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!