Top 10 Freddie Mercury Queen Songs
Queen are one of the few classic-rock bands in which all four members individually participated in the songwriting process. But none contributed more songs or more hits than singer and pianist Freddie Mercury, whose singular voice and inimitable command of stage and crowd earned him legendary status long before AIDS robbed the world of his talent.
That legend still burns brightly 20 years on, and it’s no exaggeration to state that the songs Mercury crafted beside his Queen bandmates will continue to retain their stadium-filling appeal and glamorous luster through the ages. All hail to the king — here are the Top 10 Freddie Mercury Queen Songs.
The opening volley from 1978’s ‘Jazz’ album is a brilliant showcase for Mercury's vocal acrobatics backed by all of Queen’s inimitable heavy rock power and a rare glimpse into his typically played-down Parsi heritage. 'Mustapha''s head-scratching lyrics are partly tongue-in-cheek gibberish and partly a blend of English, Persian and Arabic words spun into Mercury's own musical Esperanto -- otherwise known as the universal language of rock.
‘My Fairy King’
A highlight of Queen’s first LP, ‘My Fairy King’ represents one of the first full-scale flowerings of Mercury’s boundless imagination, genre-bending eclecticism and one-of-a-kind talent. In addition to displaying the vast range of both his voice and piano skills, the song’s rococo glories and fanciful storytelling foreshadow some of Mercury's grandest, wildest and most ambitious creations for the band in the years ahead.
‘My Melancholy Blues’
Another sterling showcase for Mercury's sublime piano playing, ‘My Melancholy Blues’ is one of the most distinct songs in Queen’s canon -- not only because of its unusually low-key, jazz-like approach and spartan instrumentation (just Mercury on piano, John Deacon on fretless bass, Roger Taylor on brushes and no sign at all of guitarist Brian May), but because it finds Mercury in a subdued, confessional mindset totally at odds with his larger-then-life rock-god persona.
‘Death on Two Legs (Dedicated to ... )’
Heads up: Never cross Freddie Mercury -- you might find your villainy immortalized in song. Such was the fate of former Queen manager Norman Sheffield on ‘A Night at the Opera’'s withering opener, ‘Death on Two Legs,’ which garnishes Mercury’s blistering insults with Brian May’s ‘Jaws’-like power chords. Curiously, Sheffield would go so far as to write an entire book to dispute this legend – even though that didn’t stop him from suing Queen for libel after first hearing the song and being handed his walking papers.
‘Somebody to Love’
Even though it was made to follow in the chart-topping footsteps of the incomparable ‘Bohemian Rhapsody,’ ‘A Day at the Races’’ climatic centerpiece, ‘Somebody to Love,’ is anything but a half-assed sequel. It shares little with its predecessor beyond multiple sections and lofty ambitions; Mercury and Queen essentially took their trademarked choir vocals from the opera house to the church pulpit in a sanctified display of earthly devotion inspired by American gospel music.
‘Crazy Little Thing Called Love’
Queen’s first U.S. No. 1 single (and a Top 10 smash in a dozen other countries), the playful, irresistibly catchy ‘Crazy Little Thing Called Love’ stripped away the dense arrangements found in most Queen songs. And “stripped” is the key word, since Mercury allegedly composed his tribute to Elvis Presley and ‘50s rock 'n' roll while lounging in a bubble bath. The singer would later perform the song’s acoustic rhythm guitar parts himself -- in the studio and at Queen concerts, to the delight of fans.
'Love of My Life'
It pains us to omit the exquisite ‘You Take My Breath Away’ from our list of the Top 10 Freddie Mercury Queen Songs, but there's no way we would exclude Queen’s signature ballad ‘Love of My Life,’ which was written by Mercury for his girlfriend at the time, Mary Austin. In its original studio form, found on 1975’s ‘A Night at the Opera,’ the song’s excessively florid arrangement (complete with harp!) proves almost too saccharine to swallow. But when performed onstage as a duet between Mercury and Brian May, ‘Love of My Life’ attained a second life, even becoming something of an anthem in South America.
Queen’s breakthrough single amazingly condenses all of their novel sonic trademarks (Brian May’s harmonized guitars, those layered vocals, etc.) into three near-perfect minutes of orgiastic heavy glam rock. No wonder the song took 'Top of the Pops' by storm in the fall of 1974, with its lyrics citing everything from Moet Chandon to Marie Antoinette, caviar to etiquette, guillotines to laser beams – all of them meant to evoke both luxury and absurdity. Never mind that most of it makes no sense. As Mercury himself would have probably explained it, “Who cares, darling, who cares?”
‘We Are the Champions’
It’s only natural that the frontman for one of history’s greatest stadium rock bands would come up with one of the greatest sporting anthems. With a little help from Brian May’s complementary ‘We Will Rock You,’ 'We Are the Champions' soon raised audiences to their feet the world over -- no matter how large the arena in which Queen increasingly found themselves performing as their global fan base swelled. It's not much of a surprise that a scientific research team recently identified it as the catchiest song in the history of popular music.
What’s left to say that hasn’t already been said – in duplicate, triplicate and four- or five-part harmony – about the inevitable crowning achievement on our list of the Top 10 Freddie Mercury Queen Songs? The magnificent ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ sounds just as ambitious, revolutionary and preposterous (but in the best possible way) today as it did nearly 40 years ago, when Queen first unveiled it, leaving ears ringing, eyes bulging and jaws gaping. Simply put, nothing else compares with Mercury's magnum opus and Queen’s definitive song.