Queen Songs ranked 100 – 81

Click here for an explanation of the rationale and the ground rules I adopted, and to see numbers 185 – 161.

Click here for numbers 160 – 141, 140 – 121 and 120 – 101.


From 100 to 81…

This is why Queen are the best band in the world: we’re just into the top 100 and there are some seriously great songs here. A Day At The Races finally makes an appearance. Three undoubted Queen classics also feature in this particular collection, but three b-sides have yet to make their appearance!

100. Action This Day (Taylor), Hot Space, 1982

One of many songs – particularly from the ’80s – that came to life on stage, ‘Action…’ is a typically uptempo Roger song, with both he and Freddie sharing lead vocal. Notable for a saxophone solo, it is unfortunately rather let down by a horrible drum machine sound. Best moment: the synth/guitar break at roughly 2:19, leading into the sax solo.

99. I Want To Break Free (Deacon), The Works, 1984

One of Queen’s most recognisable singles, the original version on The Works is actually rather sparse. John’s synth additions for the single version immeasurably improved the song. The video is fondly remembered for the Coronation Street pastiche. Amazingly, the audacious recreation of parts of Nijinsky’s ballet, Afternoon Of A Faun, is almost always overlooked.

98. Modern Times Rock-‘n’-Roll (Taylor), Queen, 1973

Roger’s sole writing contribution to the first album and an early live staple towards the end of the set. The lyrics revolve around favourite Roger themes – rock-‘n’-roll and the coming generation. He takes lead vocal, though Freddie sang most of the song on stage, except for a raucous end section.

97. Gimme The Prize (Kurgan’s Theme) (May), A Kind Of Magic, 1986

Probably as close to heavy metal as Queen ever got, this is a guitar tour de force from Brian. A song that suited Freddie’s ‘shouty’ ’80s style. As on the Flash Gordon soundtrack, dialogue from the film is incorporated seamlessly into the song. Only the ‘fight’ sound effects mid-song date it a little.

96. Play The Game (Mercury), The Game, 1980

Although the synth intro announced the end of the ‘no synthesizers’ era, this is actually a fairly by-the-book Freddie piano-based love song. The video is awful. Best moment: the instrumental break at roughly 2:07 (as long as you ignore the image of the backwards-playing video that you’re visualising as you listen along).

95. Football Fight (Mercury), Flash Gordon, 1980

A hilariously camp and exhilarating slice of synth-driven pop.

94. We Will Rock You (May), News Of The World, 1977

‘…Rock You’ has, of course, become iconic over the last forty years as a stadium anthem and as one half of a pairing with We Are The Champions. Famously, it was written by Brian specifically for live interaction with the crowd, and it should be remembered that it was originally issued as the b-side to ‘…Champions’. After the rich and complex textures of the first five albums, it opened the sixth album in dramatically sparse fashion. Performed live it undoubtedly benefits from additional guitar and bass (most notably on Live At Wembley ’86) and, of course, the ‘fast’ version is another beast altogether – one of Queen’s best ever live songs.

93. Stone Cold Crazy (Queen), Sheer Heart Attack, 1974

One of Queen’s earliest songs, though it only featured on the third album. Fast and furious – an early stage favourite.

92. My Life Has Been Saved (Queen), b-side, 1989 and Made In Heaven, 1995

It’s astonishing that the original version failed to make it onto the Miracle album – it is far superior to several tracks that made the cut. Both versions are great, though the later version omits some of Brian’s guitar. The lines “I read it in the papers / There’s death on every page” must have been unbearably tough for Freddie to sing – they are certainly unbearably tough to hear.

91. I Can’t Live With You (Queen), Innuendo, 1991

Brian reportedly said in 1991 that ‘I Can’t Live…’ had been a difficult song to mix; certainly, the version that appeared on Queen Rocks (with some instruments re-recorded) is much more muscular. Packed with great guitar. Best moment: “Through the madness, through the tears / We’ve still got each other for a million years” at roughly 3:10.

90. Let Me Entertain You (Mercury), Jazz, 1978

Another slice of fast-paced Freddie pop-rock, with typically lightweight though amusing, somewhat risqué lyrics (Mustapha, Bicycle Race, Let Me Entertain You and Don’t Stop Me Now – all Freddie songs from the Jazz sessions – have a great deal in common). The biggest puzzle was its placing on the original vinyl release of Jazz at the end of side one rather than as an opener.

89. Love Kills (Mercury), released 2014

The best of the ‘Queen Forever’ new tracks, this is a slowed-down version of one of Freddie’s best solo singles. The acoustic introduction works well, as does the big Queen sound at roughly 2:35. Queen + Adam Lambert performed a great version on stage in 2014.

88. Ogre Battle (Mercury), Queen II, 1974

After wind-like effects swirling left and right – the calm before the storm – the band unleashes a dense cacophony of sound and fury as backdrop for this tale of warring giants. One of Queen’s heaviest and most uncompromising songs.

87. Crazy Little Thing Called Love (Mercury), The Game, 1980

Lightweight (“disposable”, to use Freddie’s own word) pop, famously composed in ten minutes in the bath and the last mega-hit that Freddie wrote. The live version, the final section of which was far rockier, is vastly superior.

86. Dead On Time (May), Jazz, 1978

Another Brian extravaganza, like many of the songs on Jazz it suffers from poor production, deadening the instruments (other than the awful drum sound), particularly the interplay of the multi-tracked guitars.

85. Don’t Lose Your Head (Taylor), A Kind Of Magic, 1986

Fast-paced and packed with interesting ideas, this is one of the best uses of electro-synth sounds by Queen, with the added bonus of a Brian solo at roughly 3:39. The title is of course a play on the method of execution of the ‘Immortals’ in Highlander.

84. Let Me Live (Queen), Made In Heaven, 1995

The best of the songs created from the fragments left behind by Freddie. Despite obviously having little to work with (hence the fact that Brian and Roger sing much of the lead vocal), they constructed a rousing gospel-influenced track, making use (for the first time) of outside backing vocalists to create the gospel-choir sound.

83. I’m Going Slightly Mad (Queen), Innuendo, 1991

Another song where lyrics and music complement each other perfectly – particularly John’s playful bass and Brian’s solo. The Noel Coward-esque lyrics are supposedly the result of a late-night competition to conjure up ever more ridiculous euphemisms for madness. Also one of their most creative videos. Best moment: “Ooo ooo aaa aaa…” at roughly 3:01.

82. Good Old Fashioned Lover Boy (Mercury), A Day At The Races, 1976

A classic piece of Freddie piano-based pop with neat arrangements and multi-layered backing vocals. It’s unclear why an engineer (Mike Stone) was given a couple of lines to sing: Roger sang them on the partially re-recorded Top Of The Pops version. Best moment: Brian’s playful solo and the ‘countdown’ to dining at the Ritz at 2:17.

81. Dragon Attack (May), The Game, 1980

One of Queen’s better forays into dance-funk, primarily because there’s still plenty of guitar. It’s on Dragon Attack where Brian’s growing interest in (as he described it) making space for the rhythm arrangements to breathe is most evident. Great mini-solos, too, from Roger and particularly John. Best moment: the middle eight starting at roughly 2:40 (“She’s low down / Don’t take no prisoners…”).

Queen Songs Ranked 120 – 101

Click here for an explanation of the rationale and the ground rules I adopted, and to see numbers 185 – 161.

Click here for numbers 160 – 141 and 140 – 121.


From 120 to 101…

Twenty great songs, all of which just miss out on my Top 100 Queen songs. Some incredibly tough choices here – including the appearance of a bona fide Queen classic. Amazingly, A Day At The Races is yet to feature – their most consistently good album, if not necessarily their best.

120. Get Down Make Love (Mercury), News Of The World, 1977

The antithesis of the over-the-top, multi-layered production of the earlier albums, this is Queen at their most stripped back: the empty space at roughly 3:18 is truly arresting. Hot space, indeed. Also notable for Freddie’s risqué lyrics. The song stayed in the live set for five years, a showcase for Brian’s harmonizer effects. The demo version (without harmonizer) released in 2017 is terrific.

119. Made In Heaven (Mercury), Made In Heaven, 1995

At the time my favourite track from Mr Bad Guy, this reworked version makes the original seem somewhat insipid. A gorgeous melody and soaring vocals, given added emotional power by the Queen sound. It would have been even better without the synth backing in the verses, instead giving the piano more prominence in the mix.

118. Is This The World That We Created? (May/Mercury), The Works, 1984

An audacious way to end their ‘return-to-form’ album after the sound and fury of Hammer To Fall. Written months before Band Aid and Live Aid, of course, it is a deliberately simple and sparse arrangement. Lyrically, it is a long way from Freddie’s exhortation for us to drink champagne for breakfast, and for some the lines “Somewhere a wealthy man is sitting on his throne / Waiting for life to go by” will ring hollow.

117. Dancer (May), Hot Space, 1982

Apparently, one of those songs (like Dragon Attack) that was pieced together from a jumble of semi-formed ideas. The programmed drums and synth bass are awful but the guitars are great.

116. Mother Love (May/Mercury), Made In Heaven, 1995

Like most of the songs on Made In Heaven, Mother Love packs a mighty emotional punch. Reputably, the last song that Freddie recorded – he did not survive to finish the final verse, which Brian sang. The middle eight is immensely powerful and it is impossible not to be moved by the final section of the song featuring echoes of Freddie, beginning with Wembley ’86 and ending with Goin’ Back, one of his very first recordings as Larry Lurex and lyrically fitting.

115. Procession (May), Queen II, 1974

How often does a song title so perfectly capture the mood of a piece of music? Regal, stately, majestic…a perfect way to open the album.

114. Misfire (Deacon), Sheer Heart Attack, 1974

The first of John’s songs to feature on a Queen album, this is a delightfully catchy pop song. Presumably he played all those guitars while Brian was recuperating in hospital and away from the studio.

113. Flash’s Theme (May), Flash Gordon, 1980

Cartoonish and tongue-in-cheek (“Flash – aah!”), it marries perfectly with the mood of the film, and Brian still manages to utter an eternal romantic truth: “No one but the pure in heart will find the golden grail”. Ming’s sinister utterance at the beginning – and the delivery by Max von Sydow – is pure genius: “I like to play with things awhile – before annihilation!”

112. Some Day One Day (May), Queen II, 1974

After Freddie’s death, the limitations of Brian’s singing were obvious, but here his sensitive voice is perfect for the dark and sombre lyrics (“No star can light our way in this cloud of dark and fear / But some day, one day…”). Not the last time that Brian will speak of a longing for home. A fine blend of acoustic and electric guitar, and an early example of Brian’s penchant for guitar orchestrations.

111. My Melancholy Blues (Mercury), News Of The World, 1977

An intriguing slice of introspective Freddie, evoking a drunken late-night, jazz-lounge feel. It features Roger on brushed drums and little or no guitar, except bass. A daringly downbeat song with which to close the album – they tried it again with considerably less success with More Of That Jazz the following year.

110. Too Much Love Will Kill You (May/Muskers/Lamers), Made In Heaven, 1995

Undoubtedly a powerful ballad and a fan favourite from the Made in Heaven album, this is possibly a rare example (for Queen) of where less would have been more – ‘less’ in this case being something akin to the version on Back To The Light (the vulnerability in Brian’s voice captures the mood of the song, as does the acoustic solo at roughly 3:21). It’s a tough call. Both versions are great, and the line “I used to bring you sunshine / Now all I do is bring you down” is truly heartbreaking.

109. Seaside Rendezvous (Mercury), A Night At The Opera, 1975

A deliciously camp, music-hall-inspired vaudeville pastiche, showcasing the versatility, inventiveness and sheer audacity of the group.

108. Another One Bites The Dust (Deacon), The Game, 1980

Adored by many, sung by millions in sporting stadiums to this day – to some, it is the song that fooled Queen into thinking they could conquer the disco-dance world and led directly to their musical nadir – Hot Space. The bassline is certainly memorable, the arrangements are undeniably sparse and the drum sound is bone dry, but it’s worth remembering that this was not their first foray into this musical territory (its antecedents can be heard in Get Down Make Love and Fun It). Nor was it originally marked down as a single.

107. Put Out The Fire (May), Hot Space, 1982

A rare chance on Hot Space for the band to rock out on Brian’s anti-gun song. A strong riff and a scorching guitar solo, ‘Put Out…’ is perhaps marred only by the jarring ’80s drum sound and by the rather shallow and simplistic first-person lyrics (again, typical of ’80s sensibilities – or lack thereof). The listener cannot help but feel that the writer of White Man might have found a more elegant way to convey his laudable message. Or maybe that was the point.

106. It’s A Hard Life (Mercury), The Works, 1984

Another of Freddie’s piano-based meditations on the vicissitudes of love (à la My Melancholy Blues and Jealousy), the piano-guitar interplay is reminiscent of the live version of White Queen (As It Began) and the general feel is of the early albums (a huge compliment!). The opera-style opening is magnificent too. A song that didn’t quite seems to work live.

105. The Kiss (Aura Resurrects Flash) (Mercury), Flash Gordon, 1980

Short and sweet, indeed – gorgeous falsetto from Freddie.

104. In The Lap Of The Gods (Mercury), Sheer Heart Attack, 1974

Although at heart a relatively by-the-numbers piano-based song, it is packed with quirky arrangements (the backing vocals are wonderful) and features a truly extraordinary opening.

103. Leaving Home Ain’t Easy (May), Jazz, 1978

 

102. Lazing On A Sunday Afternoon (Mercury), A Night At The Opera, 1975

Audaciously positioned between the viciousness of Death On Two Legs and the driving I’m In Love With My Car, ‘Lazing…’ is yet another delicious slice of Freddie whimsy.

101. In Only Seven Days (Deacon), Jazz, 1978

A light but classy effort from John – with narrative-style lyrics a million miles away from the cold cynicism of If You Can’t Beat Them and Who Needs You.

Queen Songs Ranked 140 – 121

Click here for an explanation of the rationale and the ground rules I adopted, and to see numbers 185 – 161.

Click here for numbers 160 – 141.


From 140 to 121…

This is starting to get hard now. There are absolutely no fillers here. Some of these songs are what I would describe as nearly-but-not-quite: there’s definitely something there, but it doesn’t quite make it to the next quality level. As you would expect, most of the non-album tracks are now accounted for…though not all.

140. Calling All Girls (Taylor), Hot Space, 1982

A ‘hybrid’ guitar sound (sort of semi-acoustic), built on an uptempo beat, drives this song along – it sounded even better performed live (it featured in the set list for the ’82 US and Japanese tours). ‘Calling…’ is, however, let down somewhat by bland lyrics and puerile humour (assuming that it’s the sound of a record needle we hear at roughly 1:43 ‘scratching’ the vinyl).

139. Delilah (Queen), Innuendo, 1991

A lightweight slice of Freddie-inspired whimsy. Nice guitar from Brian, especially mimicking the miaow of a cat.

138. You Don’t Fool Me (Queen), Made In Heaven, 1995

One of Queen’s better efforts at a ‘disco’ sound (at least the Freddie bits), it is nevertheless immeasurably enhanced by scorching guitar from Brian.

137. Son And Daughter (May), Queen, 1973

A real sawdust-and-spit, blues-infused effort from Brian, this was a different beast on stage (and will feature a lot higher in my rankings of Queen live songs), a showcase for his guitar solo before Brighton Rock came along. The lyrics are frankly a puzzle.

136. Scandal (Queen), The Miracle, 1989

One of the better efforts from the Miracle sessions (and one where the synth treatments enhance the song), Brian’s scorching guitar conveys the pain of the lyrics.

135. Sweet Lady (May), A Night At The Opera, 1975

Another of Brian’s rockier efforts, this has a great opening riff (sounding even better when played live), solo and frantic outro. The lyrics were mocked by ‘Roger’ in the Bohemian Rhapsody movie.

134. Khashoggi’s Ship (Queen), The Miracle, 1989

After a false start with Party, Khashoggi’s Ship – real drums, raw guitar, no unnecessary synth treatments – brings The Miracle to life, marred only by the interlude at roughly 1:30. Like some of the b-sides from the Miracle sessions, it sounds like it might have been recorded in a single take (which is not a criticism).

133. Jealousy (Mercury), Jazz, 1978

One of Freddie’s piano-based reflections on the pain of love, it also features great bass from John. Oddly enough, Brian’s acoustic sound doesn’t quite seem to fit.

132. The Night Comes Down (May), Queen, 1973

Remarkably, it is the original demo from the legendary De Lane Lea session that made it onto the first album, as the band felt they were unable to improve on the feel of the song in subsequent takes. Now remastered, of course, it sounds great – and such a mature sound, building to an unbearably tense climax. Typically dark and introspective Brian lyrics.

131. Soul Brother (Queen), b-side, 1981

Although this sounds like a tongue-in-cheek, one-take throwaway from the ‘Game’ sessions, it is actually surprisingly effective and an unexpected bonus when Under Pressure was released. It’s the sound of the band enjoying themselves.

130. Cool Cat (Deacon/Mercury), Hot Space, 1982

With a suitably relaxed and laid-back summery feel, this is by far the best of the John & Freddie funky collaborations. Freddie’s vocals are great; the version with Bowie’s incidental vocals has rightly not seen the official light of day.

129. The Miracle (Queen), The Miracle, 1989

A classic nearly-but-not-quite song. On the one hand, satisfyingly complex arrangements (and a song that Brian often raves about), and a departure from the standard song structure. On the other hand, embarrassingly utopian, peace-on-earth lyrics (“That time will come / One day you’ll see / When we can all be friends”).

128. A Winter’s Tale (Queen), Made In Heaven, 1995

It’s easy to see why there is a ‘cosy fireside’ remix (referencing a line in the song). This song’s emotional power comes from the knowledge that Freddie wrote the words in the face of approaching death. The lyrics are a bit clunky in places; under normal circumstances, they would undoubtedly have been polished somewhat.

127. All God’s People (Queen/Moran), Innuendo, 1991

Apparently, this song was originally intended for the ‘Barcelona’ album, hence the writing credit for Mike Moran. It’s very obviously two interesting song ideas spliced together (a technique they had used before – Breakthru, for example).

126. Fight From The Inside (Taylor), News Of The World, 1977

As shown by the demo version released in 2017, this is almost exclusively Roger, including lots of his trademark riffs and vocal sounds.

125. Headlong (Queen), Innuendo, 1991

Obviously, a favourite guitar riff of Brian’s (he references it on stage to this day). One of those songs where the lyrics perfectly capture the mood of the music (and vice versa).

124. Sheer Heart Attack (Taylor), News Of The World, 1977

Apparently written at the time of the Sheer Hear Attack sessions in ’74, it would be interesting to hear a demo recorded at that time, as this ’77 version comes close to a full-on punk sound (an obvious response from Roger to the then-current music scene). The rhythm guitar on the demo version released in 2017 sounds more natural.

123. Mad The Swine (Mercury), b-side, released 1991

An unexpected delight on its eventual release some thirty years or so late, Mad the Swine comes from the earliest sessions but failed to make it onto the first album. Another example of Freddie’s penchant for Bible-inspired lyrics from that period. That apart, it’s hard to envisage where it might have been positioned on the ‘Queen’ album – certainly Roger’s percussion is different from anything else he was doing at the time – or what it might have replaced. The break at roughly 1:38 (“And then one day you’ll realise…”) is wonderful.

122. If You Can’t Beat Them (Deacon), Jazz, 1978

One of John’s hidden gems, this is a great guitar-led song, which really came to life on stage, though it was unjustly omitted from Live Killers.

121. Tenement Funster (Taylor), Sheer Heart Attack, 1974

All the usual Roger trademarks are here, lyrically (girls, growing up, cars and rock-‘n’-roll) and musically – it certainly sounds like Roger on rhythm guitar, though the soaring guitar solo is surely from Brian.

 

Queen Songs Ranked 160 – 141

Click here for an explanation of the rationale and the ground rules I adopted, and to see numbers 185 – 161.


From 160 to 141…

Plenty of songs here that are good but just rather ordinary by Queen standards. Another couple of singles feature, as do some of the better non-album, b-side tracks. Only the first album, Queen, and A Day At The Races have yet to feature on the list.

160. Dreamer’s Ball (May), Jazz, 1978

One of Brian’s weaker efforts, it nevertheless features some great multi-tracked lead guitar.

159. Friends Will Be Friends (Deacon/Mercury), A Kind Of Magic, 1986

This song tries a little too hard to capture the anthemic, arms-in-the-air quality of Queen’s best stadium-ready songs (the video is a big clue to its intent – the nearest Freddie ever got to crowdsurfing). Released as a single to coincide with the Magic Tour, it was inexplicably placed between We Will Rock You and We Are The Champions in the set-list, an egregious error. As often, the guitar breaks (particularly at roughly 1:58 and in the outro at 3:44) are the best bits.

158. It’s A Beautiful Day (reprise) (Queen), Made In Heaven, 1995

157. It’s A Beautiful Day (Queen), Made In Heaven, 1995

Apparently, a half-idea of Freddie’s from The Game sessions (a bit like what became the opening bit to Breakthru), it’s such a shame he didn’t pursue it further. A wonderfully optimistic lyric, less decadent and hedonistic then Don’t Stop Me Now. Nicely moulded into a coherent shape by the band, including samples of early songs on the reprise.

156. Coming Soon (Taylor), The Game, 1980

After his two funky missteps on the Jazz album, this is more typical Roger fare. Propelled along by a driving drum beat, I Wanna Testify-type vocal flourishes and what sounds like Roger on rhythm guitar, this doesn’t quite hit the heights, though the backing vocals at 1:35 and the end are gorgeous. A Human Body would perhaps have been a better choice of second Roger song on The Game, with this as the non-album b-side.

155. Tear It Up (May), The Works, 1984

A sledgehammer of a song from Brian that lacks the subtle shades of his very best heavy songs. A tribute to wild partying but without the wit of Freddie’s Don’t Stop Me Now. Full-on, driving guitar compensates for awful, crashing drums. Despite the lyrical theme, it was an unlikely set opener on the Works tour. Even more surprising that it remained in the set for the Magic Tour. Even more surprising that it was resurrected by Q+AL.

154. Let Me In Your Heart Again (May), released 2014

Another promising but unfinished idea (again, one wonders why), this one from The Works sessions and nicely shaped into something releasable by Brian and Roger. The Anita Dobson version is worth searching out for Brian’s guitars (but not for the singing).

153. A Dozen Red Roses For My Darling (Taylor), b-side, 1986

An example of where that ’80s big-yet-compressed, dry drum sound works well (taking the lead in this instrumental), this is a delightfully left-field Roger creation. The repeated guitar riff is great, as are the synths and the atmospheric break at roughly 2:09 (sounding like it a cross between something from side two of David Bowie’s Low album the The X-Files theme).

152. The Loser In The End (Taylor), Queen II, 1974

Perched originally at the end of side one, ‘The Loser…’ follows uneasily – both lyrically and musically – in the wake of Brian’s magnificently dark and introspective songs, as jarring as the guitar treatments. Its theme is typically early-years Roger – the inter-generational tensions involved in growing up and embracing rock-‘n’-roll, girls and fast cars.

151. Feelings, Feelings (May), released 2011

From the News Of The World sessions, this song didn’t make it through the weeding process and at roughly two minutes’ duration obviously remained unfinished and unpolished. It’s upbeat, rocky feel is reminiscent of It’s Late and the latter part of the BBC session version of Spread Your Wings from the same period.

150. The Invisible Man (Queen), The Miracle, 1989

One of Queen’s more ‘humorous’ pieces, it certainly has an infectious bassline and nice guitar from Brian – though, take away the various aural flourishes and it’s not immediately obvious what else. Many people will doubtless disagree but it’s also one of their less likeable, ‘thematic’ videos.

149. Sleeping On The Sidewalk (May), News Of The World, 1977

In a sign of things to come, much of this blues-y piece was apparently recorded in a single take. Like many of Brian’s lyrics, he is wrestling with the price of fame and success – though with more humour that is typical in his songs. The live version from the News Of The World tour, released in 2017 with Freddie on vocal, was an unexpected delight.

148. One Year Of Love (Deacon), A Kind Of Magic, 1986

Another of Freddie’s more ‘shouty’ vocals from the ’80s, ‘One Year…’ comes complete with saxophone solo and orchestral arrangement. It is by no means the worst of the ‘mushy ballad’ type but, with its plodding beat, struggles to go anywhere particularly interesting and is sorely missing Brian’s guitar.

147. Crash Dive On Mingo City (May), Flash Gordon, 1980

It may only last a minute or so but Brian’s guitar, joined by Roger on timpani, evokes Flash’s frantic crash-dive through the city’s defence shield, ruining the wedding and killing Ming in the process.

146. The Hitman (Queen), Innuendo, 1991

This certainly sounds like a no-holds-barred Brian rocker, though there is a lengthy quote ‘out there’ attributed to Brian, saying that the original idea came from Freddie with further work from John. It is full-on and relentless, leaving little room for subtlety, though it has some outstanding guitar from Brian.

145. Funny How Love Is (Mercury), Queen II, 1974

The weakest of Freddie’s songs on Queen II, ‘Funny…’ is notable for the Phil Spector-esque ‘wall of sound’ arrangement, courtesy of Robin Cable’s production (also featured on Freddie’s Larry Lurex arrangement of I Can Hear Music). A somewhat slight song, although it comes in at nearly three minutes, the fade-out starts ridiculously early.

144. Man On The Prowl (Mercury), The Works, 1984

A more full-on Elvis-inspired, rockabilly arrangement than Crazy Little Thing Called Love, this is upbeat throughout, and has a great middle-eight (“Well I keep dreaming about my baby…”) and piano solo to finish – courtesy of Fred Mandel (originally of Mott The Hoople fame).

143. Hang On In There (Queen), b-side, 1989

This track didn’t make the Miracle album but is undoubtedly better than some that did. It sounds like a number of studio jams spliced onto a basic song, notably at roughly 2:30 and 3:10 (the latter Brian-John-Roger jam is particularly good).

142. Life Is Real (Song For Lennon) (Mercury), Hot Space, 1982

A somewhat uncharacteristically serious ‘price-of-fame’ lyrical theme from ’80s Freddie, the song doesn’t quite do justice to the undoubtedly heartfelt sentiments. Like (say) The Invisible Man, strip away the flourishes and what is left is something rather ordinary by Queen standards, which would not probably not have made the cut on any of the first six albums.

141. Dear Friends (May), Sheer Heart Attack, 1974

An affecting piano ballad in miniature.

Queen Songs Ranked 185-161

Intrigued and inspired by a blog I came across on Twitter in late-October 2018 – annoyingly, I can’t find the link, but there are plenty like it – I am drawing up a complete list of Queen songs, ranked from ‘worst’ to ‘best’. Obviously this is all completely subjective, and I don’t doubt that my views will change as I go along. If nothing else, it’s great fun to do and a perfect excuse to listen to and appreciate (to a greater or lesser extent) every single Queen song – especially the ones I usually unthinkingly dismiss and rarely play. I don’t really have a musical vocabulary, but I will try and explain my thinking as best I can. Any time references relate to the 1994 remasters, unless stated otherwise.

First, a few words about what’s in and what’s not. I fully accept that this is a bit arbitrary, though there is a logic of sorts.

  • It encompasses every Queen studio song released either on an album or as a b-side up to Freddie’s death – so Mad The Swine makes the cut.
  • I decided to include God Save The Queen and The Wedding March, even though they are arrangements of traditional pieces of music, because they are very obviously ‘Queen-ified’.
  • On reflection, I decided to include the Made In Heaven album because Freddie was involved in at least some of the recording process. On that criterion, I have also included Feelings, Feelings and the three tracks that featured on Queen Forever. I have not, however, included No One But You, which had no Freddie involvement.
  • There are no live tracks or session tracks – including no We Will Rock You (fast). Boo.
  • To keep things simple, I am counting reprises as separate tracks – except Seven Seas Of Rhye from the first album (which, strictly speaking, isn’t a reprise anyway!).
  • Other than the reprises, which all stand as separate tracks on albums, there are no officially released early takes, remixes or reworkings included – so no Forever (boo…again), for example, and (mercifully) no Blurred Vision, which would otherwise have been propping up the entire Queen oeuvre.
  • I decided against ‘Track 13’, as a piece of ambient music rather than a song as such.

From 185 to 161…

Mainly b-sides, plus incidental and dialogue-heavy pieces from the Flash Gordon soundtrack. There are a number of songs from the Miracle sessions. Two singles (both minor hits) also feature. 

185. Chinese Torture (Queen), The Miracle bonus track, 1989

A Brian experimental ‘thing’ that echoes bits of his ’86 Magic Tour solo (but it’s no Brighton Rock).

184. Stealin (Queen), b-side, 1989

From the Miracle sessions, this has obviously taken shape from a jamming session. A quintessential ‘minor’ b-side song.

183. Lost Opportunity (Queen), b-side, 1991

From the Innuendo sessions, it’s a blues piece that would have been suited to Brian’s first solo album (indeed it has the same feel as Nothing But Blue).

182. Don’t Try Suicide (Mercury), The Game, 1980

Queen’s worst album track. As an attempt at black humour, it comes up woefully short (“…You’re just gonna’ hate it…Nobody gives a damn”). The brief up-tempo bits (“You need help…” and the guitar solo) rescue it from being completely awful.

181. The Ring (Hypnotic Seduction Of Dale) (Mercury), Flash Gordon, 1980

180. Arboria (Planet Of The Tree Men) (Deacon), Flash Gordon, 1980

179. Ming’s Theme (In the Court of Ming the Merciless) (Mercury), Flash Gordon, 1980

Essentially mood music. Ming’s Theme contains some fairly menacing synthesizer.

178. Flash’s Theme Reprise (Victory Celebrations) (May), Flash Gordon, 1980

177. Marriage of Dale and Ming (And Flash Approaching) (May), Flash Gordon, 1980

176. Flash to the Rescue (May), Flash Gordon, 1980

Essentially narrative interludes, helping the story along. Marriage Of Dale And Ming includes some nice guitar on the Flash snippets. Flash To The Rescue carries a sense of heightening drama, as if setting up the action to come.

175. Body Language (Mercury), Hot Space, 1882

Queen’s worst choice of single – and a lead-off single at that. By all accounts, this was more or less an exclusively Mercury creation in the studio. Typical of his ‘shouty’ ’80s style of singing. There is little or no May guitar: when played live on the Hot Space tour, it was considerably rockier and a far better version. This won’t be the last time I say those words.

174. Execution of Flash (Deacon), Flash Gordon, 1980

Short and simple – but effective: a few basic notes on guitar (presumably played by John) combining well with a suitably funereal orchestral sound.

173. Hijack My Heart (Queen), b-side, 1989

Another song from the Miracle sessions. With Roger on vocals, this sounds like it could have featured on Shove It! – the first Cross album (but really a Roger solo album). The guitar riff is very Roger.

172. There Must Be More To Life Than This (Mercury), released 2014

Originally part of the Hot Space sessions, this version includes nice guitars and is superior to the version on Mr Bad Guy, but it suffers badly from a weak Michael Jackson’s vocal.

171. Thank God It’s Christmas (May/Taylor), 1984

The fact that this Christmas song only reached Number 21 in the UK charts speaks volumes. It’s middle-of-the-road and unadventurous fare with equally bland lyrics, and lacks any kind of genuine festive spirit (perhaps because it was recorded in the summer). The best thing about it is John’s driving bass.

170. The Wedding March (Arr. May), Flash Gordon, 1980

May’s short Queen-ified arrangement of Wagner’s Bridal Chorus from Lohengrin, with a suitably brooding ending (Dale is after all being forced to marry the dastardly Ming).

169. My Baby Does Me (Queen), The Miracle, 1980

Typical of the funky, laid-back feel that Freddie and John were fond of creating in the ’80s, the problem is that it doesn’t really go anywhere, and is seriously marred by vacuous lyrics and a soulless drum-machine backing.

168. More Of That Jazz (Taylor), Jazz, 1978

Their weakest album closer, More Of That Jazz sits neglected and unloved in the musical and lyrical shadow cast by the exuberant Don’t Stop Me Now, which precedes it. Sounding very much like one of Roger’s more-or-less solo efforts, it is hampered by uninspired lyrics and further weakened by the unnecessary inclusion of a hideous montage of earlier tracks.

167. Party (Queen), The Miracle, 1989

The weakest (by far) of Queen’s album lead-off songs, this is based around a heavy, programmed drum beat. It’s rescued by some zippy guitar work from Brian.

166. Rain Must Fall (Queen), The Miracle, 1989

Another of the weaker Miracle tracks with a synthesized drum beat far too prominent in the mix. Freddie’s repeated use of “cool” dates the song. However, the basic track is considerably enhanced by Roger’s percussion, a scintillating guitar solo from Brian and some great bass from John – especially from roughly 3:10 onwards.

165. Fun It (Taylor), Jazz, 1978

Roger’s first experiment in funk in which he and Freddie share lead vocal duties. It includes several trademark Roger frills, but ultimately sounds like a demo. Like many of the songs on Jazz, it would surely have worked better with more inspired production. A foretaste of the cold ’80s drum sound to come.

164. God Save The Queen (Arr. May), A Night At The Opera, 1975

Originally recorded in 1974 to close the live show, Brian’s arrangement served two important functions: it was an inspired choice to close Queen’s ‘Sgt Pepper’ and it was surely the only thing that could have followed Bohemian Rhapsody.

163. In the Death Cell (Love Theme Reprise) (Taylor), Flash Gordon, 1980

162. Escape from the Swamp (Taylor), Flash Gordon, 1980

161. In the Space Capsule (The Love Theme) (Taylor), Flash Gordon, 1980

Three great mood pieces from Roger, combining timpani and synthesizer to great effect. There’s a haunting, ethereal quality to the synth sound, reminiscent of his excellent solo track, Fun In Space (which was being worked on at roughly the same time).