It is now anywhere from two to three weeks since the premiere of 20th Century Fox’s biopic of legendary rock band Queen and its front-man Freddie Mercury, titled after one of their iconic songs, “Bohemian Rhapsody”. Ample time has thus passed for the critic reviews to cement the movie, directed by Bryan Singer and Dexter Fletcher, starring Rami Malek as Mercury, as being a so-so production with only the lead star’s acting and the film’s music sequences as highlights; all of which is refuted by a strong box-office turnout and audience opinion. It is also heralding a music chart resurgence of the song in question.
Forbes reports that the unthinkable, or perhaps the expected, has happened in the wake of the “Bohemian Rhapsody” film. The titular song has now found itself on the Billboard Top 100 for the third time in three different decades, thanks no doubt to the central focus the biopic put on it. Scenes from the movie show the efforts Queen under Freddie Mercury’s direction undertook during the recording of “Bohemian Rhapsody”, from musical cues that drove band members up the wall, to their quitting the EMI label when it would not release “Rhapsody” as a single.
“Bohemian Rhapsody” first made the Billboard Top 100 on its original release in 1976, a single off Queen’s fourth album “A Night at the Opera”. It would also be remembered for its “promotional video” (music videos before the 1981 launch of MTV), with the close-ups of the band members during the song’s “operatic section” with the immortal lines of “Galileo”, “Bismillah no, we will not let you go” and “Mamma Mia”. It made Billboard again in 1992 due to being featured in Mike Myers’ film “Wayne’s World”, which popularized the image of head-banging to the riff following said operatic section.
Now, the song is back for a charmed third time on the Billboard charts almost 43 years after its original outing. In comparison, its 1976 Billboard peak was Number 9; its 1992 return got as high as Number 2. For its entry this year courtesy of the “Bohemian Rhapsody” film hype, it is starting at Number 33 according to Nielsen Music, with 13.3 million song streams in the US alone. Its original vid is now the most-watched music video from the 1970s with over 700 million views. Meanwhile, the “Bohemian Rhapsody” soundtrack is already Number 3 on the Top 200.
Other songs that have made several Billboard returns in later decades after their initial debut include “1999” by Prince (1982-83, 1999, 2016) and “Thriller” by Michael Jackson (multiple times); the latter number made its latest chart comeback this year, Number 31 on the Top 100, following video streams during Halloween.
Image courtesy of CNN International