Queen is one of the most popular rock bands to come out of Great Britain in 1970. Their lineup was made up of Brian May on guitar, Roger Taylor on drums, John Deacon on bass, and Freddie Mercury on vocals. Mercury also played piano, and both May and Taylor assisted on vocals on more than one occasion. Together, the band became known for their highly unique style of rock, which had something of a conventional pop sound while not completely matching other conventions of the time. This uniqueness stemmed in part from the band’s early influences, which included everything from progressive rock to heavy metal.
The band had no shortage of hit singles over the course of their career, many of which were written by either Brian May or Freddie Mercury. Regardless of the songwriter, the band was known as the masterminds behind “Delilah,” “We Will Rock You,” “Fat Bottomed Girls,” “We Are the Champions,” “Another One Bites the Dust,” “Somebody to Love,” and “Under Pressure” with David Bowie. Their music has been popular in major motion pictures, with “The Show Must Go On” as one of the feature songs in Moulin Rouge. They also wrote “Flash,” the theme song to the movie Flash Gordon.
Despite the long-lasting popularity of these numerous hits, one song in particular has always stood out among the others on Queen’s discography. The song in question is “Bohemian Rhapsody,” which many consider to be one of the greatest songs of all time. Given its incredibly long length and its extensive number of movements, it easily could have been a flop. Nonetheless, it managed to break convention while still becoming a pop hit that would last through the ages. It also exemplified, in the same manner as other hit songs such as “Somebody to Love” and “We Are the Champions,” that Freddie Mercury was able to provide rock and roll with a surprisingly classical vocal quality.
Mercury was also known for his stage presence. He had a tendency to strike poses while performing, making him an incredibly photogenic superstar. Mercury’s stage presence was nothing short of glamorous, and yet the band itself never really forayed into the subgenre of glam rock (although they have been associated with it by various critics and musicians from time to time). They preferred to stick to their own style, which often made extensive use of vocal harmonies whether through the vocals of the actual band members or through multi-tracking and overdubs. For instance, there are supposedly close to two hundred overdubs in “Bohemian Rhapsody” alone.
The band’s unique style is perhaps responsible for the wide array of bands and musicians they have influenced, including such diverse names as Katy Perry, George Michael, Muse, Metallica and My Chemical Romance (to name just a few). Many rock bands who have attempted to write concept albums using clean vocals and innovative movements have looked to “Bohemian Rhapsody” for guidance. But this one song is far from indicative of their entire career. They have no shortage of influential numbers, nearly all of which are likely to remain popular for years to come.
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