Published on July 14, 2016
“Bohemian Rhapsody” is a song by the British rock band Queen. It was written by Freddie Mercury for the band’s 1975 studio album A Night at the Opera. It is a six-minute suite, consisting of several sections without a chorus: an intro, a ballad segment, an operatic passage, a hard rock part and a reflective coda. The song is a more accessible take on the 1970s progressive rock genre. It was reportedly the most expensive single ever made at the time of its release, though the exact cost of production cannot be determined.
When it was released as a single, “Bohemian Rhapsody” became a commercial success, staying at the top of the UK Singles Chart for nine weeks and selling more than a million copies by the end of January 1976. It reached number one again in 1991 for another five weeks when the same version was re-released, eventually becoming the UK’s third-best-selling single of all time. It topped the charts in several other markets as well, including Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland and The Netherlands, later becoming one of the best-selling singles of all time. In the United States the song originally peaked at number nine in 1976. It returned to the chart at number two in 1992 following its appearance in the film Wayne’s World, which revived its American popularity.
Although critical reaction was initially mixed, “Bohemian Rhapsody” remains one of Queen’s most popular songs and is frequently placed on modern lists of the greatest songs of all time. The single was accompanied by a promotional video, which many scholars consider ground-breaking. Rolling Stone magazine states: “Its influence cannot be overstated, practically inventing the music video seven years before MTV went on the air.” In 2004, “Bohemian Rhapsody” was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. In 2012, the song topped the list on an ITV nationwide poll in the UK to find “The Nation’s Favourite Number One” over 60 years of music.