The song, almost six minutes in length, varies constantly in style between a sweet ballad, a pseudo-operatic midsection which features interplay between Mercury and a solo piano, and the rest of the band's harmonized, heavily layered vocals accompanied by the full band, leading into an aggressive hard rock section then back to a ballad style and finally closing on the sound of a gong.
The single was accompanied by a promotional video. It was not the first time a band had made a promo, but this differed in being shot entirely on videotape as opposed to film. It is therefore widely regarded as the first real music video. Ironically, the video was only made because Queen were unable to perform in person on the BBC's Top of the Pops.
It is the only single to have been UK Christmas Number 1 twice (in a single recording), first in 1975/6, and then in 1991/1992 (as a double-A to These Are the Days of Our Lives) following the death of Mercury.
It consistently ranks highly in media reader polls of "the best singles of all-time", and in 2002, came 10th in a BBC World Service poll to find the World's favourite song. In 2003 it came second to "Imagine" by John Lennon in a Channel 4 television poll of The 100 Best Number 1s.
The track was produced by Roy Thomas Baker & Queen, and was not initially intended as a single release due to the length. However, Mercury's friend Kenny Everett (a BBC Radio 1 DJ at the time) played an advance copy on the radio several times; the track proved popular and was released with "I'm In Love With My Car" as the B-Side.
The introduction to the song is based on the chorus of a piece by Mercury's former band, Ibex. Some claim that this first minute of Bohemian Rhapsody inspired the ending of the song "One Jump Ahead" from the animated film Disney's Aladdin. For instance, both are sung by a poor boy character, and both have the words "to me" sung on the same notes in roughly the same inflection over the same cadence.