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Bohemian Rhapsody and the long-running tradition of hiding jokes in tweets

Bohemian Rhapsody and the long-running tradition of hiding jokes in tweets

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The Twitter bird logo in white against a dark background with outlined logos around it and red circles rippling out from it.
Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

Last week, Twitter user @CostcoRiceBag revealed that for the last four months, her tweets contained a hidden message. The University of Minnesota senior (real name Madie) carefully strung together tweets that — when looked at as a combination of only the first words in each — re-created Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody.”

Madie’s goof is the latest of several similar schemes to go viral. Clever and very dedicated, users have dunked on their followers with everything from Smash Mouth lyrics to Twitter rickrolls. One particularly impressive example includes over 500 tweets that form a secret tribute to Avril Lavigne. It’s a process that requires planning and patience for a payoff that, if lucky, might result in 15 minutes of viral fame.

Madie is no different. She says she’s wanted to be Twitter famous for years, but she felt she’d need to pull off something big to get there. “I’d seen things like this before but not to as great a scale,” she tells The Verge via DM. “I had to pick something challenging that I knew would be impressive if pulled off. Surprisingly, no one caught it.”

The challenge involved in completing the joke — from the creativity needed to plan out hundreds of tweets that make sense, to the sheer persistence needed to see it through — is what sets this trend apart from other memes or viral fads. It’s one of the few instances of temporary internet fame on Twitter that requires the jokester in question to really dedicate to their bit. No matter how many times it’s executed, or even what song the user chooses, it’s a feat worth lauding.

Still, Madie says she’s shocked by how much attention her tweets have actually gotten. Her confession that points users in the direction of her long-con currently has more than 260,000 retweets and 558,000 likes. “I didn’t think it would get THIS big but the payoff for those 4 months of anticipation is unreal.” The really impressive part? That she found a way to work in “Bohemian Rhapsody”s lyrics like “Bismillah!” or “Beelzebub” without showing her hand.