Political democracy is arguably at a low point in human history. The music monarchy brand that is Queen on the other hand may be the strongest it has ever been despite frontman extraordinaire Freddie Mercury being gone for close to thirty years.
Brian May and Roger Taylor haven’t lost their performing chops just yet, still selling out arenas everywhere with the charismatic Adam Lambert in tow. “Queen v2.1” were recently announced as headliners for this September’s Global Citizen Festival in New York City. There’s the Oscar-winning, legacy-redefining Bohemian Rhapsody movie, and now Queen have officially endorsed an art exhibition called “Bohemian Rhapsody: The Queen Exhibition” that has officially made its debut in Seoul, South Korea. Music and culture from the republic is one of the world’s hottest exports, and you’ve probably heard of a little group called BTS, who are capably carrying on the showmanship, theatricality and infectious, fused-genre tunes that established Queen as the 20th century’s most internationally influential act.
South Korea has come a long way since banning songs such as “Killer Queen” for offensive-at-the-time content. The 1974 hit is one of eight stone-cold classics spread across four floors of the beautiful Ara Art Center where the timeless words sung by Mercury have been creatively interpreted by local talent. The others if you’re wondering are “Love of My Life”, “Under Pressure”, “We Will Rock You” / “We Are the Champions”, “I Want to Break Free”, “Radio Ga Ga”, “Don’t Stop Me Now” and “Bohemian Rhapsody”, duh. Not a bad “Best of” playlist if I do say so myself.
Not that Queen at Live Aid hasn’t already been milked for all it’s worth. This Seoul exclusive isn’t afraid to go to the well a few more times wth a recreation of Mercury’s view of Wembley Stadium, and the whole kit and caboodle is capped off with a Sing-Along to the last 15 or so minutes of Bohemian Rhapsody (sans words on screen as was promised though).
Even after paying the entrance fee, you are only allowed in to the exhibit by enthusiastically responding “ay-oh” to the smiling Ara Art Center host. No two spaces are alike, each accentuated with a treasure grove of Queen memorabilia and paraphernalia that will have collectors drooling. Some feature abstract paintings that require increased appreciative concentration than those in a typical gallery, which don’t tend to have high-octane rock blasting in the background. Other installations are more technical in nature, like the bedazzled discotheque with isolated tracks that can only be heard individually depending on where you stand. My personal favourite had to be the oversized blowups of a ghetto blaster cassette player, sunglasses as well as Freddie himself looking through his legs, all threatening to burst through the walls into the streets of Seoul.
South Korea’s capital is an amazing place to visit if you’re any kind of music appreciator, with so much more to it than K-Pop. The food alone is worth a whole other article! It’s obviously quite the haul travel-wise, even for the most ardent Queen fan. They are definitely going to need another canvas for attendees to write messages to the band on. as the one I where I scribbled “Queen Rocks” was almost filled up. Here’s hoping for others that this exhibit of royal proportions will make its way to different cities Queen have held dominion in the past. Which really, can be anywhere.
“Bohemian Rhapsody: The Queen Exhibition” runs until Oct. 6th. Buy tickets here.