Bohemian Rhapsody

1975 Queen song written and composed by Freddie Mercury

Bohemian Rhapsody is a song by English rock band Queen. It was written by Freddie Mercury, and was released on their 1975 album A Night at the Opera.

"Bohemian Rhapsody"
Single by Queen
from the album A Night at the Opera
B-side"I'm in Love with My Car"
Released31 October 1975 (1975-10-31)
RecordedAugust–September 1975
Studio
Genre
Length5:55
LabelEMI
Songwriter(s)Freddie Mercury
Producer(s)
Queen singles chronology
"Now I'm Here"
(1975)
"Bohemian Rhapsody"
(1975)
"You're My Best Friend"
(1976)
Music video
"Bohemian Rhapsody" at YouTube

Promotional videoEdit

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 a regular practice for record companies to produce promotional videos for artists' single releases.[1] The Guardian stated it "ensured videos would henceforth be a mandatory tool in the marketing of music".[2] 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 such as Pan's People. 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.[3] He also said that the band knew they would be set to appear at Dundee's Caird Hall on tour, a date which clashed with the programme, thus a promo would solve the issue.[4] The video has been hailed as launching the MTV age.[4][5]

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, where the band was 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.[6] Gowers reported that the band was involved in the discussion of the video and the result, and "was a co-operative to that extent, but there was only one leader."[4]

It became the first record to be pushed into the forefront by virtue of a video. Queen were certainly the first band to create a ‘concept’ video. The video captured the musical imagery perfectly. You cannot hear that music without seeing the visuals in your mind's eye.

— Rock DJ Tommy Vance.[7]

The video opens with a shot of the four band members standing in diamond formation with their heads tilted back in near darkness as they sing the a cappella part.[8] The lights fade up, and the shots cross-fade into close-ups of Mercury. 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.[4] 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.[9]

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 lines "Magnifico" and "Let me go") 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.[4]

Alternate versionEdit

This video was directed by Paul Rudish and released on December 22, 1996, the video is was based on the fairy tale "The Steadfast Tin Soldier" by Hans Christian Andersen, a broken toy soldier with one leg falls in love with a toy ballerina and protects her from an evil jack-in-the-box. Unlike the original story, this version has a happy ending. It was animated by Rough Draft Korea.

Chart performanceEdit

While, at first, record companies believed the song would not receive radio airplay due to its length (5 minutes and 55 seconds) and its difference to other songs of the time, it became #1 on many charts.[10] It is now played on the radio in full-length.

Chart 1975 or 1992 Position
UK Singles Chart 1
Irish Singles Chart 1
New Zealand Singles Chart 1
Dutch Singles Chart 1
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 2
Swiss Singles Chart 4
Norwegian Singles Chart 4
Australian ARIA Singles Chart 5
Austrian Singles Chart 8
French Singles Chart 15
Swedish Singles Chart 18

ReferencesEdit

  1. Muikku, Jari (1990). "On the role and tasks of a record producer". Popular Music and Society. 14 (1): 25–33. doi:10.1080/03007769008591381.
  2. Hann, Michael (12 June 2011). "Queen herald the age of the music video". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 11 March 2017. Retrieved 17 December 2016.
  3. Black 2002.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 BBC 2004b.
  5. Newcomb, Alyssa (11 December 2018). "And the most streamed song of the century is ... 'Bohemian Rhapsody'". NBC News. Retrieved 27 September 2020. It’s widely credited with being the first promotional music video for a song, paving the way for the MTV generation.
  6. Hodkinson 2004, p. 192.
  7. Jones (2012), pp. 150, 151
  8. Hamrogue, Sasha; Bottomley, C. (22 July 2004). "Mick Rock: Shooting Up". VH1. Archived from the original on 8 August 2007. Retrieved 9 March 2019.
  9. Walden, Joshua. S. (2013). Representation in Western Music. Chapter 5 – Video cultures: 'Bohemian Rhapsody', Wayne's World, and beyond. Cambridge University Press. p. 81.
  10. "An Invitation To The Opera." Sound On Sound (October 1995). Retrieved on 2008-11-01.