Queen: Forget the movie, just listen to the music
“Bohemian Rhapsody,” the biopic on Queen lead singer Freddie Mercury, is mostly getting “meh” reviews.
Rami Malek is receiving kudos for his performance as Mercury, but the film as a whole is being described by some as shallow, by-the-numbers, sometimes cheesy and uninspiring.
That’s a shame. Mercury and the band deserve more than “meh.” Of course, you must take my opinion with a large grain of salt since Queen is one of my all-time favorite bands.
I saw them three times in concert — 1974, 1977, 1980 — and each time they were excellent. My favorite would be the 1974 show, when they were promoting third album “Sheer Heart Attack,” and still doing songs from “Queen” and “Queen II,” the album I like best of all their releases.
Starting with “A Day at the Opera,” they got a bit precious, in my opinion, sometimes favoring campiness and theatricality over performance and song quality. Sure, “Bohemian Rhapsody” is brilliant, and who can resist “Tie Your Mother Down” or “It’s Late”? But stuff like “You’re My Best Friend” and “You Take My Breath Away” are sappy. “Get Down, Make Love” isn’t a song; it’s just a bunch of musical love grunts and
an overly long performance in concert. And did Roger Taylor ever write a single decent song?
But each album, whether I liked the whole or not, always had a couple of lesser-known but terrific tracks: “The Prophet’s Song” on “A Night at the Opera,” “The Millionaire Waltz” on “A Day at the Races,” “Spread Your Wings” on “News of the World,” “Don’t Try Suicide” on “The Game,” “I Want It All” on “The Miracle.”
I even like “Mustapha” on “Jazz,” which, actually, may be my favorite late-in-life Queen album.
Unfortunately, Queen never toured America again after “I Want To Break Free,” the single from 1984’s “The Works” that featured the band in drag for the video. MTV, as much as it wanted to be seen as cutting-edge and daring, ran scared from the video because it didn’t test well in middle America.
So instead of coming here, Queen went to places like South America and Eastern Europe, where concert tours rarely traveled, and made a gajillion dollars.
It’s a shame that the film “Bohemian Rhapsody” didn’t live up to the hopes of Queen fans. But when you’re a huge fan of the band, it’s doubtful that it ever could.