Queen Songs Ranked 40–21

Another selection of twenty incredible Queen songs, almost the best of the best and drawn fairly evenly from the ’70s and later. This collection features the three best tracks from The Miracle and no less than four tracks from their debut album, as well as the standout tracks from Flash Gordon, Hot Space, A Kind of Magic, News of the World and The Game.

Click here for details about how I compiled the list and to start from the beginning (number 185).

40. Hammer to Fall (May), The Works, 1984

Brian’s most directly anti-war song, written at the height of the ‘second’ cold war and the popularity of CND, though on stage it was Roger who wore a T-shirt bearing an explicitly anti-nuclear message. It begins with a thumping guitar riff and doesn’t let up. It would have been an obvious way to end their comeback-of-sorts album, The Works, until the acoustic Is This the World We Created …? came along late in the day. The 12″ version is an extended Headbanger’s Mix with additional magic from Brian (though the ‘join’ at the beginning is a bit clunky).

Most Queen fans would probably disagree, but for me it’s the one song that didn’t quite work in the Live Aid set (I would have used Somebody to Love).

Best moment: the musical break at roughly 1:58 leading to a (for ’80s Queen) lengthy guitar solo.

39. A Kind of Magic (Taylor), A Kind of Magic, 1986

By the mid-’80s Roger was proving that he could write megahits too — though Freddie apparently re-worked the original idea somewhat. An infectious piece of uptempo pop, it transferred effortlessly to the stage and featured a quite superb ending. Brian’s playful guitar is utterly delightful in the studio and on stage. One of the better twelve-inch remixes from the ’80s. Best moment: “This rage that lasts a thousand years …” at 2:35.

38. Breakthru (Queen), The Miracle, 1989

An irresistibly infectious beat propels this song along: no wonder the video was set aboard a train. This song showcases John and Roger at their finest [note, however, that co-producer Dave Richards said at the time that it “has a synth bass line — it just didn’t seem to work with a live bass guitar”]. There are two ideas here merged into one, tacking Freddie’s A New Life Is Born onto the main song (apparently one of Roger’s). Best moment: the final chorus from 3:30.

37. I Want It All (Queen), The Miracle, 1989

The Miracle was arguably Queen’s patchiest album, but I Want It All delivers in spades, with a welcome helping of full-throated guitar and several blistering solos from Brian. Great drums, too, from Roger. The anthemic sound captures the ‘I want it all’ lyrical sentiments (the phrase apparently comes courtesy of Brian’s partner, Anita Dobson). Best moment: Brian’s vocal interlude (“I’m a man with a one-track mind …”) leading into an extended solo, with great backing from John and Roger.

36. These Are the Days of Our Lives (Queen), Innuendo, 1991

Roger’s gentle meditation on the passage of time — an enduring theme of his, though written now from the perspective of approaching middle age rather than of happy-go-lucky youth. The song is, of course, forever bound up with the death of Freddie and particularly the final video footage, in which he stands metaphorically naked before the camera, allowing the world to see the ravages of his illness. Truly heartbreaking to watch. Best moment: Brian’s guitar solo.

35. Vultan’s Theme (Attack of the Hawk Men) (Mercury), Flash Gordon, 1980

34. Battle Theme (May), Flash Gordon, 1980

The rebellion against Ming and the attack on Mingo City are here brilliantly brought to life in four blistering minutes. A driving beat from Roger and John accompanies Freddie’s synthesizer before Brian’s full-on guitar onslaught: this is heart-stopping stuff to accompany the onscreen heroics. The two pieces were briefly incorporated into the live set at the end of Brian’s solo. Best moment: “Flash!” at roughly 1:45 of Battle Theme.

33. We Are the Champions (Mercury), News of the World, 1977

A classic that — along with We Will Rock You — has gone on to capture the imagination of the world over the last forty years. Exceptionally lyrically daring at the time of its release (when Queen were hate figures for the punk-obsessed music press), the world has come to accept that the focus of the song is a collective ‘We’ — be it a Queen audience, a sports crowd or people in general.

As Brian has pointed out, Champions starts small and ends big — in typical Freddie style. Musically, it is straightforward — its power coming from the words and the anthemic chorus. On its release, the song was accompanied by a great ‘live’ video (with an ‘alternative’ version now produced) — shot in front of fan club members — far better than (say) Fat Bottomed Girls, filmed a year later, which comes across as pedestrian and by-the-book in comparison.

Best moment: Brian’s guitar in the final chorus, starting with the extraordinary elongated note at 2:41.

32. My Fairy King (Mercury), Queen, 1973

Was this the first Queen song ever played on the radio — track one of the first BBC session, broadcast in February 1973? It’s arguably also the first song to feature the complex vocal and musical arrangements that became such a feature of the early Queen sound. Mystical, mythological and biblical themes were common in Freddie’s early lyrics: here he borrows from the poem The Pied Piper of Hamelin by Robert Browning (“And honey-bees had lost their stings / And horses were born with eagles’ wings”).

Piano-led, rather than guitar-driven, this was an exquisite foretaste of what was to come. Best moment: the delicate piano break at roughly 2:14 (“Someone, someone just drained the colour from my wings …”).

31. Was It All Worth It (Queen), The Miracle, 1989

A high-point on which to end the patchy Miracle album, this feels like an (at times tongue-in-cheek) valedictory reflection on the vicissitudes of the rock-‘n’-roll life set to a thumping riff. Here the synthesizer is also used to wonderfully surreal effect. Best moment: the synth intro and opening riff and then the closing riffs at 5:05.

30. She Makes Me (Stormtrooper in Stilettos) (May), Sheer Heart Attack, 1974

A typically dark, moody and magnificent Brian affair. Sweaty and claustrophobic — probably written as Brian recovered from serious and prolonged bouts of illness in ’74. The closing minute or so is utterly brilliant and original. One story holds that the ponderous, doom-laden drumbeat was described by Roger as like ‘a stormtrooper in stilettos’ — hence the song’s subtitle. Best moment: the harmonies on “She makes me need / She is my love / She is my love” at 0:57.

29. Great King Rat (Mercury), Queen, 1973

Another early masterpiece. Harder than My Fairy King, here the guitars do the heavy lifting — it includes a brilliant multi-tracked solo from Brian. The biblical allusions are typical of early-era Freddie. There’s great percussion too from Roger buried away somewhat throughout the track, for example at 0:51. Best moment: when temptation beckons — “Now listen all you people” — at 2:43.

28. Love of My Life (Mercury), A Night at the Opera, 1975

Attention now focuses almost exclusively on the acoustic version performed live — a pivotal audience-participation moment in the show with, on recent tours, an ‘appearance’ by Freddie. It’s a shame that the original is somewhat overlooked: it’s a quite sublime ballad, infinitely superior to the slush that normally passes for a love song. There’s so much to enjoy, not least Brian’s harp and the tender vocal from Freddie. Best moment: the exquisite piano runs from 2:32 accompanying Brian’s delicate guitar.

27. You and I (Deacon), A Day at the Races, 1976

The most hidden of John’s hidden gems — to add insult to injury, it was released as a b-side to Tie Your Mother Down. This is John’s writing at its absolute peak, which could (and arguably should) have been a single. In roughly four minutes it encapsulates the whole A Day at the Races sound — an attractive radio-friendly melody, great guitars, Freddie’s driving piano, nice bass runs, a thick drum sound and lush backing vocal arrangements. Best moment: that exquisite guitar at 2:49.

26. Save Me (May), The Game, 1980

As Mack dragged the Queen sound into the ’80s, it seemed as if — with Sail Away Sweet Sister and Save Me — Brian was fighting a rearguard action on behalf of the ’70s. Reminiscent in some ways of the magnificent White Queen, there are lots of trademark early Queen sounds here. A groundbreaking video at the time, though for this young fan at the time (before home video recorders and the like) it was frustrating that on-stage ‘live’ footage of the band was used only intermittently.

Best moment: the short acoustic solo at 2:24 could have come from Queen II.

25. Under Pressure (Queen/Bowie), Hot Space, 1982

It really shouldn’t have worked — a collaboration more or less from scratch, a semi-drunken jam, rock-star egos loose in the studio — and yet it does, magnificently so. Both acts subsequently did it justice on stage — though, frustratingly, never on the same stage at the same time! Best moment: “Can’t we give ourselves …” at 2:36.

24. Liar (Mercury), Queen, 1973

Another one of the very earliest songs, of course, and a fan favourite — a bona fide Queen classic. One of the longer Queen songs, it goes through several mood changes, though retaining a hard-rock edge throughout. Great drums from Roger and featuring a number of guitar solos. On stage, a rare example of John singing (he shared Freddie’s microphone). Best moment: the closing section, particularly Roger’s drumming, which enabled him to look suitably moody and heroic when performed on stage.

23. The March of the Black Queen (Mercury), Queen II, 1974

It’s impossible to listen to Bohemian Rhapsody and not hear echoes of Black Queen. The most over-the-top track on Queen’s most over-the-top album. The listener is left gasping at their sheer arrogance: it feels as if every so-far unused musical idea from the sessions was added to the mix. It over-reaches and almost keels over under the weight of its grandiosity; yet, it is utterly audacious and quite magnificent.

When Queen II was first released on CD, faulty indexing/mastering resulted in the final verse being tacked on to the beginning of Funny How Love Is.

Best moment: “I reign with my left hand / I rule with my right / I’m lord of all darkness / I’m Queen of the night” from 4:22 (the section that featured in the medley on stage).

22. Keep Yourself Alive (May), Queen, 1973

Iconic in so many ways — first session, first single, first track on the first album. A mesmerising, meandering opening — the gradual build-up of instrumentation until the first verse kicks in. How many singles include the words “belladonic haze” and a drum solo? As Brian has noted, it’s not a little ironic that, on stage, the song took on a ‘good-to-be-alive, get-’em-out-of-their-seats’ quality: the lyrics are in fact somewhat darker (as one would expect with early Brian). Best moment: the long introduction — the beginning of an incredible journey for us all.

21. Who Wants to Live Forever (May), A Kind of Magic, 1986

Written to accompany the Highlander storyline (apparently, it was sketched out in Brian’s head within twenty minutes after seeing rushes of the film), the emotional power of the song was of course later given added poignancy with the news of Freddie’s health.

On the Magic Tour, Freddie spoke at (relative) length to the crowd about rumours of the band splitting up, before introducing the song (thus allowing time for Brian’s keyboard to be set up on stage). At Wembley (12 July), he said: “So forget those rumours. We’re going to stay together until we fucking well die, I’m sure.”

A somewhat rare example of where orchestra and rock band complement each other and combine with great dramatic effect. Good use, too, of two vocalists — Brian’s initial voice is vulnerable and naked whereas Freddie soars. Best moment: the power chords and Roger’s drums (presumably) at 2:50.

More about Queen


Queen songs ranked — from Don’t Try So Hard (’91) to I’m In Love With My Car (’75)


No spoilers, but it’s safe to assume Bohemian Rhapsody is in my top 20 Queen songs

Queen Memories

Growing up as a Queen fan: teenage tales told through 10 Queen-related objects

Queen Songs Ranked 60–41

Queen’s finest non-album release features in this magnificent selection (at number 50), as do tracks from most of their albums. Innuendo and News of the World both feature three times. No album released in Freddie’s lifetime has yet made its last appearance. Of the tracks listed 50–41, only two date from 1980 or later, and one of those has a ‘classic’ ’70s Queen sound!

Click here for details about how I compiled the list and to start from the beginning (number 185).

60. Don’t Try So Hard (Queen), Innuendo, 1991

A simple, delicate ballad, this song is taken to quite another level by Freddie’s stunning vocal, which is nothing short of astonishing when one considers his undoubted physical frailty at that time. Superb understated use of synthesizers too. Best moment: “Oh what a beautiful world / This is the life for me” at roughly 2:02.

59. The Hero (May), Flash Gordon, 1980

It’s a shame that The Hero is rather let down by what was apparently some last-minute, seat-of-the-pants production: the ‘joins’ between the different sections of the song are somewhat glaring. Nevertheless, after a blistering reprise of Battle Theme, the core of the song (from roughly 0:50 to 1:40) is an outstanding slice of hero-saluting heavy rock. It was used as a brilliant (and unexpected!) set opener in 1982. Best moment: “All you gotta’ do is save the world!”

58. Staying Power (Mercury), Hot Space, 1982

Along with Back Chat, this was by far the best of Queen’s experiments in dance-funk. It’s baffling that one of these two songs was not released as the Hot Space lead-off single, if the band really wanted to announce their new musical direction. Packed with quirky ideas and with good use of the stereo mix, the horns blend in well too. There is internet chatter that (along with Body Language) this was largely a Freddie studio creation; certainly, there is little or no space for Brian and Roger. As usual, the live version was far rockier — and far better. Best moment: the horn-led instrumental break at 1:42.

57. Machines (Or ‘Back to Humans’) (May/Taylor), The Works, 1984

Machines is quite unlike anything else in the Queen canon and demonstrates a refreshing willingness to jettison traditional song structures in a manner reminiscent of their early albums. The conflict in the lyrics between humans and machines seems to be mirrored by the interplay between guitar/bass/drums and programmed Fairlight synthesizer ‘mechanical’ sounds. Best moment: the recurring hammer blows of guitar, bass and drums beginning at 0:46 (used to bring the band to the stage during the Works tour).

56. You Take My Breath Away (Mercury), A Day at the Races, 1976

Almost a solo Freddie effort, this is a beautifully naked and tender love song. On stage it was performed with just piano and voice — and for an early performance of the song at Hyde Park, Freddie sang falsetto parts. Best moment: the exquisite final line — “To tell you when I’ve found you / I love you”.

55. Bijou (Queen), Innuendo, 1991

Brian’s simple yet devastatingly effective inversion of the traditional song structure. Thus his beautifully mournful guitar ‘sings’ and Freddie’s vocal plays the part of the solo. Again, the synthesizer is nicely understated. It is perfectly situated on the album, leading into the magnificent The Show Must Go On. Best moment: Freddie’s brief vocal, the words again taking on a whole new significance in light of his illness — “You and me / We are destined, you’ll agree / To spend the rest of our lives with each other”.

54. Keep Passing the Open Windows (Mercury), The Works, 1984

A fantastic piece of pop-rock, with a great driving bassline from John and stirring, uplifting sentiments from Freddie — “Get yourself together / Things are looking better every day” — far better than his earlier Don’t Try Suicide. It would also have been a better choice for third Works single than It’s a Hard Life, working on the assumption that intra-band politics had reached a point where each was ‘entitled’ to one A-side single release. Best moment: John’s bass kicks in at 0:20.

53. Ride the Wild Wind (Taylor), Innuendo, 1991

A great uptempo beat drives this hymn to life in the fast lane — lyrically it is favourite Roger territory. Great drums throughout, too, and restrained use of synthesizers, adding lush textures rather than dominating the music. Best moment: Brian’s guitar sounds epic at roughly 3:00.

52. Mustapha (Mercury), Jazz, 1978

It would take something special to prevent Let Me Entertain You being placed as side one track one on Jazz — and Mustapha was certainly it. A delightful slice of left-field nonsense from Freddie. It’s not easy to disentangle the lyrics — some in English, some apparently in Arabic and Persian and some gibberish. Mustapha earned its place in the live set by popular demand.

The song is let down (as so often on Jazz) only by the production: the ‘epic’ Queen sound of old has well and truly gone and the drums, in particular, have lost their natural depth, now sounding artificial, tinny and dull. The instruments sound compressed and lifeless (except for a brief segment starting at 1:20 when the sound ‘breaks out’ and makes full use of the available ‘space’, repeated at 2:33).

51. One Vision (Queen), A Kind of Magic, 1986

We of course know more about this song’s creative development than probably any other Queen song due to the fact that the recording process was filmed by the so-called Torpedo Twins, regular Queen collaborators at the time. Recorded in the afterglow of Live Aid, One Vision wears its internationalist, humanitarian sentiments on its sleeve. It’s a great riff from Brian. Best moment: Roger’s thudding bass drum in the introduction.

50. See What a Fool I’ve Been (Arr. May), b-side, 1974

Here it is: Queen’s finest non-album song. There are two excellent studio versions of the song available. The original b-side recording — complete with blistering multi-tracked guitars and Freddie at his most outrageously camp — and the BBC session version, more closely aligned with the way the song was performed on stage and with alternative lyrics.

We now know a little more about the genesis of the song in the Smile days. It was based on a chord sequence and a couple of lines of lyrics that Brian remembered hearing. As he was unable to recall the specific song, he says that the composer credit was left as ‘Trad. arr. — May’. The original song has since been tracked down. Notwithstanding the above, when the song has featured on recent Queen releases such as Queen On Air, it is credited to ‘May’.

Best moment: Freddie’s blatantly camp vocal delivery — “Oh tantrums! / It don’t feel the same / Now hit it … like that!”

49. Bicycle Race (Mercury), Jazz, 1978

Straight out of the tradition of eccentric Freddie songs (The Fairy Feller’s Master-Stroke, Bring Back That Leroy Brown, Seaside Rendezvous), this is a smorgasbord of quirky musical ideas, time-signature changes and tongue-in-cheek lyrics (marred only by the rather banal lyrics of the chorus). The instrumental version (released in 2011) is a great listen too. Best moment: “Bicycle races are coming your way …” at roughly 1:00 and the accompanying piano.

48. Spread Your Wings (Deacon), News of the World, 1977

Overlooked for Queen’s Greatest Hits, this terrific John Deacon song remains one of their finest hidden gems, though its placing on the magnificent side three of Live Killers has perhaps earned it a wider audience over the years. It was resurrected but quickly dropped for the 2017 Queen + Adam Lambert News of the World fortieth-anniversary tour, with Brian claiming that the song didn’t quite take off with audiences as well as they had hoped.

The track contains some great incidental piano and acoustic guitar. The BBC session version includes a superb uptempo final section that for some reason was not performed on stage. The ‘raw sessions’ version that featured in the fortieth-anniversary box set is a treat as well. Best moment: the long outro from 3:29.

47. Bring Back That Leroy Brown (Mercury), Sheer Heart Attack, 1974

Arguably the first song to show off the band’s willingness to dabble in radically different musical styles and pastiche, Leroy Brown is an indicator of what was to come. A joy from start to finish, especially Brian’s ukulele. Best moment: a toss-up between the musical break at roughly 0:49, leading to John’s double bass solo, and Brian’s ukulele solo at 1:57.

46. Long Away (May), A Day at the Races, 1976

A Brian song — one of many — about absence, longing and loneliness. Of the four members of the band, he was clearly the one most troubled by life away on the road. Certain Queen songs suited Brian’s vocal, exemplified perfectly here: “For every star in heaven / there’s a sad soul here today”. There’s a great jangly 12-string guitar sound throughout. Best moment: the short multi-tracked solo at 1:47.

45. It’s Late (May), News of the World, 1977

One of Brian’s tales of emotional upheaval, reimagined around three ‘scenes’ and set to a thumping guitar-based rock backdrop. Brian’s solo leading into an extended musical break is exceptional, as is the closing section. The alternative version released in 2017, also a delight, contains more up-front piano from Freddie. Best moment: Brian’s multi-tracked solo, starting at 3:29, and the long riff at 3:50, leading into the uptempo rock-‘n’-roll section.

44. All Dead, All Dead (May), News of the World, 1977

Eschewing the lush arrangements of their earlier material, the song is a model of stark simplicity — piano, minimal guitar and Freddie on backing vocals. One of the unexpected surprises of the 2017 fortieth anniversary News of the World box set was the version with Freddie on lead vocal. It was nice to have the mystery of the opening lines, which I love, solved. For me, they perfectly capture the bittersweet quality of the memories of those you have loved who have passed away: they “haunt” you but you never want to forget them (“How long can you stay …”).

On balance I think I prefer the Brian version, though that might just be because of its familiarity and its ‘polished’ quality. Of the four, he consistently wrote the most intensely personal lyrics, often about absence and lost love. Here he seems to sing his own poetical, old-fashioned words (“ado”, “fleeted”) with complete authenticity, even though he doesn’t have Freddie’s expressiveness. Best moment: Roger’s drum and John’s bass after 2:29 (which isn’t in Freddie’s demo version).

43. Princes of the Universe (Mercury), A Kind of Magic, 1986

Similar in many ways to The Hero (lyrically, certainly), this is a rare slice of hard rock from ’80s Freddie, packing a wealth of ideas into three-and-a-half frantic minutes, with time-signature changes aplenty. A great vocal from Freddie, a huge drum sound and truly epic guitars from Brian. Best moment: the backing vocals at 1:00.

42. Sail Away Sweet Sister (May), The Game, 1980

It felt at the time that Brian was the guardian of the traditional Queen sound, as the band moved in a radically different direction. Sail Away is another emotional epic with tasteful use of acoustic guitar and synthesizer. The downbeat ending from 2:47, particularly John’s bass, is great. Best moment: Freddie’s middle-eight, ending with the traditional Queen backing chorus at 1:57 and Brian’s multi-tracked solo. Classic ’70s Queen.

41. I’m In Love With My Car (Taylor), A Night at the Opera, 1975

So much has been written about this song over the years. They even poked fun at it in the movie script (though Roger has always had the last laugh — the large royalty cheques continuing to arrive as the original b-side of Bohemian Rhapsody). It’s the quintessential Queen song about fast cars, set to a rolling beat and featuring Roger’s best ever vocal performance, backed by typically lavish backing vocal arrangements. Best moment: the backing vocals at 0:59 and again at 2:10 and 2:22.

More about Queen


Queen songs ranked — from Pain Is So Close to Pleasure (’86) to Tie Your Mother Down (’76)


Queen songs ranked — from Hammer to Fall (’84) to Who Wants to Live Forever (’86)

Queen Memories

Growing up as a Queen fan: teenage tales told through 10 Queen-related objects

Favourite Album: Cold Maths or Gut Instinct?

Inspired by a blog I came across recently (unfortunately I can’t find the link but there are loads of such blogs around), I have spent the last few days compiling my personal ranking of Queen songs, and I am just in the process of writing it all up, beginning with 185–161. I had in fact already started all of this when the Classic Rock readers’ poll listing came out — I am looking forward to comparing my ranking with theirs in due course. At the moment, I am just thinking about what my rankings are telling me about my favourite/least favourite Queen albums.

So I now have a database of 185 Queen songs (I explain here what I did/didn’t count as a ‘Queen’ song) — each one numbered from 185 (least favourite) to 01 (favourite). I decided to see if a bit of elementary mathematics (it would need to be) could help me formulate a ‘definitive’ ranking of albums. I was intrigued as to whether it would confirm what ‘gut instinct’ has always told me, which is roughly something like this:

1-2 Sheer Heart Attack & A Night at the Opera (usually Opera at 1 but it seems to alternate in my mind)
3 Queen II
4 A Day at the Races
5 Queen
6-8 News of the World, The Works, Innuendo
9 The Game
10 A Kind of Magic
11-12 Flash Gordon, Made in Heaven
13 Jazz
14 Hot Space
15 The Miracle

I worked out the mean score for each album (the old-school ‘average’: add up all the individual items and then divide by the number of items). This is what I got (mean score in brackets):

1 A Day at the Races (45.5)
2 A Night at the Opera (57.2) — though it was 47.5 without God Save the Queen
3. Queen II (63.4)
4. Sheer Heart Attack (67.2)
5. Queen (68.8)
6. Innuendo (78.3)
7. A Kind of Magic (80.3)
8. The Works (87.3)
9. News of the World (88.2)
10. The Game (91.9)
11. Jazz (100.3)
12. Hot Space (103.5)
13. Made in Heaven (113.1)
14. The Miracle (115.7)
15. Flash Gordon (138.3)

The big surprise there is that A Day at the Races came out the fairly comfortable winner. I have exceptionally fond memories of the album — the first one I ever bought — but I have never seriously considered it my absolute favourite.

I scored the tracks on A Day at the Races as follows: 9, 15, 19, 27, 46, 56, 61, 68, 72, 82. So consistency wins out, at least by this mean measure. I have of course always seen it as a very ‘solid’ album: there is nothing at the very top (the highest is 09Somebody to Love), but there is also nothing lower than 82 (Good Old Fashioned Lover Boy).

Ten very good tracks — the epitome of ‘solid’ — whereas a ‘great’ album that includes perhaps twelve or thirteen tracks may still include a couple of weaker songs which pull the overall average down. For example, I scored A Night at the Opera: 3, 4, 5, 7, 10, 28, 41, 78, 102, 109, 135, 164. It has five songs in the top ten but the ‘weaker’ songs bring the average down.

I should perhaps make clear that I don’t dislike God Save the Queen (number 164), but I found it an interesting headache where to rank short songs that I really like (such as some of the Flash Gordon songs but also songs like Dear Friends, which was at 141) and the God Save the Queen and Wedding March (170) traditional arrangements — part of a discussion for another time about what criteria we might use to rate a song.

The other thing that stands out for me from the mean list is that I seem to rate the individual elements of A Kind of Magic higher than my gut sense of the album as a whole. Conversely, I like Flash Gordon as a soundtrack but that doesn’t come through when broken down on a track-by-track basis. The cold logic of mathematics, I suppose. It’s the old adage about the whole being bigger than the sum of the parts: the numbers are struggling to express how I feel about an album as an overall listening experience.

I then ranked them according to the median (list the individual items and the median is the one in the middle). Supposedly this is good for filtering out a small number of outliers that dramatically skew the average and therefore gives you a better sense of where the bulk of the numbers are. This is what I got:

1. Queen II (23)
2. A Night at the Opera (35) – 28 without God Save the Queen
3. A Day at the Races (51)
4. Sheer Heart Attack (65)
5. Queen (67)
6. Innuendo (72)
7. A Kind of Magic (80)
8. The Game (84)
9. News of the World (94)
10. The Works (99)
11. Jazz (101)
12. Hot Space (107)
13. Made in Heaven (116)
14. The Miracle (135)
15. Flash Gordon (152)

So this calculation yielded slightly different results. A Day at the Races is certainly closer to where I would instinctively have placed it in the list. The big surprise was Queen II coming out top. When I look at how I scored the tracks, I find that it is an album very much of two halves (and I don’t mean the two sides, Black and White): six absolutely fantastic songs and five merely ‘good’ songs. It’s the very opposite of the consistency of A Day at the Races but the good tracks are so good (five in the top twenty) that it ends up winning.

This is how I scored Queen II:

02 White Queen (As It Began)
12 Seven Seas of Rhye
14 The Fairy Feller’s Master-Stroke
16 Father to Son
18 Nevermore
23 The March of the Black Queen
88 Ogre Battle
112 Some Day One Day
115 Procession
145 Funny How Love Is
152 The Loser in the End (sorry, Rog)

Great fun to do – and I will be doing a lot more analysis in the next few days and weeks.

By the way, Brighton Rock was number 01.

More about Queen


Queen songs ranked — plus an explanation of the rationale and ground rules I adopted

Live Killers

Reflections on Queen’s first live album, forty-ish years after its release

Queen Memories

Growing up as a Queen fan: teenage tales told through 10 Queen-related objects