The Top 10 Best Songs by Queen

Back in October, biopic “Bohemian Rhapsody” released detailing the rise of one of the worlds greatest and most iconic rock bands of all time, Queen. The group consisting of Brian May, John Deacon, Roger Taylor and Freddie Mercury, started off as a prog-rock band that soon developed into the absolute powerhouse of pop-rock and anthemic hits that they are today. Even with the death of Mercury in 1991 and Deacon retiring from the music industry in 1997, Queen have remained one of the most timeless bands in history with standout singles like “Another One Bites the Dust”, “We Will Rock You” and “We Are the Champions” playing at sport events and music venues to this day. Even today in 2019 they’re still as relevant as ever with hits like “Bohemian Rhapsody” and “Don’t Stop Me Now” still playing in our cars or in party playlists all over the world.

As you would expect, the release of “Bohemian Rhapsody” (the film) has sparked a significant increase in the sales and streams of Queen’s songs in the last 2 months. So to me this seemed like the best time to release a list of the top 10 songs by the band. This list was incredibly difficult to create as Queen easily have another 20 songs that could have been on this list, and some of my favourites just missed the cut. My girlfriend, being a big Queen fan, helped me out with this list, and (after some comprising) we decided on the top 10. As always please be aware that this is based purely on opinion and not off of any sales or statistics. Without hesitation, here are the top 10 songs by Queen.

10. The Show Must Go On

Innuendo [1991]

Starting off the list, we have the song that is essentially Freddie’s farewell. Released on 1991’s “Innuendo,” “The Show Must Go On” is one of Queen’s last songs before the front-mans death to AIDS in 1991, despite very few people knowing he had the disease when the song was released. The lyrics carry a deep and empowering meaning behind them, with lyrics like “My make-up may be flaking but my smile still stays on.” Lines like this imply that Freddie chose to put up a fight and stay strong despite the pain he’s truly feeling. The band intentionally placed the song as the final track on the album as they thought it would be the last album Mercury would be healthy enough to record. However Freddie had made enough recordings during sessions for the band to release a whole album posthumously with his vocals in 1995. The track is truly a musical and lyrical masterpiece that still nearly brings us to tears with every listen.

9. Somebody to Love

A Day at the Races [1976]

“Somebody to Love” is a song influenced by American gospel music and inspired by the late Aretha Franklin. The standout of the song by far is the multi-track layers of Mercury, May and Taylor’s voices, duplicated to have a gospel vibe. The lyrics of the song reflect a man calling out to God, asking why he works so hard, but can’t find love. Mercury himself stated that he thought “Somebody to Love” was a better piece of songwriting than “Bohemian Rhapsody.” Interestingly, the music video for the song features the four members singing the song around a single microphone, despite bassist John Deacon not contributing any vocals for the majority of their songs as he self admittedly “doesn’t have the voice.” Despite the studio version of the song being very polished, it really thrives when performed live and has been a fan favourite since it’s release in 1976.

8. I Want It All

The Miracle [1989]

Released as the main single from “The Miracle,” “I Want It All” acts as a sort of return to roots for Queen. The song features a distinct heavy riff throughout and squealing guitar solos which is reminiscent of their earlier work in the 70’s. “I Want It All” is about having an ambition and a focused drive to achieve your goals. Guitarist Brian May, has a strong connection to the song as the title was something that his wife used to say. His connection to the track is also deep as he was suffering through depression at the time, due to his recent divorce. Coming quite late in Queen’s career, this was one of the many songs that Mercury never sang live due to his declining health. The combination of the song’s hard-hitting feel and the minimalistic, anthemic qualities of the chorus make for one fantastic track.

7. Killer Queen

Sheer Heart Attack [1974]

The band’s first big breakthrough, “Killer Queen” taken from 1974’s “Sheer Heart Attack,” is an example of pop and rock perfectly harmonised to create something really special. Mercury himself explained that the song details the life of a high class call girl. Many thought of the lyrics to be based off of an experience Freddie had himself, however he clarified that the title character was pure fantasy, saying “No, I’d never really met a woman like that. I can dream up all kinds of things. That’s the kind of world I live in. It’s very flamboyant.” When recording the song, he used his grande piano as always, but also overdubbed the mix with an upright piano to give the track a “vaudeville” feel. It’s also a rare example of the band having written the lyrics beforehand, and the music afterwards to accompany them, as they usually did the opposite. The musicianship, writing and production of the song is top notch and is why despite the single being their breakthrough hit, we’re still playing it today in 2019.

6. A Kind of Magic

A Kind of Magic [1986]

From the album of the same name, “A Kind of Magic” is a feel-good pop song about drummer, Roger Taylor’s Utopian vision of the world. One of Queen’s most recognisable tracks, it was originally written for the film “Highlander.” Mercury however, had written a new bass line, added some instrumental spacers and changed some of the structure of the song while Taylor was away on holiday. After coming back to the studio to find that Freddie had re-written the entire song, he was apparently very annoyed. Eventually it was decided that Freddie’s version would end up on the album, whilst Roger’s version would make it to the end of the film, both versions however were credited entirely to Taylor. From the snappy hits of the snare and the wailing guitar in the background to the catchy vocals, “A Kind of Magic” is certainly that…magic.

5. Fat Bottomed Girls

Jazz [1978]

Instantly recognisable from it’s first few seconds, “Fat Bottomed Girls” is another gem from Queen that never ceases to grow old. The song came in a very transitional period in Queen’s career, including the early rock riffs that launched them to stardom and the catchy pop hooks that would propel them even further in the 80’s. Written by May, the lyrics detail the narrator’s love for women with larger bottoms. The lyrics “I’ve seen every blue-eyed floozy on the way” and “Fat bottomed girls, you make the rockin’ world go ’round”, create a fantastic sing-along tune which supports women of all sizes. The groovy bassline and hard hitting-kick, is an immense combination which drives home the music of the song and creates one of the greatest toe-tappers in history.

4. Under Pressure

Hot Space [1982]

Now if this list was my own opinion, “Under Pressure” would be even higher than this, maybe even at number one. However after some discussion and rearrangements of the places, my girlfriend and I agreed it belongs here at number four. The track features not only vocals from Mercury (who as we all know is arguably the greatest vocalist in history), but other British pop superstar David Bowie. “Under Pressure” was only actually Queen’s second number one hit after “Bohemian Rhapsody” in 1975. The song features lyrics penned by Mercury, detailing how pressure can have an impact in people’s lives, but love can be the answer. In addition to the lyrics, the song features Mercury scat singing through certain sections, which were vocal ad-libs used during early production, which the band decided to keep. Also the iconic baseline was later sampled for use in Vanilla Ice’s hit “Ice Ice Baby.” It’s just a fantastic collaboration from two of the UK’s greatest acts and an upbeat hit that always gets us up and singing our hearts out.

3. I Want to Break Free

The Works [1984]

Written by Bassist John Deacon, “I Want to Break Free” has become an anthem of the fight against oppression. The song is uplifting, easy to sing along to, and fills the listener with an overflowing wave of empowerment. Not only is the track itself an all time great, but the accompanying music videos is equally as iconic, featuring the four members dressed in women’s clothes as an intended parody of long-running soap opera “Coronation Street.” The idea for the video was pitched by drummer, Roger Taylor and was met with acclaim in the UK. However it proved to be quite controversial in the US, even being banned by MTV and other stations. “I Want to Break Free” is still one of Queen’s greatest achievements and a song that we just can’t stop playing.

2. Bohemian Rhapsody

A Night at the Opera [1975]

Blasphemy! How could we not put “Bohemian Rhapsody” at number one? I think we can all agree that if we were ranking songs based on their intricacies and theoretical complexities, “Bohemian Rhapsody” would be at number one. However we have it placed at number two because as outstanding of a song that it is, it’s not one that we are always in the mood for. But please note, that this takes nothing away from the brilliance of the song itself. “Bohemian Rhapsody” is a nearly six minute masterpiece that incorporates many elements, including an a capella introduction, a slow ballad segment, an operatic piece and a rock section which all comes back to the slow piano to end the song. The most memorable features of the song are the band’s perfect harmonies and the fantastical lyrics (especially during the “Galileo Galileo” moments.) It’s not only Queen’s most popular song, but arguably one of the most popular songs ever as a whole, up there with other classics like “Stairway to Heaven”, “Comfortably Numb” and “Freebird.”

1. Radio Ga Ga

The Works [1984]

Queen were one of the most successful bands of the 70’s that managed to maintain their success and fame through to the 80’s. “Radio Ga Ga” is a song that simply personifies 80’s pop music. The song, written by Taylor, was a commentary on how television was overtaking the popularity of radio and how people used to listen to the radio for their entertainment. Everything about “Radio Ga Ga” is perfect, from the groovy beat, to the catchy synths and obviously Mercury’s incredible vocal performance. It’s a song that we can’t stop playing, regardless of where we are or what were doing. It was played at every show from it’s release in 1984 until the last show with Mercury in 1986 including their iconic performance at Live Aid in 1985. After some disagreements about what song should be number one, this was the song that we had to agree should be at the top.

Songs That Just Missed the Cut

Who Wants to Live Forever, One Vision, Another One Bites the Dust, Don’t Stop Me Now

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