According To Science, "Bohemian Rhapsody" May Be The Greatest Song Ever Made

November 9, 2018

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In a time where most pop songs followed the same verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge, three-and-a-half minute structure (and still do to this day) Queen's epic poem "Bohemian Rhapsody" that set them apart from all other artists, making them the rock legends forever.

Being six-minutes long, nobody thought "Bohemian Rhapsody" would be a hit. But in the summer of 1975, the song was able to connect with audiences on a global scale because there has never been a song even remotely close to sounding like it before. According to composer and NYU professor Irwin Fisch, "My image is that it's the kind of the song that makes you pull over to the side of the road, because you go, 'What the devil is this?' Very few songs have done that, and [Bohemian Rhapsody] did."

Freddie Mercury originally began writing it as an operatic piece titled "Real Life," but it took on a life of its own by not sounding like a single song, but multiple genre-bending songs. "So if people refer to 'Bohemian Rhapsody' as a song, that's a bit of a misnomer. It's actually three or four songs," says Fisch. It opens with an acapalla, followed by a piano ballad, then goes into the operatic section, followed by the rock portion and then ends with an epic coda.

The production of "Bohemian Rhapsody" was just as over-the-top and spectaular as the song itself because through the process of "Reduction Mixing" (or "Ping-Pong Recording") where multiple recorded tracks would be bounced into one track, leaving more room to record more tracks before bouncing them all into a single combination of all of the recorded tracks. By the time Queen recorded "Bohemian Rhapsody," studios were outfitted with 24-track tapes, which isn't very much these days. But given the amount of layers of instruments and vocals in the song, the band is rumored to have combined about 180 tracks into one. All of this done, while recording to two-inch 24-track tape where they had to physically cut out the best parts and tape them together. There was no room for mistakes. 

But what is probably the strongest aspect of "Bohemian Rhapsody" is that it has been able to stay relevant for over 40 years because it was the ultimate musical brainchild of Freddie Mercury. "It embodied something very intense, which is Freddie Mercury's personality and life. That record is an oral extension of Freddie Mercury's self-consciousness without shame."