Muppets and Strings and Bohemian Rhapsody, Oh My!

An amazing video has been making the internet rounds recently; I had seen a few links to it, but I just now finally took the time to sit down and watch it. Not that the concept wasn’t compelling, mind you — the Muppets performing Bohemian Rhapsody? Why did I not drop everything and focus on this the moment I became aware of it? Other than my situational ADD, I have absolutely no excuse.


It is indeed a think of beauty, although I have to say that I thought Animal‘s “Mama” soliloquy went on a bit too long; I would have liked to see other characters come in and do more of the real lyrics during that section. But that’s a nitpick. Animal was always one of my favorite Muppets, along with Beaker. I was very happy to see Rowlf the Dog on piano, and I was especially pleased to see Janice taking the guitar solos. Chicks rule! Especially chicks on guitar!

I couldn’t help but be reminded of another cover of this song, one that was part of a momentous occasion in my life. A classmate of mine at U.C. Berkeley arranged the tune for string quartet, and it was performed on our graduation concert (the same concert where my senior thesis piece was played — yay me! 🙂 ).

It pains me to admit that all of this took place back in the last century, before YouTube and other assorted digital marvels, (I was a child prodigy, okay? 😉 ) so I can’t show you any documentation of it.

But I did find a few things that are in the ballpark, in more ways than one! Click Mr. Readmore to rock out, albeit in rather highbrow fashion!

I was tickled to find the version below, for string quartet plus guitar and rhythm section, because the performance took place at a high school in my hometown of Napa, California. (I was a good little private school gal myself, but I must admit that this public school had a bigger music program than my school — boo hoo!) Good on you, hometown kids!

Still, I wanted to find a version for strings alone, unaugmented by anything amplified.

I found an enticing little sample here:

This outfit, Vitamin Records, has released a number of string quartet rock ‘n’ roll tributes, which is intriguing. However, I was disappointed to find that they don’t identify the performers on the website, other than to say that they’re “the best string players and producers in the business.” I can’t tell if it’s the same performers for each album, or a different pick-up group each time. It’s kinda hard to fangirl that, guys — come on!

I found a couple other versions worth checking out. The Coda String Quartet’s cover uses a drum kit along with the quartet, which is okay I guess, but a purist might argue it’s just admitting defeat. 😛

I’d like to hear the Quartet on the Roof’s version under better conditions than this video provides.

Finally, I found this performance by The Giovanni String Quartet, which comes much closer to what I’m looking for:

My only quibble is with the tempo — a bit too slow and laid back for the ethos of the song.

I have yet to find a version that recreates the energy and excitement of that graduation concert — but of course, that has much to do with the power of the memory for me.

Still, I think there is a take-home lesson here:

Yo, classical musicians — if you’re going to rock out, ROCK OUT! No half-hearted, polite, reserved renditions, please! I think there’s a whiff of transgression around the whole enterprise that causes people to hold back. P’shaw! I’m with Martin Luther on this one — if you’re going to sin, “sin boldly!” 😀



Muppets and Strings and Bohemian Rhapsody, Oh My! — 7 Comments

  1. You know, if David Robertson ever led the SLSO in a rock and roll cover, the symphony orchestra would ROCK OUT as you implore! D-Rob (as the symphony blogger calls him) has conducted 100 electric guitars and he also has a strong interest in the music of St. Louis native Nelly.

    Of course David is a Santa Monica native. I’m sure he was steeped in rock n’ roll from an early age!

  2. I’m of the opinion that seeing Frankenstein and Bride of Frankenstein make the spoof of Young Frankenstein that much funnier.

    In that spirit, I offer a link to the “Bohemian Rhapsody” promotional video (which I saw via broadcast TV on “Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert” back in 19 and 76), and from whence springs the inspiration for the Muppets’ cover: