I love words. That’s probably a good thing for someone in my line of work.
A word that has been niggling in the back of my mind for the last week or so is the word “phenomenon.”
If you look it up, depending on your choice of dictionary, there are a few meanings. Two of the definitions which are apropos to this week’s blog are: a) something that is impressive or extraordinary, and b) a remarkable or exceptional person; prodigy; wonder.
The phenomenon I’m writing about is the rock band Queen—and more specifically, Freddie Mercury.
The reason? Of course, because of the recently released film, Bohemian Rhapsody.
Not surprisingly, the film—much like Freddie, himself—has become a worldwide phenomenon. From the the film’s initial premier at London’s Wembley Stadium, to its global release, the film has received rave reviews. Friends of mine in London, England; Tamworth, Australia; San Pedro, Argentina; and from all around here in the United States…they have all raved about the film. And everyone noted that the film’s star, Remi Malek, absolutely nailed Freddie.
And this is kind of cool…Autumn (who played my granddaughter in a Cracker Barrel tv commercial last year), who is only seven years old, loved the movie (her mother gave her appropriate parental guidance about some of the social issues before going to see it), thus continuing Freddie’s “phenomenon” status.
Of course, the critics have not been quite as loving about Bohemian Rhapsody—criticizing Remi Malek, and the fact that the film should have been exploring more complex themes involving Mercury, with the New York Post's Johnny Oleksinski stating: "What we ultimately wanted from Bohemian Rhapsody was not carbon-copied concerts, but behind-closed-doors insight into a deeply private, complicated, internationally beloved superstar.”
Well, Mr. Oleksinski, that may have been the film YOU wanted, but it’s not the film WE wanted. As fans, we wanted to be reminded of the journey that Freddie Mercury took us on for an all-to-brief period of time. We wanted to be reminded of all of the great music that we never stopped listening to. And we wanted to be reminded of the sheer magic of that day in July of 1985, when we (all 1.9 billion of us) were all glued to the tv watching Freddie and Queen totally steal the Live Aid show.
Bohemian Rhapsody does that. And more. Freddie and Queen are being introduced to younger generations of rockers. Those of us who were there at the beginning of the phenomenon are really happy to see that.
Not unlike the movie Bohemian Rhapsody, the critics weren’t fans of the song Bohemian Rhapsody either. Despite their dislike, Bohemian Rhapsody, the song was number one in the UK for nine weeks. It is the third-best-selling single of all time in the UK, surpassed only by Band Aid's "Do They Know It's Christmas?" and Elton John's "Candle in the Wind 1997", and is the best-selling commercial single (not for-charity) in the UK. It also reached number nine here in the United States (a 1992 re-release reached number two on the Billboard Hot 100 for five weeks). It’s the only single ever to sell a million copies on two separate occasions, and became the Christmas number one twice in the UK, the only single ever to do so. "Bohemian Rhapsody" has been voted numerous times the greatest song of all time. In addition to all of that, Queen decided to make a video to help go with the single; the result is generally considered to have been the first "true" music video ever produced, and popularized the medium.
Trust me on this…go to see Bohemian Rhapsody at your local theatre.
Very few artists can be called a true phenomenon. Freddie Mercury is one of them.