Friday, September 3, 2021

Queen make music video history on 50th anniversary series The Greatest

Queen are reviewing their history of groundbreaking music videos in the latest episode of the band’s 50th anniversary video series The Greatest.

With their 1975 clip for “Bohemian Rhapsody”, Queen is widely regarded to have given birth to the practice of creating music videos to boost sales, even though they had been previously done by artists for years.

It’s the first video that actually took any kind of effect into actually making sales,” explained Mercury in an earlier episode of the series. “A lot of videos were probably made before, but they didn’t sell records. I think that’s the first that actually worked.”

While Queen went on to create some of the most iconic promos in rock history, the band’s sense of adventure was not always universally embraced, particularly in the 1980s after the launch of MTV.

Filled with a sense of style and humor, Queen loved to push the limits – which inadvertently earned them the honor of being the first to have a video banned by MTV with “Body Language”, the erotic undertone bathhouse scenes deemed unsuitable for audiences in 1982. The cable channel ban did not hamper the track’s chart performance: it went on to become Queen’s fifth-biggest US hit single of all time, outperforming such better known international hits as “Radio Ga Ga” and “Somebody to Love.”

MTV repeated the ban two years later when Queen issued a clip for “I Want To Break Free” that saw the band members appeared dressed as a female character from the British soap opera Coronation Street; this time, the ban impacted on the band’s chance of major US success with the single stalling just inside the Top 50.

“Well MTV were very narrow minded,” explains Roger Taylor. “It was Whitesnake, and ****ing Whitesnake, and then another Whitesnake track. And they decided they didn’t think that men in drag was ‘rock enough’ I guess, and so they didn’t play the video.”

Queen’s video history saw the group expand the production value of music videos, from cutting-edge animation, outrageous sets, and costumes to recreating entire scenes from Hollywood movies.

“Well things have come a long way, of course, they’re becoming film budgets aren’t they?,” says Freddie Mercury. “And the technique and everything is, sort of, improved vastly, so, I mean, you can come up with all kinds of things.

“I remember that in ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ we wanted these multiple images, and at that time the only way we could only get it was to use a prism. And then we wanted a sort of jagged effect and we had to shake the cameras, somebody had to kick it. Now you have all kinds of things I don’t even know the names for that just do it automatically. It’s beyond me as well, I don’t know what’s going to happen next.”

In 2019, “Bohemian Rhapsody” became the first pre-1990’s music video to pass the 1 billion views milestone on YouTube; 1978’s “Don’t Stop Me Now” currently has more than 700 million views on the video platform; 1980’s “Another One Bites the Dust” and 1984’s “I Want To Break Free” have passed more than 500 million views; and, “We Will Rock You” is closing in on the half-billion mark, as well.

All of the videos featured on Queen’s official YouTube channel have a combined total of more than 8.5 billion views to date.

See also:

Queen revisit Davie Bowie collaboration on 1981 classic Under Pressure
Queen revisit 1981 South American tour on 50th anniversary series
Queen highlight Brian May hits on The Greatest
Queen revisit iconic 1981 Greatest Hits package on 50th anniversary series
Search Queen at hennemusic