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"Bohemian Rhapsody".. crossing styles and genres

how Queen broke all the rules with one song

Barra Vernon

on 2 October 2012

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Transcript of "Bohemian Rhapsody".. crossing styles and genres

"Bohemian Rhapsody" has no chorus, instead consisting of four main parts: a ballad segment ending with a guitar solo, an operatic passage, and a hard rock section The opening shot is the picture from the album "Queen II" Which was inspired by a photo of Marlene Dietrich

At the time, it was the most expensive single ever made and remains one of the most elaborate recordings in popular music history.
Queen were tracking vocals for three weeks (or seventy record hours) on this song alone.

The backing track came together quickly, but Queen spent days overdubbing the vocals in the studio using a 24 track tape machine. By the time they were done, about 120 vocal tracks were layered together A "Rhapsody" is a piece of Classical music with distinct sections that is played as one movement. Rhapsodies often have themes. Ironically, the song that knocked this off the #1 chart position in the UK was "Mama Mia" by Abba. In 2009, The Muppets Studio released a video featuring the Muppets performing Bohemian Raphsody It was first web video for The Muppets, and was extremely popular: the video was viewed over 7 million times the first week it was up.

They changed the lyrics that begin, "Mama, just killed a man" to Animal screaming "Mama!" The song was used in 1992 as part of the soundtrack to the film Wayne's World. The film's director didn't want to use the song, as it did not entirely fit with the lead characters, who were fans of hard rock and heavy metal. However, Mike Myers insisted that the song fit the scene That "Glee " program covered it too, but nobody wants to see that. even drunk people get famous on youtube because of it.... Queen - Elton John & Axl Rose - Bohemian Rhapsody - (Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert)
The opening ballad would be played on stage, and after Brian May's guitar solo, the lights would go down, the band would leave the stage, and the operatic section would be played from tape. A blast of pyrotechnics after Roger Taylor's high note on the final "for me" would announce the band's return for the hard rock section and closing ballad.
This style was also used for the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert, with Elton John singing the opening ballad and then after the taped operatic section, Axl Rose singing the hard rock section. John and Rose sang the closing ballad part together in a duet. Ballad : Played softly on piano with a gentle lyric ,This is the core of the track, the longest section (aprox 2mins) , with its own intro, two verses and bridge, its structure is of a typical ballad.
The slow dragged-out tempo brings a melancholy to the piece while the lyrics tell the backstory of the narrator in the form of a letter to his "mama" where we learn of his regret about killing a man.

As the story unfolds , more instruments join in to build tension as our narrator descends into madness. How queen broke all the rules with one song "Bohemian Rhapsody"...Crossing styles and genres Table of Contents Released in Oct 1975 ..

In the Cinema ....Jaws ,The Rocky Horror Picture Show,The Return of the Pink Panther

Other Music .....Jive Talkin', The Bee Gees
Rhinestone Cowboy, Glen Campbell
Please Mr Postman, The Carpenters

In the News....
The Vietnam War ends
BIC launches first disposable Razor.... Operatic : 2. Recording the Track 1. The Birth of "Boho Rap " 3. Shooting the Video

4. Reincarnations Guitar solo : The ballad section ends with the guitar solo , and guitar with the bass descends from a B chord to an A ...with this bringing us into the operatic section "It was the first time that an opera section had been incorporated into a pop record, let alone a number one" ....... Thomas Barker (Asst. engineer)
The lyrics, according to the band, don't actually mean anything, but the Italian words phrases give it a 19th century operatic feel.
In fact, Mercury claimed that all the lyrics were nothing more than "Random rhyming nonsense" when asked about it by his friend DJ Kenny Everett.

It ends in an big E chord to get us to the ROCK !!!
Thanks to this track, A Night At The Opera was the most expensive album ever made at the time. They used 6 different studios to record it.

"Freddie had the bare bones of the song, even the composite harmonies, written on telephone books and bits of paper, so it was quite hard to keep track of what was going on.".......Brian May

The piano Freddie played was the same one used by Paul McCartney on "Hey Jude.

Rock : Double-tracked guitars and bass playing the main melody.
An angry Mercury shouts "Can't do this to me baby!"... tying back to the intro where he "Just killed a man" Outro

The outro returns to the ballad style. The line 'Nothing really matters" appears again with the same melancholic piano and is repeated several times. The song ends with the lyric "Anywhere the wind blows." Recording the Track "The record company tried to cut the song, they said it was too long and wouldn't work. We thought, 'Well we could cut it, but it wouldn't make any sense,' it doesn't make much sense now and it would make even less sense then: you would miss all the different moods of the song. So we said no. It'll either fly or it won't." .... Roger Taylor

Queen made the video to air on Top Of The Pops because the song was too complex to perform live and, as Roger Taylor explained:

"We would have done anything to avoid playing the song live on Top of the Pops. It was one, the most boring day known to man, and two, it's all not actually playing - pretending to sing, pretending to play. We came up with the video concept to avoid playing on Top Of The Pops." Making the Video It started a trend in the UK of making videos for songs to air in place of live performances. The video was very innovative. It It was the first where the visual images took precedence over the song. It was based on their album cover, with the 4 band members looking up into the shadows. It was shot in 3 hours for $3,500. Effects were achieved by using camera feedback and prism lenses. At the time, it looked high-tech. It was also the first music video in the sense that it was shot on video instead of film. Reincarnations

Acapella 4-Part harmony
(All sung by Freddy Mercury, despite the entire band lip-synching in the video)

The narrator wonders whether life is 'real' or 'just fantasy' setting up the audience nicely to wonder whats happening in the story. 49sec-2:35sec Intro: 0-49 sec 2:35 - 3:03 3:03 - 4:07 4:07 - 4:56 4:56 - 5:55 : There have been numerous tributes to Bohemian Rhapsody and has been utilised for comic effect many times, most notably in "Wayne's World" and by the Muppets........

(Weird Al Yankovic took the entire song and sung it to a Polka tune, called simply "Bohemian Polka," which is on his 1993 album Alapalooza) Wayne's World
The acappella opening was too complex to play live, so the band tried various ways of introducing the song.
Occasionally, Mercury would do a piano improv that ended with the first notes of the song. Often, the preceding song would end, and Mercury would sit at the piano, say a quick word and start playing the ballad section. Playing Live This was Queen's first Top 10 hit in the US. In the UK, where Queen was already established, it was #1 for 9 weeks, a record at the time.
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