Sunday, 26 February 2012

The best 30 Queen songs

In all my years of being a fan of music, I've never actually compiled lists of my favourite records or songs.  I don't listen to Queen as much as I used to, but they were my real first love in music (except perhaps Max Webster), and I know their extended catalog very well, so they're a logical place for me to start.

In making such lists, fans tend to axe the hits due to their over-exposure in favour of tracks they see as under-recognized. I just wanted to find that happy medium, somewhere between the fan who can't see the bigger picture and the jerk critic who has been in the picture for far too long.

So here goes - a countdown of the best 30 Queen tracks:

30. '39 - a densely layered track, Brian May's supreme statement connecting his two biggest loves, astronomy and music.
29. A Kind Of Magic - a huge worldwide hit, one of the best tracks Roger Taylor wrote for Queen
28. White Queen - one of the strongest early Queen tracks, sheer musical bliss for the last minute
27. I Was Born To Love You - Brian, Roger and John bring life to a Freddie solo track for the final Queen album
26. A Winter's Tale - Mercury's last composition, solemnly envisioning a seasonal snapshot he would never see again
25. Radio Ga Ga - Roger Taylor's answer to Video Killed The Radio Star
24. It's Late - one of Brian May's best and most revealing tracks
23. The Millionaire Waltz - a genre-crossing suite, one of Mercury's greatest achievements
22. Good Company - Brian May's ode to skiffle and big band, including a brilliant guitar orchestration emulating brass and woodwind instruments in the dixieland style
21. Love Of My Life - undoubtedly Mercury's best ballad
20. Stone Cold Crazy - proof that Queen were pioneers of speed metal alongside Deep Purple and Black Sabbath
19. Fairy Feller's Master Stroke - as close to progressive rock as Queen would ever get
18. It's A Hard Life - one of the few 80s tracks comparable to their 70s musical depth
17. The Miracle - brilliant arrangement, and unabashed optimism from Mercury facing his mortality
16. Keep Yourself Alive - the opening track on the opening album, debuting a unique sound for the 70s
15. Under Pressure - Queen and Bowie spontaneously unite to create a classic
14. Bicycle Race - silliness on the surface, very complex underneath
13. Innuendo - last epic Queen song
12. Liar - first epic Queen song
11. Crazy Little Thing Called Love - 50s-inspired exercise in pop minimalism
10. Seven Seas Of Rhye - first chart entry, Queen's first big exposure
9. My Fairy King - the first hints of Freddie being a brilliant writer and arranger
8. The Show Must Go On - although a few tracks came later, this is generally seen as Freddie's grand farewell song
7. The March Of The Black Queen - seen by many as the predecessor to BoRhap
6. Another One Bites The Dust - Queen's biggest US hit, crossing over to black radio stations and charts
5. Don't Stop Me Now - Freddie's timeless classic on self-indulgence in life
4. Killer Queen - first big hit, the first time they made their unique sound completely accessible
3. Somebody To Love - Aretha-inspired pop gospel perfection
2. We Will Rock You / We Are The Champions - iconic, period.
1. Bohemian Rhapsody - beyond all doubt, the most enduring Queen track of all time, encompassing every one of their trademarks