I joined my family at the movie Bohemian Rhapsody recently, and being huge Queen fans it’s not a surprise that we were thrilled with it. It may not have been the most historically accurate biopic of all time, but it was one of the most interesting. I think my favorite part of the film was how uplifting it was in spite of the inevitability of its subject. But this isn’t a movie review, it’s blog about an under-appreciated part of the movie and of Queen itself – Freddy Mercury’s bandmates.
In particular, Gwilym Lee (see if you can find that on a keychain in the gift shop) plays guitarist Brian May, and his performance is fantastic. Throughout the movie, we see his character thoughtfully and quietly support Mercury’s theatrical ideas. When Mercury suggests the titular song’s operatic section, the look on May’s face is both bemused and curious. But not critical. When Mercury forces the record company to release the song as a single, May and the rest of the band back him up. In the movie at least, Brian May and the rest of the band go along with Freddie Mercury’s seemingly mad musical tangents because they know that everything he does makes an impact. Why release a three-minute song when all of the other songs are already that length?
In 1976, 17 songs charted higher than “Bohemian Rhapsody.” What lasting impact have songs like “Disco Lady” by Johnnie Taylor, “Kiss and Say Goodbye” by the Manhattans or “Fly, Robin, Fly” by Silver Convention had? Even the insipid Starland Vocal Band outperformed Queen with its diabetes-inducing megahit “Afternoon Delight” (has there ever been a song less qualified to be a hit?).
Fans of almost all genres of music regard “Bohemian Rhapsody” as a watershed moment. Yet the record company executive (ironically played by Wayne Campbell himself, Mike Meyers) looks at it as too big of a risk. He wants to play it safe, quoting statistics about typical hit songs to support his position.
Do you want people to think of your brand like they think of “I Write The Songs” by Barry Manilow (which also finished ahead of Queen in 1976) or do you want them to think of your brand the way they think of “Bohemian Rhapsody?” Nobody remembers “I Write the Songs” until it is playing on an elevator, and you can’t escape it. People still talk about “Bohemian Rhapsody” forty years after it was released! In fact, doctors have proven that it is physiologically impossible to refrain from head banging when Brian May’s guitar comes raging in at exactly four minutes and seven seconds. Don’t hold back – you’ll only hurt yourself.
You must be willing to take chances with your brand. Protect it. Build it. But do not stifle it.
Are you ready to do something incredible? Let’s try something new. Let’s do something bold together. Let’s prove all of those record company executives wrong and turn your brand into the monster hit that it deserves to be.