Queen was formed in 1970 by Freddie Mercury (Lead Singer/Piano/Guitar), Brian May (Guitar/piano/vocals) and Roger Taylor (Percussion/Synthesizer/Vocals) and in 1971 they added John Deacon (Bass/Rhythm Guitar) to complete the band. Queen originally didn’t see a lot of critical success, but today they are becoming more recognized as founders of hard rock, glam rock and assorted other subcategories of Rock and Roll.
They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of fame in 2001, and in 2003 they became the fist (and only) band to be inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. They provided several songs for the movie “Highlander” (Starring Sean Connery and Christopher Lambert), the entire soundtrack for the movie “Flash Gordon” (one of the best “worst movies ever”) and their song “Bohemian Rhapsody” found a resurgence in popularity after being featured in the movie “Wayne’s World” but they are probably best known for their Stadium Anthems. In the 1990s tabloids were printing rumors filled with the allegation that Queen’s Freddie Mercury had AIDS and the claims were flatly denied, until November of 1991. A statement was made acknowledging that Freddie Mercury did have AIDS, and within 24 hours he died. After that Queen released one more album, and a number of compilation albums and basically only did live performances. In 2004, they announced they would become Queen + Paul Rogers and that they would go on tour. Paul Rogers was formerly the lead singer for several bands including Bad Company, and it was agreed that he would be featured with Queen and would not replacing the late Freddie Mercury.
As a child I can remember hearing “A Day at the Races” playing on my parents’ turntable, they both really like Queen and Queen was my mother’s favorite group. There were other Queen albums of course (the terrifying “News of the World” cover sticks out in my mind for example), and I remember when “The Works” came out and watching the “Radio Ga Ga” video on MTV. Of course, Freddie Mercury was the first person I had any real awareness of concerning having AIDS or dying from complications of it. Then when “Wayne’s World” came out and a lot of my friends really “discovered” Queen, I already knew the words to the great new songs they found. When I was in high school, one of the first things I memorized on my Sousaphone were the notes that made up the bass line for “Another One Bites The Dust”, and so many memories I have made since then have a Queen soundtrack. To me, Queen is so closely tied to the simple fun and joy that can be found in life. Riding in the car with friends, football games,watching “Flash Gordon” (which is again one of the best “worst movies ever”) while eating pop-ice, and so many more. They will always be (at least in my mind) one of the best bands ever.
Here are (in my opinion) the Top Ten Songs By Queen:
10. “Too Much Love Will Kill You” from “Made in Heaven” –
There’s a whole list of beautiful songs done by Queen like “One Year of Love” (from “A Kind of Magic”) or “Who Wants to Live Forever (From the movie “Highlander”) just to name a few. “Too Much Love Will Kill You” is Brian May’s song, he wrote it, performed and released it as a solo artist in addition to having performed it at The Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert. As it turned out, before that they must have considered it for a Queen album because it was released on “Made in Heaven” four years after the death of Freddie Mercury. It is a brilliant example of the power and emotion Freddie Mercury could put into singing a song.
9. “Somebody to Love” from “A Day at the Races”-
“Somebody to Love” features a technique that Queen also used in “Bohemian Rhapsody” on their earlier album “A Night at the Opera” a multilayered vocal track. This time Brian May, Freddie Mercury and Roger Taylor layered their voices on multiple tracks bringing the background singing of three people to the dimension you would find with a Gospel choir. Combined with Freddie’s tenor conveying the desperation of the song’s lyrics, the song is must for this list.
8. “I Want to Break Free” from “The Works” –
“I Want to Break Free” is probably best known for its video, which sparked a lot of controversy (including an initial ban from MTV). Or, for a younger crowd perhaps the song’s 2004 appearance in Coca-Cola’s C2 commercials. The group’s parody of a British soap opera and Coca-Cola’s marketing aside, “I Want to Break Free” is prime example of Queen’s ability to bridge the gap between rock and pop.
7. “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” from “The Game” –
Queen’s first #1 hit in the United States, “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” is a fantastic song that was written in an old rock and roll style, and Freddie Mercury sang in an Elvis Presley-like fashion. It has been covered by such artists as Dwight Yoakam, Rihanna, and Michael BublÃ?Â©.
6. “Don’t Stop Me Now” from “Jazz” –
It is difficult to pick only one song from “Jazz”; however “Don’t Stop Me Now” is a fantastically driven song with Freddie Mercury’s piano playing as the center. Throw in John Deacon on bass, Roger Taylor on drums and a Brian May guitar solo, and you’ve got a great rock and roll song.
5. “Killer Queen” from “Sheer Heart Attack” –
“Killer Queen” was one of Queen’s earliest hits, making it to #2 on the United Kingdom charts and as high as #11 in the United States. One of the best aspects of the song is the guitar solo by Brian May which was recorded on multiple tracks.
4. “Bohemian Rhapsody” from “A Night at the Opera”-
“Bohemian Rhapsody” is a fantastic work featuring both a section of a cappella and a Heavy Metal section. It was successful as a single twice in the United States, with its initial release it peaked at #11, but after being featured (however briefly) in the Mike Myer’s film “Wayne’s World” it was re-released and made it to #2. It is undeniably a classic.
3. “Another One Bites the Dust” from “The Game”-
John Deacon is a genius on the bass guitar, as you look through the Queen discography you will find that most of the songs he wrote have an unmistakable throbbing bass line that drives the entire course of the song. Songs like “You don’t Fool Me” (from “Made in Heaven”) or “I Want to Break Free” (from “The Works”) are some examples of his work, but without a doubt the man will always be famous for creating the foundation of “Another One Bites the Dust”. Even today (26 years later) it remains one of the most recognized bass lines in the history of pop music. It is also one of the three sports anthems that have made and will continue to make Queen a household name forever.
2. “We Are the Champions” from “News of the World”-
“We are the Champions” was written by Freddie Mercury, and it has got to be one of the best “power ballads” ever, hands down. It’s place as a sports anthem secures its spot on this list, it was right after “We Will Rock You” on “News of the World” and was on the flip side of the “We Will Rock You” 45, so this is right where it belongs.
1. “We Will Rock You” from “News of the World” –
Stomp. Stomp. Clap. You could probably go to any sporting event in the world, and hear it. The genius behind it is that “We Will Rock You” was written with the audience in mind, that’s how Brian May wrote it. As such, the song has become engrained into the culture of the world and I’m not sure that there are very many songs that can claim that at the same level as “We Will Rock You” can.