If you ask anyone out there which bands are among the top three of all time, there’s a huge chance that Queen will be up there on the list. This British band from London was formed in 1970, and throughout the years, they made countless songs and numerous hits.
You will also find multiple films and documentaries about the band. That’s how legendary they are. They’ve been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the UK Music Hall of Fame, and they’ve also received the Grammy Hall of Fame Award and Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.
If this is the first time you’re listening to them, which we think is quite impossible, we’ve got you covered. Here are the best songs from Queen that you should add to your playlist immediately.
Best Queen Songs
1. “Bohemian Rhapsody”
There’s no better way to start this list than by talking about their most popular song, “Bohemian Rhapsody.” There are countless theories as to what the song means. However, we may never know which one is true because Freddie Mercury chose not to burst everyone’s bubble, and the rest of the band promised to respect that.
Some speculate that it’s a metaphor about Mercury’s upbringing and childhood, while others say that it’s about his sexuality. For those who don’t know, Mercury is bisexual, and he eventually died of AIDS-related complications in 1991 at the age of 45.
Whatever the meaning of the song is, we leave it to you to interpret it on your own. Be sure to immerse yourself in the band’s musicality showcased in “Bohemian Rhapsody” while you’re at it.
Fun Fact: “Bohemian Rhapsody” is the first pre-1990s video on YouTube to reach 1 billion views.
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2. “Under Pressure”
One common characteristic in Freddie Mercury’s songwriting is that most of them focus on love. “Under Pressure” is one of these songs. It’s about how we sometimes have to face overwhelming pressure, but love is what will get us through.
It’s a collaboration with David Bowie, but Mercury wrote most of the lyrics, albeit the band contributed as well. “Under Pressure” is an iconic song because of John Deacon’s bass riff in the intro and verses. Interestingly, we almost weren’t blessed with this bassline.
After Deacon came up with it, Queen exited the studio to grab some pizza. When they got back, Deacon forgot how he played it! Thankfully, Roger Taylor was able to remember it for the recording.
3. “We Will Rock You”
Do you know how sometimes people say that important messages are received in dreams? Well, Brian May received his in the form of a song called “We Will Rock You.” It was after one of their gigs in the Liverpool Football Club.
Before going to bed, May thought that the audience could still clap and stomp their feet even though they were squeezed tightly together. When he woke up, he had the idea for the song. Since then, “We Will Rock You” has been used in countless TV shows and films, perhaps because of its rather simplistic yet catchy rhythm.
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4. “Fat Bottomed Girls”
This song was written by Brian May and it’s about a man who tends to have a liking with girls who have, well, we’ll just say “generous backside.” However, May was actually thinking of Freddie Mercury when he wrote this. No, it wasn’t Mercury who has a generous backside. May said that Mercury appreciated, and we quote, “fat bottomed girls.. or boys.”
“Fat Bottomed Girls” is connected to another Queen song “Bicycle Race.” In the latter, there’s a lyric that goes, “Fat bottomed girls, they’ll be riding today, so look out for those beauties.” On the other hand, “Fat Bottomed Girls” ends with the line “Get on your bikes and ride!”
5. “Killer Queen”
While Freddie Mercury always wanted listeners to come up with their own interpretations of Queen songs, he did mention what “Killer Queen” is about. Basically, it tells the story of a classy, stylish, and elegant girl, who is actually a prostitute.
According to Brian May, he believes that this song is the best one ever written by Mercury. He also says that his guitar solo in the song is one that he’s most proud of. It’s simply the epitome of pop music. “Killer Queen” is also one of the first songs from Queen that leans more on pop instead of heavy rock.
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6. “Tie Your Mother Down”
The surface meaning of this song when you read the lyrics suggests that it’s about the persona rebelling against his/her parents, albeit somewhat extreme. Brian May was the one who wrote this song, and he frequently plays it in different shows, even after the band went inactive.
May and Roger Taylor would often guest with other bands like The Darkness and Foo Fighters. It’s almost always the case that they would play this song.
The music video consists of clips from Queen’s concert in Long Island during their US tour back in 1977.
7. “We Are the Champions”
This song is written by Freddie Mercury and is the counterpart to “We Will Rock You.” Queen is a band formed in England, and we all know how crazy the football industry there is. That’s basically the inspiration for this song.
Mercury wanted to write a participation song for the fans, sort of like in football. However, Mercury, being who he is, decided he would make it a bit more theatrical, which is why the song ended up the way it did.
He also says that it’s his version of “My Way” considering how this song makes you want to tell yourself, after all is said and done, that “yes, I did it my way.” In Mercury’s song, it’s like saying that “Yes, we made it. It certainly wasn’t easy, but in the end, we are the champions.”
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8. “You’re My Best Friend”
This song is another huge hit from Queen. Interestingly, it wasn’t written by Freddie Mercury or Brian May. It was the band’s bassist John Deacon who came up with the words. As cheesy as it may seem to some of you, Deacon wrote this for his wife whom he considered to be his best friend.
Deacon wanted the song to be played on an electric piano, but Mercury playfully refused to do so. He said that he just doesn’t like the instrument. Ergo, Deacon learned the electric piano and wrote the song “You’re My Best Friend.”
Sadly, Deacon is perhaps the most affected member of Queen after Mercury’s death. While he did record a few more songs, he decided to isolate himself from the band. His last contribution was the single “No One But You” in 1997. Nonetheless, May and Roger Taylor still include him in the band’s decision-making process.
May even said that if Deacon doesn’t respond to his email, it simply means that Deacon approves of the decision.
9. “Another One Bites the Dust”
“Another One Bites the Dust” is another hit from John Deacon. If you listen to the song “Good Times” by Chic, you’d hear some resemblance in the bassline and lyric drops. That’s because Deacon used to hang out with the band in their studio.
Bernard Edwards, Chic’s bass player, said that it was totally fine with them that Deacon was sort of inspired by their song. However, what didn’t sit well with him was that the press turned it the other way around, saying Chic ripped off Queen’s song with “Good Times,” which was actually released a year before “Another One Bites the Dust.”
This song wasn’t supposed to be released as a single despite Queen’s producer Reinhold Mack encouraging them to do so. However, Michael Jackson talked to the band after a concert and said that they should, in fact, release it as a single, and the band agreed to do so.
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10. “Crazy Little Thing Called Love”
Freddie Mercury has proven time and time again that he knows just how to compose the next number one pop song. “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” is a song written by Mercury while he was taking a bubble bath.
He suddenly emerged from the bathroom still wrapped in a towel, got the guitar, and came up with the chord progression. Mercury said that he’s not well-versed in playing the guitar, which he thinks helped him write the song.
He only knew a few chords, so he had a limited framework of notes to work with. That’s how he ended up drafting “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” in less than ten minutes.
11. “The Show Must Go On”
Brian May wrote this song when Freddie Mercury was suffering from AIDS-related complications. Consequently, it was one of the last few songs that Mercury was able to contribute to.
May said that the song was inspired by Mercury’s dedication to his craft. Despite his worsening condition, Mercury never complained, not even a single moan of distress. We guess it was Mercury’s way of telling the band that “The Show Must Go On.”
This song was also performed in an opera-like fashion in the film Moulin Rouge.
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12. “Radio Ga Ga”
Each member of the Queen wrote at least one hit song for the band, and “Radio Ga Ga” was Roger Taylor’s. He said that when he wrote this, most of the kids were watching MTV instead of listening to various radio stations.
He believes that this is because radio stations were gradually commercialized and owned by a single company, leading them to play the same songs repeatedly for more revenue, eventually resulting in the tarnished reputations of radio stations.
This is also one of the songs that Freddie Mercury sang in front of 72,000 people at the Live Aid benefit concert while battling laryngitis. In the chorus, Mercury would sing the lyrics while the massive crowd does the clapping part.
The movie Bohemian Rhapsody, a film about Queen’s journey, recreates this magical moment perfectly.
13. “Now I’m Here”
While Queen was recording the album Sheer Heart Attack, Brian May had to stay in the hospital after contracting hepatitis. He said that he was anxious that the rest of the band would replace him, although all of them stated that they didn’t even consider it, leaving spaces in their songs so that May could fill in his guitar riffs once he’s back.
Nonetheless, May said that the anxiety motivated him to recover quicker, and when he was healthy enough, he wrote the song “Now I’m Here.” The strutting patterns in the song were May’s announcement to the world that he’s back stronger than ever.
It was also the band’s attestation that they can still play rock-‘n’-roll, having been released after “Killer Queen,” which was rather light.
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14. “I Want It All”
This song was written by Brian May around the time that Freddie Mercury revealed to them that his health is declining. Additionally, May was also battling depression, having ended his first marriage after an affair with the actress Anita Dobson, who eventually became his wife.
“I Want It All” is inspired by one of Dobson’s expressions, “I want it all, and I want it now.” Additionally, it was also Queen’s way of saying that they are prepared to take on life’s challenges and do everything necessary to come out stronger.
15. “Love of My Life”
This song is about being left behind and getting hurt more than his lover, which is evident in the lyric “Bring it back. Don’t take it away from me, because you don’t know what it means to me.”
It was written by Freddie Mercury and is almost always played acoustically in Queen’s live performances, with Brian May playing a 12-string acoustic guitar. The band regularly includes this song on their setlist, and Mercury would often let the crowd sing different parts of it.
After Mercury’s death, Queen would still perform this song with May singing the vocals. In most cases, the crowd sings almost the entire song, leading May to get quite emotional.
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16. “Who Wants to Live Forever”
Brian May was the one who wrote this song after the band was commissioned to compose a track for the film Highlander. May sings the first verse in the song, and Freddie Mercury sings the rest. However, in the film, the entire song is sung by Mercury.
May said that he wrote the title while riding home in a taxi cab. He got the inspiration for the song after watching the draft of the film. In one of the scenes, the main character holds his wife in his arms as she dies. This led May to think of the line, “Who Wants to Live Forever.”
17. “Somebody to Love”
“Somebody to Love” was inspired by Aretha Franklin, and one of her albums is called Amazing Grace, recorded in the New Temple Missionary Baptist Church. She’s critically acclaimed as the Best Soul Gospel singer, which is why this song from Queen has a gospel-like vibe to it.
The gospel- and choir-like sound was achieved by multitracking Brian May’s, Freddie Mercury’s, and Roger Taylor’s voices. It’s about a man reaching out to God and asking why he can’t seem to find someone to love, hence the title. John Deacon’s voice wasn’t included in the record because, according to him, he can’t sing as well as the others do.
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18. “Keep Yourself Alive”
The surface meaning of this song is exactly what the title suggests. It just wants you to stay alive. However, Queen also took a much deeper meaning of the word “alive.” It says that staying alive is not just about surviving, but rather about staying true to your roots despite other people saying otherwise.
“Keep Yourself Alive” is the first-ever single written and produced by Queen. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, this is where it all started. Unfortunately, it wasn’t received well except for a few areas. Nonetheless, we believe it’s still a masterpiece.
19. “Seven Seas of Rhye”
The main reason why “Keep Yourself Alive” didn’t receive much airplay is that the buildup was too long. It even takes about one minute before Freddie Mercury sings the first verse.
That’s their motivation when they composed the song “Seven Seas of Rhye.” There are a lot of things deliberately and simultaneously happening at the beginning of the song; Mercury going crazy on the piano with the guitars, bass, and drums following suit at the five-second mark.
It’s like an explosion contained in a song. Well, it did work. Radio stations immediately picked it up, and before they know it, this song became Queen’s first-ever hit.
The song is about a fantasy world that Mercury and his sister Kashmira made up. This fantasy world is called Rhye, and Queen regularly featured it in other songs like “My Fairy King,” “The March of the Black Queen,” and “Lily of the Valley.”
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20. “Brighton Rock”
“Brighton Rock” is another song written by Brian May. There’s not much information about how the song came to be, but there’s one theory that seems to hold ground. In 1947, a movie called Brighton Rock was released in the UK. The film includes a one-sided romance, which is somewhat the tone of the Queen’s song.
This song also featured a more unique sound from May’s guitar-playing skills. He used several echoes to achieve this effect. The “Brighton Rock” is also one of May’s playgrounds where he would play his best solo guitar work.
Freddie Mercury wasn’t the only one from Queen who likes to ponder up flights of fancy. Brian May also did this in the song “’39.” It’s about an astronaut traveling at the speed of light to reach his destination. Because of the speed, time warps around him and his crew.
When they returned after a year, 100 years had actually passed on Earth, which means almost everyone he holds dear is long gone, and he’s the same age as his grandchildren. This explains the line, “Don’t you hear me calling you? Write your letters in the sand for the day I take your hand in the land that our grandchildren knew.”
If you’re wondering how he came up with this, you might be surprised to know that May actually studied astrophysics. He dropped out of school to pursue a career in music as Queen’s guitarist. Nonetheless, he eventually completed his education, receiving a Ph.D. in astrophysics in 2007.
As [maybe] a result of sheer coincidence, a film called Interstellar was released in 2014 which revolves around pretty much the same theme. “’39” was released in 1975, which means Interstellar premiered exactly 39 years after the Queen song.
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22. “Don’t Stop Me Now”
“Don’t Stop Me Now” is one of the most massively successful songs from Queen. It was written by Freddie Mercury, and it’s about living his life the way he wants to, without a care in the world, throwing caution to the wind.
While some of the lines were completely about feeling unstoppable like “traveling at the speed of light” or “defying the laws of gravity” or “floating around in ecstasy,” we later see that the persona in the song was actually putting his life at risk, especially in the line “I am a satellite, I’m out of control.”
It quickly became the anthem of hedonism for a lot of people, kind of like Bon Jovi’s “It’s My Life.” However, May was quick to realize that the song was actually about Mercury’s lifestyle.
While he found the song fun and lively, he did worry about the Queen’s frontman, since this was written around the time that Mercury was immersing himself in drugs and sex with various men.
23. “I Want to Break Free”
This song is about the women’s liberation movement, as evidenced by the beginning of the music video, and was written by John Deacon. While numerous people thought that dressing up in drag was Freddie Mercury’s idea, it was actually Roger Taylor’s girlfriend that suggested it. It’s a parody of a TV soap from the UK called Coronation Street.
Unfortunately, the concept wasn’t well-received by some people from the US, leading MTV to ban the song. Fred Mandel, the one who played the synths and the solo (yes, it wasn’t Brian May’s guitar) on the track, explained that it’s the kind of humor that British people enjoy, so he wasn’t surprised that the US wasn’t on the same page.
It also painted a negative picture of Queen in America, causing some of their songs not to be played there.
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There might not be another band like Queen. Their musicality and mastery of their respective instruments and voices were so unique that people trying to sound like them just can’t get close, let alone cover their songs.
Nonetheless, Freddie Mercury, Brian May, Roger Taylor, and John Deacon certainly inspired millions of musicians from different generations. Their songs will definitely live forever, so the next time you need a Queen music therapy session, be sure to refer to our list!
Eduardo Perez is a multi-instrumentalist with over 20 years of experience playing instruments such as piano, guitar, ukulele, and bass. Having arranged songs and produced music in a recording studio, he has a wealth of knowledge to share about analyzing songs, composing, and producing. Currently pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree in Interdisciplinary Musical Studies at Berklee College School of Music. Featured on Entrepreneur.com. Subscribe to his YouTube channel, or follow him on Instagram.