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Some tell us that it wasn’t necessarily “cool” to like Queen back during their heyday. Boy, are we happy times have changed. There’s no question that the British band helped define ’70s rock while also helping to evolve music for decades to follow. Here’s the shortlist of arguably their top 10 most transcendent songs.
10. “Tie Your Mother Down”
This crunchy guitar tune sounds like something AC/DC would have pumped out with a dash of blues. One of their heavier, classic rock tunes, “Tie Your Mother Down” was Queen’s opening track to their 1976 album, Day At The Races. It’s been performed by Slash, Foo Fighters, and was even introduced to a new generation of young rock fans on Guitar Hero Live.
9. “Don’t Stop Me Now”
Multi-track vocals and harmony lines blast through this Queen classic. Freddie Mercury shows off his piano skills as well. “Don’t Stop Me Now” is a song that’s aged like a fine wine; it basically flopped as a U.S. single when it was initially released from the Jazz album in 1978, but was voted one of the best Queen songs of all-time by Rolling Stone readers.
8. “Killer Queen”
Queen’s first major U.S. hit was a giant foreshadowing of things to come. “Killer Queen,” featuring Mercury’s diverse songwriting skills and Brian May’s killer guitar playing, shot to number 12 on the U.S. charts.
7. “Somebody To Love”
A follow-up to their classic epic, “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “Somebody To Love” wasn’t just another game-changer because of its complicated harmonies and guitar solos, but Queen also added a 100-singer gospel choir. This song was a clear soul-searching work of art for Mercury. How’s that for rock n’ roll?
6. “Fat Bottomed Girls/Bicycle Race”
Kids may know Sir Mix-A-Lot’s “Baby Got Back,” but it was Queen that declared “fat bottomed girls you make the rocking world go round” years before. A silly song that displays some serious rock chops, “Fat Bottomed Girls” debuted in 1978 along with “Bicycle Race.” It’s rare that such experimental works make it into the mainstream and endure for decades.
5. “Crazy Little Thing Called Love”
An ode to Elvis Presley, Mercury wrote “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” in 1979 to honor his love for the “King of Rock” and for ’50s rock in general. This song was totally against the grain, released at the height of disco and classic rock and during the dawn of the punk movement. It was a No. 1 hit single and it’s still played on the radio today.
4. “Another One Bites The Dust”
Another No. 1 hit. Even the most casual music fan will recognize “Another One Bites The Dust” after just the initial bass line. This song had a plethora of influences, so much so that people weren’t quite sure what to make of it at first. It won an American Music Award for “Best Rock Single,” while also climbing up the Hot Soul Singles chart and Disco Top 100 chart.
3. “Under Pressure”
Considered one of the greatest songs of all-time, the “Under Pressure” we know with David Bowie happened essentially by accident. Allegedly, Bowie stopped by the studio while Queen was recording 1982’s Hot Space to sing background on “Cool Cat.” But during the recording, Queen and Bowie started jamming out after bass guitarist John Deacon laid down that famous catchy bass line. The result was “Under Pressure,” a song that has been used in television and movies ever since. Unfortunately, Bowie and Queen never teamed up to perform it live. And yes, Vanilla Ice did rip it off.
2. “We Will Rock You”/”We Are The Champions”
Played at sporting event arenas and stadiums for decades, nearly everyone alive knows these songs. Played immediately back-to-back on the News Of The World album, these two songs can be played after every big win in life, whether there’s a game or not.
1. “Bohemian Rhapsody”
Is this selection any surprise? It’s only the title of the new hit movie currently playing in theaters from coast to coast. It’s arguably Queen’s most famous song that’s also widely critically acclaimed. Why? As Business Insider recently pointed out, “Bohemian Rhapsody” is an epic, transcendent piece that’s one of the few popular songs in history to be built using an a cappella, ballad, opera, and rock structure. And by making the song nearly six minutes in length, Queen completely destroyed the idea that a song must be under four minutes in length and be structured verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge-chorus in order to be a pop hit.
This is the Queen song that will truly rock you.
Josh Helmuth is a sports reporter in St. Louis who contributes to Mandatory.