Creativity with Queen’s Freddie Mercury
Legendary front man provides powerful lessons in creativity
Freddie Mercury is still an icon in the music industry. Classic songs like “We Will Rock You” and “Another One Bites the Dust” are featured at sporting events, and 2018’s biography “Bohemian Rhapsody” made over $900 million at the box office worldwide according to IMDB and won four Oscars in 2019 according to ABC. Mercury and Queen’s road to success can illuminate some creativity habits that will help you become more creative.
The Risk of ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ and Courage
When a single is released, it sets the stage for the album it’s on. Mercury and his band thought “Bohemian Rhapsody” best represented what Queen was doing on the album “Night at the Opera.”
“We came across certain barriers, like it being six minutes long… We just thought there’s no point you either hear it in it is entirety or pick another song… It is a risk I know… it was either going to be an enormous flop or a huge success,” said Mercury in a 1977 interview.
“Bohemian Rhapsody” opened up the market for Queen and expanded the group’s audience. If Mercury and Queen hadn’t been courageous enough to stand up for their creation and had allowed it to be edited, Queen may not have had the same success, and “Bohemian Rhapsody wouldn’t be the iconic hit that it is today. If you want to be more creative, gather your courage and take a risk.
Humor, Failure, and Outfits
Mercury was known for his crazy outfits that he would perform in on stage. In a 1982 interview with Entertainment Tonight (ET), Mercury said, “I personally just have a good time just fooling around on stage, and that’s why I’m not afraid to fall flat on my face… Coming up with some of the things I wear sort of over the top… They have an element of humor, which I hope comes across.”
He could face failure with humor, and it helped him be able to take greater risks. Using humor can help you take more risks. If something you try doesn’t work, you’ll be able to laugh it off and learn from it.
Success: Create What You Want
Fans are going to want you to keep creating what they love. If you create something new, they might not accept it.
“[The fans] should be aware of what you want to do. You can fall into a trap where you build up a sound, or whatever, and in the end, that’s all they want. You’re then manipulated by the public,” said Mercury in his 1982 ET interview.
Don’t fall into the trap. Keep creating new things that excite you.
The Paradox of Creativity
Creativity Author Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi says that creative people often seem paradoxical. Mercury was no different. One of the 10 opposing trait categories Csikszentmihalyi explores involves energy and rest.
“I don’t like sitting on a stool and doing a whole performance; at the same time, I don’t want to run around all the time. I like to pace myself depending on what the song content is,” Mercury told ET in 1982.
Csikszentmihalyi also says that creative people are both extroverted and introverted depending on the situation.
“I’m so powerful on stage that I seem to have created a monster. When I’m performing, I’m an extrovert; yet, inside, I’m a completely different man,” said Mercury (as cited in the Guardian).
Embrace your conflicting traits and use them when the situation calls for it. Creative people need times of introspection and quiet, but they also have to present their art and works to the world.
In May 1991, Mercury headed back into the studio for the last time. By then, AIDS had progressed to an advanced stage. His bandmates knew there wasn’t much time left.
“He just kept saying. ‘Write me more. Write me stuff. I want to just sing this and do it and when I am gone you can finish it off,’” Guitarist Brian May said in a 2013 interview with The Telegraph.
Freddie Mercury died due to complications of AIDS in November of 1991. He left behind a rich legacy of music and performance that transformed the perceptions of cultures around the world and still resonate through pop and movie culture today. Keep creating and bring your vision to a world that hungers for more beauty, more energy, and more sparks of imagination.