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Queen: Their 50 Greatest Songs

In 2006, Classic Rock published the all time list of the top Queen tunes, as selected by some of the biggest names in rock. Here's the result

This month sees a flurry of activity in praise of a man who would have been 60 on September 5. There’s a new double-DVD set called Lover Of Life, Singer Of Songs, featuring all of Freddie Mercury’s solo videos and his story as told by his close friends; a new CD release of The Very Best Of Freddie Mercury; a book entitled Fr eddie Mercury; A Life, In His Own Words; a photographic exhibition at Proud Central in London.Earlier this month there was a special performance of the Queen musical We Will Rock You. Well, Freddie always did like a party. To join in the celebrations at Classic Rock, we decided to ask the stars of the rock world to choose their favourite Queen songs and tell us what they mean to them. The interviews took place over months and happened all across the world: almost everyone asked, whether they were in thrash metal bands or contemporaries of Queen, had a song special to them. We present the 50 songs voted for by them (and us), in alphabetical order. And to the man formerly known as Farrokh Bulsara, we say, happy birthday, sir. Let the party begin...


From A Kind Of Magic, 1986

A sister to One Vision, A Kind Of Magic was another high quality pop song written by Roger about his utopian vision of the world. One of Queen’s most recognisable singles, this was initially written for the film Highlander. The title was inspired by a line from the film and moulded into a hook-laden pop masterpiece with the band’s customary aplomb, although there are two versions offering slightly differing constructions and feels in the public domain. The first, credited to Roger Taylor, appears over the closing credits of the film, while the slightly funkier album version bears the Mercury hallmark, although both are driven by Taylor’s unashamedly poptastic drum sound.


From News Of The World, 1977

With guitar sounds like these, it’s no wonder the ‘no synthesisers’ edit was printed on every album up to 78’s Jazz. Every band of any note is far more than the sum of its parts and this album track turned out to be one of guitarist Brian May’s best works. Not the strongest singer in the traditional sense, especially when compared to Mercury, his lead vocal here is perfectly suited to the sparse piano-led verse.

Another trademark is May’s lyrics that, on the face of it, seem to tell a run-of-the-mill tale of a lost love yet a few digs beneath the surface turn up so much more: it wasn’t just Mercury who could tug on the heartstrings at a whim. The showpiece though has to be the central instrumental section, and if you’re still in search of the classic definition of May’s so-called ‘guitar orchestrations’ you’ll find it here.


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