Friday, 25 November 2016

My Top Ten Queen Singles

Struggling for time, so I thought I'd repost this as it's timely for two reasons. Firstly, I suggested a Queen song over on the latest edition of The Chain this week and spurred a little debate. Secondly, it's 25 years ago this week since Freddie passed away and Queen died with him. Hard to believe, but harder still is the fact that they've been gone longer than they were around. (All due respect to Brian - not Roger, because he's an arse - but you can't have Queen without Freddie. John had the right idea.)

I still remember the day Freddie died. I was at uni at the time and I remember sitting in the lecture theatre, not hearing a word. He was probably the first real hero I lost. 25 years later... well, look at the year we've had. I don't suppose it'll get any easier...

Originally posted September 2012 - I've not changed the order, though I probably would have done if I'd thought about it...

Queen were the first band I ever truly loved. The idea of choosing only ten of their songs was just too daunting. So here's my Top Ten of the stuff everybody knows. Give me a break - I still had FORTY songs to choose from. One day I'll bore you with my Top Ten Queen Album Tracks. Until then...

10. Headlong

The last great Queen single, by which time Freddie was a shadow of his former self. Not that you'd know it, listening to this.

9. Hammer To Fall

Not the obvious choice from The Works album, but although Radio Gaga soundtracked my adolescence ("I'd sit alone and watch your light, my only friend through teenage nights") and I Want To Break Free features the wonderful video that ended the band's American career, there's something special about Hammer To Fall. Might be the guitar hero power chords - Brian May did invent the air guitar, after all.

8. Spread Your Wings

I'll be honest, I didn't even know this had been released as a single. It only ever reached number 34 in the charts, but it's always been a favourite.

7. Tie Your Mother Down
Tie your mother down
Tie your mother down
Take your little brother swimmin'
With a brick that's all right
6. Breakthru

Late 80s Queen is often dismissed by purists... but then, Queen are often dismissed by musos in general. Time to irk them further then. I was 17 when this song came out and I sank my heart into it, convinced it was the anthem that would change things between me and whichever lacklustre young lass was ignoring my feeble attentions that week.

Plus - Queen perform atop a high speed locomotive in the video. What else do you need?

5. Killer Queen

I keep meaning to write an in-joke into one of my comics in which a certain character keeps her Moët & Chandon in a pretty cabinet. Nobody would get the joke, but it'd make me smile every time I looked at it.

4. You're My Best Friend

If I'm in the right frame of mind, this song makes me weep. I know, I'm weird.

3. Seven Seas Of Rhye

Nobody did utter nonsense quite like Freddie & the gang. This, their first ever hit, ends on a slice of music hall frippery that never fails to remind me of the opening to The Queen Is Dead. Coincidence?

Meanwhile, just listen to that piano!

2. Bohemian Rhapsody

You may have expected to find this at number one. Or you might have predicted I'd be controversial and drop it from the list entirely. It's impossible to ignore though, and there was a time in my life when I considered it the greatest song ever written. Me, Wayne, and Garth... party on - excellent!

1. Somebody To Love

Before I discovered The Smiths, this song was my How Soon Is Now.

Each morning I get up I die a little...

Any other Queen fans out there? Outraged that I didn't have room for A Kind Of Magic, Flash, or Crazy Little Thing Called Love. I feel your pain... but there can be only ten.


  1. Sparked a lively discussion on The Chain Rol
    They were the first band I ever saw live - at the Glasgow Apollo
    Sheer Heart Attack is an excellent album but for me it goes rapidly down hill thereafter as they become more and more pretentious.
    Glad you have featured some of the early stuff
    I like Tenament Funster but don't think it was a single

    1. That's weird, because although I love most of their stuff, I always consider the earlier stuff to be far more pretentious. Come the late 70s / early 80s, they seemed more interested in being rock stars.

  2. Never a fan, but I think "Another One Bites The Dust" is FAB. Seemingly that was the song that revived their then flagging fortunes as a band.

    1. I think it might have been the one that broke them in America... for a while.

  3. Q1, Q2, Sheer Heart Attack; Opera; Races. What else is there?

    1. News Of The World, The Game, The Works... I have a special fondness for A Kind Of Magic as that was the first proper album I got after Greatest Hits.

      The thing is, as with a lot of bands, it depends when you come to them. There will always be fans of the early material who say "They went down after X" while for those who discover them with X, nothing will ever beat their later stuff.

      Every song is someone's favourite...

    2. Quite. But that clutch of early albums defined them. To that point that Rhapsody all but signalled the end. Yes, Rio and Live Aid cemented their National Treasure status, but artistically they were dead in the water. Mercury fast became a parody of himself and Taylor, as you quite rightly pointed out, became an arse.
      I'm sure, if he ever gets round to it, Deacon's memoirs would be worth a gleg.

    3. While I respect your opinion on this, John, it's not my own. I love those early albums (although a lot of the non-singles on Q1 & 2 leave me cold), and SHA is probably my favourite overall, but I bought every album as it came out from AKOM and I was a teenager, they were my favourite band, and I devoured them with the fervour only teenagers can have for their favourite bands.

    4. And I respect yours too Rol. I enjoy your blog immensely. J

  4. I was never much of a fan really. 'Killer Queen' on TOTP was one of *those* TV moments though - a fabulous performance. Great song too. I agree with you about Roger by the way.

  5. It's tough to lose heroes, 45 is way too young to die and he could have made many more albums. Although it isn't considered Queen's best, I have nostalgia for the Flash Gordon soundtrack, because I watched the film often as a child. I really ought to make a point of listening to their 70s albums next year.
    By the way, have you seen the clip "funny interpretative dance of Don't Stop Me Now". David Armand can put a smile on your face.

    1. As mentioned above, start with Sheer Heart Attack. It probably is the best.

  6. Because of the sheer ubiquity of Bohemian Rhapsody (if there was a Top 10 Overplayed Songs, BoRhap would win it (just beating John Lennon's Imagine), Queen are a band it's easy to sideline. Along with Status Quo, there is a good chance that Everybody knows at least one of their songs.
    My favourite Queen songs are "Keep Yourself Alive" (their first single, but it didn't chart) and "Save Me".

    1. I agree about the ubiquity of Bo Rhap (with Don't Stop Me Now running it a close second) but I still manage to be able to listen to both songs without feeling burnt out on them. The same can't be said for many Beatles songs, sadly.

  7. Caviar and cigarettes,
    Well versed in etiquette,
    Extraordinarily nice...

    Not pretentious at all, just right for the band that they were back then.

    Thanks for sharing these - fond memories. Here is another "Is it ok?" question though. I personally loved when George Michael sang Somebody To Love with the band post Freddie, and I saw them do double-takes with each other during the performance as I suspect they thought it was pretty special also. Do Queen fans agree or disagree?

    1. I liked George Michael back then and didn't see a problem with it, even though he was a very different vocalist to Freddie. It was a tribute concert after all. The problem is, Brian & Roger tried to keep the tribute concert going for 25 years!

    2. You are right - the double-takes were probably down to them thinking we can keep going if we ship in a new vocalist. GM did pull out all the stops for that trubute concert though and I still love watching it.

  8. This post resonated with me, Rol, especially the image of you sitting in the lecture hall after you'd heard the news about Freddie Mercury. I felt the same way after the deaths of John Lennon and Marvin Gaye. Also, this:

    ". . . look at the year we've had. I don't suppose it'll get any easier..."

    Oddly enough, I remarked to my husband this morning that it's hard to believe that only Paul and Ringo remain and how devastated I'll be when their time arrives. I suppose the loss of those who provided the all-important soundtrack to our teenaged years really brings that sense of our own mortality to the surface.

    1. It's strange that although I remember Elvis's death (when I was 5), I don't remember Lennon's death three years later. This was probably down to my parents being of the pre-rock 'n' roll generation (they're both in their late 80s now). Elvis had managed to get through to them, the Beatles meant less. And before you become a teenager, your views and reactions are filtered by those of your parents.

  9. Quite pleased to see You're My Best Friend on here. Of all the big singles, I think that's the one that's held up the best. I think due to my age and remembering when they were new releases, I have a couple of Queen songs from well into the '80s I really like.... just can't bring myself to name them here. In fact, I have already said too much.


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