Good one! I like Queen a lot, and I’ve been trying to go deeper into their discography lately. Most of my favorites are still pretty top-level hits, but that’s only because those hits are so good.
1. “Killer Queen.” ”Bohemian Rhapsody” gets all the glory, but “Killer Queen” is the band’s true mission statement, wrapped up tight in a little three-minute package. Freddie Mercury will always be a hero of mine for the way he fed camp and flamboyance to an audience composed at least in part of people who would have rejected him in person for his homosexuality and made them scream for more. His performance on this is beyond delicious, and Brian May nearly manages to match all of his preening with the sassy little guitar solo he gets in before the last chorus.
2. “White Man.” Queen rarely gets credit for it, but they were a great hard rock band, and Mercury was such an incredibly talented singer that he could call up the necessary grit for it whenever he needed to. This song is as crunchy as they got.
3. “Somebody to Love.” ”Each morning I get up and I die a little/I can’t barely stand on my feet/take a look at myself in the mirror and cry/yeah yeah.” On paper that looks like the most miserable thing in the world, but this song turns out to be one of the most joyful things you’ll ever hear on classic rock radio. The band layered their voices over and over to create the choral effect (the highest voices are not Mercury—they’re Roger Taylor, the drummer, who also had a four-octave range) and gospel feel, and the song transforms itself almost magically from a sad-sack personal lament into a celebration of love itself.
4. “You’re My Best Friend.” This is another one that has hints of gospel in the vocal arrangement (it was appreciation from a distance—Mercury was Zoroastrian), but mostly, I love this song because it’s so buoyant and sweetly direct. it’s a song that really conveys just how good it feels to have someone in your life that you could sing it to with honesty.
Rounding out the top ten: “Dragon Attack,” “Crazy Little Thing Called Love,” “Under Pressure” (I’ll count it for them because it was on their album), “Another One Bites the Dust,” “Son And Daughter,” “Keep Yourself Alive”