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Flashback Friday: The Long Story of “Bohemian Rhapsody”

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Unless you’re The Muppets, this is a song that cannot be duplicated in a studio. WE’LL DO IT LIVE!

In 1975 Queen released one of the weirdest songs of all time that became a massive hit, the complex operatic “Bohemian Rhapsody”. It is the only song I know of that has not one but two documentaries about it, Inside The Rhapsody (2002) and The Story of Bohemian Rhapsody (2004). Wikipedia tells me it took the band three weeks to record in studio. Whoa.

There is an official music video for the song, but I think its far more important to hear the song as it was sung live rather than the studio version.

We could spend a lot of time counting how many Top Songs Ever lists its appeared or even its impact on American cinema in the 90’s via Wayne’s World, but that’s just not feasible for a Friday afternoon and I’ve got a lot of other information I want to… cover. Heh.

But a quick side story, because of Freddie’s own Parsi (Persians who immigrated to India) ancestry the Islamic Republic of Iran decided it was alright to import some of Queen’s music in 2004. BBC News reports that “Bohemian Rhapsody” was given an explanatory leaflet where it was interpreted as a morality tale.

It tells Queen fans that Bohemian Rhapsody is about a young man who has accidentally killed someone and, like Faust, sold his soul to the devil.

On the night before his execution he calls God in Arabic, “Bismillah”, and so regains his soul from Satan.

 

On to the covers!

 

Elton John and Axl Rose (1992)

I’m starting this off in a different order as this 1992 version is from the official Freddie tribute concert following his 1991 death. Starring two rock legends from different eras and styles, it is probably the most historically important.

Adam Lambert, Queen (2012)

From a concert in Kiev, former American Idol contestant and openly gay singer Adam Lambert sings “Bohemian Rhapsody” with the surviving members of Queen in Kiev. A worthy choice of stand-in.

Jake Shimabukuro (2010)

Jake uses a traditional native Hawaiian instrument to belt out a stadium rock song for a TED audience. Do not underestimate the power of native instruments!

More international covers can be found from this Thai band and this Korean one on YouTube.

The Muppets (2009)

Animal gets as close as he can to the spirit of the lyrics. Also, this video marks the Muppet Studio’s first entrance into making viral web content. Good choice, chaps!

And as a bonus, here’s a side-by-side video of Egyptian-American actor Rami Malek filming the legendary Live Aid performance for the upcoming Freddie Mercury bio-pic. Is it getting you excited? Or is it going to fall into the trap that all bio-pics ultimately fall into where its just an hour and half long impression of someone famous?

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