Bohemian Rhapsody’s revolution: how Queen inspired the MTV era

Bohemian Rhapsody’s revolution: how Queen inspired the MTV era

Rock legends Queen gave us more than just decades of remarkable and beloved music. As well as challenging stereotypes (and sometimes gleefully living up them), Freddie and friends kicked off an entirely new trend: the music video.

Back in the 1970s, visual accompaniment to the day’s musical hits was provided by the services of Legs & Co, Pan’s People and Hot Gossip: dance troupes who livened the BBC’s Top of the Pops with themed costumes, dances and a lot of leg.

Pan's People

Appalled by the prospect of their sci-fi rock opera Bohemian Rhapsody receiving the Monster Mash treatment, and wary of performing the difficult song live, Queen set aside 4 hours back in November 1975 – and made an iconic piece of film that’s as instantly recognisable as those opening harmonies.

The music video already existed, but now it became an essential. Instead of recreating a live show, acts like Peter Gabriel and A-ha used animation to create instant classics. New computer technology brought new possibilities, as seen in the rotoscoped bright neon colours and ground-breaking (for the time!) 3D computer animation of Dire Straits’ Money for Nothing.

As early as 1979, The Buggles lamented, ‘Video Killed the Radio Star’ – only to find themselves the first video ever played on MTV in 1981.

Today, the music video still holds immense pull. Lady Gaga and Beyonce’s collaboration on Telephone featured a 9-minute mini-movie, with production values to match. Taylor Swift’s Look What You Made Me Do caused a flurry of speculation when it was shock-released online, as fans unpicked the message ‘the old Taylor Swift is dead’ via visual references to her video back catalogue.

Meanwhile, the video era has ushered in a new, more homespun offshoot: online music stars. The likes of Dodie Clark, Emma Blackery and Alex Day have built million-strong followings and music careers off the simplicity of being able to upload and share a music video, worldwide, from your own bedroom.

Will the music video last another 40 years? And if so, what will it look like?



  1. Catherine Clarke says:

    Flash a truibUte to queen link not working

    • Steven Bister says:

      Hi Catherine,

      Unfortunately Flash: A Tribute to Queen is an archived event, which took place last year. We hadn’t spotted this broken link, so thank you for bringing it to our attention. We have now deleted the link to avoid future confusion. If you would be interested in signing up to hear more about Bramall events, then we could let you know if the Flash Queen act will be returning for a future performance.

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