Monthly Archives: January 2019

Bohemian Rhapsody, “Bohemian Rhapsody”, & how to title a rock biopic

WELL Oscar season is here, with the nominees being announced later today. One movie that’s already done surprisingly well at the Golden Globes is Bohemian Rhapsody, the fast-and-loose adaptation of the life story of Queen’s Freddie Mercury. I’ll confess I haven’t actually seen it, and I’m not in a great hurry to either; I’ve never been all that big on biopics on the whole.

That said, my real issue with the movie is a trivial one, but one that’ll never cease to irritate me: its title. Sure, “Bohemian Rhapsody” is the most famous Queen song in a huge back catalogue of famous songs, and sure, rock biopics are generally named after a well-known song from the artist in question. But those movies also at least tried to pick thematically relevant songs: Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story (from “Susperstar”) looked at the seamy underside of superstardom; Great Balls of Fire showcased the exuberance of Jerry Lee Lewis; Hysteria: The Def Leppard Story (from “Hysteria”) focuses on the hysteria of Def Leppard’s stadium-crowding fans as well as that of the band’s private life; Walk the Line (from “I Walk the Line”) dealt with Johnny Cash’s not always successful attempts to, well, walk the line; I’m Not There‘s Bob Dylan really isn’t there, appearing as a series of interpretations of aspects of the man rather than him himself; Nowhere Boy (from “Nowhere Man”) dealt with a young John Lennon who was nowhere, spiritually as well as materially; Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll is obvious. What’s “Bohemian Rhapsody”? I mean, what does that phrase even mean?

Here’s what you could have titled it: Don’t Stop Me Now. Or We Are the Champions. Or We Will Rock You, though granted the stage musical’s already nabbed that one. Or Princes of the Universe, or A Kind of Magic, or Radio Ga Ga, or The Show Must Go On, or One Vision. Any of those would do if they wanted to capture the flamboyance and showmanship of Queen. Or for Mercury’s sexuality and private life in general, they could have had I Want to Break FreeI Want it All, Innuendo, Save Me, Under Pressure, or Somebody to Love. For his tragic death, they could have had Who Wants to Live ForeverOnly the Good Die Young, Let Me Live, Too Much Love Will Kill You, or Keep Yourself Alive. For morbid black comedy, they could have had Another One Bites the Dust. It all depends on where they want to focus. Those are just the good titles. Here are the ones that are kind of iffy but still better than what they went for: Breakthru, The Miracle, I’m Going Slightly Mad, Stone Cold CrazyKiller Queen, Now I’m Here, Headlong, Hammer to Fall, It’s a Hard Life, Friends Will Be Friends, These Are the Days of Our Lives, or Heaven for Everyone. Christ, I’d even take Flash. And I’ve stuck only to singles here, and successful singles at that. But apparently the two-time UK Christmas No. 1 trumps every other hit the band ever recorded. Thanks, Wayne’s World.

bohemian rhapsody

While you’re here, why not buy a paperback or e-book copy of my novel, Wankers?



Wankers has been described as “Alternately hilarious and touching”, “Fun, thoughtful, especially for music nerds“, and compared to the work of P. G. Wodehouse, Edward St. Aubyn, Nick Hornby and Irvine Welsh.