Bohemian Rhapsody (2018)

I came out of this film loving it. Desperate to see it again, in a great mood. I then thought about it for a few seconds and its flaws became readily apparent. For one thing; it’s incredibly safe and un-Queen like. It’s essentially like reading a Wikipedia page of the band. The script is actually quite…….meh. It takes HUGE liberties with the truth. Some of them are forgivable, some are a bit weird and pointless, and some change your entire view of the film. Let’s start with the weird and pointless: there are moments where they play songs they hadn’t written yet. This is a bit weird as this film was heavily overseen by the band, so you’d think they would have known when certain songs were recorded. Then there’s one which is a pretty big deal and soured me on the film when I heard about it. Warning, this contains spoilers.

The film builds up to a big climax of Queen playing Live Aid. A while before the show, Freddy Mercury is diagnosed with AIDS, which is shown as being one of the reasons he did a lot of what he did in the lead up to the show. This is bullshit, he wasn’t diagnosed until years after the show, they changed it to make it more dramatic and tie into a better narrative. That would be a bad mistake from a normal biography, but this film was looked over and advised (heavily) by the surviving members of the band. People will get their opinions about this band from this film, this is how people will learn about this band. And they decided to tell a pretty big lie about it. They lied about their friends’ death for dramatic purposes. Think about that for a second. That’s pretty messed up.

Because of things like this, the film fails to be a good way for people to learn about the band. Once you learn what they got wrong you doubt everything. The trust is broken. Did anything happen in the film like it said it did? Was there ever actually a band called Queen? Is Bohemian Rhapsody actually a song? Who knows? (spoilers, it is). Also, the film seems to tie his sexuality into his drug use/”moral decay”, as though the two are inexorably linked, which is a bit weird.

So, what did it do well? Well, it’s a film about Queen, so obviously the music is superb (even if it does miss out a lot of their best stuff). The performances are also really good. Portraying Freddie Mercury can’t be the easiest role, there’s SO much you have to get down, not just the way he looks, but also the way he moves, the unexplainable charismatic stage presence. You need someone who looks like they can own a stadium full of people in the palm of their hand. Rami Malek does it. Some of the lip-synching is a bit off (and now is a better time than any to mention the ropey CGI at the live aid gig), but other than that he just GETS it. The supporting actors do it too, to the point where the most common sentence I’ve heard about this film is “are you sure that’s not Brian May?” in response to Gwilym Lee’s performance. And there are times when the storytelling is great. The montage of them making Bohemian Rhapsody, in particular, is a real highlight: engaging, interesting, funny, expertly done. It’s just a shame the rest of the film couldn’t match it.

I know I’ve said a lot of negative things about this, but I did truly enjoy it. I don’t need to buy it on DVD or anything, but I am tempted to see it at the cinema again. This is definitely a cinema film, watching it on a tiny screen on a plane it wouldn’t have the same effect, the electrifying Live Aid finale (and trust me, it is electrifying) would become muted by the lack of it being on a big screen. This film could have an incredibly long life at the cinema in the future, if they don’t do yearly sing-along screenings for charity I’ll be amazed.

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Why We Love…..A Night At The Opera

I’ll freely admit, despite being a massive Queen fan, this is the only actual Queen album I own. The rest are live albums or greatest hits. I think they have a weird issue when it comes to their songs in that they’ve got so many well known ones. As such when you buy a greatest hits from them it’s got so many songs on it that you kind of forget that they have others because, well, there’s three albums of songs here and you know every one, it’s not like a lot of greatest hits albums where there’s a few you don’t know or don’t like. There’s very few bands/singers who are like that, the only ones that come to mind are Elvis, The Beatles, and possibly Bob Dylan. This album though is the best example of this though as it kicks off with the best unknown Queen song; Death On Two Legs. Anybody who has spoken to me about Queen albums knows how much I love this song and I DESPERATELY want My Chemical Romance to cover this song to bring it to a wider audience. It’s bombastic, it’s musically brilliant, and the lyrics are unbelievably harsh, people tend to think of Queen as a band you can show to everybody, forgetting how damn sexual this band could be at times, and that they sing lyrics (as they do in this) like:

“Do you feel like suicide? I think you should”

This songs lyrics were so harsh that the person it was about (their early manager Norman Sheffield), sued the band for defamation. He won and received an out of court settlement, with the downside of confirming that this song is actually about him. People love other songs, but to me this is Mercury’s finest hour as a songwriter.

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Although this is DEFINITELY his best work as a singer

It’s not just him though, whilst John Deacon only writes one song this album, it’s one hell of a song. You’re My Best Friend is a very sweet and lovely song, despite sounding nothing like a lot of Queen songs, it still sounds like a Queen song somehow. It’s not many bands who can go from bombastic rock through to a slow melodic acoustic number on the same album, and have it not sound like “ok this is our obligatory acoustic song”. Special mention should also go to ’39, a science fiction song that deals with time dilation and Einstein’s special theory of relativity, which for some reason is not that popular a subject among most songwriters, can’t imagine Rihanna doing a song about Fermat’s Last Theorem, although I think Ke$ha could pull it off.

So yeah, this album has such a wide variety of songs that it’s almost like a compilation album, and that is why to me whilst it’s not quite perfection, it’s pretty darn close. Oh, it also features a song called Bohemian Rhapsody which I’d recommend listening to, I can imagine it becoming really popular.

Re-Recording The Black Parade (Take 2)

You know the drill, and you know why. So in the words of the Virgin Mary “let’s get on with it”

The End – The Mars Volta

When I read the previous one this one annoyed me because of how great the choice was; mainly because it would work similarly to Eulogy off England Keep My Bones. As such I had to try to take it in a different direction:

Instead of it being acoustic-ey and building up. I decided to go with a choice that would just be balls to the wall insane, and would probably end up being about 5 minutes long. Just a Spanish Jam sequence of insanity. If you haven’t heard of The Mars Volta and you’re too lazy to watch the video above I’ll try to describe them for you: the sound of an acid trip whilst driving through the dessert.

Dead – Horrorpops

For this I focused mainly on the slight twang underlying the song. So I went with these guys:

They have the twang, they have the right drummer for it, and admit it; it would be pretty cool to hear female vocals do this song wouldn’t it?

This Is How I Disappear – Peeping Tom

I should probably start with explaining who Peeping Tom are. It’s basically Mike Patton from Faith No More, being very cool. This is one of my favourite albums I own and has some truly amazing songs on it. I can see his version of this song being a bit slower, a bit darker, and a bit more (I shan’t mince my words here): f*ckable.

The Sharpest Lives – Less Than Jake

My first choice for this was Survival Guide (mainly because I’m still in mourning for Tsunami Bomb) but couldn’t find the song that would showcase it well enough. I then realised that that would mean WAAAAAY too much slow synth based stuff this early on. So changed my mind. Other ones that went through my head were Jimmy Eat World and Biffy Clyro. Then I just thought: TRUMPETS!

 

Welcome To The Black Parade – Cobra Starship

Now this is just mean. This song is so MCR that it would be almost blasphemy. So this can only really be covered two ways: 1) a slowed down cover like Ben Folds would too. 2) Someone just going all out and bombastic as possible. Now contrary to popular believe I prefer the second. You need someone to just attack this like a circus ring leader mixed with a serial killer. So who better than Cobra Starship? Now I know, i’ve put a lot of synth stuff in this, but this is different: it’s dance-synth

I Don’t Love You – Ben Folds

Mainly because I imagined it in my head and it made my brain cry

House Of Wolves – The Used

Ok, so file this under the “never going to happen” section. But admit it, it would be pretty cool wouldn’t it?

Cancer – Ke$ha

I know! I know! Calm down! Stop throwing things! Hey! Hey now! Which one of you threw a sink? That could have really hurt! Yes, I know this is controversial, probably the most so on this list. But believe me, she can f*cking do it. I have a Bob Dylan tribute album containing songs by Bad Religion, My Chemical Romance, Rise Against, The Gaslight Anthem etc. All very respectful bands. But my favourite song on it? F*cking Ke$ha. Makes me tear up every time.

Mama – Paul McCartney

Now I was tempted to go for Gogol Bordello for this. They would have matched the crazyness, and then some. I admit, I was also tempted to go with Dead Kennedys because it would have been intense as hell. So I just went awesome.

Sleep – Coheed And Cambria

Oh man I have to do this? But this song sucks. I don’t like sleep (which makes sense as I’m an insomniac). So yeah, erm, Coheed and Cambria I guess? At least then the guitars will come crashing down and wash upon you like a tsunami bomb.

Teenagers – Billy Talent

Intense guitars, a chorus made for shouting by a crowd of thousands, and a bitter sarcasm running through the entire thing. Who else could it be?

Disenchanted – Bright Eyes

Because it’s the only thing that could make this sound more emotional and brilliant

Famous Last Words – Fall Out Boy

Don’t know why, I just feel this would seem kind of cool and brilliant.

Blood – Helen Arney

Because ukuleles make everything better.

BONUS SONG

Because I really really really want My Chemical Romance to cover this.