30. A Kind Of Magic (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 again 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. We prefer the latter, personally.
29. Too Much Love Will Kill You (Made In Heaven, 1995)
Having originally been written by May sometime between A Kind Of Magic and The Miracle, this song never made it onto their 1989 album and was largely consigned to history until it popped up again on Queen's final album. Mixed using a version for which Mercury had recorded vocals in 1989, this is the only song on MIH which uses an original version, rather than one re-worked by the band.
Written about May's marital troubles and his blossoming feelings for Anita Dobson, the song won Queen an Ivor Novello in 1997, with May saying: "If there was ever a song for which I would have wanted to 'win a prize for', this would have been the one. Perhaps there are two kinds of song – some songs happen, simply because somebody sits down and decides to write a song. But there is another kind, like this one, which has to be written, because the writer has no choice. This happened at a time when I was going through a very difficult period; it was written as a kind of therapy."
28. Tie Your Mother Down (A Day At The Races, 1976)
Its surging riff influenced by Rory Gallagher, Brian expected Freddie to change the song’s working title. He didn’t.
A stalwart of the Queen setlist, those used to the frenetic pace of live adaptations will be pleasantly surprised by the far groovier album version, opening the record after an almost unbearably tense build-up. Trivia tells us that, during the video shoot, Taylor was blown off his stool by some inadvisably-placed pyrotechnics and, coincidentally, the American and Japanese editions of the song as a single were backed by what is arguably the worst Queen song ever; Drowse…
“It’s a song that I wish Def Leppard had written," Joe Elliott told us of the song. "It’s got the drums and guitars just the way we like them. It’s hard to choose between that one and Now I’m Here, but I’ll go with Tie Your Mother Down as my favourite Queen song just for its thrashiness – by their standards it’s pretty rough and ready.”
27. Save Me (The Game, 1980)
The first single from The Game, this power ballad is heroic stuff – written by Brian May, who also played piano, sung with gusto by Freddie Mercury, with a wonderfully OTT solo by May. A classic Queen ballad – the video was something a little different, though, and featured some very bleak, distinctive chalk drawings.
This single came out six months before The Game was released. It reached No.11 in the charts, staying there for an amazing six months. In many respects, it’s a typical Queen single, with an over-the-top production [from longtime producer Reinhold Mack] that had more in common with the early days than the late 1970s releases.
26. 39 (A Night At The Opera, 1975)
Another 70s B-side here, this time for You're My Best Friend – but more on that track later. Inspired by a science fiction tale of space exploration and time dilation, Brian May’s acoustic-based 39 remains among Queen’s most oddly endearing moments, and is one of few lead May vocals in the Queen catalogue.
“It’s always been my favourite song, The Darkness' Dan Hawkins told us. "My dad used to have this old, beaten-up MG, but it had a really nice stereo and I vividly remember him putting in his cassette of A Night At The Opera. It was already at the song 39, the harmonies and arrangement of which promptly blew my mind. After that I was obsessed with music and Queen."
25. It's Late (News Of The World, 1977)
Another song from the pen of May, like many of his best songs, this was inspired by troubles in his love life. An admission of his struggles with fidelity and the resulting guilt while out on the road – thinly veiled as a three-act Greek tragedy – the meaty, bluesy riff, salacious subject matter and layered vocals make it one of Queen's most tantalising tracks.
"It's another one of those story of your life songs," May said in 1989. "I think it's about all sorts of experiences that I had, and experiences that I thought other people had, but I guess it was very personal, and it's written in three parts; it's like the first part of the story is at home, the guy is with his woman. The second part is in a room somewhere, the guy is with some other woman that he loves and can't help loving, and the last part is he's back with his woman."
24. Crazy Little Thing Called Love (The Game, 1980)
This rockabilly 50s pastiche was reportedly written by Freddie Mercury while covered in bubble bath foam at the Munich Hilton. Queen proved once again that musical boundaries weren’t a problem for them with the release of Crazy…. What’s more, the theme allowed Mercury to dress up in leather and writhe about on the back of a huge motorcycle for the accompanying video.
Musically, the song is one of the band’s simpler moments, with a straightforward construction, acoustic intro and obligatory solo bass run. The musical versatility also extends to the guitar solo, with May dusting off Taylor’s own Fender Esquire to produce a perfect 50s-flavoured lead break.
23. Good Old-Fashioned Lover Boy (A Day At The Races, 1976)
A music-hall inspired slice of rampantly tongue-in-cheek romance, this Teo Torriatte B-side documents the protagonist's excitement at getting ready for a night on the town with the object of his desire. The lilting verses bob along to Mercury's piano and Deacon's bass, while 70s Queen's trademark layered harmonies carry the chorus.
Light hearted and a good bit of fun, Mercury described this song as "One of my vaudeville numbers. I always do a vaudeville track, though ...Lover Boy is more straightforward than Seaside Rendezvous, for example. It's quite simple, piano and vocals with a catchy beat; the album needs it to sort of ease off."
22. You’re My Best Friend (A Night At The Opera, 1975)
A truly romantic declaration written by John Deacon about the woman he’d marry, the less romantically-minded among us could also, perhaps, view this '76 single as a sentimental conversation between two old pals at pub throwing out time. The first song to establish Deacon as a decent songwriter in his own right, with a passionate vocal turn from Mercury, the song is stuffed with amazing three and four part vocal and guitar harmonies. While Mercury's performance might be jazzed up to the nines with special effects, it still does a good job of carrying Deacon's heartfelt message.
"I'm very pleased with that, actually," Mercury told Rock Australia Magazine of the song in 1976. "John has really come into his own. Brian and myself have mostly written all the songs before, and he's been in the background; he's worked very hard, and his song's very good, isn't it? It's nice."
21. These Are The Days Of Our Lives (Innuendo, 1991)
His health worsening by the day, Freddie was able to throw himself into Roger Taylor’s heart-wrenching lyric of a man looking back on all he’s achieved. The result was an incredibly poignant song with thinly veiled parallel's to Mercury's own life. The song's video, filmed in May 1991, marks the last time Mercury appeared on film, making this single something of a spiritual full stop on Queen's recording career, and was issued as a double A-side with the re-release of Bohemian Rhapsody in December 1991. A fitting send-off for Mercury, who had died the month previous.
"He sang about not being able to turn back the clock and laying back and enjoying life through your kids, when of course he knew he was going to die," Slade's Dave Hill told us of the song. "He was well aware of what he was going through. Those were the days of his life, and his songs are still a big part of ours. It’s a very reflective time when somebody dies, but Queen’s music has kept Freddie alive in spirit."