Next up in The Legend Slot, it’s once again battle of the bands. For the sixth playlist in the series, I’ve chosen rock legends Queen. The Legend Slot is an ongoing music series that I run here on Female Original. For each post in the series, I listen to ALL of the studio albums of a specific legendary musician/band, put a playlist of my favourite tracks together and give a bit of an overview of the artist too. This time, it’s Queen that I’m shining the spotlight on. Keep reading to discover what I thought the 52 best Queen songs ever were.
Queen: A Brief History
Formed in London in 1970, Queen is a British rock band originally made up of Freddie Mercury (lead vocals, piano), Brian May (guitar, vocals), Roger Taylor (drums, vocals) and John Deacon (bass). Although influenced by hard rock and heavy metal in their earlier days, Queen slowly found themselves moving towards a more radio-friendly sound and went on to incorporate pop-rock into their music repertoire.
Prior to Queen becoming Queen, Brian May and Roger Taylor were actually in a band together already. Freddie Mercury then joined, suggesting they rename the group ‘Queen’ and shortly after John Deacon joined on bass. They released their first, self-titled, album in 1973 followed by Queen II in 1974, which brought them success in the UK.
By the 80s they were one of the biggest rock bands in the world, touring large stadiums and with huge anthems such as We Will Rock You (1977) under their belt. Their iconic performance at Live Aid in 1985 was even ranked amongst some of the greatest moments in rock history. They received multiple awards including a 1990 Brit Award for Outstanding Contribution to British Music and were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2001.
Their last performance together was in 1986 at Knebworth, 16 years after they first formed. To this day they are one of the world’s best-selling music artists.
Queen: Freddie Mercury’s Death
In November 1991, Queen frontman Freddie Mercury sadly passed away from Bronchopneumonia (pneumonia) as a complication of AIDS. Having been diagnosed with the disease in 1987, he chose to keep the information private from public knowledge and only revealed it to the band and those close to him. Two days before his death he made a statement confirming that he had had the illness for 4 years and kept the information private to protect loved ones.
In the years following his diagnosis, Mercury wanted to spend his time making and recording music. He continued to record as many vocals and piano parts as he could up until his death in 1991. He gave the rest of the band instructions to continue the songs after his death which is how Queen’s final album, Made In Heaven (1995) was created. Released 4 years after his death, Made In Heaven (1995) brought together Freddie’s previously recorded vocals and piano parts and additional drums, vocals and guitars from the remaining band members.
After the death of Freddie Mercury, Queen was of course changed forever. In 1997 Deacon retired, leaving May and Taylor as the only two original members of Queen to still tour to this day. May and Taylor have toured as ‘Queen +’ over the years with vocalists Paul Rodgers and Adam Lambert.
52 Best Queen Songs (The Legend Slot): The Playlist
You might remember me saying last month that my David Bowie playlist was a big one. Well…this one’s bigger (oops). As always it’s a classic case of the musician(s) having SO MANY HITS. Plus I think because I’d watched Bohemian Rhapsody (the Queen film) I already knew loads of their songs. Once I added them all into the playlist, along with the new discoveries, it was a pretty big list!
I do have to admit that I found it pretty hard to get in the mood to listen to Queen this month. They’re pretty intense listening and aren’t exactly the kind of band that you could listen to all day everyday (well, in my opinion anyway). That’s not to say that I didn’t love listening to their music. I 100% think that they have amazing tunes and are definitely Legend Slot worthy. It was just slightly challenging for me to find the perfect moment to listen to their albums in full.
A Few of My Favourites…
Anyway, despite not always being in the mood for their music, when I was in the mood I absolutely loved listening along. And I’ve got plenty of favourites for you. The first is You’re My Best Friend from A Night At The Opera (1975). It was written by the band’s bassist, John Deacon, about his wife. Pretty cute, right? It’s a real feel-good pop tune that always makes me want to dance.
The big hits like Killer Queen, Bohemian Rhapsody, We Are The Champions and Another One Bites The Dust are of course up there. I think pretty much everyone loves all of them. However, a personal all-time favourite is Under Pressure from Hot Space (1982) which featured David Bowie. This isn’t just a favourite of Queen’s songs for me, it’s actually one of my favourite songs ever. That song alone was the reason why I chose to feature Queen straight after Bowie.
I was convinced that Under Pressure was on one of Bowie’s albums but then when it didn’t come up in any of his 80s albums I suddenly remembered that it’s on Hot Space instead. Since I didn’t get to share my love for it last month I’m doing it this month instead!
This one isn’t necessarily a completely new discovery. In the same way that I rediscovered Sound and Vision by David Bowie I found Crazy Little Thing Called Love by Queen. I’d just completely forgotten that this song even existed. No idea how that happened! When I was a kid I genuinely thought that Crazy Little Thing Called Love was an Elvis Presley song. The track itself was actually written by Freddie Mercury as a tribute to Elvis Presley so I guess that’s where little Faye got the Elvis link from.
New Discoveries: Death On Two Legs (Dedicated To…)
Onto the actual new discoveries…Death On Two Legs (Dedicated To…) from their fourth album A Night At The Opera (1975) quickly became a favourite of mine. The song itself was written about their original manager and the fall-out that they had with him. I loved how much of a heavy rock song this was, it’s what Queen does best in my opinion.
New Discoveries: Made In Heaven & The Works
Another couple of new favourites came from their final album Made In Heaven (1995). I hadn’t listened to a single song on this album until it came to putting together this playlist, so it was a great experience discovering so many new tracks. The first three songs on the album are definitely my favourites. It’s A Beautiful Day, Made In Heaven and Let me Live. I listened to the album on one of the most stunning sunny days that we’ve had recently and it was an incredible experience. Next time the weather is glorious where you are I definitely recommend listening to the album in full.
My overall favourite album, however, was The Works (1984). It was a return to rock moment for them and I loved every second of it. When I think of Queen I definitely associate them with the style of music they have on The Works.
Are you a fan of Queen? What are some of your favourite Queen tracks? I’d love to know. Who else do you want to see featured in The Legend Slot?
Read next: The Legend Slot: David Bowie.