Queen is one of the most recognized, commercially successful, rock and roll bands not only in British history but in the world. With Freddy Mercury’s astounding vocals and Brian May’s legendary solos and riffs, this is one of the best bands to learn rock to. Here are some of their best songs:
There is no denying that Bohemian Rhapsody is one of the most emblematic rock songs in music history. Lead singer and frontman Freddy Mercury wrote this song in the span of approximately ten years. It is one of the few songs that was not developed by the band but more of a Freddy Mercury creation.
Bohemian Rhapsody is a six-minute rock opera/progressive rock anthem that became the lead single for their fourth studio album, A Night at the Opera (1975). Interestingly enough, many critics and music corporations believed the song would never have the impact it had, as it was too long.
This song is in the key of Bb and, although it is piano-centered, the solos recorded by Brian May (guitarist) are a great addition to your soloing repertoire.
Don’t Stop Me Now
Although this song is another example of Queen’s more piano-driven compositions, it is one of their critically acclaimed songs and is home to another rocking solo by Brian May.
Don’t Stop Me Now was the third single released for their seventh studio album Jazz. Musically speaking, the song’s main elements are the piano, John Deacon and Roger Taylors groovy drums/bass combo, and the trademark harmonies that granted Queen their reputation.
Again, interestingly enough, the song was not an instant hit as it didn’t chart that high as a single. However, due to its constant use over the years in commercials, TV shows, and films, it became one of the biggest songs in their career.
Don’t Stop Me Now is in the key of F and it has a great bluesy solo for you to check out.
Another One Bites The Dust
It is pretty noticeable that Queen’s bassist John Deacon was the mastermind behind this song. It has one of the most iconic bass lines in rock history, and it’s one most people can recognize.
Another One Bites the Dust was written and released in Queen’s eight studio album, The Game, and did become an instant hit. So much so that this song is Queen’s best-selling single in their whole career.
John Deacon’s inspiration for this song came from funk and disco music, which was one of the most popular genres at the time. An interesting fact about this song is that John recorded almost all the instruments in the song. Brian May contributed with all sorts of guitar sounds, but the guitar riff is John Deacon’s creation.
This song is in the key of Fm, but live versions are in Em. I’d recommend placing a capo on the first fret to follow along.
Under Pressure is a song that included the help of UK legend David Bowie. It was released in 1981 as a single and later included in their tenth studio album Hot Space in 1982. Under Pressure became Queen’s second #1 hit in their country.
Queen bassist John Deacon recognized that even though all Queen members and David Bowie were credited for the song, Freddy Mercury was the song’s primary songwriter.
There is some controversy as to who wrote the iconic bass line of this song. Everyone finally agreed that John Deacon wrote the initial riff, and David Bowie later reworked it, leaving us with the final bassline.
Under Pressure is in the key of D major. There several guitar parts that add to the overall arrangement of the song. This is a good song to learn the chords as well.
We Will Rock You
We Will Rock You is another of Queen’s most commercially successful songs in their career. Written by guitarist Brian May, this song was released in 1977 on their sixth album, News of the World.
We Will Rock You is ranked number 330 on Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time and was later inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.
This song is interesting because apart from the last 30 seconds of the song where Brian May’s guitar solo resides, this song is fully acapella.
We Will Rock You has had many covers, remixes, and samples made since its release. It is a very popular song in sport’s events and one of their best-known songs.
We Will Rock You is in the key of C major and has an excellent overdriven guitar solo for you to learn.
We Will Rock You Guitar Tabs
Killer Queen is a song from Queen’s third studio album Sheer Heart Attack. Freddy Mercury wrote this song, and it became their first-ever US hit, reaching #12 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Freddy Mercury stated in later interviews that he wrote the lyrics before the melody, something unusual for him. He also stated that the song talks about a high-class girl. As for the composition, you can see two of Queen’s main trademarks: complex vocal harmonies and multi-tracked guitars.
In an interview, guitarist Brian May admitted how proud he was of this song and how important it was for their career. “It was the song that best summed up our kind of music and a big hit, and we desperately needed it as a mark of something successful happening for us… I was always very happy with this song.”
Killer Queen is in the key of Eb major and has some very interesting guitar parts.
Crazy Little Thing Called Love
Crazy Little Thing Called Love is a song included on their eighth album The Game. Freddy Mercury wrote it the year before; he later admitted he wrote the song in just five to ten minutes. Crazy Little Thing Called Love became the band’s first number-one single on the US charts.
Freddy Mercury also said in later interviews that this song was a tribute to rock and roll legend Elvis Presley. It would also be the first song he would perform on acoustic guitar in the following concerts.
As for Brian May, all of his contributions are licks here and there to add to the song, along with a rocking yet simple solo. Crazy Little Thing Called Love is in the key of D and has great bluesy licks for you to learn and incorporate into your playing.
Fat Bottomed Girls
Fat Bottomed Girls is a rock anthem featured on their seventh album, Jazz. Guitarist Brian May wrote the majority of this song, and it is one of the few ones where he used an alternate tuning. This song was released as a double single, along with Bicycle Race.
The song begins with an acapella chorus with a lot of harmonies, much to their style. Following the intro, you have a great rock and roll riff in D. The guitar’s tuning has the 6th string dropped from E to D (Drop D tuning). Fat Bottomed Girls is a great song for you to learn both some rock riffs and to get familiar with Drop D tuning.
Somebody to Love
Somebody to Love is a gospel-oriented song that is included on their fifth album A Day at the Races in 1976. This song was compared to their earlier composition, Bohemian Rhapsody, as it used complex harmonies and guitar solos.
Freddy Mercury wrote Somebody to Love as a soul-searching piece that questions life without love. His admiration for black singer Aretha Franklin inspired the creation of this song.
Drummer Roger Taylor said in an interview: “Somebody To Love” is Aretha Franklin-influenced. Freddie’s very much into that. We tried to keep the track in a loose, gospel-type feel. I think it’s the loosest track we’ve ever done.”
Somebody to Love is in the key of Ab. If you are looking to play the song’s chords as a play along, you’ll benefit from a capo in the first fret.
I Want To Break Free
I Want to Break Free is a song that appears in Queen’s eleventh album, The Works. They released three versions of the song: album version, single version, and extended version. Bassist John Deacon wrote the song and proposed the concept for the music video, which became a big part of the song’s success.
An interesting thing to consider with this song is its structure. This song follows the traditional order of a 12-bar blues in the key of E major. The concept of the song, as the title suggests, is the idea of breaking free from an intense feeling of love.
I Want to Break Free is in the key of E major and has multiple guitar harmonies Brian May multi-tracked. For this song, Brian May used the Red Special, a guitar he designed and built.
Radio Ga Ga
Radio Ga Ga was the first single from their eleventh album, The Works. Drummer Roger Taylor wrote this song as a commentary on television taking over radio and how visuals were starting to become more important than audio.
Radio Gaga is a heavily synth-based song, and it features the use of the Roland VP300+vocoder. This song was a worldwide success as it reached #1 in 19 countries, as well as #16 in the US.
It is in the key of F major and has some scarce guitar parts that add to the overall arrangement. This is another song I’d recommend you also learning the chords to sing on or have your friends sing along to. If you do so, the chords’ tab suggests a capo on the 1st fret.
We Are the Champions
We Are the Champions is one of the most recognizable anthems in music history. Freddy Mercury wrote this song and placed it on Queen’s sixth album, News of the World, in 1977. This song became a massive worldwide success and quickly converted into an anthem for sports events’ winners.
Freddy Mercury and Brian May stated in interviews how We Are the Champions came to fruition following a concert at Bingley Hall, Stafford. In this concert, the audience began singing a classic English anthem, You’ll Never Walk Alone. This motivated them to write a song that unified the crowd in singing, arms-waving experience.
We Are the Champions features Freddy Mercury on piano, as well as bass and drums. Brian May overdubbed several subtle guitars that lead up to a raging solo at the end of the song.
Who Wants to Live Forever
Who Wants to Live Forever is the sixth track in Queen’s twelfth album, A Kind of Magic. Brian May wrote this song for the soundtrack of the 1986 film, Highlander. For this song, they relied on orchestrations to make it a film-like experience.
Brian May wrote the song seeing a 20-minute first cut of the scene of the death of the main character’s wife, Heather. Interestingly enough, Who Wants to Live Forever is one of the few songs where Brian May sings lead vocals, as well as Freddy Mercury.
Who Wants to Live Forever is in the key of E minor and has scarce guitar parts. Its main features are the orchestra and synths, making it a very atmospheric composition.
The Show Must Go On
The Show Must Go On is the last track of Queen’s fourteenth studio album, Innuendo. This song chronicles the effort Freddy Mercury had to make to continue to perform despite being seriously ill (it was unknown at that moment he was diagnosed with HIV/AIDS). Inadvertently, Innuendo became the last album Queen released before his death.
John Deacon and Roger Taylor wrote the chord sequence, to which Brian May and Freddy Mercury wrote the melody and words. Brian May was concerned Freddy would not be able to deliver such demanding vocals due to his health. To this, Freddy consumed a small measure of vodka and said to him: “I’ll fucking do it, darling.”
The Show Must Go On is in the key of Bm. Although most of the song is a synth-strings mixture, there is a guitar solo, and I’d recommend you learn the chords to accompany.
Seven Seas of Rhye
Seven Seas of Rhye is the last song of their first, self-titled album, Queen. However, this was only a short instrumental that would develop into a full song for their second album, Queen II. Seven Seas of Rhye was Queen’s first hit single in their prolific career.
This song has a very distinctive piano arpeggiated line. Nevertheless, it is a heavily-driven guitar song, with heavy riffs and guitar lines. Freddy Mercury, who wrote most of the song, described Seven Seas of Rhye as a “figment of his imagination.”
This song is in the key of D. Unfortunately, there are no tabs that show the exact parts Brian May plays. I was still able to find a chord chart that can prove helpful for you to learn this iconic Queen’s song.
You’re My Best Friend
You’re My Best Friend is a song from Queen’s fourth album, A Night at the Opera. Bassist John Deacon wrote it for his wife, Veronica Tetzlaff. The song was a commercial success and charted #7 on the UK chart and #16 on the US Billboard Hot 100.
The main feature of this song is a Wurlitzer electric piano, which John Deacon recorded alongside his bass work. In live performances, Freddy would be the one to play the piano parts on a Grand Piano, while John would play bass.
As for guitar, You’re My Best Friend has a guitar solo at the end, as well as the distinctive guitar harmonizations Brian May would regularly use. This song is in the key of C and is a great song to learn on an acoustic guitar, as well as the rocking solo of course.
Love of My Life
Love of My Life is a love ballad included in Queen’s fourth album, A Night at the Opera. It was written by Freddy Mercury and although he never publicly said who the song was for, there is speculation that it was written for his ex-lover, David Minns.
Freddy Mercury wrote this song on the piano, while Brian May later re-arranged it for a 12-string acoustic guitar. The latter version would be performed in their live shows. In the original recording, Brian did several guitar lines to embellish the song.
The tab I found is the arrangement for acoustic guitar. It serves greatly to develop fingerstyle technique and is a great song to sing along to.
Good Old Fashioned Lover Boy
Good Old-Fashioned Lover Boy is a song written by Freddie Mercury and the eight-track in their fifth studio album, A Day at the Races. This song describes how a lover is looking forward to a night of romance and excitement.
This song’s main feature is the piano, along with the bass and drums providing a solid foundation. You can also hear their trademark harmonies, especially on the choruses. As for the guitar, once you arrive at the bridge, you can hear single lines leading up to a harmonized guitar solo, another Queen trademark.
Good Old-Fashioned Lover Boy is in the key of Eb. If you wish to learn the chords to play along, I’d recommend you use a capo on the 3rd fret.
Too Much Love Will Kill You
Too Much Love Will Kill You is a song written by guitarist Brian May, British songwriter Frank Muster, and Elizabeth Lamers. This song talks about Brian May’s unsuccessful first marriage and the attraction to his future wife.
An interesting fact about this song, even though Queen recorded it, the song was not able to make the cut due to legal issues following the band’s decision to solely release songs written by the whole group. However, following Freddy Mercury’s death, Queen released it on their fifteenth and final studio album, Made in Heaven.
Too Much Love Will Kill You is in the key of C and includes a guitar solo nearing the end of the song. This is another song that’s great to learn to sing along to.
I Want It All
I Want It All is a song written by Brian May and featured on Queen’s thirteenth studio album, The Miracle. It was released as the first single of the album and became a commercial success, charting in several countries. I Want It All also became an anti-apartheid song in South Africa.
The first time Queen performed this song live was in the 1992 Freddy Mercury Tribute Concert. Freddy Mercury himself was never able to perform this song due to his untimely death.
I Want It All is in the key of B minor and is a heavy-driven guitar song. Although there are no tabs that show the full song, you can learn the chords and the guitar solo.
Now I’m Here
Now I’m Here is a guitar-driven song written by Brian May. Queen featured this song in their third studio album, Sheer Heart Attack. Now I’m Here quickly became one of the band’s favorite live songs, as they performed it on virtually every concert to come.
Inspired by their first US tour in 1974, Brian May drew from those experiences to write Now I’m Here. It is a very guitar-heavy song that uses a lot of power chords before arriving at a rock and roll, Chuck Berryesque solo.
Freddy Mercury was very proud of this song as he believed it was a good reminder to people that Queen could still rock: “That was nice. That was a Brian May thing. We released it after “Killer Queen”. And it’s a total contrast, just a total contrast. It was just to show people we can still do rock ‘n’ roll – we haven’t forgotten our rock ‘n’ roll roots. It’s nice to do on stage. I enjoyed doing that on stage.”
You Don’t Fool Me
You Don’t Fool Me is one of the last recorded songs from Queen’s fifteenth and final album, Made In Heaven. This album was released in 1995, four years after Freddy Mercury’s death. For this album, they gathered multiple vocal tracks from different sessions and re-arranged the whole thing to create the album.
As for You Don’t Fool Me, even though it credits the band as the composers, in reality, it was primarily created by the band’s producer, David Richards. The style of the song is very similar to their 1982 album, Hot Space.
You Don’t Fool Me is in the key of Em and has several guitar licks throughout the song, as well as a rock solo in the middle of the song.
Bicycle Race is a song written by Freddy Mercury and featured on their seventh studio album, Jazz. It was also featured as a double-sided single along with “Fat Bottomed Girls.” Both songs are also in the same thematic concept.
Freddy Mercury wrote this song after watching the 1978 Tour de France in Montreux, where they were recording Jazz. The song expresses deep love for cycling, something that Brian May later stated was not autobiographical, as Freddy did not particularly enjoy bicycling.
Bicycle Race is in the key of Ab and has several guitar lines as well as a good solo for you to learn.
Tie Your Mother Down
Tie Your Mother Down is the opening track and second single from Queen’s fifth studio album, A Day at the Races. Written by guitarist Brian May, Queen played this song on every following tour, as well as Freddy Mercury’s Tribute Concert and with several guest artists, such as the Foo Fighters.
Brian May wrote Tie Your Mother Down while living in Tenerife, Spain. He was working for his Ph.D. in astrophysics at the time. He initially wrote the riff in a Spanish guitar and later moved it to his electric guitar.
Tie Your Mother Down is a heavy guitar kind of song. It is in the key of A and is a mixture of blues-Mixolydian. This song also contains a great solo for you to learn.
Stone Cold Crazy
Stone Cold Crazy is the eight-track on Queen’s third studio album, Sheer Heart Attack. This is one of the few songs Freddy Mercury wrote before being part of the band Queen. He played it with his band Wreckage in the late 1960s.
This song is considered a precursor of the genre speed metal, as it’s a fast, heavy, guitar-oriented song. In 2009, VH1 named this song one of the best hard rock songs of all time. Metallica also covered this song in honor of its impact on future metal music.
Stone Cold Crazy is in the key of Bb and, at a tempo of 252 BPM, is a great song to build your chops too.
It is undeniable that Queen’s legacy has left us with a myriad of great songs, as well as some fond memories for rock and roll lovers (such as their Live Aid concert in 1985).
What I found interesting is how there is no single album that holds all of their hits. It is more of a journey through their 15 studio albums where you can find a mixture of their best songs, as well as some more obscure ones. Definitely worth checking them out.
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