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Top 10 Underrated Queen Songs You Need To Listen To

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Drexel chapter.

Switch on the classic rock radio station, and hear the epoch poetry of “Bohemian Rhapsody,” the fire starting rhythm of “We Will Rock You,” or the melodic bass of “Another One Bites the Dust.” Having created some of the world’s most iconic sound to this day, Queen, in my opinion, is the greatest band to ever grace rock ‘n’ roll listeners’ ears. Formed in 1970 during the early stages of the glam rock era, the band features founding members Brian May, Roger Taylor, John Deacon and Freddie Mercury —four men who obliterated creativity’s boundaries in order to create something entirely new and different for the music scene. With a unique sound never conforming to popular formulas or one specific genre, the band shifted the tides of music, fabricating a new space for modern artists to draw inspiration from.

When you hear the band’s name, you think of these same few songs every time. And don’t get me wrong, their hits are hits for good reason. These songs deserve the popularity they’ve garnered and belong at the top of the charts. But truly, some of their best work lies in their deep tracks. Their unsung heroes. The songs you’d only know if you scoured through their entire catalog, taking in their lyrics, vocals and instrumentals for all that they are. These are my top ten underrated Queen songs and their accompanying albums, and you absolutely need to listen to them right away.

10. One Year Of Love (A Kind of Magic)

To start things off is a song I personally believe is the best work John Deacon has ever written. Its lyrics are rich and convey emotions that some say his bandmates rarely even dared. It’s a heartfelt ballad featuring saxophone and string appearances, which also was quite different for Queen. The tune was never sung live, as it was written for the film Highlander, making its debut on radio during the bar scene. Perhaps a bit sappy for some, but definitely deserving of a top ten spot in my heart.

stack of queen cds
Brett Jordan

9. Sail Away Sweet Sister (The Game)

With deep track territory comes the first song on this list sung on lead not by Freddie Mercury, but guitarist Brian May, who also wrote the song. Its lyrics whisper a story about a young woman coming of age, and once again is probably one of the most gorgeous Queen songs of all time. It’s interesting to note that it inspired Guns n’ Roses’ “Sweet Child of Mine,” and while Queen never performed this song live, Guns n’ Roses typically did a few lines acapella to precede their own melody.

8. The Night Comes Down (Queen)

Another song written by Brian May, “The Night Comes Down,” tells a different sort of coming of age story, this time about his own nostalgia and the feeling that he’s lost his childhood to the past. He features a nod to The Beatles’ Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds with lyrics, “Lucy was high and so was I,” commemorating the impact the band had on him. This song was one of the first five the band recorded after breaking up Smile and coming back as Queen. The harmonies alone make it worth a listen, not to mention Roger Taylor’s percussion, Brian playing six different guitars throughout the song’s four minutes, and finally the atmosphere Freddie’s chorus puts you in. It’s the perfect song for a mellow, late night drive, or for laying in bed, gazing at the ceiling as it lulls you to sleep.

7. Nevermore (Queen II)

Nevermore is brief (one of Queen’s shortest songs at one minute and fifteen seconds!), but it’s seriously so powerful. The song was written by Freddie Mercury, inspired by Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven.” Just like “The Raven,” this song mourns a loved one, playing with lyrics like “There’s no living in my life anymore / The seas have gone dry and the rain stopped falling”. On the album, The Fairy Feller’s Master Stroke ushers this song, fading perfectly into each other thanks to the piano on each track. Fans tend to connect “Nevermore” to “Love of My Life,” which was written roughly a year later for Queen’s A Night At The Opera album, noting that the two bear a bit of a storyline when put together. For me, this song is a winner thanks to its tempo changes, lyrics so sweet that they’re nearly dripping with honey and, of course, an astonishing three-part harmony to finish the song off. If ever there was a song where Freddie’s voice could simply transport you to another land — it’d be this.

6. Was It All Worth It? (The Miracle)

I genuinely, wholeheartedly cherish this song. It’s said to be one of Freddie’s first goodbyes to the world, making it bear a lot more of a bittersweet attitude when listening, especially knowing he wrote it around the time that he was diagnosed with AIDS. This song is dramatic, featuring a bit of a dark take on optimism, and my favorite bit — Freddie cheering “Yes, it was a worthwhile experience, ha-ha!” Queen is regarded so highly for their ability to do a million different things — to never stick to one formula or one sound. This song secures that. Even being one of their last albums, so deep into their career, they were still able to get up and create something so unlike anything they had ever done before. This song literally defines Queen, and is thus a song that should be sung a hundred times, over and over.

Queen Concert
Emiliano Cicero

5. Mother Love (Made in Heaven)

Following the trend of depressing post-diagnosis anthems, “Mother Love” is a song that will bring you to tears, even without knowing the background of the track’s recording. “Mother Love” was written on Queen’s final album, released four years after Freddie Mercury’s death. “Mother Love” was co-written by Brian and Freddie, and was the last song Freddie ever recorded and sung. In suit, the entire song is sung with lead vocals by Freddie, up until the very last verse. On his blog, Brian May explained that while Freddie was meant to record the entire song, he left the studio before the final verse to have a rest. He died before he could ever get back to recording, thus explaining Brian’s vocals at the end of the song. The vocals are raw and vulnerable, and the lyrics only match this mood. The track finishes with a quick rewind through every Queen track ever, spliced with vocals from Freddie’s solo career (I think I’m going back to the things I learned so well in my youth) and the sounds of a baby crying. This song really can’t be explained — it’s important to listen and grasp on your own time, with headphones, taking in every phrase and moment, knowing the weight it holds. I’d say this song is one of the most meaningful in the band’s history, and certainly deserves a spot as one of their most iconic.

4. Friends Will Be Friends (A Kind of Magic)

I’ll admit, this isn’t entirely underrated, but is perhaps often overshadowed by one written before it, “You’re My Best Friend.” It carries a rather simple theme — that despite everything awful, your friends will always be there to lift you through the bad times. It’s simple, but it’s important. And Queen does it in such a unique way, with verses that hum lyrics perhaps out of the ordinary for a song with such a universal theme like this. One of the most interesting things about this song is that it’s the first and only song to ever be sung live in a spot between “We Will Rock You” and “We Are the Champions,” as the two are otherwise always paired together.

3. Teo Torriatte (Let Us Cling Together)

Possibly one of their most underrated works, Brian May wrote this song as a thank you to the band’s passionate Japanese fanbase. Half of the choruses are even sung in Japanese, stating something along the lines of “Let us hold on to each other as life goes by my love / The night is falling / But light the fire that burns inside us / And treasure the knowledge we have gained.” This track seriously bears some of the most beautiful lyrics Brian’s ever written, with a sense of positivity and unity between every line. It’s another one of those that you just need to listen to in order to fully understand.

2. Too Much Love Will Kill You (Made in Heaven)

Brian May wrote this song with intent for it to find a home on their album, The Miracle. This never happened due to complications following the band’s decision to only put songs written as a group on their album, but was still recorded by Freddie and thus placed onto Made in Heaven. Knowing Brian wrote this telling a story based on his own life — his separation from his wife in 1988, and reports of having an affair with another woman. There’s suggestions that Freddie had his own interpretations of the song, perhaps influenced by his diagnosis of AIDS and complex love life. I’d go as far to say that this is one of Queen’s best works of all time, and is one of those tracks that just screams the band and their legacy. It’s important for so many reasons, and certainly holds a theme that anyone can relate to.

Statue of Freddie Mercury at Montreux
Noah Näf

1. All Dead, All Dead (News of the World)

Finally, coming in at number one is a piano ballad, written and sung with lead vocals by Brian May. Freddie takes piano and background vocals with this one, as the band tells a story of “the passing of friends”, nostalgia and loss. Brian May wrote the song based on the loss of his childhood pet cat, Pixie — his first encounter with death, and thus the inspiration for this melancholic tune. Accompanying the song is a lyrical music video released for the 40th Anniversary of the song’s album, News of the World. It’s symbolic, and conveys hints at the band’s lifetime. My favorite part precedes the bridge, with Brian May featuring a guitar solo with a chord ascension. It’s meant to act as a narrative, mirroring the journey of being lifted to heaven.​Photo Courtesy of YouTube

Honorable Mentions:

With over a hundred songs, fifteen different albums and members’ solo work, it’s easy to get lost in the magic of the band’s work. You could spend years exploring their catalog, and there would still always be something else to look into. The band’s still at it today, set to complete their most recent tour this February. I personally saw them in August, and listened as Brian May mused about his favorite parts of touring, and the hope to play to our grandchildren — generations beyond themselves. Queen’s the best for a lot of reasons, and they’ll forever deserve the highest of recognition, for their hits and deep tracks alike.

Christina Papadopoulos is a student at Drexel University pursuing her B.A. and M.S. in Communication. She is a freelance writer with a passion for all things film, tv, classic rock, video games, comic books, and fashion.
Her Campus Drexel contributor.