How Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody May Save Classic Rock

Queen Bohemian Rhapsody

Photo: Uwe Matezki [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)]

Over the past few years, I have been teaching middle school and asking kids questions about classic rock music. At the end of class, when there is usually a few minutes left I will ask them questions like “Hey can anybody name a Beatles song?” Can anybody name a Beatle? Sometimes I may get an answer. Someone will mention Paul McCartney, or maybe John Lennon. Occasionally someone will name Ringo Starr, but never George Harrison. Lately, Paul McCartney is the usual answer as most of the kids have discovered Paul McCartney not from Beatles music but rather the Carpool Karaoke episode he did with James Cordon in 2018.

Ask middle school kids to name a Beatles song. They usually can’t. Sometimes I move on to Pink Floyd. Can you name a Pink Floyd song? Usually not. “How about a Pink Floyd member” In ten years, no one has ever named a Pink Floyd member.  I have asked countless times, “what was the name of the band Mick Jagger was the lead singer in?” They never get that one. Amazingly, they have never even heard of the Rolling Stones. However, something strange has been happening recently. At the end of class every day, I have had young middle school kids, 11 years old, 12 years old asking me to name my favorite Queen song I would respond, “Wait! did you just ask me what is my favorite Queen song? You mean the band Queen?”  They would respond, yes” Freddie Mercury and Queen Whoa. Have you heard of them?

Hollywood is a very powerful medium over young children’s lives. It yields a powerful influence over all our lives. There have been many rock movies and documentaries made over the years. Most of those classic rock movies have done well with old classic rock fans. However, they never attract a younger audience. They never usually develop new fans. Which leads to the question as to why young audiences are going nuts over the new Queen film Bohemian Rhapsody?  It is an easy question to answer.

Reason one is simple, It’s a fantastic movie. Well directed, well-acted, plenty of drama and action; totally Hollywood all the way. The second reason is where we see the difference between the typical classic rock movie and Bohemian Rhapsody. Kids are relating to the film Bohemian Rhapsody because it does not feature the original members of the band. Of course, you can’t feature Freddie Mercury, and John Deacon left many years ago. Bohemian Rhapsody film features young actors playing the members of the original Queen. Actors who are closer to their age than their grandparents age. Kids, teenagers, even twenty somethings do not want to watch films in which the lead singer is 75 years old. In Bohemian Rhapsody, kids are able to just physically relate more to the actors playing the roles of Freddie Mercury, Brian May, John Deacon and Roger Taylor. Bohemian Rhapsody was brilliantly cast. The actors make it come to life They make the band Queen come to life. The Casting director should win a Oscar for this one

The second reason is the most important reason. For the first time, kids are actually paying attention to the music. The old geezers like myself already know how great Queen’s music was. Now the kids know it. They have heard it. Don’t you remember the first time you heard “Killer Queen,” “Bohemian Rhapsody,” or “Liar?”  I remember being in middle school myself about 45 years ago and hearing “Stone Cold Crazy,” on the radio and saying  what is that? These kids are now experiencing that too. Compared to the watered down pop music they’ve been listening to on the radio, Queen just blows everything else away.

For the first time in thirty years since Nirvana broke onto the scene, we got a new generation of kids to listening to rock music. It’s no longer just that one kid in class with the long hair whose dad was a rock and roll musician who got it.  Now all the kids are getting it because they’re all watching it together. like so many other cultural phenomena in our past history, Queen has become a fad. And if Queen continues to be a fad, maybe all classic rock music becomes a fad. Kids will start exploring. Now the next step is to get them to start listening to Led Zeppelin, Cream. Jimi Hendrix, and of course The Beatles. Maybe even The Rolling Stones. We could make a whole series of movies with young actors playing all those great musicians. Who knows, maybe that will lead these young middle school kids to start forming their own bands “trying to learn how to walk like their heroes,”  A whole new generation of classic rock will begin. Is this just fantasy?  God saved the Queen, maybe Queen will save us.

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