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Text Analysis: Bohemian Rhapsody

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    “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen, a British rock band from the 1970’s, is a very complex and elaborately written and performed song. After a first listen, your senses and feelings are being stretched every which way. The song starts out slow with deeply emotional lyrics that signal deep emotion in the writer. Following the intro, the song seems to get even darker, and describes killing someone with a gun. As the song progresses, the tempo picks up with a guitar solo and eventually gets very chaotic. During this part of the song, there are a multitude of words used from foreign languages.

    Also, there is a fair amount of repetition used in later parts of the song. One thing to note is that there isn’t actually a chorus anywhere in the piece. This is very unique as far as music goes, especially since when released it was given to the public as a single at first, and most singles are meant to have catchy choruses and rhythms. It develops into an opera style singing continuing the dramatic theme throughout the song. There are points in the song where they build intensity and almost give a climax to the piece.

    The song finally slows down again to a slower ballad, and ends again with dramatic lyrics that fade out slowly with the volume lowering. “Bohemian Rhapsody” is a widely critiqued and discussed song that to this day has yet to reveal its “true” meaning. The entirety of the song gives dark views and insights into what the write may have experienced throughout his life. Freddy Mercury, the writer and singer, was an openly gay and very flamboyant man, and was quoted saying, “I’m as gay as a daffodil, my dear. ” He was also quoted saying, “It’s one of those songs which has such a fantasy feel about it.

    I think people should just listen to it, think about it, and then make up their own minds as to what it says to them… “Bohemian Rhapsody” didn’t just come out of thin air. I did a bit of research although it was tongue-in-cheek and mock opera. Why not? ” Although he claims the song was just “…random rhyming nonsense,” it is fairly evident that there is a touch of personal experience and emotion in the underlying context of the song. One common interpretation of the song is that it is written as a narrative to a story of murder and the results. The song begins with asking the question, “Is this the real life?

    Is this just fantasy? ” This further develops an idea of confusion and uncertainty that may have been a big part and influence into the writing of the song. The narrator seems to be overwhelmed and consumed by the act which he committed and ponders whether or not he did what he did or is just delusional. Then, he says “…caught in a landslide, no escape from reality. ” The narrator feels that his life is spiraling out of control and cannot escape the grasp of his malicious act of murdering someone. He goes on to describe himself as a poor boy that doesn’t need sympathy because he’s easy going.

    Here, the narrator is emphasizing the fact that he isn’t someone of great wealth and importance and speaks to the fact that no one seems to value him even though he is somewhat mournful and sorry for what he did. Following his thoughts of being worthless, he tells us that, “…any way the wind blows, doesn’t really matter to me, to me. ” This is saying that no matter what happens and will happen he cannot change what he has done and that he has accepted what his life has become. As the song progresses, the music develops alongside the lyrics accordingly. The narrator reveals the murder, and how it was carried out in a cold blooded fashion.

    He committed murder, and is confessing and describing the act to his mother. He tells us that his life had just begun and because of this he has thrown it all away. This part reveals to us that he wasn’t old at all and also that he caused his own death via execution by murdering someone. “Mama, ooh, didn’t mean to make you cry. If I’m not back again this time tomorrow carry on, carry on as if nothing really matters. ” This excerpt is still revealing his conversation with his mother and telling us that he didn’t kill with the intention of hurting those around him. He tells her to carry on with her life and just move on after he is executed.

    Next, the narrator says, “Goodbye everybody, I’ve got to go. Gotta leave you all behind and face the truth. Mama, ooh, I don’t want to die. I sometimes wish I’d never been born at all” This verse is him stating that he’s going to die now and that he needs to leave everything behind and face the consequences of his actions. He gets even more emotional when he confesses to his mother that he doesn’t want to die but instead, wishes that he had never been born at all. This is where the song shifts completely into an opera style of music. The tempo increases as well as the narrator’s voice and tone.

    The narrator gets energy in his voice and seems to almost get angry when he says, “So you think you can stone me and spit in my eye? So you think you can love me and leave me to die? Oh baby, can’t do this to me baby. Just gotta get out, just gotta get right outta here! ” Next, the song slows down again and goes back to the same sorrow filled tone as the beginning of the song. He finishes off by saying again that nothing really matter to him because he’s about to die. Alluding to the beginning of the song where he says that nothing really matters, he sadly concludes with the verse “Any way the wind blows…”

    Although Freddie Mercury always said the song was meaningless words and didn’t mean anything, clearly there is a thought out story line embedded into the song. Other interpretations are that it is about him killing off the straight side of his life and releasing his gay side or that “Mama” is actually not his mother but instead his girlfriend Mary Austin (Mary being the name of Jesus’s mother and also Mercury’s girlfriend). The fact that there are several interpretations gives an idea as to how popular, unique, and elaborate it really is. “Bohemian Rhapsody” wasn’t always greeted with great reviews and rewards.

    Initially, it was seen as strange and too long to be a radio hit. But, after it was played on the radio hordes of fans were lining out in front of record stores to buy the single. They were disappointed to find out that the single actually hadn’t been released to the public and they were only being teased with radio versions. When it was finally released to the public, the song became UK Christmas number one, and held that position for an unprecedented nine weeks. Although it was also a success in the United States, it didn’t receive as much recognition as it did in the UK.

    It is also the only song to be at the top in UK with two different versions. Only two years after the songs release it was named the best British single of 1952 to 1977. Also, it was named the best British single of all time by the Guinness Book of World Records in 2002. In 2004, the song was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame and also came in as the second most played song in British radio. The song eventually lost steam after some years but was reintroduced to the world when it made an appearance on the soundtrack of the movie “Wayne’s World. ” Bohemian Rhapsody” is a timeless classic that has withstood the test of time and defied the critic’s skepticism. It makes you feel sad, sorrowful, happy, and excited all within six minutes of play time. It is a song that is unique and almost has its own identity and persona. It stands out from the competition of that day because so much meaning and soul was put into it. It is a reminder that music can send messages inadvertently and cause us to think about what we are listening to instead of just humming the words and tapping your foot to the beat.

    Through the pyrotechnics, flamboyant stage personas, and unusual attire, Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” is much deeper and more meaningful than most songs of its time. It is a song that can be enjoyed for its face value as well as its underlying meaning. You don’t have to be a person from the generation it was intended for. You can be a young child or an older person reminiscing on the good old days. “Bohemian Rhapsody” is a one of a kind masterpiece that will undoubtedly survive through the ages and remain a classic for generations.

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    Text Analysis: Bohemian Rhapsody. (2017, Jan 09). Retrieved from

    Frequently Asked Questions

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    What are the 5 genres in Bohemian Rhapsody?
    Narrator: "Bohemian Rhapsody" can actually be divided into five different sections: an a cappella introduction. Ballad. Opera. Hard rock.
    What is the issue or problem in the song Bohemian Rhapsody?
    The biggest incident of dramatic license in Bohemian Rhapsody is the timing of Freddie Mercury's HIV diagnosis. In a heart-breaking scene, the singer tells his bandmates that he has the condition at a rehearsal for Live Aid. They perform the biggest show of their lives with this tragic knowledge.
    What is the message behind Bohemian Rhapsody?
    'Bohemian Rhapsody' WAS Freddie's confessional. It was about how different his life could have been, and how much happier he might have been, had he just been able to be himself, the whole of his life. The world heard this song as a masterpiece of imagination, a great command of musical styles.

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