Bohemian Rhapsody Video Reaches One Billion Views

Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?

The music video for Queen’s iconic mega-hit “Bohemian Rhapsody” reached a monumental milestone last month, and the feat is far from fiction. Uploaded to the video-hosting website YouTube on Aug. 1, 2008, the five minute and 59 second clip passed one billion views on July 20; additionally, “Bohemian Rhapsody” became the oldest song to accomplish this in the process.

Originally released as a single on Halloween 1975 and included on Queen’s third studio album “A Night At The Opera,” “Bohemian Rhapsody” received a mixed response from critics.

Pete Erskine of the music journalism website (a magazine prior to March 2018) New Musical Express mentioned that, “It’ll be interesting to see whether it’ll be played in its entirety on the radio. It’s performed extremely well, but more in terms of production than anything else… Someone somewhere has decided that the boys’ next release must sound ‘epic’. And it does. They sound extremely self-important.”

The British music newspaper Sounds wrote a more optimistic review of the song, describing it as “impossibly disjointed and complex, but a dazzlingly clever epic from the fevered mind of Freddie Mercury.”

The video in all its glory. (YouTube|Queen Official)

Despite these mediocre reactions, “Bohemian Rhapsody” skyrocketed to the top of the UK Singles chart and stayed in that position for nine consecutive weeks. The song peaked at number one on that chart once again after 16 years following the death of frontman Freddie Mercury and remained there for five weeks. 

In the United States, “Bohemian Rhapsody” hit number nine on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1976 and stayed in the top 100 for 24 weeks.

It made a comeback in 1992 due to a few factors, including its use in the film “Wayne’s World” and being released as a double A-side cassette single along with “The Show Must Go On.” This time it made it to number two and stayed in the Hot 100 for 17 weeks. The tune was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2004. 

After the release of the Queen biopic (also titled “Bohemian Rhapsody”) in 2018, its namesake arrived on the Hot 100 chart for a third time, ranked at number 33. 

Prior to the track’s music video hitting one billion views on YouTube, the oldest song to have its video break that barrier was for the Guns N’ Roses song “November Rain,” released as a single on Feb. 18, 1992. The video for “November Rain” was uploaded to YouTube on Christmas Day 2009, and has a total of 1,207,762,203 views (as of Aug. 1, 2019). 

Currently, the view count for the “Bohemian Rhapsody” music video stands at 1,006,487,516. 

(YouTube|Queen Official)

In order to celebrate this epic milestone, YouTube and Universal Music Group (UMG) collaborated to release an upgraded version of the video, remastered in high definition, on Queen’s official YouTube channel.

“‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ is a sonic and cinematic masterpiece that’s one of the most enduring songs of all-time,” stated Lyor Cohen, YouTube’s global head of music, in a blog post. 

“The newly remastered video on YouTube will ensure that the song continues to be rediscovered, embraced and beloved by old and new generations of music fans around the world. It’s incredible to help change the way fans experience music and provide a place for artist and fan connections worldwide.”

Queen guitarist Brian May and drummer Roger Taylor also shared an exciting announcement on the band’s YouTube channel on July 25. 

The iconic opening to “Bohemian Rhapsody.” (YouTube|Queen Official)

“We’re honored that ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ has just hit one billion views on YouTube,” the duo stated. “We want to thank you all and celebrate with our amazing fans all around the world by creating three new music videos to our songs – all featuring you.”

“Whether you’re a musician, singer, dancer or visual artist, or you just want to have some fun, go to YouAreTheChampions.com and find out more,” they continued. “And we’ll see you there on the road somewhere.”

The three songs that will be receiving new music videos during the “You Are The Champions” fan campaign are “Bohemian Rhapsody,” the 1977 hit “Don’t Stop Me Now” (from the album “Jazz”) and the 1986 track “A Kind Of Magic” (from the album of the same name).  However, each video will feature a different style of artistry.

The audience-created “Bohemian Rhapsody” music video will feature participants from around the world singing the tune or playing it using any sort of instrument with any number of co-performers.

Meanwhile, dancing will be the focus in the new “Don’t Stop Me Now” video. Dancers are presented instructional clips from Polly Bennett (Rami Malek’s movement coach from the “Bohemian Rhapsody” film) on how to perform a choreographed dance routine to the tune; they are encouraged to learn either a section of the routine or the entire dance and record themselves performing it.

Can you make a routine that would top this iconic scene from “Shaun of the Dead?” (YouTube|TheDumbestIdiot)

Finally, visual arts will be highlighted in the video for “A Kind Of Magic.” Artists must create a unique design based on a chosen word or phrase in the song (or, in the case of an instrumental portion, an animation that lasts five seconds) and capture it in picture or video form. 

After producing these clips, entrants must submit them through the “You Are The Champions” campaign website. Interested parties who are at least 13 years old can send in their submissions starting Aug. 1 and before Aug. 18 at 11:59 p.m., and the completed fan-driven videos will be published on the Queen YouTube channel later this year.

The official announcement of the campaign. (YouTube|Queen Official)

The campaign is a partnership between Queen, YouTube Music and UMG.

“This will be the first of a series of custom initiatives we have planned in the coming months on the official Queen channel,” explained Celine Joshua, UMG’s General Manager of Commercial, Content and Artist Strategy.

Last December, “Bohemian Rhapsody” set two other records, becoming the most-streamed song of the 20th century as well as the most-streamed classic rock track; in total, the song and official video have passed 1.6 billion downloads across all streaming services.

Currently performing with frontman Adam Lambert, Queen is on the first leg of the global Rhapsody Tour and will be performing at Nationwide Arena in Columbus on Aug. 13. Next month, the band will be headlining the 2019 Global Citizen Festival in New York City, which takes place on Sep. 29 in Central Park.  The lineup for the festival also includes acts such as H.E.R., Pharrell Williams, Alicia Keys and One Republic.

Maxwell Patton
Contributing Writer

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