ICONS ARE BETTER #33: BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY
From the surreal opening harmony to the closing gong, Bohemian Rhapsody is six minutes of musical madness guaranteed to turn even the most dedicated of stoics into nonsense belting, air guitar thumping pseudo rock gods. Mixing ballad, heavy metal, a cappella, rock and opera, the song is a medley of musical genres – a style that was unheard of at the time and remains unmatched in the 40 years since.
Bohemian Rhapsody was released in 1975 – the same year that Margaret Thatcher became leader of the Tories and Jaws put everyone off swimming. But while these are now dated references, Bohemian Rhapsody – in all its anthemic rock glory – remains as popular as ever. It still tops all relevant polls, it’s still the only song to hit Christmas number 1 twice, and it’s still iconic four decades later.
Because the song was so utterly incomparable to other music at the time, the industry was convinced that it would flop. It was too long, too experimental, too different – people just wouldn’t get it.
But you don’t need to ‘get’ Bohemian Rhapsody to love it. Freddie Mercury himself said of its ambiguity: ‘it means whatever you want it to mean…people should just listen to it and discard it.’
Unfortunately for him, when a song is this pervasive, that won’t be happening anytime soon.
Cali Mackrill – Intern