Top 10 Roger Taylor Queen Songs
Queen were one of the few classic-rock bands in which all four members individually participated in the songwriting process. And even though he spent much of his time behind the drums, Roger Taylor made himself impossible to ignore – onstage and in the studio – thanks to his contributions to the Queen canon, not to mention his singular voice. Over the years, some of his songs became massive hits, while others remained underrated album tracks. Either way, you'll find some of each on our list of the Top 10 Roger Taylor Queen Songs.
This isn't a Roger Taylor composition, but it's probably the best example of his unmistakable and ear-piercing falsetto (hear it shriek on "My Fairy King," "Ogre Battle," etc.) and a suitably attention-grabbing way to launch our list of the Top 10 Roger Taylor Queen Songs. Freddie Mercury often described "In the Lap of the Gods" as a test-run for "Bohemian Rhapsody," and the evidence certainly shines through in its distinct orchestrated passages and operatic histrionics.
Taylor wrote, sang and performed almost every instrument heard on "Fight From the Inside," which closes the first side of News of the World with a distinct, shuffling rhythm, blanketed with funky guitar licks and completed by a few helpful overdubs from guitarist Brian May. The lyrics suggest Taylor was trying to assert some independence from his bandmates with this display of self-sufficiency. It’s no coincidence he’d be the first Queen member to release a solo album.
Within just a few years, Roger Taylor’s heavy-metal kinks and occasionally oblique lyrics had all been ironed out with newly acquired pop savvy, resulting in readily accessible material like The Game's "Rock It (Prime Jive)." His lyrics aren't the easiest to work around (here they have something to do with rocking out in space … we think), but the song’s music certainly weds Queen's classic-rock elements with their recent adoption of synthesizers to great, almost seamless effect.
Would it be a stretch if we called 1978’s underrated and wildly diverse Jazz Taylor’s finest hour with Queen? (See No. 4 on our list of the Top 10 Roger Taylor Queen Songs for further proof.) Even though all four band members made fetchingly idiosyncratic contributions to the album (Mercury’s "Mustapha," May’s "Fat Bottomed Girls," John Deacon’s "If You Can't Beat Them Join Them"), Taylor’s supremely funky "Fun It" takes the novelty cake. The song flirts with both disco and the infamous Syndrum pads and still makes it all work.
The incomparably steady groove established by the Taylor / John Deacon rhythm section is on full display in the title track of Queen’s 12th album. A Top 10 hit in a half-dozen European countries, The title and lyrics for "A Kind of Magic" were inspired by lines from the fantasy thriller Highlander. (Queen supplied the movie's soundtrack with music.) The song is also notable for showcasing Brian May’s guitar at its subtle, tasteful best.
We would have loved to find more room on our list of the Top 10 Roger Taylor Queen Songs for "Modern Times Rock ’n’ Roll," the first of many breakneck outbursts penned by Taylor. But there's no way we were gonna leave out the absolutely decapitating "Sheer Heart Attack," which Taylor had left unfinished during the sessions for its namesake album but finally completed in time for News of the World. It follows "We Will Rock You" and "We Are the Champions" with palate-cleansing, meat-and-potatoes hard rock aimed right at the era’s punk rockers.
Taylor sings every word and plays almost every instrument on "More of That Jazz," Jazz's distinctive closing statement. It's a creepy, unsettling minor masterpiece constructed around a hypnotic drum loop and downright wicked guitar lick, all capped by Queen’s trademark choir vocals and Taylor’s cynical observations (“Only football gives us thrills / Rock ’n’ roll just pays the bills”).
This incredibly touching highlight from the final Queen album released during Freddie Mercury’s lifetime takes nostalgia to new heights, causing grown men to bawl – despite (or perhaps because of) Taylor’s rather obvious lyrics. Its music video was Mercury’s last, and it revealed the singer’s unmistakable health issues, even as he continued to deny his losing battle with AIDS. In any case, once the end had come, it only magnified Taylor’s heartfelt tribute to his fallen friend.
Roger Taylor's biggest song, "Radio Ga Ga" went to No. 1 in 19 countries and helped revive the band’s career in the U.S. The synthetic overkill and commentary on radio’s retreat before MTV's advancement may be a bit too much, but the song’s anthemic hooks are second to none in Queen’s catalog. Plus, Taylor’s words ultimately proved somewhat prophetic.
Taylor’s all-time greatest Queen composition is all about the simple pleasures of an ordinary man who just so happens to be a rock star. His signature tune throughout the late ‘70s, the hard-rock bruiser "I’m in Love With My Car" features the singing drummer’s revving Alfa Romeo but was actually inspired by (and dedicated to) Queen roadie Johnathan Harris – “boy racer to the end.” Once the stage lights came up, Taylor was in the driver’s seat, with Mercury riding shotgun and Deacon and May in the backseat, all bound for glory.