Caught in a landslide, No escape from reality
April 22, 2010 6:14 PM   Subscribe

The Story of Bohemian Rhapsody: Parts: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6. (From BBC Three.) Oh, and...

Queen: Original Video, In concert at Live Aid. Other live performances: 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5.

Here's the Wayne's World scene that's mentioned in the documentary, mixed with footage from the video.

Wikipedia provides additional background.

Many artists have covered Bohemian Rhapsody over the years, and some of those are available online:

* Queen, Elton John and Axl Rose at the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert.
* P!nk 1, 2 (Funhouse Tour, where she's also been covering other songs, like I Touch Myself, Highway to Hell and Hey Jude.)
* The Muppets (Previously on MeFi)
* Phish (It's badly off-key in spots)
* The Flaming Lips
* Faye Wong (crappy quality)

Lesser Knowns
* Mnozil Brass
* Constantine Maroulis (Former American Idol contestant)
* The Braids
* Hayseed Dixie
* The Ten Tenors
* Edgar Cruz
* Jake Shimabukuro
* Sing Live

Unconventional Renditions
* Rockabye Baby (website) Their We are the Champions is better, IMO.
* Old School Computer Remix (Previously on Mefi)
* The Kleptones (33 different cover versions in one song). * Direct link to MP3 for download. (Previously on Mefi)
* Weird Al, Bohemian Polka

* Kellie Pickler (Former American Idol Contestant)
* Rick Miller (Celebrity Impersonations)

We Will Rock You
The Queen Jukebox Musical (yes, there was one) would play Bohemian Rhapsody after the curtain call. The curtains would close, and a question would appear:

Do You Want Bohemian Rhapsody?

Oh.... Alright Then.

WWRY: 1, 2 and the cast at West End Live, here. (at 8:15)

Audio Only
* Audio Ogg Vorbis file: Bohemian Rhapsody (live at Milton Keynes Bowl, 1982)
* YouTube: Rolf Harris

The song was also used in a Mountain Dew commercial.
posted by zarq (68 comments total) 221 users marked this as a favorite
Zero Wing Rhapsody.
posted by drjimmy11 at 6:18 PM on April 22, 2010

Oh my fucking god. This. is. the. best. thing. in. the. known. universe! Excuse me while I roll around on the floor as if I were Ann-Margret and this post were baked beans.

I miss Freddie, one of the world's loveliest human persons
posted by FelliniBlank at 6:21 PM on April 22, 2010 [10 favorites]

We're not worthy!
posted by swift at 6:26 PM on April 22, 2010 [2 favorites]

zarq...a deep bow of thanks to you for favourite childhood band. What a trove to trawl! I'll be caught in this landslide with no escape to reality.
posted by salishsea at 6:31 PM on April 22, 2010

Certain records must always, always be played at full volume.

This is one of them.

zarq, magnificent post!
posted by contessa at 6:40 PM on April 22, 2010 [2 favorites]

I like how he takes the time to mention the Phish cover is "BADLY out of tune." As if it needed to be mentioned! I thought it was common sense.
posted by ReeMonster at 6:48 PM on April 22, 2010 [2 favorites]

Thank you, everyone!! Enjoy. :)

BTW, Pink's cover is surprisingly great. She truly does it justice. There are quite a few videos of her version on YouTube from folks who have seen her on tour. I had a hell of a lot of fun listening to them all when putting this FPP together.
posted by zarq at 6:48 PM on April 22, 2010 [4 favorites]

Favorite it and (don't) move on.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 6:51 PM on April 22, 2010

Bad News, complete with kazoo part.
posted by raysmj at 6:59 PM on April 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

Also, in case anyone is interested, their performance at Live Aid was actually a medley of Bohemian Rhapsody and Radio Ga Ga. The quality of this clip isn't as good as the one in the FPP.
posted by zarq at 6:59 PM on April 22, 2010

And now - oh dear - Rick Miller's - uh - work, is really very well described as a horror. Going to wach my ears out with Lysol now.
posted by salishsea at 7:01 PM on April 22, 2010

Dictionaraoke (mp3)
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 7:01 PM on April 22, 2010

I dont have too much interest in the topic (thats for context, not a gripe at all) but god damn this is an ironclad FPP.

Just wanted to say "Cheers!" to you for doing the homework and puttin it well over the back wall.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 7:06 PM on April 22, 2010 [2 favorites]

While the Kleptones link includes an a cappella song which its creator describes as being by "Rockapella," this is almost surely not the case - it sounds like it has far more than Rockapella's four members in it, and the vocalists sound nothing like them. My guess is this was one of many a cappella songs floating around KaZaa or Napster in the good old days that was misattributed to Rockapella.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 7:07 PM on April 22, 2010

Hibernian Rhapsody.
posted by fish tick at 7:35 PM on April 22, 2010

Beelzebub has a fav'rite set aside for thee.
posted by cortex at 7:35 PM on April 22, 2010 [5 favorites]

The list of greatest popular music singers of all time starts like this:

1. Sam Cooke
2. Freddie Mercury

(at least in my book).
posted by Ike_Arumba at 8:03 PM on April 22, 2010 [2 favorites]

The list of greatest popular music singers of all time starts like this:

1. Sam Cooke
2. Freddie Mercury

I agree big time, as far as the rock era, anyway. After that I'd say:

3. Paul McCartney
4. Marvin Gaye
posted by Seekerofsplendor at 8:09 PM on April 22, 2010

Yes, yes, yes!!! This is how it is done. Thanks for this great post.
posted by ibmcginty at 8:17 PM on April 22, 2010

I'm in that demographic that cannot help but recreate that Wayne's World scene every time I hear this song in the car. Also, my eight year old daughter's favorite song in the world is Don't Stop Me Now. She's over the moon for Freddie Mercury. (She also recently shocked my mom when she started randomly talking about how great Sam Cooke is.)

Oh, she makes me so proud!
posted by Ruki at 8:19 PM on April 22, 2010 [2 favorites]

Holy fucking shit.

Well, I guess we don't ever need to do one of these again. Nice work, zarq.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 8:25 PM on April 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

Bohemian Rhapsody came on in this bar about two months ago, where I was sitting with ten people, two of whom were from Finland, one from Mexico, two English, one Japanese, the rest Americans ranging in age from 23 to 41, and when it got to the "duh-DAH" part, we all simultaneously did the Wayne's World head-tilt-arm-fling. For a few minutes after this moment, I think we all felt at one with the universe and had true hope for humanity. Honestly, it was beautiful.
posted by Dormant Gorilla at 8:25 PM on April 22, 2010 [15 favorites]

Bad News, complete with kazoo part.

Album produced by Brian May.
posted by John Shaft at 9:03 PM on April 22, 2010

1. Sam Cooke
2. Freddie Mercury

(at least in my book).

Be my friend.
posted by Afroblanco at 9:22 PM on April 22, 2010

Bluehemian Grasspody
posted by ReWayne at 9:41 PM on April 22, 2010 [2 favorites]

This post deserves about a thousand more favorites Thank you!
posted by lysistrata at 9:43 PM on April 22, 2010

Album produced by Brian May.

You mean Astrophysicist Brian May.
posted by dchase at 9:59 PM on April 22, 2010 [3 favorites]

posted by KathrynT at 10:05 PM on April 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

Ok wayyyyy out of season here, but this has to be the best parody out there.
posted by wheelieman at 10:21 PM on April 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

Wow! Great post, and great memories.

I was such an obsessive Queen fan back in the day (while all the other kids listened to Kiss).
posted by i_have_a_computer at 10:37 PM on April 22, 2010

thank you zarq

i miss freddie too
posted by motdiem2 at 11:19 PM on April 22, 2010

Excellent, excellent post. I LOVE Queen and I love Bohemian Rhapsody especially. It's one of those songs that brings on karaoke demon possession in me and I absolutely must sing along.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 12:29 AM on April 23, 2010

Fucking awesome.

(When Rock Band started releasing Queen songs as DLC last year I created little Wayne and Garth rocker avatars in the happy hopes that Bohemian Rhapsody would eventually come and I could rock out most excellently. Still waiting, unfortunately, but at least Garth is awesome on drums when you play The Who.)
posted by Spatch at 1:35 AM on April 23, 2010

Ok wayyyyy out of season here, but this has to be the best parody out there.

That's awesome. Thank you for adding it!

I did a cursory search on MeMusic to for covers, but didn't come up with any. Was hoping someone had covered it... and this is a great parody! :)

"Raising cain, raising hell, please do not give me coal!"

Hilarious. :D
posted by zarq at 4:14 AM on April 23, 2010

I can't remember how old I was, but I had this sudden urge to put Live Magic (with the fold out cover shiwing the huge crowd scene) on the turntable.

I found out about 3 hours later that Freddie had died.

The opening bars of Hammer to Fall. Oh yeah.
posted by pivotal at 4:33 AM on April 23, 2010

Can't we just skip the bollocks and get to the rocking bit?
posted by vbfg at 5:12 AM on April 23, 2010

It's odd ... yesterday morning as I was plugging my MacBook in at the studio to start work for the day I thought to myself, "Bohemian Rhapsody, now there's a song that's sure to have a story. I should check wiki to see if they have anything." But by the time I'd got back from making breakfast, the thought was gone. I guess we were tuned into the same thing.

Has it really been 19 years that Freddy's been gone...

Thanks, zarq.
posted by seanmpuckett at 6:12 AM on April 23, 2010 [1 favorite]
posted by vbfg at 6:17 AM on April 23, 2010

Has there been a rift with Jon Deacon?

Plus, I guess I might as well say it: I know it's stupid, but I find these lyrics prescient. It seems like they foreshadow Freddie's death from AIDS.
posted by Trochanter at 6:34 AM on April 23, 2010

This post = a Friday evening well spent. Thank you!

(And this reminded me again how sad I was to fall in love with Queen only to find out that Freddy Mercury had just died. I still feel like I miss him.)
posted by harujion at 6:59 AM on April 23, 2010

ReWayne, that bluegrass cover is fabulous!

I wish I could find a copy of the documentary because I'd love to watch it on the TV in a single chunk.
posted by immlass at 7:13 AM on April 23, 2010

Queen was my first favorite rock band, mostly due to my Highlander obsession when I was a kid (first movie and TV show only, of course). Freddie Mercury was just so fucking fantastic. The first modern music CDs I ever bought were Queen's Greatest Hits I&II and Savage Garden's first CD (shut up, it's really catchy and I was an emo teen in high school).

Those greatest hits CDs and A Kind of Magic are still some of my favorite albums.
posted by kmz at 7:19 AM on April 23, 2010

Brilliant post, bro.

posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 7:32 AM on April 23, 2010 [1 favorite]

When I was in 7th grade I burned my cousin's "best of queen" cd, but I was afraid my classmates would think me listening to a band called "Queen" was gay. I still have my copy enigmatically labeled only as "Q" . . . just for me . . . no one will ever know . . .
posted by Think_Long at 7:58 AM on April 23, 2010

3. Paul McCartney
4. Marvin Gaye

Strike that, reverse it, and put Aretha Franklin, Jackie Wilson, Otis Redding, and Neil Finn above McCartney.
posted by kirkaracha at 8:37 AM on April 23, 2010

Damn, that Pink cover is good.
posted by gottabefunky at 9:10 AM on April 23, 2010

Thanks for the post.

"Night at The Opera" was the album that got me into Queen and from there on, I was a Phan4Lyf. When I was 14, I even drew a picture of Freddie and sent it to the Queen Fan Club. Never heard anything back but whatever. They were my oasis during my messed up adolecence. Every album release would mean at least a week of sheer bliss in my life. They sort of lost me at "Jazz" though.
posted by Kskomsvold at 9:28 AM on April 23, 2010

Four octave range, unbelievable.
posted by gottabefunky at 9:29 AM on April 23, 2010

Has there been a rift with Jon Deacon?

No. John just firmly believes that without Freddie, there is no Queen. He participated in the Concert for Life and in the recording of "No-One But You" and then retired from music. He'd joined Queen when he was 19 years old, so he'd been touring and recording for most of his adult life. He's a very wealthy man (as are all the members of Queen) so he doesn't have to work. He also has a wife and six chilren that he didn't get much time to spend with before.
posted by Oriole Adams at 9:35 AM on April 23, 2010 [1 favorite]

Thanks for the info. Just wondered why he didn't show up for the nostalgia. Maybe he had a feeling for how lame that TV show was going to be.

There. I tried not to snark for two days, but I had to say it.

Plus, Queen was best before they got big. Queen II forever!
posted by Trochanter at 10:11 AM on April 23, 2010

OK, having now listened to manymany of the covers, I have to say that my three favorites are Pink (and yes, see folks? you can TOO actually sing at a concert, theatrics don't require that you lipsync), the brass octet, and the ukelele. The uke cover in particular has such an amazing blend of unexpectedness and musicality, and is so brilliantly arranged and performed, that it may well make it into my regular listening rotation.
posted by KathrynT at 10:37 AM on April 23, 2010 [1 favorite]

Oh this is so awesome. Can someone download this post to DVD and mail it to me? Thanks zarq!

/had a cat named Freddie Mercury
posted by peep at 10:38 AM on April 23, 2010 [1 favorite]

I really liked the bit when they pulled the pieces apart and I got to hear it all separately. It was so awesome how really great the parts sounded by themselves. "I've lost another Galileo..."
posted by TooFewShoes at 12:24 PM on April 23, 2010

Man, MetaFilter is AWESOME this week.
posted by sidereal at 1:02 PM on April 23, 2010

One more sorta "behind the scenes" BoRhap anecdote.... Back in those days when singles were picked from albums and released on vinyl, every single had an A and a B side. Thanks to the royalty laws of that era, the writer(s) of the song on the B side shared equally in the royalties earned by the writer(s) of the A (or "hit") side. Roger Taylor's "I'm in Love with My Car" was on the B-side of the original BoRhap, and when it soared into the stratosphere sales-wise, Roger earned just as much money as Freddie. Brian and John felt the tiniest twinge of "hey, we played on these songs, too" envy, which went on to fester further when, say, John's "Another One Bites the Dust" went platinum and Freddie's "Don't Try Suicide" was on the B-side. (For the first half-dozen or so albums the band had abided by Freddie's philosophy that "whoever wrote the words wrote the song, darling.") But all four band members put in the same amount of hours to every track, so eventually the uneven distribution of royalties led to the band's decision to credit every song, no matter who was the principal composer, to "Queen."
posted by Oriole Adams at 1:15 PM on April 23, 2010 [2 favorites]

The BBC doc is interesting and well done, but I can't help but watch it and think "This is why punk happened."
posted by spartacusroosevelt at 3:31 PM on April 23, 2010 [2 favorites]

I'm surprised no one called out the California Guitar Trio (of Crafty Guitarists).
posted by Herodios at 4:05 PM on April 23, 2010

Did anyone else notice...on Part 3, right around the 3:18 mark, as the music winds down and you hear Freddie's "Oo-ooh yeah, oo-ooh yeah" fading out and the sound of the next (pastoral, studio grounds) fading in, a perfect little "mooOO" as if the cow was contributing its own part to the song. I LOL'd.
posted by Greg_Ace at 6:15 PM on April 23, 2010

Just read today on the "Not Always Right" web site, a site where clerks can write in with stories about crazy customers --

There was some shop somewhere where periodically a local woman would come in and lecture the staff about being heathens or some such. She was a fairlly harmless local loon, and the staff would sort of just let her prattle on until she ran out of steam and left. But one day when a clerk was in there alone, and she came in and was doing her thing and he was just sort of nodding and letting her go on, suddenly he heard her say, "Beelzebub has a devil for you!"

He just grinned, and then sang:

"For meeeeee,
for meeeeeee,

And then proceeded to play air guitar and headbang until she ran out, confused.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:10 PM on April 23, 2010 [6 favorites]

A little late, but Leiji Matsumoto (of Captain Harlock and Interstella 555 fame), animated a music video of the song.

posted by zabuni at 9:58 AM on April 25, 2010 [1 favorite]

I'm glad to know I'm not the only one who misses Freddie.

No, really.

At least Brian May is going strong. He's my favorite oddball nerd musician. I admired his guitar solo in Killer Queen so much I arranged it so I can play all 3 parts on my violin at once.
posted by Cygnet at 3:48 PM on April 26, 2010

Cygnet: youtube or it didn't happen.
posted by seanmpuckett at 4:18 PM on April 26, 2010

Is it just me, or is that Pink vocal autotuned? (Don't get me wrong: I proudly support a woman who can perform like that, particularly when she's doing it in a captain's hat and a pasty.)
posted by ocherdraco at 10:03 PM on April 26, 2010

Also, Brian May looks like Isaac Newton. Coincidence?
posted by ocherdraco at 10:03 PM on April 26, 2010


Presenting a Spiderman/Bohemian Rhapsody crossover which someone came up with over on Livejournal shortly after the news broke that someone was creating a SPIDERMAN rock musical. Someone heard U2 was tackling the music and thought they'd try their own hand.

I have been looking for this since this FPP began and have only just now found it.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:50 PM on May 6, 2010 [2 favorites]

The documentary is a load of tripe.

Badly produced tripe.

The song, on the other other hand, is magic.
posted by Zenabi at 6:26 AM on May 8, 2010

Just found this post rather late, but it isn't really complete without a girl in a Fender T-shirt doing an adorably enthusiastic American Sign Language version of the song.
posted by ZsigE at 5:42 PM on May 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

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