Just before Thanksgiving I learned that Thursday was the twentieth anniversary of Freddie Mercury's death. Most of us were already out the door for the holidays and a long weekend… but let's face it, Freddie wasn't the kind of guy people could ignore.
So today's blog post is our belated tribute to a talented man who was still belting it out even when he could barely stand. In Freddie's honor, we're making our Monday post a video mix that covers some of our favorite Queen songs. To make it easy, I'll go first:
Scott L., Pushy Center Of Attention
Stone Cold Crazy
Slightly over two minutes fly by at a ridiculous speed in this, the high point of what I consider to be Queen's best album. Stone Cold Crazy is usually the song where people point to Brian May's obvious talent, but listen to that mad fire Freddy's spitting out, or even better, try to sing it along with him at speed. He make it sound pretty easy, but you know what? It's not.
And that's not even getting into the lyrics. Today those nervous gangstas packing heat are all over the radio, but when's the last time someone was confident enough to stare down the cops with a rubber Tomy-brand water gun? Such a goofy idea completely undercuts the rough guitar and turns the mood into a bit of fun, like some old friends just play-fighting in a bar. Probably that's why Metallica was too scared to use the lyrics as written, and their slightly NSFW cover is instead about killing a street full of people with a Prohibition-era Thompson machine gun. Way to suck all the joy out of it, guys. No wonder Lars' dad is your coolest member.
…but hey, that's just my opinion, and there are plenty more inside. After the jump you'll find a few paragraphs from the Woot writers and staff about their own personal favorite song from Queen's catalog. Jump on through and see which one of us you agree with the most.
Sean A., Literary Roustabout
Choosing a favorite Queen song is like choosing a favorite flavor of ice cream; it seems difficult at first, until you realize you're dealing with something as smooth and delicious as ice cream, so every pick is a winner. And if we were to go a step further and align Queen songs with specific ice cream flavors, then Flash's Theme is like chocolate chip cookie dough. The song itself consists primarily of a single repeating piano and bass note that provides a backdrop for audio clips from the film Flash Gordon. But the most rewarding parts of the song are the "Queen chunks," brief sporadic flashes that are, despite lasting only a few seconds each, packed with all of the quintessential queen elements: Freddy Mercury screaming harmonies, dramatic crashes, epic guitar, etc. This pattern is broken only twice, first by a ra-ra celebration of Flash's virtue ("He's for every one of us!") near the middle of the song, and then a bit later by a more introspective "I'm just a man" moment that starts quietly but then quickly builds towards the songs heroic end. It's a surprisingly full Queen experience despite coming in at under three minutes.
Barbara C., Clothing Bürgermeister, Top Half Division
Universal Music Group has blocked embedding, but you can click through to the song here.
One of my favorite Queen songs is Killer Queen, or as I like to call it, the "dynamite with a laser beam" song. I love the complexity of the character described simultaneously as a baroness, a queen, and a pussy cat. The killer queen is Holly Golightly, a James Bond spy girl, and Marie Antoinette rolled into one. You're pretty certain she's a "bad" girl, but you can't help falling in love with her, she'll toy with your emotions, and she will inevitably eventually destroy you. The killer queen is possibly my favorite feminine archetype... that is, of course, if she's a she at all.
Randy C., Blog Assassin
Don't Stop Me Now
Queen, for me, is one of those bands that's so good they're deceptive. Almost everyone who's ever heard them can recall off the top of their head at least two or three songs they like. But then you pick up a Queen album or Google their greatest hits and realize that, actually, Queen put out a TON of songs that you love. And every once in awhile one will pop up on the radio after a minor hiatus and you'll think, "Oh man, I LOVE this song! Who is this? Oh yeah, Queen. Man, Queen wrote some really awesome songs!"
I was having a hard time choosing between this and Killer Queen, so I was listening to both at my kitchen table when I noticed something: I literally cannot turn on "Don't Stop Me Now" without causing my wife to launch into jaunty, flirtatious dancing. Seriously. It's like a switch flips; one second she's tossing some lentils in a crockpot for dinner tonight, the next she's beckoning me to the living room to swing around in front of the fireplace and be-bopping through the house swinging her hips and tossing her hair back and forth. She's even said, "Okay, I'm stopping now," on multiple occasions only to be pulled away by Freddie Mercury's siren song again when I repeat the track. That just sealed the deal: it's my favorite Queen song, and rapidly becoming my favorite song ever.
Kristy T., Social Sorcerer
Fat Bottomed Girls
The charming epic that predates Baby Got Back by about a decade and a half has real, actual ties to Texas! The music video (which devastatingly features about 100% less butt action than even a fraction of the Sir Mix-A-Lot collection) was filmed in the Dallas Convention Center. It's possible that 1978 Dallas was completely unprepared to be ground zero of the eventual butts-in-music craze, but I like to think that we Texans had a hand in it. That is, the first hand of many, as every time this song comes on in a bar, each drunk girl is compelled, against any sensibilities, to raise both hands and sing it as loud as freakin' possible.
Dave R., Department Warlord
I love how child-like it is, I love that Freddie gets to sing "Bi" over and over again while someone else sings "cycle race", and I don’t know of any other rock songs that feature a handlebar chimes. (Take that, cowbell!)
Editor's Note: Amusingly enough, the official video for Dave's choice features naked women on bicycles, so we've gone with the audio-only version above. If you want to watch the real video that Queen filmed, you'll have to find it yourself.
Jason H-L., Hermit Of Humor
Somebody To Love
Universal Music Group has blocked embedding, but you can click through to the song here.
I'll never be tough like Another One Bites The Dust. I'll never have the confidence of We Will Rock You/We Are The Champions. I'll never be the savior of the universe or an Immortal, I'll never fly to a Middle Eastern country to save my dad, and while I truly love women of a curvy frame, I have never had intercourse with any of my nannies, so it's hard for me to truly relate.
But Somebody To Love? Man, I've been there. The loneliness, the depression, the wishful pleading to a higher power. Everything Freddie sings about on this track is something I've felt at one time or another. Even if I didn't love Queen, I'd still love this song because it so perfectly hits that sad-but-hopeful emotional chord that's so universal to everyone. That may not make it the best Queen song ever in some people's books, but it certainly does in mine.
Besides, bicycling is for suckers, anyway.
Greg H., Didn't Understand The Assignment
Wilhelmus van Nassouwe
I’m a sucker for a song that tells a story and what’s better than the first person account of a nation’s struggle for independence? Sure, kids today enjoy songs about the bebop and the drinking, but give me the birth of a nation. I’ll proudly regale Queen Beatrix with the glories of Orange like the troubadours, nay, skalds of old! Just because it was only recognized as the national anthem in the 30s doesn’t mean it isn’t the oldest national anthem in the world. Suck on that one, hipsters. Just bask in those sweeping, classical melodies and try not to feel national pride.
Jason T, Chief Word Wrangler
Crazy Little Thing Called Love
In his autobiography, Sex Pistols bassist Glen Matlock tells of stepping out of a recording session at Wessex Studios in London in 1976 to find Freddie Mercury snooping at the door, trying to suss out what this punk thing was about. It seems too perfect a parable to be true. But it's a matter of public record that Queen and the Sex Pistols recorded at the same time, on the same studio premises, at least twice. And Crazy Little Thing Called Love, which Mercury claimed to have written in ten minutes, indicates that something inspired him to explore the merits of the back-to-basics approach.
Freddie's catchy experiment in bombast-free rock 'n' roll was humorously validated by the song's inclusion alongside covers of Blondie, the Knack, and the Cars on that high-pitched relic of New Wave exploitation, Chipmunk Punk. "I couldn't work through too many chords and because of that restriction I wrote a good song, I think," Mercury told the Melody Maker. As somebody who's not much of a Queen fan, I'm sorry he didn't try that more often.
Matthew N., Cyber-bard
Who Wants To Live Forever
Queen is one of the all-time great originals. "Be yourself" can sound like trite advice when you're a kid, until someone demonstrates the dormant power of that credo -- someone like the rock band Queen, whose self was not very much like anyone else's. Who would ever have guessed this gay-positive hard rock combo with dazzling chops and a penchant for the operatic could become so beloved by those burnout metalheads from your high school and mine who, let's face it, were not exactly about to start a chapter of P-FLAG anytime soon?
Penned by Brian May (CBE), "Who Wants To Live Forever" showcases Queen at their Queen-est, with full strings sections, Freddy in a tux, and May at a big-ass pipe organ. (1986 was a great year to be a pipe organ in London. "Who Wants to Live Forever" came out AND Phantom of the Opera debuted!) Plus, what a pretty, soaring, sad, wonderful melody, right? From its opening lyrics (an explicit refutation of the prettiest song from West Side Story, by the way) to its bad-ass, "We Are The Champions" style climax, this one's a full-on, bombastic, melodramatic chills-giver. If the movie Highlander has a lease on any poignancy at all, it's because this song co-signed on it.
And that's what we think. Now it's your turn to tell us a thing or two. Hit the comments and represent for your own favorite Queen song and why we suck for not mentioning it. Keep in mind we might be checking back, so get ready to defend your position as needed!