Bohemian Rhapsody: Music

One of the key roles on the film was the music supervisor. Becky Bentham was charged with the daunting task of creating the soundtrack for the film, using both Freddie Mercury‘s real voice, a sound-alike and Rami Malek.

After discussing with the director and the producer, Bentham categorized each song based on whether they are an on-camera performance or a background video. Having established how much existing material is available, from backing tracks to vocals, Bentham then ended up with a list of requirements for each pre-record sessions. She then laid down all the materials needed for each play back. The pre-records were sent to the cast to practice with vocal and instrument coaches.

“For ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, we were lucky to have access to all the original vocal recordings and all the original band recordings,” she continues. “In addition to that, we have recorded a sound-alike for those sections where recordings don’t exist, as well as Rami Malek’s performances, which formed a library of materials that we then turned into a soundtrack that was as authentic as possible.”

For all the singing scenes, Bentham required the actors to sing out along to the pre-recorded songs. “It’s vital because it gets the movement in the throat and the facial muscles,” she says.

Although it seemed like the most challenging task, the Live Aid scenes were the easiest to do, says Bentham, “because the tracks were all pre-recorded, so it was just a matter of playing them back at high volume to get the band in the right mood.”

Bentham plays tribute to Malek and the rest of the cast. “It’s a credit to the actors and their dedication in putting in the hours with their coaches to achieve what we’ve got,” she says. “Ben Hardy played a little bit of drums already, so he had a framework that we were able to build on. Gwilym Lee played some guitar, and Joe Mazzello played a bit of bass. Like Rami, they all spent long hours working with the pre-records. For Rami, we recorded and filmed our sound-alike so Rami had both a sound and visual reference to ensure he had the same physicality, from body movement to the breaths he takes.”

The tracks were recorded at London’s legendary Abbey Road Studios. “I remember Rami walking in for our first recording session and looking up to see a picture of Queen and Freddie staring down at him! It was daunting in one way but an endorsement in another, and it really added to the experience.”

Graham King has high hopes for the film and its message for the younger generation. “This is a really uplifting film,“ he says. “I hope that if there’s anyone in the audience who is confused or being bullied or feeling like an outcast, they would take to heart what Mary says to Freddie in the film: ‘Don’t you see who you can be? Anything you want to be.’ That’s a very important message in today’s world.”

But it’s also the music that King knows will capture the audience’s imagination. “I go to see a film because I want to feel it, not just see it. For me it was always, if we can get 500 people in a theater clapping and singing along to those powerful anthems that they grew up with and that are a part of their lives, then that’s a film experience. And I think we‘ve done just that. I want people to come out of this film and hug the person they’re next to and sing along with Queen songs. ‘We Will Rock You,’ ‘We Are The Champions,’ ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’–all these songs are larger-than-life and can’t help but put a smile on your face. I wanted to continue the legacy of Freddie Mercury and Queen, to show a younger generation who Freddie Mercury was, how the band survived through times, how the music business has changed, what it was like to make a record in those days, what it was like for four guys to meet and create that special sound. Freddie always called the band his family. And I think there’s no better time in the world to pass on the idea that we are all part of one family, no matter who we are or where we come from.”

Rami Malek agrees: “I hope that everyone leaves the film as inspired by Freddie’s story as I am, feeling confident, feeling inspired. That they know it’s okay to be who you are. I hope that they can sing as loudly as he can and own every truth of theirs, and not feel like they have to hide anything, but that they can just be, and enjoy exactly who they were meant to be.”