Groundbreaking… yet unfeeling
I am sure many of you, my non-existing readers, have heard of the legendary band Queen and its magnum opus, Bohemian Rhapsody.
If one has a relatively sophisticated taste in music (shamelessly patting myself on the back), one would understand why it is such a great song. It refuses to have the typical song structure, it has a very dynamic music arrangement and it has such bizarre lyrics which demand the full attention of the listeners (who can speak English, of course)…
… And still manages to become a popular hit, despite or probably because of its eccentricity. Not to mention it makes an extremely fun sing-along.
It is both a critical and a commercial acclaim. It is indeed special.
But, it is not my favourite Queen’s song.
The combination of cyptic lyrics and unpredictable musical arrangement gives us a clear message: the song is open to infinite amount of interpretations and has the potential to be inherently meaningless.
I cannot speak for others. But, while I can intellectually attach myself to the song, its enigmatic nature prevents me from doing so emotionally. It feels like just another art work for me to be flatulently explicative about.
Personally, I prefer Somebody To Love.
While it is often described as a technically-challenging song to perform (I am not a musician so I cannot say), I can see why it is not that legendary outside the band’s fandom.
Compared to BR, STL sounds pathetically ‘normal’. The musical arrangement is not innovative, the song structure is very much pop and, of course, the lyrics are fathomable.
But, because of the fathomability, the song allows me to be emotionally-attached to it and because of the personal nature of the lyrics, the attachment forms almost effortlessly.
The song is about one’s spiritual frustration about the absence of a romantic partner. As a listener, I definitely don’t feel the narrator’s anguish myself; it is dishonest for me to say I do. But, I acknowledge how the experience can be overwhelming for him. My ability to empathise with him means the narrative being told is belieavably human. Well, for me, at least.
However, even though the explanation makes sense, it still feels insuffiencient for me.
BR was not the only baffling works I have ever encountered. I am also emotionally-attached to the short animated film Hedgehog in the Fog and the surrealist dramedy film Arizona Dream despite their mystifying nature.
Of course, I also have my own personal interpretations for those two motion pictures; therefore, watching them is an intimate experience for me. Compare that to BR for which I still don’t have any at my disposal.
After I thought about it, there is a more convincing and solid reason for my aloofness towards the song: the live performances.
Both it and STL use the vocal multi-tracking technique to induce the choral atmosphere. But, because BR employs the technique more ostentatiously, it couldn’t be performed entirely live. Every time the band performed the song on stage, the musicians had to go backstage when the pre-recorded opera segment was played. Watching the live performance and witnessing its artificiality would definitely leave a bad taste in my mouth.
STL, on other hand, could be performed entirely live. Despite omitting the gospel-like background vocals emulated by the technique, the live version does not feel incomplete. If anything, the lack of the ‘robotic’ adornment makes the song sounds more emotionally raw, more believably human. Watching its live performance and witnessing would be an ecstatic experience for me.
Of course, one may argue my reasoning is questionable. Why do I have to use STL as a comparison? Why don’t I use other songs? Love Of My Life is arguably also emotionally-charged.
Well, three reasons.
Reason one: It is my personal bias. As much as I admit its artistry, LOML simply does not do it for me. One can catch me listening to STL on repeat. But, one’s chance of catching me listening to LOML is almost zero percent.
Reason two: As I mentioned before, both BR and STL employ the same recording technique. Discussing about how it affects each song’s artistry seems reasonable for me. Comparing two things that still share things in common is an excellent way to perceptively grasp both.
Reason three: I fucking hate fake fans.
Seriously, since that deceitful biopic was released, I noticed an increase of people who claimed to be fans of Queen. I was suspicious the only song they knew and/or loved was BR. One person confirmed my suspicion.
On the music player, I played the band’s Greatest Hits II album which contains Radio Gaga, I Want To Break Free and Under Pressure, which are also well-known among non-fans. That so-called fan said he/she could not recognise any of them and still preferred BR in the end.
If he/she is really a fan, not only he/she would have heard of the band’s other hits, he/she would also have heard of their less well-known works and fucking love them as well!
Such behaviour annoys the shit out of me! I don’t know why some people cannot refrain from declaring themselves big fans of musicians they are clearly not big fans of. Even though I have my share of favourite Queen songs, I still refuse to declare myself a big fan due to my limited knowledge about their discography.
Is that so fucking hard to do?!
Well, it probably fucking is if you ‘like’ things simply because they are popular and you want to look cooler than you really are.
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