When one considers that all four members of the classic lineup of Queen - Freddie Mercury, Brian May, Roger Taylor, and John Deacon - were such talented songwriters that each one was the primary songwriter for at least one UK Top 10 single,note a feat no other band can claim, it should come as no surprise that their catalogue is packed with awesome songs.
- From the moment you hear the opening riff of "Keep Yourself Alive", you know Queen is going to go down in history. Freddie's strong, confident vocals and the band as a whole's fantastic performances make this a great opening track.
- "Great King Rat". Possibly the very first Power Metal song.
- "Liar" is a complex and heavy piece with some of the best percussion in ANY Queen song. The lyrics also deserve special mention; anyone who's had feelings of guilt and self-loathing can relate to them.
- The piano playing in "My Fairy King" is amazing, and Roger's falsettos really shine.
Queen II (1974)
- "Father to Son", the opener, is rousing, epic, and contains some pretty awesome shredding from Brian, as well as a killer keyboard intro.
- The pseudo-Shakesperean "White Queen: As it Began" is simply gorgeous, and the live version at the Odeon really shows off Freddie's piano skills.
- "Ogre Battle" is quick, heavy, and really paints a picture in your mind with its lyrics.
- "The Fairy Feller's Master Stroke" also invokes some cool fantastical imagery, and the creative arrangement and catchy tune make it a really memorable piece.
- "Nevermore" is heartbreakingly beautiful and has some lovely piano playing courtesy of Freddie.
- "The March of the Black Queen" manages to exceed even "Bohemian Rhapsody" in awesomeness and crowningness.
- "Seven Seas of Rhye" is just awe-inspiring, both in terms of music and the imagery that its lyrics provoke, not to mention the brilliant piano intronote .
Sheer Heart Attack (1974)
- Brighton Rock. Which contains some of the most epic shredding this side of anywhere. If there was ever a track that proved that Queen was more than what Classic Rock radio showed, this was it, with the band plowing down the road at 125 mph with Freddie delivering an insane vocal performance at the beginning and end of the track as he shifts back and forth between his falsetto and singing voices.
- While not fitting their regular genre of Hard/Glam Rock, "Killer Queen" deserves a special mention for being a song of sheer class. Freddie is in top form as he sings about the title High-Class Call Girl (with judicious use of flanging for the line "dynamite with a laser beam" to give his voice a Space Age feel), as is Brian for the guitar solo in the instrumental bridge, while John's bass run for the line "fastidious and precise" is sure to put a smile on your face, and Roger's drum roll in the build-up to the final, explosive chorus of "She's a killer... que-e-een" is a massive adrenaline rush.
- "In the Lap of the Gods", with Roger's insanely-high opening, the direct prelude to "Bohemian Rhapsody", and "In the Lap of the Gods... Revisited", the direct prelude to "We are the Champions".
- "Stone Cold Crazy". Queen invents Thrash Metal. They were later covered by Metallica!
- "She Makes Me (Stormtrooper in Stilettoes)". Proto-Shoegaze?
A Night at the Opera (1975)
- Death on Two Legs, a song more vicious than some metal songs nowadays and proof that pissing Freddie off was a bad idea.
- "39" is not just a catchy and touching number; how many rock bands have written a song about the effects of relativistic time dilation in space travel?
- The Prophet's Song is an underrated masterpiece of a song. The vocal harmonies are beautiful, and Brian May's guitar work on it is simply epic. One of the band's finest stabs at Progressive Rock.
- Good Company. Brian May creates the sound of an early-20th century vaudeville jazz band (clarinet, trombones and all) with just his Red Special guitar and some neat studio and amp effects. This was in 1975; before pro tools, mind—and effects like this, achieved totally analog, are the real reason they put "no synthesizers" on their albums for many years.
- "Bohemian Rhapsody", possibly their most instantly-recognisable track and filled with moments as awesome in their diversity as in their quality, especially when you consider that the whole thing was written by a guy who (like most rock musicians) had very little formal musical training. Although the band helped put it together in the studio, Brian May confirmed that Freddie Mercury had the whole thing in his mind all along. From Freddie's plaintive lead vocal in the ballad section ("Mama... just killed a man..."), to the close harmonies in both the introduction and the Opera section ("I see a little silhouette-o of a man"), to Brian May's adrenaline-pumping guitar work either side of that section, to the final hushed piano chord, it remains one of the most compelling and exhilarating songs in their catalogue, and indeed in all of Glam Rock.
A Day at the Races (1976)
- "Tie Your Mother Down", a hard-rocking opening track with one of Brian May's best guitar solos.
- "Somebody to Love", in which Queen fuse their traditional glam rock/hard rock style with gospel, with Freddie, Brian, and Rogernote multitracking their vocals to create a lush choral effect that transforms this ode to longing for, well, somebody to love into a transcendent track quite unlike anything else in Queen's catalogue. And gosh, Freddie's performance is utterly wrenching, and shows off his vocal and emotional range possibly better than any other Queen song.
- "Teo Torriatte (Let Us Cling Together)", a rousing Brian May composition that rounds off the album. A tribute to the band's Japanese fans, it provides a gentle, yet appropriately uplifting end to the album. It would later be re-released as part of a charity album, Songs for Japan, in the aftermath of the 2011 Tohoku Earthquake.
News of the World (1977)
- We Will Rock You/We Are The Champions, uplifting and empowering to almost everybody. Those two tracks, often played back to back on the radio - they're that inseparable - have become such iconic sports anthems that Brian May often remarked how he was surprised no one else had tried to come up with something to top them. But you can't improve on perfection, can you? On the subject of "We Will Rock You", the band recorded a borderline Speed Metal version that is just a blast to listen to!
- "Sheer Heart Attack". Queen's stab at Punk Rock.
- "It's Late". Combine Freddie absolutely bringing it on vocal, Roger Taylor getting turned completely loose on drums and Brian May coming in with a couple of killer, distorted solos, and you have an awesome hidden gem of Queen's discography.
- "Sleeping on the Sidewalk". Queen takes on the Blues with Brian doing the lead vocals. It's a great blues song, and it still sounds like Queen.
- "Fat Bottomed Girls" has some of the filthiest guitar ever recorded (emphasised by Brian tuning his bottom E down to a D). This is one of those songs that shows why Frank Zappa, who wasn't easily impressed, thought that Brian May was one of the few "interesting" rock guitarists of his generation.
- Bicycle Race. Only Queen could make a song about riding a bicycle... and make it awesome!
- "Don't Stop Me Now", one of Queen's happiest and most upbeat songs, not to mention the best driving song in existence (according to Top Gear). Along with "We Will Rock You" and "We Are the Champions", it's a great psyching-up song. Not to mention a great song to fight zombies and cyborg clones to, or the perfect theme for someone with a carefree attitude speeding through the fields and roads with a turtle in hand. And this Automatic Mario tribute is in a high enough Made of Win tier that is almost impossible to define. There are four distinct levels that are synced up to each member of the band! Just pure ecstasy really.
The Game (1980)
- John Deacon named "Dragon Attack" his favourite Queen song, and rightly so - it's got a bass riff just as awesome as "Another One Bites the Dust", and some killer soloing from Brian May.
- "Another One Bites the Dust" is possibly John Deacon's crowning achievement as a songwriter. The bass riff, inspired by Chic's "Good Times",note provides a simple yet catchy as hell beat to anchor the rest of the song, and Freddie's delivery of the vocals is as razor sharp as ever. Michael Jackson, who was a known Queen fan, saw them performing the track at a concert in Los Angeles. At the time he was already looking to distance himself from the Disco music of Off the Wall and wanted to create a New Sound Album, and the funk, disco and rock fusion in this track gave him the creative fuel he needed to start creating Thriller. Hell, Michael was so impressed by the song that he was the one who convinced Freddie that it should be released as a single. That's right, folks. "Another One Bites the Dust" might very well be the progenitor of modern Pop Music.
- With "Crazy Little Thing Called Love", Queen pays tribute to the King. Freddie came up with the song, an incredibly catchy ditty about how overwhelming said crazy little thing can be, in about five or ten minutes while lounging in a hotel bath, and his imitation of Elvis Presley is so spot on that it has led some listeners to misattribute the song to Presley.
Flash Gordon (1981)
- FLASH! (Ah-aahhhh!) Saviour of the universe! The soundtrack to a Cult Classic favorite to British and scifi fans. "The Hero", and its progenitor "Battle Theme" to a lesser extent, are some of the most epic Queen songs ever. Possibly even more epic than "Flash Gordon"? Now that you mention it...
Hot Space (1982)
- "Under Pressure", mainly for two reasons: 1, it's a collaboration with David Bowie, the other major Glam Rock act of the era, and 2, the incredibly high, sustained note Freddie hits in the middle.
The Works (1984)
- "Radio Ga Ga", the jewel in Roger Taylor's songwriting crown. Might possibly double as a Heartwarming Moment, as it's basically one big ode to radio. And when you perform at Live Aid and own the whole show with a song entitled "Radio Ga-Ga", you are pretty much the physical incarnation of this trope. Queen's 20 minute set at Live Aid was voted the greatest rock performance ever by a bunch of critics. If you haven't already seen it, you're missing out. Here's the whole thing.
A Kind of Magic (1986)
- The underrated "Gimme the Prize (Kurgan's Theme)". One of Queen's heaviest rockers, with Freddie pushing his voice to the very limit and an amazing guitar intro from Brian.
- "Princes of the Universe", A.K.A. the theme to Highlander. Also the theme to Exalted.
The Miracle (1989)
- "I Want It All". In addition to the awesomely defiant lyrics (helped in no small part by Freddie Mercury's voice), it also features what may be the most awesome shredding of Brian May's career.
- "Breakthru", "The Invisible Man"...turning the volume up and keeping the beat on your steering wheel or arm rests are all unavoidable when you listen to these songs, as well as so many others.
- "Chinese Torture". Just listen to the goddamn track. If you want to know just how awesome Brian May is with a guitar, this is the track that will show it to you.
- "Scandal" evokes "Death On Two Legs" as a scathing attack against the tabloids for trying to pry into Freddie and Brian's private lives.
- "Innuendo". A song inspired by another amazing song, "Kashmir" by Led Zeppelin, and is almost criminally underrated. Freddie Mercury and Roger Taylor assembled the song from fragments that weren't quite enough to stand on their own, and the flamenco passage in the middle of the song is an Uncommon Time delight (four measures of 5/4, followed by four in the less uncommon 3/4), featuring a guest appearance by Freddie's friend Steve Howe (then between stints as lead guitarist for Yes), the only guitarist who wasn't a regular member of the band to perform on a Queen record.
- "Ride the Wild Wind" is one amazingly kickass driving song.
- "The Hitman". One of the heaviest songs the band ever wrote and would put most metal bands of the time to shame.
- "The Show Must Go On", the epic, grandiose ballad filled with passion pouring from every lyric and guitar riff. Doubly so with the music video that shows a history of the band with clips of Queen's other music videos and clips of Queen's live concerts- getting across the sheer scale these guys operated at. It's as awesome as it is tearjerking.
- Reality Subtext just makes this one jaw-dropping. Freddie was practically on his deathbed and couldn't even stand without assistance. Brian May wanted to take a pass on the song as a result. Freddie said, "I'll fucking do it, darling," slammed some vodka, and belted it out in one take.
Made in Heaven (1995)
- Technically it's a Freddie Mercury solo number, but there's a Queen version as well, so... "Made in Heaven". Listening to this song is as close as we mortals will ever come to transcending mortality and reaching the dome of Paradise.
- Another song that was originally a solo release, this time by Brian May, "Too Much Love Will Kill You" could be seen as Harsher in Hindsight for two reasons: the title basically describes exactly how Freddie contracted the disease that eventually took his life, and by the time the song was released, Freddie had already been dead for over three years. But the song itself features one of Freddie's best performances ever. Check out Brian's original, too. His vocals may not be as powerful as Freddie's, but he's just as passionate with his performance.
- Tolga Kashif wrote a symphony based on Queen's music. It is a solid hour (well, 58 minutes) of sheer auditory awesome.
- You're pretty much spoiled for choice on Brian May's solo debut Back To The Light. There's the epic opener "The Dark", which goes from being a soft lullaby to going back and forth between hard rock and symphonic to the triumphant title track, the heavy and epic as hell "Resurrection", the upbeat "Driven By You" and the aformentioned "Too Much Love Will Kill You".
- Roger Taylor's solo single "Foreign Sand" is a powerful yet hopeful ballad that holds the distinction of being a collaboration with Yoshiki Hayashi, one of the most influential figures in Japanese music. The live version performed at "The Great Music Experience" is perhaps even better than the studio version.
- Freddie Mercury's solo cover of "The Great Pretender." A '50s song about a person recovering from a breakup becomes a powerful anthem about image and identity.