Playlist: Best of Queen

So, with a band like Queen, most people have heard some of their songs, but they like to ask me what are my favorite songs/albums/whatever.  So I made together a playlist to serve as a sort of introduction to Queen that avoids a lot of the most popular songs and demonstrates the wide range of Queen.  The best band ever.  /bias

  1. Teo Torriatte (Let Us Cling Together): A nice, slow opening that especially captures Freddie’s vocal ability, not to mention the band’s international fame.
  2. The Prophet’s Song: Most everyone knows Bohemian Rhapsody, but when Queen has an idea for an album, they go all out.  This is the OTHER 8+ minute operatic song on the same album (“Night at the Opera”), with some darker themes but still strong vocal range.
  3. Love of My Life: Meant to flow right after #2 on the original album, so I kept it following here, it (like #1) focuses more on the simple vocals and piano.  Gosh, it’s so gorgeous, and if you ever get to see Queen in concert today, Brian May performs a great rendition with the audience’s help that just makes me cry.  And it makes him cry, too, and then everyone cries.  ;_; ‘When I grow older, I will be there at your side to remind you how I still love you.’
  4. Ogre Battle: Now we go back a few albums to the very fairytale heavy “Queen II,” this has more of that original rock sound that defined early Queen.  In part, I love it because the video game series named for it, and in part because it’s a good representation of the songs on the second album.
  5. Nevermore: Another “Queen II” song that lacks the fairytale plot, but maintains the fairytale feel.  It cuts out the rock and gets back to the operatic style heard in earlier songs.  Because secretly I really love the softer Queen songs, I guess.
  6. Jealousy: This is on the list because idk I have a weird fondness for the “Jazz” album, but mostly because I really love the story in this song.  It’s a man realizing how much he screwed up because he got jealous–‘I wasn’t man enough to let you hurt my pride.’
  7. Millionaire Waltz: “A Day at the Races” is another of my favorite albums, and this is such a little fun song with excellent harmonies.  Gosh, these guys can sing.  It has (as you can guess from the title) a very fun waltz rhythm to it that really does make you want to dance.  It’s a fun, cavalier romp.
  8. Dreamers Ball: Moving back to “Jazz,” this is a more swinging, bluesy spurned lover song–poor guy cannot get a break. ‘You make my life worthwhile with the slightest smile, or destroy me with the barely perceptible whisper.’  Love!  The only thing I hate about this song is the lack of an apostrophe in the title.  Come on, now.
  9. It’s Late: This might actually be my favorite Queen song ever (this changes based on the day, but we’ll pretend, which is why I put it above).  It’s the story of a man torn between two lovers, but I really enjoy it in the more general struggle between the right and the temptation, and how can a person overcome that?  How can a person overcome their flaws?  ‘I can love you, though I know I can’t be true. / If I take you tonight, is it making my life a lie?  You make me wonder did I live my life right.’
  10. It’s a Hard Life: Oh, back to the opera.  This is classic 80s Queen at Freddie’s most gloriously outrageous.  And the music video is a must-see.  On the one hand, it’s another good showcase of vocals with powerful lyrics.  On the other hand, it sometimes pushes that over the top boundary.  But it is a good comfort song.
  11. Dear Friends: And so, I follow that song with perhaps the best comfort song for a hard break up.  I could just fall asleep to this song in the best possible ‘this song is embracing me in warmth’ way.  Lovely harmony.
  12. Breakthru: We move back more upbeat now with a sillier, in-love song with the best ever pick up line: ‘I get religion quick, because you’re looking divine.’  Hahahaha.  This is from “The Miracle” and that album is really late, which makes it sad, but really fun.  Just endless fun, and this song captures that fun.
  13. ’39: Another one of my favorite songs ever, because it has space travel that causes some amount of time travel.  Brian May, PhD in Astrophysics, ladies and gents.  Best guitarist ever.  Brian May songs may overall be my favorite of the four writers–his tend to have a touch more of the political/environmental.
  14. Mustapha: Freddie’s voice.  This song needs no other reason.  Well, that, and how many songs sing of Allah? Diversity ftw.
  15. Great King Rat: Going back now to the very first album, this shows Queen’s real 70s rock roots as well as one of the other Abrahamic religions (because the first album has a lot of references to Jesus, because why not?).  So I think this one song really captures what you’ll find throughout the album, because it itself has a few different tempos and sections to the song.  The energy just captures you.
  16. Khashoggi’s Ship: Now skipping back to “The Miracle,” this song maintains that bounce and energy.  Lots of political references/commentary, sure, but mostly it’s just a big write off to the world.
  17. Flick of the Wrist: And now, someone else who writes people off, but from the perspective of the person being controlled/written off.  Love some of the virulent imagery in this song, and it captures the beauty that is the “Sheer Heart Attack” album, which is a nice transition from the rock/fairytale of the first two albums into more of the operatic later albums.
  18. Lily of the Valley: This song naturally follows #17 on the album, so I kept it, because this album is really all about the way the songs flow into one another.  This is another soft, harmony-full song of stock phrases.  But it’s gorgeous for all that.  Maybe one of the most gorgeous Queen songs.
  19. Was It All Worth It: So, background, this song is another from “The Miracle,” the 3rd to last main Queen album, the 2nd to last released while Freddie was still alive, and he is definitely aware and affected by AIDS at this point.  The man is facing his mortality.  So I’ll let the title speak for itself why I always include it on must know Queen songs.
  20. Flash’s Theme Reprised: This I put at the end of the playlist just because lol HOW FUN.

There are not nearly enough “Highlander” songs on this list (i.e. there are none!), but it is really hard to pick just one CD’s worth of music for Queen’s massive collection.  Listen to it all.  It’s amazing, go in order, and you won’t regret it.  But if you want a sample, I think this is a good start.

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