Universal Music Group announced in a press release that Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” is the most-streamed song of the 20th century, People is reporting. The song has been played over a staggering 1.6 billion times on streaming services around the world, such as Spotify, Apple Music, and YouTube. This number means the song beats out close contenders like “Smells Like Teen Spirit” by Nirvana and “Sweet Child O’Mine” by Guns N’ Roses. Not only does Queen have the most-streamed song of the 20th century, but “Bohemian Rhapsody” is now the most streamed rock song of all-time.
The 1975 song made a huge comeback following the release of the Freddie Mercury biopic named after the song. According to Forbes, the new film is the highest grossing music biopic in history, raking in around $600 million. The movie’s star, Rami Malek, was nominated for a Golden Globe for his portrayal of Mercury. Even without the movie causing a massive resurgence, however, the song may still have been a contender. “Bohemian Rhapsody” was successful upon release, giving Queen their first top 10 hit in the United States. In the United Kingdom, it remained at the No. 1 spot for nine weeks straight. The song was inducted into the Grammy’s Hall Of Fame decades later in 2004, which just goes to show the successful song’s longevity.
According to BBC America, the song was written entirely by Mercury. Deciphering the meaning of the song has been a fun pastime for many fans, and Mercury always remained cryptic when asked about it.
“‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ didn’t just come out of thin air. I did a bit of research, although it was tongue-in-cheek and it was a mock opera. Why not?” Mercury once said. “I think people should just listen to it, think about it, and then make up their own minds as to what it says to them.”
Mercury also insisted that the song remains at six minutes long as he envisioned. Many people were skeptical of Mercury’s plan until they heard what it sounded like in its entirety. For producer Roy Thomas Baker, he realized upon listening to the finished version that Mercury had made something significant.
“Nobody really knew how it was going to sound as a whole six-minute song until it was put together,” Baker said. “I was standing at the back of the control room, and you just knew that you were listening for the first time to a big page in history. Something inside me told me that this was a red-letter day, and it really was.”