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Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” is now the most-streamed song of the 20th century, racking up more than 1.6 billion streams of the song and music video, according to Universal Music Group, which represents the band’s catalog globally, outside of North America.
The six-minute opus is an instantly recognizable classic, but was given an extra boost this year by the release of the Freddie Mercury biopic “Bohemian Rhapsody.” Five weeks after its release, the movie became the highest grossing musical biopic of all time, racking up more than $600 million in ticket sales.
“Bohemian Rhapsody” also has another pop culture distinction. It’s widely credited with being the first promotional music video for a song, paving the way for the MTV generation.
Brian May, a founding member and guitarist in Queen, responded to the streaming milestone on Monday with a very rock and roll statement.
“So the River of Rock Music has metamorphosed into streams! Very happy that our music is still flowing to the max!” he said.
When Queen released “Bohemian Rhapsody” in 1975, everything about the song went against the mold, from its operatic portions to its lyrics about Galileo. Yet, after the song got past record company skeptics and was played on the radio, it became Queen’s first top 10 hit in the U.S. and topped the U.K. charts for nine consecutive weeks.
Universal Music Group, which has been promoting the single on streaming platforms as part of its campaign to introduce Queen to a younger generation, said it arrived at the 1.6 billion number by calculating streams from Spotify, Apple Music, Deezer and YouTube.
“Bohemian Rhapsody” is also the most-streamed classic rock song of all time, according to Universal. It overtakes hits such as Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” "Sweet Child O'Mine" by Guns N' Roses, and A-ha’s “Take On Me.”