Credits: PHOTO FROM YOUTUBE
CALGARY -- "Caught in a landslide, no escape from reality."
So go the lyrics of Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody, as sang by Robert Wilkinson at the top of his lungs in the back of an RCMP cruiser -- a musical outburst caught on video, now watched by millions.
It was a moment of alcohol-inspired rebellion that's triggered an avalanche of interest around the world ever since it was posted to YouTube last month.
And now, the 29-year-old Alberta man confesses that he feels completely overrun by the attention his singing has generated, with the original video alone surpassing 6.5 million views by Monday.
"Oh, my god, that's more than every single person in Vancouver. Holy hell," said Wilkinson, tallying up the number of eyes who've watched him channelling the late Freddie Mercury.
Actually, it's more than the population of Greater Toronto, and the total viewership is quickly closing in on the population of New York City.
"I can't take this overload, stuff that I can't handle -- messages, requests for interviews and everything," Wilkinson said of his overnight celebrity.
"I'm not sure what I want from this. I just have to deal with it, that's all I know."
He sounds shell-shocked, and a little drained by the spotlight which has made him a star, generating interest from CNN, the Daily Mail and countless other global media outlets.
Still, it's hard to feel too much sympathy for the bedraggled Edson, Alta., man, whose bearded face and shaggy hair have become familiar to so many.
After all, it was Wilkinson himself who posted the now-famous footage, seeking a few laughs.
True, he didn't mean for his song to go viral, thinking the video captured by an RCMP cruiser camera might amuse a few of his online friends, even if the reason he was in the cruiser wasn't funny.
Wilkinson was arrested by RCMP in November while driving home from a bar in Edson, about 150 kilometres west of Edmonton.
He's been charged with impaired driving and refusing a breathalyzer test, with a court date set for next November.
That's why RCMP provided him with the video they'll be using as evidence, as part of the full disclosure rules required by court.
Most accused drunk drivers would quietly hire a lawyer and keep the video low key, but Wilkinson -- both an odd bird and extrovert to judge by his Facebook page -- decided to make his shame public.
"I just keep my head down to the ground and try not to have anybody say anything to me," said Wilkinson, who can no longer walk around town without being pestered about the video.
The world apparently loves a clown, even if Queen's record company, EMI, seems slightly unamused by the full-length rendition of the song penned by Mercury.
The original video was pulled for apparent copyright reasons at one point Monday, only to re-appear later in the day. A number of mirror videos and online copies meant the song was never really gone.
Wilkinson says he believes EMI has decided to let the cop-car tribute stand -- though the Albertan says he wishes he'd asked the band's permission first.
"The video is allowed to be up, but I really wish I had spoken to Queen before -- I just didn't think it would matter that much," Wilkinson said.
If EMI is OK with the video, others clearly are not. Wilkinson says his mom is seething over the footage, calling it shameful.
"She treats me like a child, and always has," he said.
And RCMP in Edson aren't too happy either, saying the video makes light of a serious matter.
Their grumbling may also have something to do with the slightly altered lyrics at the end of Wilkinson's rendition, when the patient-as-a-saint officer in the front seat finally asks his prisoner to calm down.
"I can't ... cause nothing really matters," responds Wilkinson in the video, still singing.
"Anyone can see. Nothing really matters ... even the RCMP!"
The footage has won Wilkinson fame, but fortune remains elusive.
"I'm in Edson, and there's not much opportunity, no one is at my door or anything, no talented lawyers representing me," Wilkinson said.
"It's just me, sitting in my room."