Flashback Friday: Queen’s “A Night at The Opera”

EMI, Elektra

EMI, Elektra

Formed in 1971 with members Freddie Mercury, Roger Taylor, Brian May and John Deacon, Queen is regarded as one of the most commercially successful bands ever. Including songs like We Are The Champions and We Will Rock You, both off of their album titled News of the World, they have had many hits that people know, regardless of their knowledge of Queen. 

This is what makes Queen so significant — how their songs have never grown dull even decades after their release. Their most popular song, Bohemian Rhapsody, comes from their 1975 album titled A Night at The Opera and it is a perfect display of the way they can do many different genres — even in just one song. 

The first song, Death On Two Legs (Dedicated To…), begins with a piano introduction. that grows slightly more complex as the song progresses. An electric sound is made present behind the piano — many different layers being added, with guitar and a double bass being present in the sounds. This intro, as it becomes progressively more chaotic sounding, comes to a sudden stop and is replaced with more piano. As the song progresses, the guitar is still present and Mercury begins to sing with a heavier style of vocals, “You suck my blood like a leech // You break the law and you breach // Screw my brain ’til it hurts // You’ve taken all my money and you want more.” He is seemingly continuing to speak to this person who has wronged him, or them as a band, with the song ends with a harmony of vocals.

You’re My Best Friend is the fourth song on the album and it is another that is very well known, and used in many different pieces of media. It begins with a less chaotic intro, compared to the introductory song, and is written completely by Deacon. It begins with, “Ooh, you make me live // Whatever this world can give to me // It’s you, you’re all I see,” and it continues with these positive lyrics. There is seemingly no repeating verse — with each lyric being different, even only slightly. The guitar is present throughout, and changes in melody as the song progresses. The song ends with, “Ooh, you’re my best friend,” and fades out into the next song. 

The ninth song is titled Love of My Life, is a ballad, more subdued than the previous songs. It is written clearly for another person, and Mercury speaks to this person through the lyrics he had written. It details someone whom he loves potentially leaving. He sings, “Love of my life, you’ve hurt me // You’ve broken my heart and now you leave me,” and he continues later in the song with, “Love of my life, don’t leave me // You’ve taken my love, you now desert me.” The piano continues throughout the song, with other instruments occasionally making appearances, and quietly ends. 

Arguably their most popular song, the 11th song of the album, is Bohemian Rhapsody. It includes many different genres just within itself, beginning with isolated vocals, piano being added in the background. The lyrics during this section read, “Mama // Life had just begun // But now I’ve gone and thrown it all away.” Guitars and drums are added towards the end of this ballad section, and transitions into a guitar solo. An operatic section follows, with lyrics including, “I’m just a poor boy, nobody loves me,” and an answer from differing vocals with, “He’s just a poor boy from a poor family // Spare him his life from this monstrosity.” With the repetition of “For me,” the song transitions into the more rock section. The first lyrics of this section read, “So you think you can stone me and spit in my eye? // So you think you can love me and leave me to die?” It continues with other lyrics towards this person Mercury sings about. Towards the end, it transitions back into the ballad-style that was present earlier, with just the piano backing, and a short guitar melody. 

The last song is /God Save The Queen,” and has no lyrics present. It serves as a good outro for the album, only being a mix of different instruments after a drum introduction, and a quiet, faded end. This album perfectly exemplifies the many talents, sounds and genres that Queen holds, and still continues to hold as the band remains active with members Brian May and Roger Taylor. Many songs were most likely experimental for their time, but have continued to be consistently prominent and well known. 


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