Apr 012021

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40. Panic! At the Disco’s Brendan Urie w/ Jimmy Fallon & The Roots – Under Pressure

“Under Pressure” is an iconic song, with hundreds if not thousands of covers. This is all great for fans of the song, but makes it a tad difficult to create a truly unique cover. In May 2020, Brendan Urie of Panic! At the Disco, The Roots, and Jimmy Fallon, managed to do so, partially due to the fact that every artist was confined to their homes during the height of the pandemic.

This confinement led to a creative arrangement with members of The Roots banging pots, pans, and, in one case, a spatula on a toaster, to support the guitar and bass filling out the melody. Don’t be fooled–the version is not kitschy. It is played loud and with such precision that one wouldn’t even realize the cover was composed of kitchen utensils except for the delightful video. It would be unjust not to mention the strength of Urie’s vocals bringing the entire experience together, performing Freddie Mercury’s parts while Jimmy Fallon covered David Bowie’s lines. The entire experience is warm and rich, and a perfect release for the “pressure” of living through a pandemic. – Ally McAlpine

39. Matthew Sweet & Susanna Hoffs – Killer Queen

In reviewing Volume 3 of Matthew Sweet and Susanna Hoffs’ series of Under the Covers compilations, we said: “The greatest joy about this series is that these releases are not so much cover albums as tribute albums.” Sweet and Hoffs’ cover of “Killer Queen” appears as a bonus track on Volume 2, which focused on ’70s songs. Sonically, it’s a very faithful cover, with Brian May’s guitar sound and the massed vocals of the original recreated. Good as it is, neither Hoffs nor Sweet, who share the lead vocals, can reproduce the decadent feel of Freddie Mercury’s version. But really, who can? – Jordan Becker

38. Tenacious D – Flash

Comedy duo Tenacious D’s “Flash” cover isn’t a joke. Well, not more than the actual Flash Gordon movie is a joke, at least. They used to perform it live, leading into their own superhero song “Wonderboy.” Though lord knows no one’s going to accuse Jack Black and Kyle Gass of being Freddie Mercury-level singers, they have some serious rock-acoustic-guitar chops. And if you really want to go deeper on the Queen-D overlap, they’ve got a t-shirt to sell you. – Ray Padgett

37. KIRINJI – Fat Bottomed Girls

The brothers that make up the Japanese duo KIRINJI have a surprising take on “Fat Bottomed Girls”. Their version is light, with an acoustic guitar that has a little hint of bluegrass. The beginning is less bombastic than the original, starting simply with a story. By the time we get to the chorus, the mood has turned reverent. Despite the goofy lyrics, there is no sense of mocking in this version. – Sara Stoudt

36. Foo Fighters – Tie Your Mother Down

It is sometimes hard to remember that, despite their operatic flourishes, pop songs, and disco and music hall influences, Queen could rock as hard as anyone when they wanted to. “Tie Your Mother Down” from A Day at the Races, the follow up to their breakout hit, A Night at the Opera (and second consecutive album named after a Marx Brothers movie), is a near-metal romp. Foo Fighters, another band with a laundry list of influences that is also a hard rock band at heart, have often performed the song with Queen’s Brian May and Roger Taylor, with the Foo’s drummer Taylor Hawkins taking the lead vocal. But since including two members of Queen would violate our rules about what constitutes a “cover,” here’s a version from Dave Grohl’s birthday show in 2015 where the Foo Fighters are joined by Slash and, once again, Tenacious D. Hawkins takes the lead from behind his kit, and Tenacious D basically mug for the audience and sing background vocals, while Slash tears up the guitar solo. – Jordan Becker

35. Petula Clark – These Are the Days

I was expecting more of a fight to shoehorn Petula Clark into this list, what with her hardly being a regular in these pages. Another song from the end of Freddie’s canon, this takes some of the angst out, and imbues a matter of fact wistfulness to the lyric, a fond remembrance rather than a wrought lament. The arrangement is a bit of its day, the production aiming for a hipper sound than her audience are used to, and failing. I have seen her sing this live and it’s even better that way. – Seuras Og

34. Glasvegas – I’m Going Slightly Mad

“I’m Going Slightly Mad” hails from 1991’s Innuendo, Queen’s last proper album. A Freddie Mercury-penned tune recorded at a time when his health was in rapid decline, there is strength and fragility in the vocal performance. He clearly has come to grips with his reality when he sings, “I’m one card short of a full deck. I’m not quite the shilling. One wave short of a shipwreck. I’m not my usual top-billing.” Carrying it forward with their version, Glasvegas dials it down to low and slow mode, giving the song a spooky late-night noir vibe. There is nothing careless in the whisper coming from lead singer James Allen as he delivers a vocal turn that is both ghostly and spellbinding. The polar opposite of over the top, the passionate reverence given to the song with this version would surely be Freddie endorsed. – Walt Falconer

33. Dolapdere Big Gang – You Don’t Fool Me

Artists tend to stick with covering Queen hits. Lord knows there are plenty to choose from. But Turkish big band dug deeper, picking a song from Queen’s final album Made in Heaven, released after Freddie died using vocal parts left over from earlier sessions. I’d never heard this song and, unless you’re a Queen superfan, you probably haven’t either. But Dolapdere Big Gang make it sound like a classic. – Ray Padgett

32. Laibach – Geburt einer Nation [One Vision]

Laibach is a perplexing band. For decades now, the Slovenian oddballs have used industrial music to send up fascism, while sometimes questionably blurring the line between where the satire ends (they were the first band to tour North Korea, after all). At any rate, they heard the optimistic lyrics to “One Vision” and decided they sounded like a bit totalitarian. So they made a militaristic march to match, translating the words into German just in case you missed the point. – Jane Callaway

31. Fuzzbox – Bohemian Rhapsody

We’ve Got a Fuzzbox and We’re Gonna Use It was the band’s full name, but they didn’t follow through with that mission statement on their cover of “Bohemian Rhapsody.” Instead, the four young women (three of them still teens) performed the song a cappella. They aren’t out to do any intricate arrangements here; they’re just doing a full-throated singalong, and you can hear the smiles in their voices. They sound like a high school softball team celebrating a victory in the back of the bus on the ride home – young, happy, and having the time of their lives. – Patrick Robbins

The list continues on Page 3.

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  6 Responses to “The 40 Best Queen Covers Ever”

Comments (6)
  1. Cardi B Blinding lights

  2. Never seen such a clueless collection of covers and writings, try listening to the songs and learning to write without pretentions or clichés, utter drivel!

  3. Disappointed that The Muppet Show rendition of Bohemian Rhapsody is not number 1…

  4. You’re losing a lot of credibility by leaving off “Bohemian Rhapsody” by The Cruel Sea
    and Norma Waterson’s wonderful version of ‘Love of My Life’.
    Norma Waterson’s version adds so much depth to the original that it’s heartbreaking. Where Freddie Mercury flirts a little with feelings, Norma Waterson really suffers.

  5. Thanks for compiling this list! So many cover versions out there that I’d never listened to before. Not all of them were to my liking but definitely some that I would listen to again. Must be difficult compiling this type of list and my suggestions to add would be: Keane’s cover of Under Pressure, Dream Theater’s cover of Tenement Funster/Flick of the Wrist/Lily of the Valley and McFly’s cover of Don’t Stop Me Now.

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