Hi folks. I’m going to ask a question here and I’m going to give my answer, with the hope that others will also give the same answer in the comments. Why do I love Queen so much?
I have many reasons for Queen being in my top 5 favourite bands with other classic rock bands in the top 10 or lower. Yes, I love The Beatles and Led Zeppelin, but Queen are the shit because they love to genre-bend and do not stay in one place on every album. That could also be a same reason to dislike them, as there are people who want their favourite bands to have a unified sound. I get that and I love bands who do, but when Queen had released an album they did what they did well, because they worked hard in the studio. This has pushed other rock and metal bands to be as fussy about their sound and one example of this has to be Devin Townsend. He does good work with plenty of information coming at you and he also does harmony vocals, even in a band like Strapping Young Lad, despite having some thrash and industrially tinged sounds in their music.
Queen have also written great songs and I guess that this could also be a point of contention with some, that there has been nothing new for years. I’ll grant that, but I will defend the songs I like the most as vehemently as I can and will justify why songs in a specific genre are great as Queen songs, despite that most of the heaviest numbers didn’t even get a sniff at prime time. Dead On Time was never even a single and neither was The Hitman, or Was It All Worth It. All 3 songs are on the Deep Cuts compilations for that reason alone, dew to how great they are and how they could have had more time in the spotlight, as they are popular among Queen fans, who love hard rock. At least, Was It All Worth It is and even Axl Rose had said on Rockline in 1994 that maybe he could have done Dead On Time for The Spaghetti Incident? back in 1993. Could you imagine it among the various punk and classic rock songs in the mix and even that Charles Manson song at the very end? I will talk about hard rock more in a bit!
Queen are also a great live band and I have never been to a Queen concert, even with Paul Rodgers or Adam Lambert on vocals. However, as a musician I feel the energy the 4 of them had when they played live back in the day. Listening to a song like Stone Cold Crazy from their November 1974 Rainbow show certainly has that urgency and forosity. Freddie may not hit all the notes of each song as we hear them on the albums, but that’s the point and he is doing what is best for himself and his voice. If he went all out and actually tried to hit every single note while moving around like he did, he would be out of tune and would have a lot of trouble. Take when he actually attempts the higher part in One Vision from Live At Wembley on July 12th 1986, when he sings “there’s only one direction” and he hits a high D, on the word “one”, but direction sounds awful because he can’t do the run. I’ve heard metal singers who make this mistake and fans generally don’t care, because they are moving around on stage. For example: Sebastian Bach when he was with Skid Row was captured in one of their home videos and he sounded awful. As much as it bothers me, I’m glad that Freddie doesn’t try to replicate songs live, because it’s nearly impossible without moving around like he did. Then again, there was Live Aid, where he nailed BohRhap and We Are The Champions nearly note for note so, he could have done it more often, but the whole point of what he did was communicating with the audience and giving his all.
Let’s not forget that all 4 of the guys are great musicians in their own rights and Brian doesn’t have to shred, in order to prove that he’s a virtuoso guitarist. The same could be said for Roger, not having to attempt to play long drum solos in order to show that he’s a great drummer. Freddie has proven himself as a great singer in the studio and live, as well as being the consummate showman. As for John, he just plays some really good bass.
Queen have also done some really cool things in the studio which have always impressed me, like the multy-layered vocal and guitar harmonies from Brian. Some bands have done that in rock and metal, but Queen started it and when ever I hear 3 part guitar harmony in any other band besides Queen, I automatically assume that Queen fans are in the band. Even the megaphone type vocal effect that Freddie did on Lazing On A Sunday Afternoon was done again, by other bands. Depending on who you ask, they either worked or didn’t and of course, Queen weren’t the first band to have their voices filtered. Remember The Beatles and the song Piggies from The White Album? That whole middle section with George Harrison singing alone is all filtered, before the musical break before the last verse.
I guess the most impressive thing for me is that Queen had been around for 20 years, with the same lineup until Freddie passed away in November 1991. This is despite all four members being different from each other and the fact that they fight to get what they want. There must be something there which had kept them together, besides friendship and mutual respect for each other. These days with Brian and Roger, there is no drama and they seem to like most of the same bands. For example: they’ve both expressed respect and admiration for Muse, who are of course in my iTunes library and I had grown to respect them years ago, especially when learning that Queen are among their influences and they also respect another of my favourite bands, namely Slipknot. There’s another band who should have stayed together as they were from the first album lineup, but life had other ideas and it’s nearly impossible for 9 members to agree on everything. With Muse it’s the same 3 guys since day one and with Queen, there had been other bassists, but we regard the classic lineup as the definitive lineup of the band and now that Freddie is gone, it is Queen plus whom ever is the singer, with John also deciding to retire in 1997.
Having said all that, I don’t necessarily like every Queen song. I leave those songs which I listen to, only when listening to a complete album as I feel that those songs are here for a reason, which is unspoken. I also wish that Queen could put out more albums so they could get with the times. Unfortunately, without Freddie and John, we won’t get that opportunity to find out whether we hear Brian playing guitar in an alternate tuning, or if Roger will suddenly break out with a galloping beat, such as the middle of I Want It All more often. Would Freddie try growling, or roaring? Would they try distorted vocals, much like Trent Reznor does with Nine Inch Nails sometimes? Would they even attempt something resembling NIN or Ministry? Would Freddie do more songs in the baritone range, much like Dave Gahan of Depeche Mode? I believe that everything would have been possible if Freddie was with us today and maybe even a musical could have come out of a future album. Maybe they would have done what Judas Priest did with their 2008 album Nostradamus, or American Idiot from Green Day. Maybe Freddie would have encouraged other singers from genres outside rock to guest on future Queen albums. Could you imagine if Montserrat Caballé showing up on a Queen album, hitting a couple of high notes? There could have been endless possibilities and if Queen had been making albums with Freddie today, I believe that more bands would name Queen as an influence and without shame, especially in the rock and metal community. Yes, loud wire certainly list them as a nonmetal band which metalheads love, but what about metal bands themselves? We know that some have indicated as such, but what about others who have flirted with various aspects of what Queen did?
If yu take out all of the ballads and experimenting with other genres of music, Queen are really just a hard rock band at the core. Hard rock is their main platform sound and that is how we were introduced to Queen with Keep Yourself Alive back in 1973. I was in a hospital in an incubator, but I’m talking in general that we were given a hard rock song out of the gate and why not? Most of the first album was hard rock and I guess to an extent, Queen II was also mostly hard rock, with other albums continuing to include more than 1 crushing track on all of their albums, except for Made In Heaven because of the circumstances in which this album was put together. But by and large, queen are a hard rock band and because of that, they have influenced many metal bands as well as musicians from other genres. Then again, Lady GaGa is a metalhead too and she also loves Queen and I wonder about someone like Billie Eilish. I wonder if she may have a bit of Queen in her musical dna. I am putting this hear because in one of the big metal magazines there was an article, with a list of nonmetal artists who are kinda metal in certain ways, including Lady GaGa and Billie Eilish. The idea was to highlight those who aren’t hard rock or rock bands and that obviously left Queen out of the discussion.
If you look at the last post I did and the long list of other bands in my iTunes library, then take a listen to their individual diskographies, you will understand why I like them nearly as much as I love Queen and 4 other bands. Queen will always be the first band I mention out of my fave 5: Pantera, Slipknot, Metallica and Tool being the other 4. I will get into each band in future posts and I may go beyond the 5, in order to talk about others. For now, let’s enjoy Queen for what they have given us and even if it is just the same songs, we know that they will last until the end of time.