I remember years ago reading a little quick fire interview with one of the guys from Gang of Four and in answer to a question around his least favourite song or most overrated song, his answer was Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen. It was the first time I had ever come across any one being negative about it. I was delighted, because I have always fucking detested it.
And his articulation as to why resonated with me. I can’t remember his exact words now but it was around how the song was deliberately theatrical. Deliberately all over the place. Just for the sake of it. It was the musical equivalent of a cringe worthy show off. A narcissist. To my ears, just a bit silly.
I have a huge respect for Freddie Mercury, even an appreciation of his artistry. His flamboyance. But flamboyance just isn’t my cup of tea. Despite the tracksuits I might wear. And dress slippers. Although I will admit to enjoying a bit of Elton John… maybe it’s the mutual love of tracksuits.
But Queen and Bohemian Rhapsody in particular, despite all the attempted flamboyance and artistry just seem pretty beige to me. Both the band and song often appear at the top of “Best Ever” or “Most popular” songs and that is never a good sign, we know what idiots the general public are. You’re almost guaranteed to find “The Best of Queen” in Tesco and the glove compartment of some car bore, Cotton Trader wearing “Jeans and Sheux” type.
I recently heard another dissenting voice on Queen, Frank Skinner. I enjoy listening to his Absolute Radio podcast and as a fan of The Fall, it is perhaps no surprise that Skinner isn’t a big Queen fan. But again what he said rung true with me:that he got the feeling that they didn’t “really mean it.” That is was all a bit put on… a bit insincere.
I wouldn’t say I am a huge fan of The Fall, but I love certain tunes and I certainly like them a lot more than Queen. But like Frank Skinner, there is something I quite like about imperfection. Perhaps it’s the fact I’m not musical in the slightest, but love music. I remember extremely talented musician friends of mine waxing lyrical about the musical genius of a certain band.. or guitarist. Whereas I would enjoy a riff from The Libertines or the sometimes tuneless drawl of a post punk garage band. My favourite band of all time if I had to pick one, would be Radiohead. Both musically brilliant but obscure and innovative. For me the thinking man’s Bohemian Rhapsody is Paranoid Android and you won’t convince me otherwise.
My musical taste is extremely broad, from scruffy indie to hard techno, but there is something that must somehow link them all together; something unpretentious or imperfect and for me Queen are the antithesis of whatever it is.