Queen At 50 Reviews – Bohemian Rhapsody Covers

Black jumper with an image of the band Queen in the centre. The 4 members of the band are shown as headshots, with Freddie in the front, Brian at the back, John on the left and Roger on the right, in the pose from their Bohemian Rhapsody video. But here they all have red and white Santa hats superimposed on their heads. The image of the band is surrounded by snowflakes, and it all sits between the words Snowhemian Rhapsody, printed in large white letters.

Last updated 29 June 2022

As discussed in depth in my A Night At The Opera review, Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody is an enduring classic that continues to increase in popularity 45 years on, as new generations of fans are introduced to it, most recently thanks to the movie of the same name and Queen’s tours with Adam Lambert. Freddie’s masterpiece, like his spirit and all of his music, will never die or be forgotten.

It is of no surprise, therefore, that it’s been covered in a myriad of styles by thousands of people, either tackling the full song or focusing on selected sections of it, despite the fact that it’s very brave of anyone to take on a song of such complexity that is so famous and well-loved.

In my previous reviews of Queen’s albums, I’ve always included cover versions as part of those posts. But such is the significance of Bo Rhap and the huge number of covers it’s had, coupled with the fact that it’s always nice to do some kind of special post at Christmas, that I’ve decided to give these interpretations of the track a space of their own.

Of course, it goes without saying that nobody can come close to Queen when reproducing any of their songs, especially this one. And there are plenty of covers out there that range from the decidedly average and uninspiring to the downright bizarre and awful. But there are also lots of beautifully arranged, excellently performed and cleverly interpreted versions too.

So in this post I wanted to share a long list of cover versions that I’ve found, divided into rough subsections to keep similar types together. I’ve compiled them into a big Youtube playlist as well, sorted so that the most popular videos are at the top. Or if you’re feeling brave, put it on Shuffle and see what comes up!

Some covers are great in my view, some are not, and the rest are somewhere in between. But everyone’s opinions will differ. All I’ve tried to do is present a wide variety that I feel are of interest and worth exploring out of curiosity. It’s not every cover that exists by any means, but I feel it’s a very comprehensive and fair representation of what’s out there, listing most of the major versions and lots of hidden gems.

So buckle in for a long selection, and see which versions you like best!

Fan Compilations

Queen have a couple of videos on their channel where fans were able to perform parts of the song themselves:

  • Fan Homage Medley – In celebration of the movie in 2018, a group of fans were invited to get together and perform a medley of Queen’s greatest hits, starting with the biggest of them all, which came out pretty well.
  • You Are The Champions – Fans across the world submitted footage of themselves singing and playing the song, resulting in this very nicely edited compilation posted in 2019.

Parodies

It wasn’t just Wayne’s World that used the song for humorous purposes (as discussed in my album review post). It’s been adapted in many other comedic ways too.

The Muppets

The most famous such version is by The Muppets, who created a wonderful video for the song in November 2009, with around 70 characters singing along to Queen’s original backing track. The song was slightly shortened, with many of the lyrics changed for comic effect, and there were clever stylistic similarities to Queen’s original video as well. Then at the end we discover that it’s a video conference that Kermit The Frog regrets putting together. The video was produced in a day and rapidly went viral, getting over 7 million views in its first week alone (and it now has over 100 million!). The subsequent single release in December that year got to number 32 in the UK.

There’s also an attempt by Kermit to give a behind the scenes commentary, although chaos ensues as his friends try to get involved! And they’ve even performed the song live, accompanied by a choir, at the Hollywood Bowl & London’s O2 Arena.

Bad News

Back in the 80s there was a delightfully chaotic version released in 1987 by Bad News – a spoof heavy metal band formed as part of the Comic Strip series, featuring the late great Rik Mayall, along with Ade Edmondson, Nigel Planer & Peter Richardson. It reached number 44 in the UK chart in September 1987, and was included on their self-titled debut album the following month. Of course, people who are unfamiliar with Bad News and the context of this version have, inevitably, reached the conclusion that it’s terrible. But that’s entirely the point, as those who know these comedians will tell you. So as a big fan of Rik & Ade in particular, I happen to find it funny, but I can see why others wouldn’t.

This version even has Brian May’s approval, as he was the producer for the album and played guitar on some of the tracks, and apparently even appeared on stage with them during a small show they did at London’s Marquee Club. There are also claims that John Deacon played bass and added backing vocals on the Bohemian Rhapsody cover, but there’s no clear evidence to support that.

But in any case, in the May 1989 issue of Sounds Mag, Brian explained: “I love heavy metal and I don’t look down on it at all. But we’re not a heavy metal group. I think you have to love something to play it. When I produced Bad News, I found that Ade Edmondson lives and breathes heavy rock music. And I love people that are so immersed in it that it’s serious. I love AC/DC – what they do, it’s very pure. But we’re not that way, so we can’t pretend we are. It’s good to be able to step back and see the funny side of it, because it kicks out some of the shit.”

The 2004 re-release of the Bad News album included an additional track entitled Take 1, where the ending goes wrong and they get into an argument, with some very strong language. That erroneous ending is used to conclude the 12″ version of the track, without the fighting that follows it. The Completely Bad News DVD also includes the music video as a bonus feature.

The band also attempted to do a mimed performance of the song before being interviewed on Terry Wogan’s chat show in 1987, and of course things don’t quite go to plan. And their double-disc live album F**k Off Bad News includes a performance of the song from the Hammersmith Odeon on 5 November 1986.

Coronavirus Rhapsody

Much more recently, in 2020, comedian Dana Jay Bein wrote a Coronavirus version by changing most of the lyrics (except for already appropriate lines like “sends shivers down my spine, body’s aching all the time”), and he went viral as a result. But as he was too sick to record the song at the time, he challenged the internet to do it instead, and was promptly inundated with performances!

Some of the better examples of those who brought his lyrics to life include Adrian Grimes (over 5 million views, plus a Second Wave version), Aerhyn Lau (in the a cappella style of Pentatonix), Dean RussellDefault Mode Music, FranchiseIntergalactic Nonsense TheatreKodi Lee (the blind and autistic winner of America’s Got Talent), Maestro Ziikos (using auto-tuned clips of Donald Trump after doing the original song in the same style), Noah Storm, Paramind, Patrick El Khoury, Phoenix Chamber Choir, Raúl Irabién (over 4½ million views) & Shelter Skelter (in aid of MusiCares COVID-19 Relief Fund, with a free download available).

Other Parodies

Adverts

  • Cosmopolitan Resort & Casino, Las Vegas – A silly but fun commercial set by the swimming pool.
  • Heineken – An entertaining advert that proves there’s no shame in belting out the song, even if you’re not very good at it.
  • John Lewis – An enjoyable production featuring lots of school children. There’s also a lovely interview with 9-year-old Joseph Sheppard, where he discusses his role in the advert and plays a bit of the tune on his electric guitar. And 8-year-old star Nandi Bushell has a vlog talking about her involvement, where she’s the drummer girl who emerges from the volcano, along with her audition video where she sings and plays the drums.
  • Mountain Dew – Has a fun reworking of the lyrics with some cool visuals.

Rock & Metal Bands

The Flaming Lips released the song as a bonus track on the iTunes download of their 2006 album At War With The Mystics, the year after it had originally featured as one of two covers of the song on the Killer Queen tribute compilation. They also performed the song live, with examples from the music festivals Claro Q É Rock 2005 in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil& South By Southwest 2006 in Austin, Texas.

Panic! At The Disco recorded a decent cover for the soundtrack album of the film Suicide Squad in 2016. The single only peaked at number 80 in the UK, and 64 in the US and Australia, but it did reach number 7 in the US Hot Rock & Alternative Songs chart. The band had already been performing the song live on stage and continued to do so afterwards, with lead singer Brendon Urie producing some nice falsettos and hitting impressive top notes. Other examples of their live performances are available from the Alternative Press Music Awards 2015 (where Brendon is drunk but still nails it), Reading Festival 2015Death Of A Bachelor Tour 2017, American Music Awards 2018, London’s O2 Arena 2019 & Rock In Rio 2019 (where you can hear the audience singing along very enthusiastically!).

Covers have also been released as singles or album tracks by:

And there are other versions performed by AlibiAlex Goot, Sam Tsui, Kurt Schneider & Tyler Ward (over 1½ million views), Halocene, Eleven, Lauren Babic & Violet Orlandi (over 2½ million views), HelloïseI Am Not Leo (heavy metal), Kanda Brothers, The Muff, The Novelists, Parasyche (featuring lots of impressions of different rock and metal stars), RockVille & Israel Chamber Orchestra, Ultrasonic Rock Orchestra, Vic Ferrari Band (also here) & Zac Brown Band (also here).

Tribute Bands

A group called The Show Must Go On performed the song in a special concert on 9 November 2011 to mark the 30th anniversary of Freddie’s death, with all proceeds going to AIDS Project Los Angeles. This unique collaboration includes Bear McCreary on the piano (best known as the composer for Outlander, The Walking Dead and Battlestar Galactica),  along with his brother and fellow musician Brendan as the lead singer.

Other tribute bands who have performed the song include Bohemian Rhapsody (an Australian group named after the song), Born To Be Queen, Bracia (on Tribute To Queen), The Classic Rock Show, Dream Queen (on their Killer Queen tribute album), God Save The QueenLucie & The DiamondsNight Of Queen (also here), Peter Johansson (on Champions Of Rock: Live In Concert), Queen KillersThe Queen Kings (on Made On Tour, and another performance from News Of The Kings), Queen Real Tribute (live with orchestra and choir), Unrisen Queen (on their self-titled album), We Are Champion (also here).

Other Bands

Other versions have been performed by:

Duets

The Braids recorded an R&B version for the soundtrack of the film High School High. It’s got a somewhat catchy beat and is sung well for this style, but it’s not my type of music so I can’t say I’m a fan of it. Many people were keen on it though, as the single reached number 1 in the UK R&B chart, and number 21 in the UK overall, as well as number 2 in New Zealand, 42 in the US, and did well across Europe. There were various alternate mixes, including Acoustic, RemixStripped-Down, Instrumental & A Cappella versions. The instrumental mix has enabled other singers to do their own renditions too, including Anaëlle on a 2019 TV talent show in Mauritius called VIBE Moris, and Youtubers Cynthia & Tonia and Aurelia Valero.

Other duets include those by Andy & Jenko (acoustic), António Zambujo & Miguel Araújo (a live version from 28 Noites Ao Vivo Nos Coliseus), Iván Petrac & German Tripel (piano and vocals), Jack Black & Chris Stills (at the 2018 Light Up The Blues benefit concert for Autism Speaks in Los Angeles),  Kaiak (acoustic), Montserrat Caballé & Bruce Dickinson (on her album Friends For Life), ortoPilot (guitar and vocals).

Solo Male Singers

Marc Martel recorded a great version for his album Thunderbolt And Lightning, and has performed the song on several other occasions, including:

Robbie Williams performed the song live at Zénith de Paris on 30 March 2015 during his Let Me Entertain You tour, incorporating Queen’s introduction, backing vocals and operatic section from their original recording and video. It doesn’t really suit him – his voice isn’t as powerful as Freddie Mercury’s or Adam Lambert’s by a long way, nor does his backing band come close to Queen either. But it’s ok in the context of his own style, and he’s aided by the audience joining in of course. It’s also nice to seem him giving a shoutout to Freddie at the end. You can see similar performance in 2015 from MadridAdelaide, Melbourne & Brisbane (after which he has an amusing exchange with a young lady called Morgan).

Other guys who have released the song include:

Further renditions by other guys include:

  • John Miles – Performed the song live in concert, with another example here.

Solo Female Singers

Women who have released covers include:

Other versions by female singers include:

TV Talent Show Singers

Got Talent Franchise

  • America’s Got Talent:
    • Cristina Ramos – The opera singer’s audition for the 2019 Champions series, having previously won Spain’s Got Talent.
    • Prince Poppycock – A very camp performance during the Season 5 Semi-Final in 2016, covering the operatic section onwards. He came 4th in the season.
  • Dominicana’s Got Talent:
    • Argentine Rock Band – Dressed up as Freddie & co, this group audition with Bohemian Rhapsody and a snippet of We Will Rock You.
  • Georgia’s Got Talent:
    • Cappella – A very impressive kids choir, who performed the entire song for their audition in 2018.

Idol Franchise

The Voice

The Voice Kids

The X Factor

  • UK:
  • USA:
    • Jeff Gutt – Week 4 in 2013. He was the runner-up of the series.

Other Shows

  • Battle Of The Choirs (Australia):
  • Last Choir Standing (BBC, UK):
  • Rock Star: INXS (CBS, America):
    • Suzie McNeil – In the 2016 CBS series, from which you can see another performance here. She came 12th overall, and has performed the song in some of her concerts since then.
  • We Want More (The Netherlands):

Accompanied Vocal & Operatic Groups

A Cappella

Choirs & Choruses

There are loads of covers by choirs, including Alex Hawker Rock Choir (also here, Austin High School ChoirBel Canto Choir VilniusBogazici University Music Club Rock ChoirChrist University ChoirCobham Hall School ChoirCoral Stma. Trinidad de Valencia, CorVivaceC4 Choir (singers aged 10-15 from France), Eden Prairie High School Concert ChoirED5 International Virtual ChoirEliza Fyfe’s Singing Students – Choirantine (plus a few outtakes and a BBC News report), Esperanza Azteca (backed by a full orchestra), The Gay Men’s Choruses of Boston, KnoxvilleLos Angeles, Portland & San Francisco (also here), Hladnov Rock Choir (plus a live performance), Hoërskool Rustenburg Choir, Hummingsong Community Choirs (with a string quartet), Jetstream & Gibraltar Youth ChoirLondon City VoicesNelson Mandela Metropolitan University ChoirOccidental College Glee ClubOllerup School (over 3 million views, also here), Paarl Boys High School Choir, PopUp ChorusRocknMob (over 150 musicians), San Ramon Voices High School ChoirSeattle Ladies Choir (also here), Soul SongStrictly A Cappella ChoirTottenville High School Concert Choir (plus an article about making the video), The Treorchy Male Voice Choir (on their album Treorchy Sing Queen), Trinity Boys Choir (shared on Queen’s channel, plus a behind-the-scenes video), TUBBS A Cappella ChoirUBC A Cappella Choir & UBCO BeatsUnionville High School ChoirUniversity Of Exeter Chapel Choir (maybe I’m biased as a former student of the university, but I think this version is glorious) and Voice Of Unity & PSM Cantate Domino.

Flash Mobs

Flash mobs who have surprised people with the song, mainly at shopping centres, include Centro Commerciale Borgo, Helsbelsify (by the bridal party at a wedding), Hints Zoltán, The Queen Symphony (takes a few minutes to get going but then really comes to life), Shopping Vitória & SWR1.

Concert Crowds

It’s quite some feat for a performer, who had died 26 years previously, to unify and control tens of thousands of people all at once, most of whom weren’t even born when they were in their heyday, getting them to belt out a 42-year-old song at a concert for a completely different band.

But that’s exactly what happened, firmly demonstrating Freddie’s power and legacy, when 65,000 people sang the song at a Green Day Concert at the British Summertime Festival in Hyde Park on 1 July 2017, filmed by a camera on stage. And here’s a video shot by an audience member, giving a great sense of the atmosphere. You can see other singalongs from that year at Ziggo Dome, Moda Center in PortlandVélez Sarsfield Stadium in Argentina & Corona Capital in Mexico City.

As another example, you can also see a thousand people singing the song in unison at Summer By The River in London Bridge City, as a band plays the tune on stage.

Orchestras

Versions by classical orchestras include:

Covers by other orchestras include:

Brass Bands

Covers have been released on albums by:

Other brass bands that have performed the song include The Band of the Grenadier Guards (outside Buckingham Palace to celebrate the movie’s 2 Golden Globes, plus other Palace performance clips and a rendition at Waterloo Station), Brass Band De WâldsangCarolina Crown Drum & Bugle CorpsDublin Silver Band, International Trombone FestivalThe Macclesfield Youth Brass Band, Malta Presidential Guards, Marching Pioneers of UW-Platteville, Mnozil Brass (a mix of a cappella and wind instruments, also herehere), Ohio University Marching 110, Olympic BrassOompah BrassRiver City Brass, Seth Davis (with a brass quartet), Southern University Human JukeboxStockholm Changing Of The GuardTokyo City Concert Brass, University Of Lancaster Brass Band & Zagreb Philharmonic Trombone Quartet.

Saxophone Players

Saxophone covers have been played by Daniele Vitale (to a cover track), Flat Sax Quartet, Frederick Mazezky (to Queen’s backing track), Graziatto & Shalom (duet with piano), JK Sax (to Queen’s backing track), Josh Plotner (an impressive arrangement on a variety of woodwind instruments), Miquelmar (duet with flute to Queen’s backing track), The Moanin’ Frogs (on their self-titled album, plus live performances herehere), National Saxophone Choir of Great Britain, Noah-Benedikt (to Queen’s backing track), Paautr (multi-tracked to form a quartet), Pablo & Mariana Tani (duet with piano).

Strings

Versions released by solo strings players include:

Other versions by solo strings players include:

Guitarists

There are also a couple of notable child guitarists who have posted several videos of themselves performing the song:

 

Pianists

There are loads of piano renditions, including Adrian LeeAlexander LioubimenkoAnderson & Roe (a clever and interesting reimagining), Atin, Bobby RennieChristian Salerno, Christine Brown (a romantic version from her Timeless album), Costantino Carrara (over 3 million views), Derek Margulies, Evan Brezicki (over 2 million views for this 13-year-old, with other performances herehere & here), Francesco Parrino (over 3½ million views), Gabriele Baldocci (an extended rearrangement called Poem Of The Bohemian on their album Sheer Piano Attack), Gazmada (plus a live street performance), Ignacio NavarroIlmo The DudeJarrod Radnich (over 6 million views), Jazzy FabbryJeffrey MunksJeremy Weinglass – From his Rock Classics, plus a clip of people singing along at a party), Jonah RyanKenneth AugustLorie Line (on Rock Star), Maksim Mrvica (plus a live performance with the Zagreb Philharmonic Orchestra and a performance from Japan), Mercuzio (on Pianosong Vol. 1), Mr DimNate Hance (a ragtime version, plus a mashup with George Gershwin called Rhapsody In Blue), Otmar BinderPeter BencePiano PhantomSamer FanekSangah NoonaSara Anderholm & Jonathan CannamoreScott Bradlee (a mashup with George Gershwin’s Rhapsody In Blue, originally posted on Post Modern Jukebox), Thierry Lang (on the bonus disc of his Guide Me Home album), Valerie Stern & Susan Kim-PedrozaValtteri Nieminen (also here), VK Goes Wild (over 10 million views, plus a rendition on a Bösendorfer Concert Grand, and live performances here, here & here),  Wouter Kellerman & The Charl du Plessis Piano Trio (with flute and other instruments) and Yuval Salomon (released as a single).

There have also been organ recitals by Adrian MarpleAlexey Rom (on a 100-year-old fairground organ), Bert van den BrinkJosh Stafford (on the world’s largest pipe organ, the Midmer-Losh pipe organ, with 33,112 pipes), Lew WilliamsRob Scallon (using a laptop to control a church organ, including a full making-of video), Robert StaplesTimur Khaliullin & Tyler Breneman.

There are also a few child pianists who have shared performances of the song, the most prolific being Cole Lam. He’s posted several public performances of his own arrangement, at the ages of 11 & 12, including videos from John Lewis in Oxford Street, LVS Music Festival (at which he won the Grand Prize for his performance), St Pancras Station (with bystanders singing in this case but he’s also played there without people singing), Freddie’s Bar at Old Kent Market in Margate, The National Archives (during Pride celebrations), Tottenham Court Road Station (posted on Freddie Mercury’s birthday), Heathrow Airporta hotel in China (followed by Don’t Stop Me Now), and Westfield Stratford City, among others.

Other child pianists who have tackled the track include Alexander Penkov (performs the shortened Live Aid version in front of his school), Avett Maness (this viral video by the blind 6-year-old led to a guest appearance on American Idol 2019), The Kids Place (a young girl accompanied by her young brother on guitar), Stefan Studer (6 years old), Ty Practice Piano (also here in a combined performance with Don’t Stop Me Now).

Percussionists

Percussionist performers of the song include Concordia Percussion Ensemble (plus a live performance), Corona Del Sol Percussion, Harvard THUD – Boomhemian Whacksody (using Boomwhackers), The Louisville Leopard PercussionistsMcKinney Boyd High School Percussion (with an extended ending to the operatic section), Sydney University Carillon (a cleverly arranged bell-ringing version).

Other Instrumentals

Foreign Language Versions

Remixes

Dancers

  • Anubiste – After the Best Man was filmed lip-syncing to the song in his underwear during the stag do, other members of the wedding party decided to film their own versions as well, and cut them all together to create a surprise video, which was shown on the big day. So here you get to see the bride’s reaction as well as the amusing video itself.
  • Brian Esperon – A beautifully choreographed peformance to the Panic! At The Disco version.
  • Charlene’s School Of Dance – A group from Orlando, Florida, competing for a People’s Choice Award in the 2017 Industry Dance Awards.
  • Dance Fusion – A live performance by this jazz dance group.
  • Dani Harmer & Vincent Simone – From the BBC Strictly Come Dancing final in 2012.
  • English National Ballet – Posted by Queen on their official channel, plus a video interviewing the people involved.

Animations

Other Interpretations

  • HMS Campbelltown – A fun lip-dubbed video by the officers and staff of the Royal Navy vessel, made during their spare time while on patrol in the Indian Ocean.

Conclusion

“You can do anything with my work, but never make me boring.”

You’ll see some variation of that Freddie Mercury quote in the comments of most Queen-related videos these days, including many of those listed above, thanks to the release of the Never Boring box set that made people aware of it. It’s a lazy copycat attempt to get some likes really, and it does get boring to see it over and over again. However, it is fair to say that the artists above have achieved Freddie’s wish, and I’m sure he’s looking down with delight that his music is still inspiring people so much.

It really is incredible how many different approaches have been taken to the song by people all over the world, and it’s amazing how well they work in many cases. It just goes to show the quality of Freddie’s composition that it can be adapted so widely. This is one of many Queen songs that will persist forever, and they deserve to live on for generations to come. These covers ensure that.

Check out my Covers playlist for all the versions I’ve mentioned above. I’ll continue adding to it, along with this post, as and when I discover more. Feel free to let me know if there’s anything I should consider adding as well, to this or any of my Queen playlists.

So thank you for reading, I hope you found this epic post enjoyable and interesting. I’ll be continuing with my Queen album reviews next year, so look out for those. And thank you to Freddie and the rest of Queen for their incredible legacy, that we will all continue to enjoy and pay tribute to for a long time to come.

Author: Glen

Love London, love a laugh, love life. Visually impaired blogger, culture vulture & accessibility advocate, with aniridia & nystagmus, posting about my experiences & adventures.

4 thoughts on “Queen At 50 Reviews – Bohemian Rhapsody Covers”

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