The enduring cultural fascination with Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody


Bohemian Rhapsody was not part of my world growing up, so I view the continuing cultural fascination with the piece with detached confusion.

The hallmark of cultural preoccupation is the fact that the Wikipedia entry deconstructs the piece moment by moment, clocking in at over 2000 words, far in excess of the Wikipedia recommendation of a 60-word summary for a 6-minute piece (10 words per minute). And longer than the entire Wikipedia page for Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Comments (28)
  1. A few other amazing performances:

    Mnozil brass:  http://www.youtube.com/watch

    Mark Martel and his band singing it live: http://www.youtube.com/watch

    Mark Martel on Queen Extravaganza tour: http://www.youtube.com/watch

  2. Maurits says:

    Wayne's World (1992) really kicked the cultural fascination up a notch for a whole new generation.

  3. Bob says:

    I like the way the wikipedia entry twice uses the word "familiar" in the moment-by-moment description of the piece. If one is writing such a detailed analysis, I'm sure that each note becomes very "familiar".

    [Like many Wikipedia articles, this one was not written for a general audience; it was written by enthusiasts for enthusiasts. -Raymond]
  4. Adam Rosenfield says:

    Some of my favorites:

    Titanium Rhapsody, with Bass playing the bass: http://www.youtube.com/watch

    Zero Wing Rhapsody: http://www.youtube.com/watch

  5. Chris B says:

    And who could forget the Canadian fellow being arrested and singing the whole thing in the back of the police car:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch

  6. pete.d says:

    I cannot resist this opportunity to include a link to a particularly awesome "flash mob" appearance:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch

    It's not "Bohemian Rhapsody", but another great Queen song, "Bicycle Race".

  7. No One says:

    Again, not "Bohemian Rhapsody", but Queen's "Don't Stop Me Now" done in Super Mario World: http://youtu.be/WXmNjB4-JdE

  8. Lockwood says:

    Midichlorean Rhapsody, anyone (Can't link it atm – please free free to use a search engine of your choice)

  9. Justin says:

    Richie Castellano did a fantastic split-screen, one-man cover : http://www.youtube.com/watch

  10. David Walker says:

    Great phrase: "Detached confusion".  I like it.

  11. Herbie says:

    I'll see your B.R. and raise you a "Paradise by the Dashboard Light". We memorized all those songs back then because we had to. There was no YouTube on your smartphone back then or even Walkmen. We had to resort to singing this stuff ourselves. It's revenge time now that all this horrible stuff can be mashed up ad nauseam.

  12. Maurits says:

    To make a classical analogy: Wayne's World's effect on the popularity of Bohemian Rhapsody is similar to Pavarotti's effect on the popularity of "Nessun dorma" from Turandot.

  13. SteveMallam says:

    Back to Bohemian Rhapsody, my favourite version from Bad News http://www.youtube.com/watch

    For those of you who don't know (probably most of you) Bad News were a band formed for the BBC's "Comic Strip Presents" but they did tour and played the Donnington Monsters of Rock festival.

    And that's Brian May on guitar…

  14. chentiangemalc says:

    Rolf Harris, Australian Entertainer's version of Bohemian Rhapsody http://www.youtube.com/watch

  15. Shane Ebersole says:

    To be fair, Bob, the "familiar" phrase is both times used to refer to the same cross-handed piano vamp. I think a better word  would have been "iconic".

    Interestingly, as a 29 year old with a minor in Music, I have read many Music Theory / Musicology essays on Bohemian Rhapsody, in part because after Wayne's World, everybody born in the '80s knew the song (it seems). It seemed to be one of the go-to contemporary pieces of my era, along with Madonna's "Like A Prayer" and the Sgt. Pepper album.  I wonder what the next generation is going to focus on… Gangnam Style?

  16. There is bunch of float point conversion function pointers that are initialized by default to print-error-and-exit trap address.

    When _fltused is defined by the compiler in any obj file, float-point library initializer is sucked in and registered in some section that is processed by crt startup code.

    That float-point initializer re-inits fp conversion function pointers to real (and now available) function addresses.

    The answer was in crt/src/cmiscdat.c, but I didn't find float point library initialization function source.

  17. JustSomeGuy says:

    Methinks Igor may be schizophrenic :-)

  18. TerenceH says:

    Mustn't leave out Jake Shimabukuro on ukulele http://www.youtube.com/watch

  19. lawrencem49 says:

    And also from Comic Relief UK: http://youtu.be/VzLzuB4Wq2M

  20. JustSomeGuy

    Yeah, voices in my head yelling at me to repost that answer in previous post. Do not know what to do.

  21. mnala says:

    Detached confusion sums it up for me too. It's a mish mash of a poor ballad, a poor rock song and a poor opera, all with rather poorly written and delivered lyrics. Can't understand why anyone would voluntarily listen to it, let alone become obsessed.

  22. Ray says:

    Nobody's linked to the He-Man version of Bohemian Rhapsody yet? For shame.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch

  23. WendyHome says:

    I have a 'Flashbulb' memory of the first time I saw the video on the BBC1 prime time TV program "Top Of The Pops".  The whole family infront of the TV, we'd never really seen a music Video before.  Most of the country was watching because there only were 3 TV channels in the UK – The imaginatively named "Channel 4" didn't arrive until 1982. So it was a main topic of conversation – shared event – throughout the UK. Who's Ruth Ginberg? (I'm kidding!)

  24. Bob says:

    Hi you may like to learn about the Bohemian Rhapsichord as well : static.echonest.com/…/index.html

  25. Joe says:

    Never forget Richard Cheese: http://www.youtube.com/watch

  26. RayShuman says:

    C'mon! The very best is "Lost Rhapsody", a synopsis of the first season of Lost set to Weird Al's version of the Bohemian Rhapsody.

  27. RayShuman says:

    Um, forgot to include the link: http://www.youtube.com/watch

  28. Steve says:

    Funny you say that, It's happening here as I type.

Comments are closed.