The purpose of this paper is to explain why the band Queen should be canonized, or considered to be an important part of the official history of modern music. Queen has been very important from a historical, social, and musical perspective…
Their music has appeared in many movies, television shows and commercials, and many of their songs have become part of American culture in other important ways. They changed the way that people thought about music, the way music was presented to the public, and the way that music is made. By exploring these uses of Queen's music in film and television and establishing their important role in modern social history I hope to explain why their music should be considered part of musical canon.
Everyone who has attended a sporting event in the US in the past 30 years is familiar with the songs We Will Rock You and We Are the Champions by Queen. We Will Rock You, in particular, is so well known that if you play it for any crowd in America they will immediately begin singing and clapping along, for every group from elementary school assemblies to professional sporting events. It is hard to find anyone unfamiliar with the drums and clapping which open the song. The sound of We Are the Champions inspires cheers and shouts of victory all over the country. Everyone in the country knows the refrain by heart, and associates it with winning, particularly in sporting events: We are the champions, We are the champions! No time for losers 'Cause we are the champions of the world! (Queen, 1977) The movie Wayne's World, released in 1992, helped to make Queen's epic anthem of operatic rock Bohemian Rhapsody even more popular than it already had been and introduced the band to a whole new generation of fans. Originally released in 1975, Bohemian Rhapsody was Queen's first top-ten hit in the United States. In the United Kingdom, where the band was already well established, it stayed at #1 on the pop charts for nine weeks-- a record at the time. Though the song only reached #9 on US charts when it was originally released, the re-release after Wayne's World peaked at #2. (Songfacts) The popularity of this re-release led to greater demand for the rest of the band's work, and the release of several greatest hits albums in the late 90s. Bohemian Rhapsody is still one of the most complex and elegant musical pieces to achieve broad popular appeal in modern times. The background track alone, with piano, bass and drums took two days of recording to complete. Sessions for the song lasted nearly three weeks, with the opera section alone taking seven days to complete. Queen sang their "Galileos" continually for ten to twelve hours each day, producing a staggering 180 vocal overdubs. The tapes required another two days of mixing before the band agreed that the song was complete. (Davis) The message behind the lyrics of Bohemian Rhapsody are very elegantly stated, if somewhat controversial. Most fans agree that the song is about a murderer who confesses his crime to his mother and is eventually caught and sentenced to death. Still there is some speculation as to the true meaning of Bohemian Rhapsody, the lyrics of which can be interpreted in several different ways. In interviews, Freddie Mercury, lead singer of Queen and the writer of Bohemian Rhapsody, is quoted as having said that much of the song is “random rhyming nonsense.” (Songfacts) The extremely complex vocal harmonies and guitar riffs made Bohemian Rhapsody especially difficult to perform live, so the band created a music video-- one of the earliest music videos ever created-- in order to popularize the song while avoiding playing it live for a UK television audience. In doing so they changed the way that music is consumed. Today music videos are considered necessary for commercial musical success, but in 1975 they were almost unheard of. The video used camera effects which were ...
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