The HyperTexts

Queen Best Songs
Queen Top Five Songs
Queen Top Ten Songs
Queen Top Twenty-Five Songs
Queen Best-Selling Songs

Yes, Freddie Mercury and Queen were theatrical, bombastic, artsy, campy, colorful, quirky, zany, madcap and bizarre. ... but they made it work for them, and that's why we love the lads and their work. Perhaps Freddie Mercury was like a gay Elvis on speed, trying to merge rock, glam, progressive, heavy metal, blues, jazz, country-western, rockabilly, gospel, disco and opera ... but c'mon ... isn't that what we all WANT in a front man?

At age twelve, Freddie Mercury created a band called The Heretics and began covering songs by Little Richard and Cliff Richards. Mercury's other influences include the Beatles, Elvis, the Sweet (early glam rockers), Liza Minnelli, Deep Purple, Roger Daltrey and the Who, Robert Plant and Led Zeppelin, David Bowie, Chic, Aretha Franklin, Pink Floyd, Genesis, Cream and Jimi Hendrix.

In 1970, Freddie Mercury, Brian May, Roger Taylor and John Deacon combined to form the band we now know as Queen. Mercury chose the name because "It's very regal obviously, and it sounds splendid. It's a strong name, very universal and immediate. I was certainly aware of the gay connotations, but that was just one facet of it." Queen was the perfect name for a group that could be as regal as Elizabeth and as "mercurial" (pardon the pun) as the Red Queen having a bad heir day (pardon the even worse pun).

Roger Daltrey called Mercury "the best virtuoso rock 'n' roll singer of all time. He could sing anything in any style. He could change his style from line to line and, God, that's an art. And he was brilliant at it." (If you watch YouTube "reaction" videos to Queen songs, something hip-hop critics almost always note about Freddie Mercury and Queen is how they "change things up" in the middle of a song. And I have yet to hear a hip-hop critic who didn't rave about Queen's best songs. Or anyone else for that matter.)

Although Freddie Mercury was a baritone, his range extended from F2 (bass) to F6 (soprano). Mercury's voice has been described as "pure and crystalline in the upper reaches." He became the most flamboyant and the most operatic of rock singers. But he was never limited to any particular style. Mercury also tended to write "musically complex material." For example, "Bohemian Rhapsody" is "acyclic in structure and comprises dozens of chords." And as David Bowie, something of an expert, observed: "Of all the more theatrical rock performers, Freddie took it further than the rest ... he took it over the edge. And of course, I always admired a man who wears tights. I only saw him in concert once and as they say, he was definitely a man who could hold an audience in the palm of his hand." Thus, Mercury was a superior singer, a superior songwriter, and a superior performer. He had it all. And he gave his all, in every performance.

by Michael R. Burch

Please keep in mind that these are just one man's personal opinions about Queen's songs. While you may not agree with me about every song, or any song, it can't hurt to compare lists, so here goes ...

#1 Bohemian Rhapsody ― The ultimate rock music authority, Wayne's World, made this their anthem. What more can we possibly add? The song hit number one in the US after its 1991 re-release. It was named the top British single of all time by the Guinness Book of Records. Written by Freddie Mercury, the song appeared on the Night at the Opera album released in 1975.

#2 Who Wants to Live Forever? ― Poignant, powerful and undeniable. Queen trump God and religion with a simple five-word question: Who Wants to Live Forever? Who indeed! Brain May wrote this classic for the first Highlander movie in 1986. It appeared on the A Kind of Magic Album released in 1986.

#3 The Show Must Go On ― A companion piece or bookend to Who Wants to Live Forever. Both songs are incredible and are interchangeable on this list. Written by Brian May as a tribute to Freddie Mercury, it was the last track on the last album Freddie Mercury recorded with Queen, the marvelously moving Innuendo released in 1991.

#4 Somebody to Love ― This gospel-inspired Queen classic was memorably covered by George Michael before 72,000 screaming fans at the 1992 Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert. But Freddie sang it even better. At this point I will hazard the opinion that no other rock group had four songs better than the top four on this list. Written by Freddie Mercury, it appeared on the album A Day at the Races in 1976.

#5 Crazy Little Thing Called Love ― Freddie Mercury, perhaps channeling the young Elvis, wrote this seductive little honky-tonk number in a "ten minute flash of inspiration." It became Queen's first number one single in the US. Written by Freddie Mercury, it appeared on the 1980 album The Game.

#6 Innuendo ― Queen's longest single features a flamenco guitar (played by Steve Howe of Yes) and a bolero-esque beat on a progressive, operatic rock classic that rivals Bohemian Rhapsody. Written by Roger Taylor, this song would be the title track on Freddie Mercury's last album before he died of AIDS, Innuendo released in 1991.

#7 Don't Stop Me Now ― This is the perfect song for fighting (or inciting) zombies in Shaun of the Dead! Written by Freddie Mercury, it appeared on the 1978 album Jazz.

#8 Killer Queen ― A killer hit from Queen's third album, this may be their signature glam-rock song. Written by Freddie Mercury, it reached #2 in Great Britain and #12 in the US. The song appeared on the 1974 album Sheer Heart Attack.

#9 Another One Bites the Dust ― Anthem rock is not my thing, normally, but no one ever did rousing anthems better than Queen. The biggest hit written by John Deacon, this song became Queen's second number one single in the US. It appeared on the 1980 album The Game.

#10 We Are the Champions / We Will Rock You ― What the hell did sports arenas play before Queen? Oh yeah, tinkly stuff like "Take Me Out to the Ball Game." Despite these songs' popularity today, they only charted at #44 in the US. The former was written by Freddie Mercury, the latter by Brian May. Both songs appeared on the 1977 album News of the World.

#11 Under Pressure (with David Bowie) ― Cool meets cool, glam meets glam, and the results are red hot. Vanilla Ice need not apply, however. Ironically, Davie Bowie and Queen never performed this song together. Written by Roger Taylor, it appeared on the 1982 album Hot Space.

#12 Radio Ga-Ga ― This one inspired Lady Ga-Ga's stage name, apparently. Written by Roger Taylor, the song topped the charts in 19 countries and thrilled the crowd at Wembley Stadium. It appeared on the 1984 album The Works.

#13 I Want to Break Free ― Donovan singing "Mellow Yellow" could hardly be more mellow than this little toe-tapper. Written by John Deacon for the album The Works in 1984.

#14 I Want It All ― Freddie Mercury never performed this song live; it was first performed live at the 1992 Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert with Roger Daltrey singing lead. It appeared on the 1989 album The Miracle.

#15 I'm Going Slightly Mad / Save Me ― Freddie Mercury channels his inner Johnny Depp or perhaps his inner Joker, Riddler and Phantom of the Opera. I'm Going Slightly Mad appeared on Freddie's last Queen album, Innuendo, released in 1991. Save Me appeared on the 1980 album The Game.

#16 Keep Yourself Alive / Hammer to Fall ― Released in 1973 as a single, Keep Yourself Alive never charted, but it should have! Both songs were written by Brian May. Keep Yourself Alive appeared on the 1973 album Keep Yourself Alive, while Hammer to Fall appeared on the 1984 album The Works.

#17 Love of My Life ― This lovely ballad was number one in Brazil and Argentina, and remained on the charts in the latter for a year. Written by Freddie Mercury, the song appeared on the Night at the Opera album released in 1975.

#18 Play the Game / It's a Hard Life ― Written by Freddie Mercury, the first melodic rocker reached #14 in Great Britain. Play the Game appeared on the 1980 album The Game. It's a Hard Life appeared on the album The Works in 1984.

#19 One Vision ― Conceived and written by Roger Taylor, this progressive rock song reached #7 in Great Britain. It appeared on the A Kind of Magic Album released in 1986.

#20 Miracle / A Kind of Magic ― Written by Freddie Mercury, the title track it appeared on the 1989 album The Miracle. A Kind of Magic was the title track of the 1986 album A Kind of Magic.

#21 Flash (Flash's Theme) ― Freddie Mercury was flashy enough to be Flash, not just sing his theme song! Written by Brian May, this was the theme song of the 1980 movie Flash Gordon.

#22 Stone Cold Crazy ― This hard rocker was later covered by Metallica. Written by Roger Taylor, the song appeared on the 1974 album Sheer Heart Attack.

#23 You're My Best Friend ― Written by John Deacon for his wife, this tender love letter is less well known than some of the band's bigger hits, but it did become Deacon's first single. It appeared on the Night at the Opera album released in 1975.

#24 Tie Your Mother Down ― Written by Brian May, this song is good fun, but not to be taken literally! It appeared on the 1976 album A Day at the Races.

#25 Bicycle Race / Fat-Bottomed Girls ― More "cheeky" fun, of the "double trouble" variety! The former was written by Freddie Mercury, the latter by Brian May. Both songs appeared on the 1978 album Jazz.

#25 The Prophet's Song Written and composed by Brian May after a dream he had about a great flood ("return like the white dove" refers to the biblical Genesis account of Noah's flood). At eight minutes it's the longest Queen song with lyrics. The song was originally titled People of the Earth. May play a toy koto on parts of the song. It appeared on the Night at the Opera album released in 1975.

Honorable Mention: I'm in Love with My Car (written by Roger Taylor), Friends Will Be Friends (written by Freddie Mercury), Now I'm Here (written by Brian May), Is This the World We Created (written by Freddie Mercury), Sheer Heart Attack (written by Roger Taylor), Breakthru (written by Roger Taylor), In the Lap of the Gods Revisited (written by Freddie Mercury, with vocal overdubs by Mercury and Roger Taylor), Death on Two Legs (written by Freddie Mercury), Spread Your Wings (written by John Deacon), Brighton Rock (written by Brian May), Let Me Entertain You (written by Freddie Mercury), You and I (written by John Deacon), Good Company (written by Brian May as a tribute to his father), In Only Seven Days (written by John Deacon), I Was Born to Love You (written by Freddie Mercury), Who Needs You (written by John Deacon), Misfire (written by John Deacon), Lazing on a Sunday Afternoon (written by Freddie Mercury), One Year of Love (written by John Deacon), Funny How Love Is, The Invisible Man (written by Roger Taylor), Heaven for Everyone (written by Roger Taylor), Need Your Loving Tonight (written by John Deacon), It's Late, Headlong, Too Much Love Will Kill You, Scandal, Flick of the Wrist, These Are the Days of Our Lives (this was the last music video to feature Freddie Mercury; the song was credited to the entire band but was primarily written by Roger Taylor),  March of the Black Queen, White Queen, Liar, Get Down Make Love, Seaside Rendezvous, Tear It Up, Seven Seas of Rhye, Father to Son, Ogre Battle, Great King Rat, These Are the Days of Our Lives, Sweet Lady, God Save the Queen, Princes of the Universe, Can't Stop Me Now, The Hero, I Go Crazy, Long Away, Dragon Attack, Barcelona, Good Old-Fashioned Lover Boy, Body Language, Calling All Girls, (In the Year of) '39

Roger Taylor's voice spans four octaves (E2-E6). His falsetto is one of the best and highest in the business. Thus some of the highest notes recorded by Queen were produced by Taylor, not always by Freddie Mercury. 

Roger Taylor high notes:

Roger Taylor hits a D6 and E6 in Survival.
Roger Taylor hits an E5 in More of that Jazz.
Roger Taylor hits a G#5 in Somebody to Love.
Roger Taylor hits an F5 in The Fairy Feller's Master-Stroke.
Roger Taylor hits an F#5 in A Kind of Magic and Sail Away Sweet Sister.
Roger Taylor hits a B5 in Blag, The March of the Black Queen, and Son and Daughter.
Roger Taylor hits a B#5 in Bohemian Rhapsody, Death on Two Legs, I Got You (I Feel Good)
Roger Taylor hits an A5 in Flash, '39, The Prophet's Song, One Vision, Seven Seas of Rhye, Father to Son, Flick of the Wrist, In the Lap of the Gods, My Fairy King, Ogre Battle.
In Bohemian Rhapsody the piercing falsetto on "for me, for me, FOR MEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!"
Father to Son contains Roger Taylor's widest range ever recorded, from G4 to A5.
Background falsetto screams on In the Lap of the Gods.
Backing vocals on Somebody to Love.

Songs written by Roger Taylor with his lead vocals:

Radio Ga Ga (lead vocals with the SAS Band)
Tenement Funster

According to the certified unit sales figures published by Wikipedia, Queen has sold more records than the Rolling Stones, U2, ABBA, the Eagles, Aerosmith, Genesis, the Bee Gees, the Beach Boys, Fleetwood Mac and Bon Jovi. The only bands with more units sold than Queen are the Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd and AC/DC. That's pretty heady company to keep.
In the UK, Queen is second only to the Beatles with 12.8 million singles sold and Queen's Greatest Hits compilation is the UKs best-selling album of all time.
The Beatles and Queen are the only bands to have multiple singles with 6.5 million or more unit sales. Queen's mega-selling singles are "Bohemian Rhapsody" and "Another One Bites the Dust."
In 2000 "Bohemian Rhapsody" came in second to John Lennon's "Imagine" in a Channel 4 television poll of "The 100 Best Number Ones." In 2002 it was named the top British single of all time by the Guinness Book of Records. As of 2004, "Bohemian Rhapsody" was the second-most-played song on British radio, in clubs and on jukeboxes collectively, after Procol Harum's "A Whiter Shade of Pale." A 2012 ITV nationwide poll named the song "The Nation's Favourite Number One" over 60 years of music. A Rolling Stone reader poll named "Bohemian Rhapsody" the best vocal performance in rock history. A Planet Rock poll named "Bohemian Rhapsody" the second-best rock song of all time, after "Stairway to Heaven." According to a Watch and Listen poll, "Bohemian Rhapsody" is the greatest song in the history of music, ahead of "Imagine" and Bob Dylan's "Like a Rolling Stone." According a poll conducted by the UK Charts Company, after nearly 190,000 votes, "Bohemian Rhapsody" was number one, followed by "Imagine," "Hey Jude" and "Bridge Over Troubled Water."
When asked if "Bohemian Rhapsody" is the best of Queen's recordings, Brian May responded: "Who knows? It's certainly had the biggest effect on the greatest number of people around the world."
Queen -- Singles -- Highest Chart Position Worldwide per Wikipedia
Year HCP  Title (Notes)
----- -----   ----------------------------------------------------------------------
1973  #89  "Keep Yourself Alive" (US#89)
1974   ---   "Liar"
1974  #10  "Seven Seas of Rhye" (UK#10)
1974    #2  "Killer Queen" / "Flick of the Wrist"  (UK: Silver, UK#2)
1975  #11  "Now I'm Here" (UK#11)
1975   ---   "Lily of the Valley"
1975    #1  "Bohemian Rhapsody"  (UK: Triple Platinum, US Quadruple Platinum, UK#1, Billboard #2)
1976    #3  "You're My Best Friend" (IRE#3, UK#7, US#9)
1976    #1  "Somebody to Love" (NL#1, UK#2, US#9)
1977  #10  "Tie Your Mother Down" (NL#10)
1977  #17  "Good Old-Fashioned Lover Boy" (UK#17)
1977   ---   "Teo Torriatte (Let Us Cling Together)"
1977   ---   "Long Away"
1977    #1  "We Are the Champions" / "We Will Rock You"  (UK: Gold, US: Platinum, FRA#1, UK#2, US#3)
1978  #26  "Spread Your Wings" (NL#26, GER#29, UK#34)
1978  #66  "It's Late" (US#66)
1978    #5  "Bicycle Race" / "Fat Bottomed Girls"  (UK: Silver, NL#5, IRE#10, UK#11)
1979    #9  "Don't Stop Me Now"  (UK: Gold, US: Gold, UK#9, IRE#10, NL#16)
1979   ---  "Jealousy"
1979   ---  "Mustapha"
1979  #63  "Love of My Life (Live)" (UK#63)
1979   ---   "We Will Rock You (Live)"
1979    #1  "Crazy Little Thing Called Love" (UK: Gold, US: Gold, Billboard #1, NL#1, AUS#1, UK#2)
1980    #6  "Save Me" (NL#6, IRE#8, FRA#10, UK#11)
1980    #8  "Play the Game" (SWI#8, IRE#9, NL#10, UK#14)
1980    #1  "Another One Bites the Dust" (US: Platinum, Billboard #1, NZ#2)
1980  #44  "Need Your Loving Tonight" (US#44)
1980    #1  "Flash" (UK: Silver, AUT#1, GER#3, FRA#5)
1981    #1  "Under Pressure" with David Bowie (UK: Silver, UK#1, NL#2, IRE#2)
1982    #4  "Body Language" (NL#4, US#11)
1982  #10  "Las Palabras de Amor (The Words of Love)" (IRE#10, SWI#13)
1982  #60  "Calling All Girls" (US#60)
1982   ---  "Staying Power"
1982    #3  "Back Chat" (FRA#3)
1984    #1  "Radio Ga Ga"  (UK: Silver, FRA#1, IRE#1, UK#2)
1984    #1  "I Want to Break Free" (UK: Silver, NL#1, AUT#1, IRE#2, UK#3)
1984    #2  "It's a Hard Life" (IRE#2, UK#6)
1984  #10  "Hammer to Fall" (IRE#10, UK#13)
1984    #8  "Thank God It's Christmas" (IRE#8, UK#21)
1985    #5  "One Vision" (IRE#5, UK#7)
1986    #3  "A Kind of Magic" (BRA: Platinum, UK#3, IRE#4, SWI#4, FRA#5, NL#5, GER#6)
1986  #32  "Princes of the Universe" (AUS#32)
1986    #4  "Friends Will Be Friends" (IRE#4, UK#14)
1986  #43  "Pain Is So Close to Pleasure" (NL#43, GER#56)
1986    #5  "Who Wants to Live Forever" (FRA#5, NL#6, IRE#15, UK#24)
1986  #56  "One Year of Love" (FRA#56)
1989    #2  "I Want It All" (UK: Silver, NL#2, UK#3, IRE#3, NZ#3, SWI#8))
1989    #6  "Breakthru" (IRE#6, NL#6, UK#7)
1989    #1  "The Invisible Man" (FRA#1, NL#6, IRE#10, UK#12)
1989  #12  "Scandal" (NL#12, IRE#14, UK#25)
1989  #16  "The Miracle" (NL#16, UK#21, IRE#23)
1991    #1  "Innuendo" (UK: Silver, UK#1, SWI#3, IRE#4, NL#4)
1991  #19  "I'm Going Slightly Mad" (IRE#19, NL#20, UK#22)
1991  #14  "Headlong" (UK#14, IRE#25, NL#43)
1991    #2  "The Show Must Go On" (US: Gold, FRA: Gold, FRA#2, NL#6, GER#7)
1991    #1  "Bohemian Rhapsody" / "These Are the Days of Our Lives" (UK: Platinum, UK#1, IRE#1, NL#1, US#2)
1992    #6  "Who Wants to Live Forever" / "Friends Will Be Friends" (NL#6, SWI#36)
1992    #9  "We Will Rock You" (Live) / "We Are the Champions" (Live) (NL#9)
1992  #14  "We Are the Champions" / "We Will Rock You" (Re-release) (FRA#14, US#52)
1995    #2  "Heaven for Everyone" (UK: Silver, FRA: Silver, UK#2, NL#2, AUT#4, IRE#7, FRA#8))
1995    #6  "A Winter's Tale" (UK#6, NL#16, IRE#23, AUT#23)
1996   ---   "I Was Born to Love You"
1996  #15  "Too Much Love Will Kill You" (UK#15, IRE#28)
1996    #9  "Let Me Live" (UK#9, NL#28, GER#67)
1996  #14  "You Don't Fool Me" (FRA#14, UK#17, NL#22, IRE#23, AUT#23)
1997  #13  "No-One but You (Only the Good Die Young)" / "Tie Your Mother Down" (UK#13, NL#33, GER#75)
1998  #10  "We Are the Champions" (FRA#10)
1999  #14  "Under Pressure (Rah Mix)" with David Bowie (UK#145, NL#21)
2000  #45  "Princes of the Universe" (NL#45)
2003  #10  "We Will Rock You" (FRA#10, SWI#49, GER#69)
2003  #48  "Another One Bites the Dust" / "We Will Rock You" (FRA#48)

If you made it this far, you may want to check out a related page The Best Songs of All Time where I rank songs based on music, words and overall performance.

Related pages: Best Singers of All Time, Best Singer-Songwriters, Best Female Singer/Songwriters, Best Songs of All Time, Best Sad Songs, Best Protest Songs and Poems, Best Love Songs, Rock Jukebox: the Poetry of Rock Lyrics, Best Female Poets, Best Sappho Translations, Best Metaphors and Similes, The Worst Song Lyrics of All Time, Best Lines from Songs and Poems, The Best Vocal Performances of All Time, The Best Books of All Time

The HyperTexts