‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ emerges as the most streamed song of the 20th century

December 13, 2018 - 1:33 PM
1991
Queen band
Universal Music Group revealed that "Bohemian Rhapsody" by Queen is the most streamed song on the internet from the 20th century. (Facebook/Queen)

Fans and music enthusiasts are elated when Universal Music Group announced that British rock band Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” is officially considered the most streamed song on the internet from the 20th century.

UMG noted that Queen broke records when it surpassed a whopping figure of 1.6 billion streams for a song and its official video across major streaming platforms around the world.

“Bohemian Rhapsody” is also considered the most streamed classic rock song of all time.

UMG Chairman and CEO Lucian Grainge (OBE) congratulated the band for the achievement, calling them “one of the greatest bands in history.”

He said in a statement:

“‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ is one (of) the greatest songs by one of the greatest bands in history. We are so proud to represent Queen and are thrilled to see the song still inspiring new fans around the world more than four decades after its release. My congratulations to Queen and Jim Beach on an incredible achievement that is a testament to the enduring brilliance of Queen.”

The news was equally met with elation from their fans and music enthusiasts.

The song has surpassed the records of Guns and Roses’ “Sweet Child O’ Mine” and Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” which are considered classic rock anthems.

‘Is this the real life?’

“Bohemian Rhapsody” was penned by Freddie Mercury, the band’s lead vocalist, for their album “A Night at the Opera” released in 1975.

It is a six-minute suite that doesn’t have a chorus but instead, is broken down into five sections—the intro, the ballad segment, the operatic passage, the hard rock and the reflective coda.

The song is considered an accessible take on the 1970’s progressive rock genre, where instrumentation and compositional techniques were employed by musicians to achieve a jazz, folk or classical-like sound.

Although it was released in the ’70s, Chris Smith—who is Mercury’s college friend—revealed that the lead vocalist started to pen the legendary song in the late ’60s.

In a BBC interview of the documentary “Queen: Days of our Lives,” Smith shared that Mercury used to play parts of the songs he was writing at a piano and that one of his written pieces contained lyrics included in “Bohemian Rhapsody.”

Freddie Mercury of Queen
Freddie Mercury sings on stage as he performs with the band. (Facebook/Queen)

Band guitarist Brian May credited Mercury for the song, saying it was the latter’s “baby.”

“It was really Freddie’s baby from the beginning. He came in and knew exactly what he wanted. The backing track was done with just piano, bass and drums, with a few spaces for other things to go in… Freddie sang a guide vocal at the time, but he had all his harmonies written out, and it was really just a question of doing it,” he said.

The entire song took three weeks to record and it was purported that Mercury, May and drummer Roger Taylor sang their parts continuously for 10 to 12 hours a day.

However, the song’s unconventional length made it at risk of being rejected at radio stations during that time so the band released a “flashy, kaleidoscopic” video to accompany the song.

The strategy worked and “Bohemian Rhapsody” eventually topped the United Kingdom Singles Chart for nine weeks. It also reached the top music charts of Australia, Canada, France, Italy, Japan, Spain and the United States, among others.

Acclaim for the song was renewed when a biopic of Mercury was recently released appropriately titled “Bohemian Rhapsody.”

It documented the lead vocalist’s life, particularly his journey before the band’s memorable Live Aid performance at Wembley Stadium in 1985.