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Take care of those you call your own and keep good company.
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A Night at the Opera is the fourth studio album by Queen, released in 1975—and yes, it is named after the famous The Marx Brothers film. Often cited as the most expensive album ever made at the time, with overdubs, vocal harmonies, and effects that resulted in it taking four months to record atseven studios, the album takes its "No synthesizers" claim and milks it for all it's worth. It's best known for the hit singles "Bohemian Rhapsody", "You're My Best Friend", "I'm In Love With My Car", and "Love Of My Life", but "'39", "Death on Two Legs (Dedicated to...)", "The Prophet's Song", "Good Company", "Seaside Rendezvous",and the rest are fan favorites. A documentary about the creative process behind the making of this album can be seen in the Classic Albums TV documentary series. The album was also listed at #231 in Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, and #134 on Acclaimed Music's 2018 list of the All Time Top 3000 Albums.

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Tracklist:

Side One

  1. "Death on Two Legs (Dedicated to...)" (3:43)
  2. "Lazing on a Sunday Afternoon" (1:08)
  3. "I'm in Love with My Car" (3:05)
  4. "You're My Best Friend" (2:50)
  5. "'39" (3:25)
  6. "Sweet Lady" (4:01)
  7. "Seaside Rendezvous" (2:13)

Side Two

  1. "The Prophet's Song" (8:17)
  2. "Love of My Life" (3:38)
  3. "Good Company" (3:26)
  4. "Bohemian Rhapsody" (5:55)
  5. "God Save the Queen" (1:11)


Principal Members:

  • John Deacon - bass, piano
  • Brian May - guitar, backing and lead vocals, ukulele, koto, harp
  • Freddie Mercury - lead vocals, piano
  • Roger Taylor - drums, percussion, backing and lead vocals


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Are these the real tropes? Are they just fantasies?

  • All of the Other Reindeer: "Bohemian Rhapsody"
    I'm just a poor boy, nobody loves me.
  • At the Opera Tonight: Basically what the album title alludes to.
  • Audience Participation Song: "Love of My Life" would later be turned into a concert duet with the audience.
  • Badass Boast:
    • "Death on Two Legs"
      But now you can kiss my ass goodbye!
    • A band named Queen covering God Save the Queen? That's got to be one heck of a boast!
  • Bohemian Parody: Trope Namer. Duh.
  • Boring, but Practical: Brian May's method for supplying the harp parts. Since he couldn't actually play the instrument, he recorded each chord separately and edited them together to get the lines he wanted. On audio tape. It took days.
  • Call-and-Response Song: "Bohemian Rhapsody" has Freddie doing this with the other band members and sometimes even with his own vocals.
  • Car Song: "I'm in Love with My Car", about Roger's love for his vehicle.
  • Concept Album: It's often speculated that it's one. After all, when you tie in the title as well as the ridiculous amounts of operatic and classical influences on this album over any other, it makes more than enough sense.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • "Love of My Life" has "when I get older I will be there at your side to remind you how I still love you, I still love you". Sixteen years later, "These Are the Days of Our Lives" (by a different songwriter though) has an older (and dying) Freddie singing "when I look and I find, I still love you... I still love you." The video makes it all even more tearful, as it was Freddie's last.
    • "Seaside Rendezvous" has "I love you madly", while "Was It All Worth It" from The Miracle has "We love you madly".
  • Cover Version: "God Save the Queen". Notable in that Queen had never covered anything in the studio prior to this and would go on to not cover anything since.
  • "Days of the Week" Song: "Lazing on a Sunday Afternoon" lists the activities that the singer undertakes on each day of the week, ending with the title.
  • Defiant to the End: "Bohemian Rhapsody".
    Nothing really matters to me, anyway the wind blows.
  • Design Student's Orgasm: The album cover, which would eventually become the band's logo.
  • Establishing Album Moment: The intro to album opener "Death on Two Legs" starts off with reverberated piano fading in, which loses its reverb—then sirens and multitracked guitar come in, along with more effects, being led into the actual song with a high scream by Freddie Mercury. This shows off the skill with effects and overdubs the band have, as well as foreshadowing Song Style Shift: The Song, a.k.a. "Bohemian Rhapsody."
  • Epic Rocking: "Bohemian Rhapsody", "The Prophet's Song".
  • Every Episode Ending: Played With. A few (but not all) of the songs have similar endings: the song will pretend to end, but then a heavily panned coda appears out of nowhere. At first, it sounds like it builds up to something, but nothing's really done with it.
  • Face Death with Dignity: "Bohemian Rhapsody"
    Gotta to leave you all behind and face the truth.
  • Fading into the Next Song: The guitar at the end of "The Prophet's Song" fades into the introduction for "Love Of My Life".
    • "Death on Two Legs" / "Lazing on a Sunday Afternoon" / "I'm in Love with My Car".
  • Genre Roulette: Heavy Metal, music hall, Hard Rock, Soft Rock, Folk, Hard Rock again, Vaudeville, Progressive Rock, piano music, Soft Rock again, "Bohemian Rhapsody" (A Cappela, piano, opera, Hard Rock, piano again), and the British National Anthem (in order).
  • Good Angel, Bad Angel: In "Bohemian Rhapsody", various factions are fighting over the protagonist's soul:
    I'm just a poor boy, nobody loves me,
    He's just a poor boy from a poor family,
    Spare him his life from this monstrosity!
    Easy come, easy go, will you let me go?
    Bismillah! No, we will not let you go! (Let him go!)
    Bismillah! We will not let you go. (Let him go!)
    Bismillah! We will not let you go. (Let me go!)
    We will not let you go (Let me go!)
    We will not let you go,
    No, no, no, no, no, no, no!
  • Grand Finale: What better way to end an album than with the British national anthem?
  • Gratuitous Foreign Language: "Bohemian Rhapsody" has several Italian words thrown in for rhyme and epic-ness.
  • Gratuitous French: "Seaside Rendezvous" in the title alone, but also in the lyrics:
    Fantastique, c'est la vie, madames et monsieurs
  • Grief Song:
    • "Bohemian Rhapsody" is maybe a Murder Ballad about someone who killed a man and feels bad about it.
      • Five Stages of Grief: The intro starts off "Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?"; the narrator is going through Denial. The part where the narrator talks about "Any way the wind blows, doesn't really matter" is the narrator going through Despair. The opera part, especially the "Will you let me go?", is the narrator Bargaining. The hard rock section is, of course, Anger. In the final, gentle-sounding stage, the narrator shifts back into Despair before finally settling on Acceptance.
    • "'39" is about an astronaut who goes on deep space mission only to find his lover has passed away due to the time-dilation effect.
  • Heavy Mithril:
    • "'39", which is 'space opera'.
    • "The Prophet's Song" is supposed to be about the Biblical story of Noah, or so Brian May says (he also claims that the song came to him in a dream).
  • Hypocritical Humor: In "Lazing on a Sunday Afternoon"
    I come from London town, I'm just an ordinary guy
    Fridays I go painting in the Louvre
  • Instrumentals: "God Save the Queen".
  • In the Style of...:
    • "Lazing on a Sunday Afternoon", which is played in the style of a music hall song.
    • "Bohemian Rhapsody'', which is a mini opera. Several songs have instrumentation lent from classical music.
  • Ironic Echo: "Good Company", with the line "take care of those you call your own and keep good company".
  • It's a Wonderful Plot: "Bohemian Rhapsody"
    Sometimes wish I'd never been born at all.
  • I Want My Mommy!: The protagonist in "Bohemian Rhapsody" moans for his mother.
  • Lyrical Cold Open: "Bohemian Rhapsody" starts off with an opening chorus.
  • Lyrical Dissonance: "'39" is a happy, upbeat skiffle song, with lyrics about a space voyage for one year, but due to the time dilation effect, one hundred years have passed, and everyone the protagonist loves is long since dead.
  • Mind Screw:
  • Miniscule Rocking: "Lazing on a Sunday Afternoon" (1:08), "God Save the Queen" (1:11).
  • Mondegreen: "Mama, just killed a man" from "Bohemian Rhapsody" is sometimes heard as "Mama just killed a man" (as in the mother killed someone and not the protagonist). "Bismil'lah" (Arabic for "by the grace of God") is often misheard as "Miss Miller" or even "Max Miller".
  • Mood Whiplash: The first three tracks. "Death On Two Legs" is a harsh, acerbic 'fuck you' of a song, that abruptly shifts into a tinkly piano solo and Freddie's twee lyrics of "Lazing On a Sunday Afternoon", which itself shifts into the slow, hard, rock ballad "I'm In Love With My Car". Without a single pause.
  • Murder Ballad: "Bohemian Rhapsody"
    Mama, just killed a man.
  • Mythology Gag: The lyrics of "39" playfully reference one of Freddie's pre-Queen bands, Sour Milk Sea.
  • Non-Appearing Title: "Bohemian Rhapsody".
  • No Sympathy: The protagonist in "Bohemian Rhapsody" is "just a poor boy" and needs "no sympathy".
  • Notable Music Videos: "Bohemian Rhapsody" is one of the most iconic and frequently parodied.
  • One-Woman Song: "Sweet Lady".
  • Precision F-Strike: "Death on Two Legs (Dedicated to...)"
    So now you can kiss my ass goodbye!
  • The Power of Friendship: "You're My Best Friend".
    You're the best friend that I ever had
    I've been with you such a long time
    You're my sunshine
    And I want you to know that my feelings are true
    I really love you
    You're my best friend
  • The Prophecy: "The Prophet's Song" in which a seer predicts what will happen in the future and urges everyone to listen to his wise words.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: "Death on Two Legs (Dedicated to...)" is "dedicated" to the band's former manager, and gives him quite an earful.
  • Self-Backing Vocalist: Appears a lot (it's Queen, after all), but one of the most prominent usages occurs during the middle part of "The Prophet's Song" where Mercury backed his own voice using a delay machine.
    • All vocals on "Lazing on a Sunday Afternoon" and "Love of My Life" were by Freddie, from those in the low register to the high falsetto parts. Brian sang everything on "Good Company". It also applies to parts of some numbers: the "Bohemian Rhapsody" intro is just Freddie plus Freddie plus Freddie plus Freddie, as are other bits of the song (e.g., "anyway the wind blows" before the solo). Freddie and Roger contributed backing vocals on parts of "'39", but the resolutions of each chorus (e.g., "all your letters in the sang cannot heal me like your hand, for my life's still ahead, pity me") are just Brian plus Brian plus Brian, including the falsetto part.
  • Sexy Silhouette:
    • The band at the start of the music video of "Bohemian Rhapsody" are shot in silhouette. Also:
      I see a little silhouette-o of a man
  • Shout-Out:
  • Sliding Scale of Realistic Versus Fantastic: "Bohemian Rhapsody"
    Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?
  • Something Completely Different: "39": no Fred's lead, no guitar solos, no full drum kit, no piano, no electric bass. Still a fan favourite.
  • Song Style Shift: "Bohemian Rhapsody" goes through several. "The Prophet's Song" is a hard rock song with an extended a capella section in the middle, where Freddie goes crazy with the studio overdubs.
  • Space Is an Ocean: "'39" is about a space voyage, but leans so hard into nautical metaphors that it's a borderline Tomato Surprise when Time Dilation comes up.
    And the night followed day
    And the story tellers say
    That the score brave souls inside
    For many a lonely day
    sailed across the milky seas
    Ne'er looked back, never feared, never cried
  • Spiritual Successor: A Day at the Races, again named after a Marx Brothers film, similar album cover art and again a lot of Epic Riff-driven Hard Rock tunes with classical music influences.
  • A Storm Is Coming: "The Prophet's Song'', reminiscent of the biblical story of Noah.
  • Step Up to the Microphone: Roger Taylor sings lead on "I'm in Love with My Car". Brian May sings lead on "'39" and "Good Company".
  • Stock Sound Effects: "I'm in Love with My Car" ends with car noises (or start the song if you're listening to the single version).
  • A Storm Is Coming: "The Prophet's Song", based on the Biblical story of Noah.
  • Take That!: "Death On Two Legs (Dedicated to...)", a SCATHING attack on their former manager Norman Sheffield. On the Live Killers version, Freddie ramped it up a bit more by saying it was dedicated to "a motherfucker of a gentleman". "Flick of the Wrist", from the preceding album is written along the same lines, and reputedly directed at the same motherfucker. It's a full-blown Reason You Suck Song.
  • Up to Eleven: The band's pre-digital, multilayered use of the recording studio was unprecedented at the time, particularly considering they used no synthesizers and recorded to 16-track. The analog two-inch tape used "Bohemian Rhapsody", notoriously, wore out in the middle of recording to the point where one can see through it in sections, and had to be transferred carefully to new tape to be completed.
  • Villain Protagonist: The murderer in "Bohemian Rhapsody".
  • Walking Swimsuit Scene: "Seaside Rendezvous" evokes images of an old-fashioned beach visit near the seaside.
  • When You Coming Home, Dad?: "Good Company" is about an ambitious young businessman whose wife leaves him and takes the kids because he's never home. There's a double meaning to his being rewarded with "my own limited company".
  • Word Salad Lyrics: Freddie once openly admitted that "Bohemian Rhapsody"'s lyrics have no real meaning to them.

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