British rock band Queen is arguably the best rock band, and one of the most influential, in the world. Theirs is a musical style labeled distinctly as the “Queen sound”, with drummer Roger Taylor’s steady drumming, Paul Deacon’s thumping distinct bass lines, Brian May’s thrashing guitar riffs, and Freddie Mercury’s utterly amazing vocal style. Together, they’ve come up with a slew of hits that many people have come to know and love. We’ll count down the top 10 most grandiose songs this group of gentlemen:
#10: Fat Bottomed Girls | Album: Jazz (1978)
Long before Sir Mix-a-lot was singing “I like big butts…” in 1992, Queen beat him to it with a hard rock ditty about women with, uh, large posteriors in 1978. Brian May signature heavy guitar licks included.
#9: I Want To Break Free | Album: The Works (1984)
This song could have two meanings: It either reflected singer Freddie Mercury’s desire to leave his heterosexual relationship to pursue his homosexuality or women empowerment in the 80s. We’ve got to break free from all this analyzing and just enjoy the song for what it is.
#8: We Are The Champions | Album: News Of The World (1977)
Initially, this was a song to get the crowd involved in performances because of its “positive and uplifting message” according to May in an online edition of the Daily Mail. It eventually evolved into a victory anthem usable in virtually any sport today.
#7: We Will Rock You | Album: News Of The World (1977)
With the group known for primarily rock songs, this song diverges from that by being mostly acapella, with a unique percussion composed of stomps, claps, and pauses, repeated all throughout. Though the last part does have an intense guitar solo by May, We Will Rock You is a break from the band’s traditional sound, proving their musical versatility.
#6: Radio Gaga | Album: The Works (1984)
Radio Gaga is another composition that showcases Queen’s sound experimentation. They successfully blend electronica and rock together, with the warm synths pervading the song, while still making it their own. Fun fact: This song is what inspired Stefanie Germannota to call herself Lady GaGa.
#5: Crazy Little Thing Called Love | Album: The Game (1980)
Interestingly enough, this song is Freddie Mercury’s tribute to Elvis Presley. It was written in 10 minutes while the Queen frontman was in the bath in Bayerische Hof Hotel, Munich. If you listen to the song, it deceives you into thinking that Queen simply covered an Elvis hit, with his vocals mimicking The King’s southern twang and the instrumentation sounding like a rockabilly band. This is just another wonderful example of Queen’s genius and adaptability as a group.
#4: Under Pressure | Album: Hot Space (1982)
This is a prime example of the band’s musical quirkiness, with Mercury’s onomatopeiac, spontaneous adlibs, vocal support by drummer Taylor and guest artist David Bowie. This song also features Deacon’s hypnotic bass playing (which will be noted in another song in this list). This was sampled in Vanilla Ice’s familiar hit, Ice, Ice, Baby.
#3: Another One Bites The Dust | Album: The Game (1980)
This song is iconic on so many levels and can be considered the quintessential song of the band: Deacon’s highly infectious bass line, Taylor’s consistent drum playing, May’s minimalist and atmospheric guitar skills, and Mercury’s wide range of singing. Check out his vocal chops – he goes from subdued to wild – especially in his solo. According to band mate Brian May in an issue of Mojo, Mercury loved the song so much he sang “until his throat bled”, hence his intensity on the vocal parts. According to discussions on songfact.com, rumor has it the song was supposedly about cowboys who died from gunfights in the desert (“Bite the dust” was a cowboy slang term for “death”).
#2: Flash | Album: Flash Gordon, 1980
Also known as Flash’s Theme, the piece is complex in structure, involving not just rock, but also an orchestra-style sound done magnificently as only Queen could.
#1: Bohemian Rhapsody | Album: A Night At The Opera (1975)
Perhaps their most complex recording, Queen’s magnum opus is a rock opera all its own. The interpretations of this composition are diverse: Is it a window into singer Freddie Mercury’s personal struggles? Is it Faustian by nature? Or is it about an accidental murder, with the suspect tormented by his inner demons prior to execution? We’ll never know. As a lyric in the song goes, it “…doesn’t really matter…”