian Rhapsody" that it became regular practice for record companies to produce promotional videos for artists' single releases. These videos could then be shown on television shows around the world, such as the BBC's Top of the Pops, without the need for the artist to appear in person. A promo video also allowed the artist to have their music broadcast and accompanied by their own choice of visuals, rather than dancers. According to May, the video was produced so that the band could avoid miming on Top of the Pops, since they would have looked off miming to such a complex song. He also said that the band knew they would be set to appear at Dundee's Caird Hall on tour and unable to appear on the programme anyway. The video has been hailed as launching the MTV age.

The band used Trillion, a subsidiary of Trident Studios, their former management company and recording studio. They hired one of their trucks and got it to Elstree Studios in Borehamwood, Hertfordshire, where the band were rehearsing for their tour. The video was directed by Bruce Gowers, who had directed a video of the band's 1974 performance at the Rainbow Theatre in London, and was recorded by cameraman Barry Dodd and assistant director/floor manager Jim McCutcheon. The video was recorded in just four hours on 10 November 1975, at a cost of £4,500. Gowers reported that the band was involved in the discussion of the video and the end result, and "was a co-operative to that extent, but there was only one leader."

The video opens with a shot of the four band members in near darkness as they sing the a cappella part. The lights fade up, and the shots cross-fade into close-ups of Freddie. The composition of the shot is the same as Mick Rock's cover photograph for their second album Queen II. The photo, inspired by a photograph of actress Marlene Dietrich, was the band's favourite image of themselves. The video then fades into them playing their instruments. In the opera section of the video, the scene reverts to the Queen II standing positions, after which they perform once again on stage during the hard rock segment. In the closing seconds of the video Roger Taylor is depicted stripped to the waist, striking the tam tam in the manner of the trademark of the Rank Organisation's Gongman, familiar in the UK as the opening of all Rank film productions.

All of the special effects were achieved during the recording, rather than editing. The visual effect of Mercury's face cascading away (during the echoed line "Magnifico") was accomplished by pointing the camera at a monitor, giving visual feedback, a glare analogous to audio feedback. The honeycomb illusion was created using a shaped lens. The video was edited within five hours because it was due to be broadcast the same week in which it was taped. The video was sent to the BBC as soon as it was completed and aired for the first time on Top of the Pops in November 1975. After a few weeks at number one, an edit of the video was created. The most obvious difference is the flames superimposed over the introduction as well as several alternate camera angles.

Charts Edit

Chart (1975-76) Peak position
Australia (Kent Music Report) 1
Belgium (Ultratop 50) 1
Canada (RPM) 1
Finland (Suomen virallinen lista) 16
France (IFOP) 50
Germany (Official German Charts) 7
Ireland (IRMA) 1
Italy (Musica e dischi) 28
Japan (Oricon) 48
Netherlands (Dutch Top 40) 1
Netherlands (Single Top 100) 1
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ) 1
Norway (VG-lista) 4
South Africa (Springbok Radio) 2
Spain (AFE) 4
Sweden (Topplistan) 18
Switzerland (Swiss Hitparade) 4
United Kingdom (Official Charts Company) 1
United States (Billboard Hot 100) 9

Use in filmEdit

  • The Great Rock 'n' Roll Swindle (1980)
  • The Blues Brothers (1980)
  • Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982)
  • Strange Brew (1983)
  • This is Spinal Tap (1984)
  • Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome (1985)
  • Sid and Nancy (1986)
  • Spaceballs (1987)
  • Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure (1989)
  • The Doors (1991)
  • Out for Justice (1991)
  • Thelma & Louise (1991)
  • The Last Boy Scout (1991)
  • Wayne's World (1992)
  • Demolition Man (1993)
  • Airheads (1994)
  • Empire Records (1995)
  • Showgirls (1995)
  • Broken Arrow (1996)
  • A Time to Kill (1996)
  • Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (1997)
  • Conspiracy Theory (1997)
  • Lethal Weapon 4 (1998)
  • High Fidelity (2000)
  • The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle (2000)
  • Coyote Ugly (2000)
  • The Art of War (2000)
  • Get Carter (2000)
  • Dude, Where's My Car? (2000)
  • Monkeybone (2001)
  • Josie and the Pussycats (2001)
  • The Fast and the Furious (2001)
  • Rock Star (2001)
  • Meet Dave (2008)
  • Suicide Squad (2016)
  • Sing (2016)
  • Bohemian Rhapsody (2018)

See alsoEdit

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