Is “Bohemian Rhapsody” Queen’s Best Song?

Bohemian Rhapsody (2018) was playing on TV a few weeks ago, so I thought, “why not talk about Queen”? After all, this band got me into rock music and opened my eyes to bands such as AC/DC, Def Leppard, Scorpions, Boston, and Black Sabbath. Though I don’t listen to Queen as much as I did two years ago, I still dig some of their stuff once in a while. Watching Bohemian Rhapsody for the first time in years got me thinking, what makes “Bohemian Rhapsody” so special, and is it really Queen’s best song? I play “Fat Bottomed Girls” way more than I play “Bohemian Rhapsody,” just saying. 

I’ll admit the song broke barriers back in 1975. It’s a six-minute song that incorporates four different sections: a cappella, ballad, opera, and rock. Many American Idol hopefuls covered that song, and only a few managed to pull it off. It’s one of those songs that people instantly recognize by the first note. Even the music video became a classic of its own. According to uDiscoverMusic, “Bohemian Rhapsody” became the band’s first US Top 10 hit, and in the UK, the song went to No. 1 for nine consecutive weeks. 

Today’s time, especially with the movie’s success, “Bohemian Rhapsody” is still beloved by old and new Queen fans. In November 2018, the magazine Classic Rock put out a poll for the fans to pick the top 50 Queen songs of all time. The results confirmed that “Bohemian Rhapsody” was voted as Queen’s best song. Classic Rock noted that “Don’t Stop Me Now” came in second place, while “Somebody to Love” followed pursuit at third place. By the way, 50,000 people participated in that poll. 

While “Bohemian Rhapsody” is good and one of the greatest rock songs of all time, I don’t think it’s Queen’s best song. After hearing it a billion times on American Idol and diving into the band’s catalog religiously in 2018, I realized that Queen is more than that classic. With that in mind, I think another song tops “Bohemian Rhapsody.” That song is “The Show Must Go On.”

Innuendo (1991) was Queen’s last record released before lead singer Freddie Mercury died of AIDs on November 24. The album contained hits like “Headlong,” the title track, “These Are the Days of Our Lives,” and of course, “The Show Must Go On.” Mercury was extremely sick while making the album too. Despite his pain, Mercury never complained about his illness. He could barely stand at times, but after a couple of vodkas, he’d be good to go. Knowing the situation and what the band experienced back then, “The Show Must Go On” stands above the rest! 

Guitarist Brian May wrote the track, and it’s about not giving up. At first, he worried that Mercury wouldn’t physically pull it off because of his condition. But with the help of vodka, Mercury nailed the vocals!

May recalled recording the track in an article by Cuepoint. “He’s [Mercury] reaching heights he’s never done before. He’s finding the energy from somewhere,” said May. “And the voice on ‘The Show Must Go On’ is incredible. I’ve never heard anybody sing like that in my whole life,” continued May.

Everything from the lyrics, Mercury’s mad pipes, the repeated “go on” at the end, the guitar solo, the music video, the key change in the second verse, and the feels I get every time I listen to it. The lyrics describe Mercury’s battle with AIDs perfectly! “Inside my heart is breaking / My makeup may be flaking / But my smile, still, stays on.” It’s also heartbreaking to know the band never performed “The Show Must Go On” live with Mercury.

Again, I’m not saying “Bohemian Rhapsody” is a bad song. All I’m saying is I don’t feel a connection with it. “The Show Must Go On” is a song that anybody can relate to when they’re going through a rough time. What I love about music is that there is a song for everything. Certain ones move people in different ways. Maybe “Bohemian Rhapsody” is one of those songs; who knows!

One thing’s for sure is Queen’s catalog is so diverse. They have covered more genres than any rock band out there. They’ve done rock, disco, folk, rockabilly, heavy metal, gospel, and opera. Picking Queen’s best song could be based on which style of theirs you prefer!

Do you still think “Bohemian Rhapsody” is Queen’s best song? Let me know in the comments below what you think! 

Take care and see ya real soon!

Lana

52 thoughts on “Is “Bohemian Rhapsody” Queen’s Best Song?

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  1. “Bohemian Rhapsody” isn’t my favourite Queen song but it’s definitely in the top five. Number one for me has to be “We Are the Champions,” probably because of the impression it left on me when I first heard at the tender age of 16.

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    1. Ah I see the nostalgia. “We are the Champions” is a classic. It’s not my favorite, but I have fine memories of that track too (I think it was from camp in elementary school). Thanks for reading 80smetalman!

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  2. Nice argument Lana! The Show Must Go On is brilliant and I do love that album as well. Not sure what the best song is but both BR and TSMGO are two of my favorites. They had so many and I am partial to Another One Bites the Dust as well. Too many great ones to choose from.

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    1. Oh thank you John! I’m glad you enjoyed the post because I was worried about how that one was going to turn out since I’m not good with arguments. True, they have a lot of good songs. Maybe one day I’ll dive into Queen’s catalog again and try to find new favorites. “Another One Bites the Dust” is overplayed, but it’s still one of my favorite Queen songs.

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      1. Ha well I don’t love everything, but it’s true I am more forgiving than some and I do love a lot of it. Naturally. I mean, I wouldn’t buy it if I wasn’t at least kind of certain I was gonna like it. And I listen to such a broad swath of stuff, it generally works out fine. But yeah, I don’t wanna rank things. I’d wanna change it ten minutes later, and that way lies madness…

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      2. I started early 80s. All I had was what was on the radio. So most of it was blind buys, as you say. But when I started it was cassettes (so hot) and I played the whole thing. Both sides. Hardly ever rewound or skipped tracks. It formed how I play things to this day, top to bottom, gave me a longer attention span than the singles-only, “must grab attention in 20 seconds” internet-addled systems of today. Basically, I’m old.

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      3. Ah cassettes, back when they were popular! So they influenced the way you listen to music. No skipping tracks, just listening to the album in it’s entirety? You know now that I think about it, sometimes the singles aren’t even the best songs.

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      4. Yeah, there were no CDs yet. We didn’t even get cable TV ’til I was 15. Like I said, I’m old.

        The album experience is key. Bands have (well, had, back in the day) more vision for the project than as a vehicle for one or two songs. Deep cuts are essential to it all and yes, sometimes better than the singles. I’ll always play the whole album, same as I ever have.

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      5. I think it’d be cool to just own a cassette for the vintage vibes lol.

        That’s what awesome about listening to the full album, listening to the hard work artists put into their final product. Are you the type of person who gets sick of the hits or overplayed songs though?

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      6. Cassettes are so hot right now! LOL Any thrift store would sell you a pile of them for a couple of bucks, I’m sure. But if you haven’t a way to play them, that’s kind sad to just let them sit. 🙂

        I definitely burn out on the same songs by the same bands on rock radio. Like, Led Zeppelin wrote more than those few songs, you know? I don’t listen to the radio for lots of reasons, and that’s one. I like to picture a band in the studio, creating the album. All the hours, the work gone into it… just to have it dismissed and only a couple of songs played? That’s rough. They’ll always get full album play from me.

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      7. Well my Hello Kitty boombox plays cassette tapes according to the features listed on the box that the boombox came in. Can you believe I’ve used the box as a stand for the boombox for the past 10 years and it’s still sturdy? With slight damages, but still strong lol. I probably won’t be playing cassettes anytime soon however.

        I know right? Radio plays the same songs over and over again. I only listen to the radio when I go out with my mom, which is not often, but it’s still the same songs over and over again. Those few songs on the radio do not define the artist/band and what they’re all about. What you said about the hours and work dismissed for a couple of songs is spot on! Reminds me of why it took so long for AC/DC to release their music on streaming services (they released their catalog on iTunes in 2012 and other services like Spotify in 2015). They didn’t want people to pick and choose songs, versus listening to the album as a whole.

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      8. That’s a sturdy box! You’re right, I forgot the cassette option. Well, I know folks hate on them them, they are inferior in a bunch of ways, but right now it is a very cheap, easy way to get sounds in your ears. And great for you, with trying out the classic rock.

        I don’t hate much (hate is a strong word) but I do hate the radio. I did a whole series where I played an hour of each local radio station and wrote about what I heard.

        The new market is singles and streaming and short attention spans, it is what it is, may as well embrace and get listeners rather than die off like dinosaurs, I guess.

        Liked by 1 person

      9. Right?!? I might want a stand eventually, but I’ll use the box until something happens to it. Oh how cool it would be to get a Def Leppard cassette tape.

        Oh I’ll have to read that series when I get the chance to. I have a radio feature on my boombox too, but only tested it once and haven’t since.

        You’re right about the singles being for people with short attention spans. I talk about this in a future post, but the singles hurt the artists in the way because if the song is annoying and radio plays it over and over again, then people get sick of the song and the band. They’ll be associated with those hits for the rest of their lives and there’s nothing they can do about it.

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      10. You oughta be able to find DL cassettes cheap in thrift shops or yard sales.

        Yes they get associated with those hits. It’s why they overcompensate and hire teams of songwriters to craft the next big hit. They overthink it, autotune everything and just create another song people get sick of… there’s no soul. That’s why they lose people.

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      11. True! Thrift shops are a good place to start.

        Uh that’s so annoying! The radio hits don’t even define the band’s sound. Well I’m not sure about the autotune part, but overthinking I can see. And mostly just to please the casual listeners. Judas Priest’s “You’ve Got Another Thing Comin'” is not their heaviest work as it is their radio-friendly tune, for example.

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      12. What the heck I’m looking at the Hot 100 Chart for Billboard and it’s all pop and rap! Where’s the rock? The pop genre definitely uses autotune!

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      13. Wow, thats sad! Oddly enough, I was watching a Sea of Tranquility video where the panel discuss their favorite post-2000s bands and it made me realize that I should support more recent rock groups before the genre dies out entirely. Now that I think about it, once AC/DC and Iron Maiden retire, who the heck would take their place on the rock scene? Someone has to take their place or else, nah I won’t go there. But pop and rap seem to be huge nowadays, which scares me.

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      14. Rock won’t ever die out. No matter how big pop and rap and EDM and all that other stuff gets, there will always be someone keeping that sweaty, loud, visceral flame alive. Fear not. Maybe Maiden and AC/DC don’t need direct replacement, they’re special enough already. There are bands playing now that will be there, and new ones that haven’t even formed yet who will too.

        Liked by 1 person

      15. I’ll take your word for it that rock will never die out. I do need to keep track of new rock bands though, so I won’t be too said once these older bands stop touring (which I hope won’t be for a while). Maybe replacing Maiden and AC/DC was a bit of a harsh statement.

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      16. Nah, not harsh, just realistic. Our favourite bands should live forever. As a fan of the Rolling Stones, can confirm!

        There’s lots of new rock out there, and someone will always plug a Strat into an amp, crank it to 10 on high gain and make rock music. They maybe won’t be on the charts, if the worst case scenario happens, but they’ll be out there.

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      17. That’s true and The Stones are doing well for their age I believe. So are Maiden and AC/DC too, now that I think about it.

        Oh definitely, have you ever heard of Rival Sons? I learned about them from Sea of Tranquility and although not my favorite compared to AC/DC, they are more modern and the lead singer has an incredible voice. I’ll make an attempt to buy one album from them.

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      18. Hm, tough one. Just good ol’ straight-up rockin’. Try it and see. Look up songs from the first two records like Every Inambition, When You Leave, Tired Of Waiting, Confessions, Fleeting Trust, Not Ready To Go, So She’s Leaving, Poor Ol’ Broken Hearted Me, Yearning, I Can’t Say… then on the next album (No Time For Later) there was Paranoid Freak, Hold Me In Your Arms, Man Of Two Minds…

        So many great songs in the early days. And then they just kept delivering! I have a pile of their CDs here and it’s all great.

        They do have a Hits set called Time Capsule, but I think you’d be better with the albums. The deep cuts are great too.

        Liked by 1 person

      19. Ok, I took a pic of your response and I’ll check them out. I like the song titles, especially Man of Two Minds and Confessions, very creative and insightful. Yeah usually the deep cuts are really good, so I’ll avoid Time Capsule for now.

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      1. When you think about the Queen’s debut and compare it to something like the Innuendo, it’s weird to imagine that it’s the same band. I liked parts of the debut that’s why. I’m with you on liking at least one song from every album, except for Flash.

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  3. It is one of those questions that can only have a subjective answer. I’d say it is for me. Although I love a lot of their other tunes, BR was my introduction to the band through Wayne’s World. So yeah, I would put it at #1.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah Wayne’s World is a lot of people’s introduction to Queen. That’s how Adam Lambert got into the band. I agree that it’s one of those questions where people can go yes BR is Queen’s best song and other people can be like no there are better Queen songs than that.

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  4. Bohemian Rhapsody is a good song but it’s not their best, and I agree with your view on TSMGO; it’s a song of defiance in the face of death. I’m not sure what Queen’s best song is, but Brighton Rock, The Prophet’s Song and Innuendo are up there.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. My favourite, keeping in mind that I’m not a huge fan, would either be We Will Rock You (Fast live) or one of the early ones like Keep Yourself Alive or Stone Cold Crazy

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