Brian May Reflects on Queen’s Greatest Hits

Queen, an iconic band that has left an indelible mark on the music industry, is celebrated for its timeless and lucrative songs. In a revealing interview with Vulture, guitarist and songwriter Brian May offered candid insights into the band’s most renowned tracks, shedding light on his evolving perspectives and the untold stories behind the music.

Unraveling the Majesty of “Bohemian Rhapsody”

Undoubtedly, Queen’s magnum opus, “Bohemian Rhapsody,” reigns supreme both in terms of popularity and financial success. Released in 1975, this masterpiece has etched itself into the fabric of music history, earning its place as the third best-selling single of all time with over 6 million copies sold. The digital era has only amplified its influence, boasting a staggering 2,298,945,639 Spotify streams and over 1 billion YouTube views, making it the world’s most streamed song of the 20th century.

Brian May, reflecting on the enduring legacy of “Bohemian Rhapsody,” acknowledged its pivotal role in defining Queen’s essence. He emphasized the song’s multifaceted nature, stating, “It encapsulates a lot of what we are, what we have been, and what our dream was.” May delved into the band’s early aspirations, revealing a collective dream fueled by an atmosphere of change, innovation, and newfound artistic freedom. “Bohemian Rhapsody,” with its genre-defying qualities, became a manifestation of their vision and a testament to their commitment to pushing musical boundaries.

The song’s inclusion in Queen’s fourth studio album was not merely a creative decision; it symbolized the realization of the band’s artistic aspirations. May reminisced about the formative days when Queen harbored dreams of being songwriters and creators, inspired by the transformative era of the birth of heavy music. The unparalleled success of “Bohemian Rhapsody” not only catapulted Queen to unprecedented heights but also established the band as pioneers of musical innovation.

The impact of “Bohemian Rhapsody” extended beyond the charts, making its mark in popular culture. The iconic scene in Wayne’s World, featuring the song, is etched in cinematic history, and the controversy surrounding MTV’s use of “Body Language” underscored the enduring relevance of Queen’s music. Rami Malek’s portrayal of Freddie Mercury in the 2018 biopic further solidified the song’s significance, grossing over $903 million worldwide, according to Box Office Mojo.

Evolution of Brian May’s Perception: “Don’t Stop Me Now”

While “Bohemian Rhapsody” remains an unparalleled masterpiece, not every Queen song initially receives universal acclaim from its creators. Brian May’s journey with “Don’t Stop Me Now” exemplifies this nuanced relationship with their own music. Released in 1978 as part of the “Jazz” album, the song has garnered over 1.7 billion streams on Spotify, attesting to its enduring popularity.

May admitted that, upon the song’s initial release, he had reservations about its representation of the band’s identity. “When I first heard it, I knew it had a real tune to it. But next to a lot of the other stuff we were doing, it’s quite light and fluffy,” May confessed. At the time, Freddie Mercury’s unconventional lifestyle, encapsulated in the song’s lyrics, raised concerns among band members, reflecting the tumultuous period during the “Jazz” album’s creation.

May’s initial hesitation toward “Don’t Stop Me Now” was rooted in his perception of the song as divergent from the band’s overarching identity. However, as time unfolded, the song’s power became evident, especially in its ability to motivate and bring joy to listeners. May’s perspective shifted when he observed the song’s impact at social gatherings, recognizing its status as a magnificent anthem. He acknowledged the song’s ascent, asserting, “Over the years, it’s climbed and climbed, and it’s on a level with ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’.”

The Overlooked Gem: “The Prophet Song”

While Queen boasts a catalog of chart-topping hits, there exists a hidden gem that Brian May considers the band’s most underrated track – “The Prophet Song.” Unfortunately overshadowed by the monumental success of “Bohemian Rhapsody,” both songs were released on the same 1975 album, “A Night At The Opera.”

May elucidated the stark contrast between the two tracks, characterizing “The Prophet Song” as the antithesis of its more famous counterpart. Despite its profound significance to the band, the song struggled to gain widespread recognition, being overshadowed by the radio-friendly appeal of “Bohemian Rhapsody.” May expressed his sentiments, stating, “Only a few people who are very into the depths of Queen through the years are really aware of what ‘The Prophet’s Song’ means.”

The guitarist acknowledged the song’s niche appeal, emphasizing that enthusiasts who delve into Queen’s extensive body of work appreciate the depth and complexity of “The Prophet Song.” While it may not boast a billion streams on digital platforms, May contended that its presence on the album serves as an essential piece of Queen’s musical legacy, akin to an encyclopedia of the band’s artistic evolution.

Conclusion: A Tapestry of Musical Brilliance

In Brian May’s candid reflections on Queen’s greatest hits, a rich tapestry of musical brilliance unfolds. “Bohemian Rhapsody,” with its genre-defying allure, stands as the pinnacle of Queen’s artistic vision. “Don’t Stop Me Now,” once met with skepticism, has emerged as a beloved anthem. Meanwhile, “The Prophet Song” remains an overlooked masterpiece, cherished by those who explore the depths of Queen’s musical landscape.

The journey through Queen’s discography, as narrated by Brian May, reveals the complexity of artistic creation, the evolution of perspectives, and the delicate balance between commercial success and artistic integrity. As listeners continue to be enthralled by Queen’s timeless melodies, May’s insights provide a deeper understanding of the creative forces that shaped these musical masterpieces.

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Adam Regan
Adam Regan
Deputy Editor

Features and account management. 3 years media experience. Previously covered features for online and print editions.


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