17
Apr 08

QUEEN – “Bohemian Rhapsody”

FT + Popular150 comments • 9,216 views

#382, 29th November 1975

There is a pub in North London called The Swimmer At The Grafton Arms. It prides itself on well-kept beer and a well-kept jukebox, the latter with an deeply tasteful selection of fine rock and soul music. I haven’t visited for a couple of years, but it used to have, on this jukebox, a Queen Greatest Hits CD. And next to Track One on this CD, “Bohemian Rhapsody”, was the handwritten instruction: “DO NOT PLAY. NOT FUNNY.”

For me, that kind of sums up “Bohemian Rhapsody”‘s very weird place in rock music. It is known by millions, loved by millions, but somehow still not quite….respectable. In everyhit.com’s aggregate of recent public polls for the greatest single of all time, “Bo Rhap” (how many other singles have a nickname!?)  tops the listing. In acclaimedmusic.com’s similar exercise looking at critic’s choices, “Rhapsody” is 68th. One gets the feeling it’s barged its way in by sheer gumption, that critics don’t really know what to do with it: perhaps, like the Swimmer’s serious-minded selectors, they simply don’t trust it or the people who like it.

To be honest, I’m not sure what to do with it either. If tastemakers think it’s a vulgar record, well, that’s because it is: it’s a preposterous sandwich of styles, all of which are (for now, at least) woefully uncool- overwrought balladry leads into an axe solo leads into light opera of all things ending up at rumbustious cock-rock. But actually it seems harder than ever to find people who don’t like “Bohemian Rhapsody”. I know I used not to like it. When it was number one for the second time I was 18 and I hated it: I thought I was superior to it, though I can’t recapture why. I thought it was garish and phoney. I thought its “path-breaking” video was boring as hell. (I still think that bit.) I resented how it won all those sodding polls: I couldn’t have articulated it, but I didn’t want pop’s pinnacle to be something so… atypical!

Nowadays I like it a lot more: time to meet it head-on and ask why.

One of the reasons it’s easy to feel goodwill to “Bohemian Rhapsody” is that it’s a record that perfectly sums up the strengths of the band who made it: someone on Poptimists described it as a six-minute Queen best-of, and that’s very apt. The theatricality, the sentiment, the eye for pastiche, the blood and thunder – all here. The sometime glory of Queen is that they managed to be at once the most self-conscious and unself-conscious band ever. (It’s called “acting”. Or maybe “panto”.)

Then there’s the structure. Multi-part songs often do very well, attract perhaps more acclaim than the sections (or whole) might actually merit, just because it seems like an ambitious thing to be doing. The second side of Abbey Road, for instance, apparently becomes art not scrapbooking simply because there are no gaps between the tracks. The spatchcocked construction of “Bohemian Rhapsody” doesn’t make much logical sense but importantly every section is excellent: nothing here feels like it’s marking time or pressed into use, its six minutes are remarkably fat-free.

You might reasonably ask what it’s all for – whether or not I believe the supposed explanations about souls and damnation and redemption, “Bohemian Rhapsody” doesn’t carry much emotional weight for me. It’s all about the rush and audacity, which is why the comic opera section, with its crazy vocal rhythms and whack-a-mole “Galileo!”s, is my favourite bit. Ultimately all I can do is invert the Swimmer’s well-meant but irritating instruction: “FUNNY. PLAY.”

8

Comments

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  1. 91
    DJ Punctum on 18 Apr 2008 #

    ‘Tis a shame that the much-missed Mr Glaze is no longer with us to proffer his idiosyncratic renditions of the hits of the day. I suspect that he and Don “Not American Pie” Maclean would have made a much better job of “4 Minutes” than Colin and Justin have done.

  2. 92
    LondonLee on 18 Apr 2008 #

    Sorry Tom, it’s hard to stop yourself when your brain is shouting “ooh ooh I know one!” at you.

  3. 93
    mike on 18 Apr 2008 #

    There’s an interview with Don MacLean MBE in today’s edition of the paper what I writes for. He’s touring a “pre-Beatles” 50s/60s nostalgia musical called Magic Moments – matinee performances only, which tells you plenty about the demographic! – and fellow Crackerjacker Jan Hunt is also in the cast. More than 50 songs included!

  4. 94
    Erithian on 18 Apr 2008 #

    Never mind “4 Minutes”, I’d like to have heard Glaze and co take on “21 Seconds”.

  5. 95
    Billy Smart on 18 Apr 2008 #

    That’s up there with the current touring production of Agatha Christie’s ‘And Then There Were None’, starring Gerald Harper (“from TV’s ‘Adam Adamant Lives!’ and ‘Hadleigh'”), “Top ten singing sensation” Mark Wynter, and somebody even I’ve never heard of before, “from TV’s ‘Dixon of Dock Green'”

  6. 96
    LondonLee on 18 Apr 2008 #

    Gerald Harper was a DJ on Capitol Radio for a while too was he not?

  7. 97
    Chris Brown on 18 Apr 2008 #

    I knew the other returning Number One, but I too was concerned about being smacked by a carrot.

    However, a safe answer to the reverse of the other challenge: ‘What Do You Want’ by Adam Faith was deposed by ‘What Do You Want To Make Those Eyes At Me For’, and they even shared the top spot for a week.

    Apparently ‘Bo Rhap’ is Radio 1’s all-time most played track.

  8. 98
    DJ Punctum on 18 Apr 2008 #

    Apparently Gerald Harper did a Family Favourites-type show at Sunday lunchtimes on Capital in the seventies; he used to send out flowers and wine to a lucky listener every week.

    The mind, naturally, boggles; up in Glasgow we had to make do with Andy Cameron’s Sunday Joint.

  9. 99
    Waldo on 19 Apr 2008 #

    #89 – Peter Glaze doing “Making Plans For Nigel” must have been cosmic. You can just imagine the look on his face when the director played him the record each week. But he just got on with it. Truly a dear man.

    I can rememember a kids’ thing on ITV at this time called “Get it Together”, which was pop-based and featured Roy (Basil Brush) North and some really rough brassy-looking tart called Linda. As with Glaze, one or the other of them used to perform a current chart hit and one week Mr Roy stuck a peg over his hooter and treated us to “Ma-Na-Ma-Na” from the Muppet Show. Need I say more?

  10. 100
    rosie on 19 Apr 2008 #

    Oh come on, somebody has to make the 100th post ;)

  11. 101
    DJ Punctum on 19 Apr 2008 #

    From the late, lamentable Get It Together I most clearly recall Mr Roy’s weekly “song” spot wherein he would manfully croon things like “Purple Haze” while being pawed up by a strange leather-clad female dance troupe.

  12. 102

    […] a dedicated music freak, but others are just part of the pop consciousness well beyond music. And “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen is just such a […]

  13. 103
    crag on 20 Apr 2008 #

    I’m arriving a bit unfashionably late here but I’ve heard the theory that BR is actually a v personal song for Mercury, concerning his decision to embrace a 100% gay lifesyle and that the man he has “killed” in the song is,in fact, the non-gay Freddie who had been in a straight relationship(albeit w/ frequent one-off homosexual dalliences on the side)up to this point. In fact i’m fairly certain i’ve heard his girlfreind at the time backing the theory up.

    I liked Al Murray’s comment I read recently that Freddie’s gayness was viewed by the public in the 70’s and the 80’as a “national family secret.” It was obvious to everyone but they simply chose to ignore it. It was seen (correctly, though suprisingly) as irrelevant.

    I think of Queen as the nearest 70’s equvilant to the Beatles- no bandleader, apolitical, timeless yet utterly of their time, able to dip their toes into any contemporary genre they chose(glam, disco,metal,prog etc) yet still sounding like no-one but themselves. IMO the description fits them better than pseudo Rutles such as ELO et al..

  14. 104
    Billy Smart on 20 Apr 2008 #

    And both groups had the best resources and facilities that EMI could find offered up to them, as well. Good theory, Crag!

  15. 105
    crag on 20 Apr 2008 #

    Thanks, Billy! Not forgetting both bands clear sense of humour and proclivity for “comedy” songs-Mean Mister Mustard, Rocky Raccoon, Honey Pie etc=I’m in Love With My Car, Bring Back that Leroy Brown,Seaside Rendevouz etc(come to think of it theres also their mutual love of a 20’s pastiche to consider, too…)

  16. 106
    LondonLee on 20 Apr 2008 #

    All of the above could apply to the Barron Knights too.

  17. 107
    crag on 20 Apr 2008 #

    Except for the “timeless” bit..besides the Knights formed in 1960-surely their genius transends mere decades?

  18. 108
    Erithian on 21 Apr 2008 #

    Crag – I’m surprised I haven’t heard that interpretation of BR before, but what an intriguing one.

    Anyone remember the reviews of BR when it came out? Quite a morsel for reviewers to get their heads around on first hearing. Record Mirror said “It’s inconceivable that it won’t be a hit, but it’s the most unlikely serious chart contender ever… snatches sounding like Sparks and David Cassidy…”

    Or this reaction the following year: “Yeah I listen to what’s out today… like for instance there’s a band called Queen. They made a record called “Bohemian Rhapsody” which for me was the answer to a teenage prayer. They got tired of what was going on and got into a studio and just stomped!” – Brian Wilson, 1976.

  19. 109
    Erithian on 21 Apr 2008 #

    DJ Punctum (#101) – there was another edition of Get It Together in which Mr Roy sang a reggae-lite version of “Gin Gan Goolie”. I was thinking something like “must we fling this filth at our pop kids?”…

  20. 110
    DJ Punctum on 21 Apr 2008 #

    “They got tired of what was going on and got into a studio and just stomped!” – greatest sentence in entire history of music criticism ever!

  21. 111
    Mark G on 21 Apr 2008 #

    Reggae version of “GinGan”?

    Two of the rutles. Pretty damn sure of that.

    Anyroad: Bohem R was number one for ages, one reason being stocks kept running out and it kept having to be repressed. Now, of course, d/l’s mean everyone who wants it NOW can get it NOW.

  22. 112
    DJ Punctum on 21 Apr 2008 #

    Hang on though; if stocks kept running out, wouldn’t it have dropped out of the chart?

    But I can buy the idea of Bo Rhap being about repression!

    Also it was initially played, some weeks prior to its release, on Capital Radio (over and over) by Freddie’s next door neighbour Kenny Everett.

  23. 113
    Mark G on 21 Apr 2008 #

    It sold enough to keep it at number one each week before running out.

    The following week, it did the same.

    As opposed to selling 2 million in one week, which would cause any company cash flow problems to manufacture.

  24. 114
    DJ Punctum on 21 Apr 2008 #

    Just under a decade to go until the first number one which sold 2 million in one week!

  25. 115
    Billy Smart on 21 Apr 2008 #

    My only experience of The Barron Knights, apart from cobwebbed 1970s light entertainment memories, comes from the great Dale playing them through gritted teeth of a Sunday.

    As social history, with their conservative attitudes about strikers, scroungers and national service, plus the interesting caricature effect of hearing great records being travestied, I do find them rather compelling, if not remotely good.

  26. 116
    DJ Punctum on 21 Apr 2008 #

    Dale had the opportunity to play “Pop Go The Workers” yesterday but passed over it. Instead he decided to slag off SL2 in favour of such giants of 1992 music as Mr Big and Curtis Stigers.

  27. 117
    Drucius on 23 Apr 2008 #

    I got this for my birthday, November ’75 along with Steeleye Span’s “All Around My Hat”. Next year would be very different, however.

  28. 118
    DJ Punctum on 23 Apr 2008 #

    It’s remarkable how Steeleye Span managed to get top Tory election theme tune composer Mike Batt to produce their recording of what is essentially an IRA anthem!

  29. 119
    rosie on 23 Apr 2008 #

    Opportunism, Marcello. That’s what Tories are good at. About all they’re good at.

  30. 120
    Waldo on 30 Apr 2008 #

    But the Lib Dems are a great deal worse. In the North of England and other places, they pitch their tent as the left of centre party in order to grub around for Labour seats. Meanwhile, in the South and South West, they emerge as a fluffy centre ground outfit for whom “Middle England” can safely vote. I recently had a discussion with a Lib Dem activist in Eastbourne, who tried to convince me that the only way to get rid of the unelected Brown Government (his words) was to vote out the sitting Conservative MP and replace him with their guy. Now, if that’s not opportunism, I’m a Dutchman.

  31. 121
    DJ Punctum on 30 Apr 2008 #

    If Boris wins tomorrow, will the last person to leave London please unplug the Thames Barrier as the ensuing destruction would be quicker and less painful.

  32. 122
    Waldo on 30 Apr 2008 #

    I think all three candidates are complete nobs and although it’s not my fight (despite being London born and bred), I have a fancy that Ken will just hold on. I do, however, feel that Labour will get a well-deserved toeing in the rest of the country. We’ll see.

  33. 123
    grimley on 25 Sep 2009 #

    I use this song as a fun exercise at the end of a talk or training session. If you believe the theory that says your brain has the capacity to remember every song you have ever heard all you need to do is give a group the first line and 9 times out of ten they can complete the whole song near enough word perfect.
    I first heard it on Fluff’s Saturday afternoon show and bought it the first day it came out not believing a song that long would get regular airplay to get it to No 1, how wrong was I. Still have it, plain white sleeve sitting in my single box against some of the more flamboyant picture sleeves of the eighties.
    Probably the most dissected song ever.

  34. 124
    thefatgit on 20 Oct 2009 #

    Brian May intrigued me. Being the all-round boffin that he was, he built his own guitar, the Red Special, with a little help from Dad, Harold. He originally wound his own Tri-Sonic pick-ups, but changed after the North-South polarity affected the sound. So he re-wound his pick-ups all north. The body is not solid. It has an oak back and a mahogany veneer. A bolt on neck with mother of pearl dots, 2 each at the 7th and 19th frets, and 3 dots at the 12th and 24th frets. The original Red Special had a built-in distortion unit, which he subsequently replaced. All together an expertly crafted guitar which in turn created a unique sound that was first heard by me in “Seven Seas Of Rye”. His sustain vibrato sound seemed to emerge from a purer place than the Bolanesque fuzz of the Gibson or the metallic (nb. not metal) trebly Fender. It was a clear, cut-glass sound. As a small kid, I didn’t really understand how the electric guitar worked. I recognised the different shapes: I could tell a Stratocaster from a Telecaster from a Les Paul. But I had no idea about pick-ups or machine heads or amps or pedals. I just liked the noise they made. Brian’s guitar had an angelic quality. His fingering technique seemed to me effortless. I tried to copy it with my cousin’s three quarter acoustic, but of course it sounded dreadful in my talentless hands. Cue longfaced little boy handing back the guitar to my cousin saying “It sounds all wrong” then stomping off to play with lego instead.

  35. 125
    Brooksie on 16 Feb 2010 #

    – I live!

  36. 126
    Billy on 12 Jan 2011 #

    I can pinpoint the exact month I became a Queen fan, and more specifically a fan of this song. It was November 2000, I was twelve years old and just started secondary school.

    In that month, Channel 4 showed a Queen documentary, and with nothing else to do I watched it. I didn’t know much about them before – the two big discoveries were that all these songs I knew all came from the same band (having a similar discovery with ABBA the year earlier), and that they’d kept going until 1991, I’d previously thought they just quietly fizzled out in the 1980s. I was enjoying it so much that I recorded the rest of the show…and at the end, they played this.

    It was the first time I’d ever heard the song in full. I’d seen the occasional clip before (and a weird memory of it being performed by a load of puppets on Blue Peter for some reason) but that was all. The moment it finished, I rewound the tape back six minutes and watched it again. And again. And many many more times. Twenty five years after it came out I’d never known anything like it, and spent the whole of the next week telling everyone at school about this amazing old song I’d just heard.

    Six years later it was one of the first songs I downloaded from iTunes. I don’t listen to it regularly anymore, but when I do, I try to get past its now-familarity and imagine myself back in 2000, wearing out that VHS tape until I knew every single lyric, and totally in love with every second.

    The only thing that annoys me is that much later it kept off what would have been two of the most amazing consecutive #1s ever. But that’s for another time…

  37. 127
    Davyboyb on 29 Nov 2011 #

  38. 128
    lonepilgrim on 1 Apr 2012 #

    Marcello’s latest entry on the album from which this opus came deserves another link and your attention:

    http://nobilliards.blogspot.co.uk/2012/04/queen-night-at-opera.html

  39. 129
    richard thompson on 12 Mar 2013 #

    Remember seeing crackerjack around this time, Peter Glaze sang Arts for arts sake and Sky High by Jigsaw, didn’t realise until later that Bohemian Rhapsody wasn’t in the lyrics, My sweet Lord was the next single to go to number one for the second time, don’t know what’s number one at the moment anymore though.

  40. 130
    hectorthebat on 15 Jul 2014 #

    Critic watch:

    1001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die, and 10,001 You Must Download (2010)
    Blender (USA) – Standout Tracks from the 500 CDs You Must Own (2003)
    Blender (USA) – The Greatest Songs Ever, One Song Added Every Other Month
    Bruce Pollock (USA) – The 7,500 Most Important Songs of 1944-2000 (2005)
    Life (USA) – 40 Years of Rock & Roll, 5 Songs for Each Year 1952-91 (Updated 1995)
    Pause & Play (USA) – 10 Songs of the 70’s (2003)
    Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (USA) – 500 Songs That Shaped Rock (1994?)
    Rolling Stone & MTV (USA) – The 100 Greatest Pop Songs Since the Beatles (2000) 29
    Rolling Stone (USA) – 40 Songs That Changed the World (2007)
    Rolling Stone (USA) – The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time (2004) 163
    Rolling Stone (USA) – The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time (Updated 2010) 166
    TIME (USA) – The All-Time 100 Songs (2011)
    The Recording Academy Grammy Hall of Fame Albums and Songs (USA)
    VH1 (USA) – The 100 Greatest Songs of All Time (2000) 27
    2FM (Ireland) – Top 100 Singles of All Time (2003) 8
    BBC Radio2 (UK) – Sold on Song, a Celebration of Great Songs and Songwriting
    HarperCollins GEM (UK) – Single of the Year 1949-99 (1999)
    Kerrang! (UK) – 100 Greatest Singles of All Time (2002) 22
    Mojo (UK) – The 100 Greatest Singles of All Time (1997) 40
    Mojo (UK) – The Ultimate Jukebox: 100 Singles You Must Own (2003) 47
    Q (UK) – 100 Songs That Changed the World (2003) 32
    Q (UK) – 50 Greatest British Tracks (2005) 5
    Q (UK) – 50 Years of Great British Music, 10 Tracks per Decade (2008)
    Q (UK) – The 1001 Best Songs Ever (2003) 524
    Q (UK) – The 1010 Songs You Must Own (2004)
    Q (UK) – Top 20 Singles from 1970-1979 (2004) 2
    Panorama (Norway) – The 30 Best Singles of the Year 1970-98 (1999) 3
    Gilles Verlant and Thomas Caussé (France) – 3000 Rock Classics (2009)
    Hervé Bourhis (France) – Le Petit Livre Rock: The Juke Box Singles 1950-2009
    Volume (France) – 200 Records that Changed the World, 2008 (38 songs)
    Rocks Musiczine (Spain) – The 100 Best Rock Songs in History (1995) 37
    STM Entertainment (Australia) – The 50 Best Songs Ever (2007) 6
    Toby Creswell (Australia) – 1001 Songs (2005)
    Giannis Petridis (Greece) – 2004 of the Best Songs of the Century (2003)
    New Musical Express (UK) – Singles of the Year 4
    Record Mirror (UK) – Singles of the Year 9

  41. 131
    Lazarus on 14 Nov 2014 #

    So, who watched ‘the Nation’s Favourite Queen Song’ the other night then? (I assume it hadn’t been on before). And what was number two? I intended to watch until the end but fell asleep around number 7 or so … a 4.40 alarm does that to me.

  42. 132
    Mark G on 15 Nov 2014 #

    I assume it would have been “Another one bites the dust”, which apparently has sold more than Bo.

  43. 133
    Lazarus on 15 Nov 2014 #

    Worldwide maybe (it was a US #1) but surely not in the UK, where ‘Bo’ had two runs at the top totalling something like 14 weeks. In any case I saw ‘Dust’ – it was around 11 or 12 – and I’m not sure this was based on sales either. The programme doesn’t seem to be available on Catch Up or ITV Player, which is very odd.

  44. 134
    Erithian on 15 Nov 2014 #

    Not too difficult to google:
    1. Bohemian Rhapsody
    2. We Will Rock You
    3. Don’t Stop Me Now
    4. I Want To Break Free
    5. We Are The Champions
    6. Killer Queen
    7. Under Pressure
    8. Radio Ga Ga
    9. These Are The Days Of Our Lives
    10. Somebody To Love
    11. Who Wants To Live Forever?
    12. A Kind Of Magic
    13. Crazy Little Thing Called Love
    14. Another One Bites The Dust
    15. The Show Must Go On
    16. Seven Seas Of Rhye
    17. You’re My Best Friend
    18. One Vision
    19. It’s A Hard Life
    20. I Want It All

    DSMN a bit of a surprise – only a #9 hit in ’79 but a karaoke favourite and a memorable miming video by the GB Olympic team in 2012, Jessica Ennis particularly getting into it.

  45. 135
    Lazarus on 15 Nov 2014 #

    Yes it’s a song which a lot of people are well disposed to – and as we’ve mentioned before made a return to the charts a few years back. Even Heart play it from time to time, and generally they only go with Queen from ‘Radio Ga Ga’ onwards.

    I suspect that if the list had been based on Queen Fan Club votes ‘Love of my Life’ would have featured in the top 10.

  46. 136
    Cumbrian on 15 Nov 2014 #

    Re: DSMN – by the time I got to university, Don’t Stop Me Now was a staple of the student night DJs line up. Not suggesting that karaoke doesn’t have something to do with it but there’s probably something in that too. Indeed, thinking back, it got played at a number of weddings I have subsequently been to – bride, groom and most of the guests would have been similar age to me, so I suspect that it’s graduated to some sort of standard for the time being. I wonder whether students have moved on since then…

  47. 137
    flahr on 15 Nov 2014 #

    I remember Don’t Stop Me Now being quite common at my late 90s primary school discos, mainly because I remember attempting to show off that I knew all the words.

  48. 138
    Patrick Mexico on 11 Dec 2014 #

    Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand was spot on when he described DSMN as something like “the ultimate feelgood song”, “the ultimate showman”, “no inhibitions whatsoever.” Unfortunately, being inappropriately shoehorned into cheap and cheerful “cheese night” playlists has ruined its legacy. Especially if it follows a primary school song – i.e. “I am the UKIP man, I come from down Herne Bay.” It feels a bit wrong, in the sense of Marty *bunny* ;) pulling his own mum in 1955, or like a 29-year-old adult going to sing-a-long-a-Frozen in Ilkley – on his own (this person exists, and he still remains a friend, just.)

  49. 139
    Kinitawowi on 11 Dec 2014 #

    DSMN also Top Gear’s Ultimate Driving Song, of course (in the typo’d guise of “Don’t Stop Me No”). Couldn’t agree with that conclusion to be honest; my main association with it at the time was telly adverts for Manchester’s Trafford Centre, so it’s fine if you’re driving round the M60 to Next to buy a pair of trousers but otherwise nah.

    (I voted for Meat Loaf. I REGRET NOTHING.)

  50. 141
    Cumbrian on 24 Jun 2015 #

    Massive missed opportunity to call this Brewhemian Rhapsody. Someone from CAMRA needs to be helping them out marketing wise.

  51. 142
    Mark G on 25 May 2016 #

    You know when you get to see a band before they get famous, I mean well before?

    Picture the scene, Butlins Skegness, 1977. Plenty of entertainment of a night, various options: Theatre (plays), Grand theatre (Variety – as per London Palladium sort of thing), and the bar/ballroom with the live band. The resident outfit get to run a little earner, which is ‘sales of the single’ – they make an ep of cover versions rendered in their own style/limitation and sell them, fully signed, after the performance (or sometimes during the interval – it’s worth it to them).

    So, this particular band have an eye to do something ambitious and attempt to do Bohemian Rhapsody. Despite Queen never having done it live themselves (at least with Freddie), they have already spent time rehearsing and getting it performable. This gets pressed and paid for upfront by Freddie “Parrot Face” Davies, and ‘issued’ (i.e. kept in a store cupboard and individual boxes brought out as needed) on his label “Gay Time” (really..). B-side has their version of “Romeo” by Mr Big (you know, “Step back inside me Romeo she said”, that one), and a novelty number called “Peanuts”. As I say, we did see the band at the time, but I don’t recall them doing BR but I sort of admired their ambition but couldn’t imagine it being any good, so I didn’t get one.

    Oh yeah, and who were those masked men? Black Lace. The very same.

  52. 143
    Andrew Farrell on 4 Jun 2016 #

    #59 – the version I’ve heard is the lyrics of which UK number one include its successor’s title but don’t include its own.

  53. 144
    Lazarus on 8 Dec 2016 #

    2016 keeps doing its thing – as he was one of the four acts kept off number one during Bohemian Rhapsody’s initial nine-week run, I guess this is the place to say vale Greg Lake, four months after bandmate Keith Emerson. A few years ago I’d have thought that a high chart placing for ‘I Believed …’ in Christmas week would have been a formality – I’m not so sure now.

  54. 145
    AMZ1981 on 8 Dec 2016 #

    Greg Lake had another near miss just eighteen months or so after when Hot Chocolate blocked ELP from the summit.

  55. 146
    lonepilgrim on 11 Nov 2019 #

    I admire this song and find it entertaining but I think as Marcello says back at comment 7 it did represent an end to an era – one where bands and audience considered themselves part of a shared community. Queen always seemed as if they were up on a pedestal and happy to be there. When the TOTP repeats started a few years back there was another Queen video of the band playing in the studio rather than before an audience where they seem lost in their own pampered world.
    From memory Freddie Mercury was treated with disdain by many in the UK music press at the time with the headline: ‘Is this man a prat?’ featuring in the NME alongside an unflattering image of FM in a leotard. I suspect there was some barely hidden homophobia in the attack but they were often critical of anything that smacked of artifice (Bryan Ferry frequently got ridiculed).

  56. 147
    Tommy Mack on 11 Nov 2019 #

    Were Queen really less part of a shared community with their fans than say, Led Zep or Pink Floyd? Or the Beatles or Stones since about 1967?

  57. 148
    Smilin' Peter on 11 Nov 2019 #

    @#146 and #147

    Yes, Queen are often accused of being elitist or aloof (perhaps having a ‘monarchist’ band name didn’t help…)

    But it probably isn’t entirely fair. They took audience participation in their gigs to new heights, especially with songs like We Will Rock You and We Are The Champions being written with crowd singalongs in mind (some of their more po-faced detractors called it pantomime. Whatever). And they had one of the longest running fan clubs of any band.

    One comment for which Freddie is still pilloried was made to a Queen crowd at Earls Court in 1977 – ‘may you all have champagne for breakfast’.

    Was he, in his own way, wishing his fans wealth and happiness? Or was this the deluded declaration of a modern day Marie Antoinette? Perhaps he shouldn’t really have been encouraging drinking before noon? You decide.

    Plus, it is notable that thy are more popular among the pubic than with critics.

  58. 149
    Jimmy Nixey on 21 Apr 2021 #

    Would love to have seen Sailor’s Glass of Champagne reach #1. ‘Bo Rhap’ is a 7/10 for me.

  59. 150
    Gareth Parker on 7 Jun 2021 #

    I would go with a 7/10 for Queen here.

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