30. Electric Six – Radio Ga Ga
Hailing from Royal Oak, Michigan, the same fertile musical soil that delivered The White Stripes, lead singer Dick Valentine and his band Electric Six were virtually tailor-made to cover the glam side of the Queen catalog. That’s exactly what they do with their anthemic version of “Radio Ga Ga.” Inhabiting more than imitating the spirit of Freddie Mercury, the song takes on the pulsating energy of the Live Aid performance instead of the more sedate version that was the lead-off track from Queen’s 1984 album The Works.
It makes perfect sense that the band that burned the house down with “Danger! High Voltage,” the single that introduced the band’s frenetic blend of punk, glam, garage-rock, and disco to the musical masses, would not miss a note in covering a Queen song. Vocally, Valentine is no Freddie Mercury and never tries to be here. He sort of sits back in the pocket and lets the song build and pulse towards the crescendo that ultimately comes complete with the requisite audience participation, hand-claps and all. – Walt Falconer
29. Richard Cheese – Bohemian Rhapsody
To have even been allowed to include Mr. Cheese once into these lists seems dishonorable, so I am delighted to unleash him again. Sure, it is unutterable nonsense, but good unutterable nonsense, and I am sure we have all heard supper club singers every bit as awful. It is the little touches that make this great, though, from the slow swing of the backing and the conversational vocal, trying desperately to act it all out. The “pow” of the head/trigger interface is terrific, and the stutter on the “Mama.” Yes, I’ve had more than enough after that, the rest being tiresome, especially the Galileo line, but I am still glad this exists. – Seuras Og
28. Be Your Own Pet – Bicycle Race
“Bicycle Race” is one of the quirkier of the Queen hits – but what else are you going to use to soundtrack your bicycle footage? Maybe you could try Be Your Own Pet’s version, especially with some quick cuts to match the intense drumming and vocals that seem to jump out at the last possible second. It’s a total departure from the original stylistically, with a lo-fi punk vibe, but it retains the playfulness of Queen’s original. It’s loud and brash and silly; what more could you ask for? – Mike Misch
27. My Chemical Romance & The Used – Under Pressure
Gerard Way, the lead singer of My Chemical Romance, has made no secret of his admiration for Freddie Mercury, and they have often been compared, for both musical and personal reasons. In 2005, when MCR was part of the Taste of Chaos tour, they regularly closed the show with a cover of the David Bowie and Queen song, “Under Pressure,” joined by tour mates The Used, with Way and Used singer Bert McCracken splitting vocals. (In one video I’ve seen from the tour, they dedicate the song to Vanilla Ice, who swiped the bass line). They later did the song on an MTV concert before releasing a studio version to raise money for tsunami victim relief. As can be expected from these two bands, the cover is rougher and more “emo” than the original, but successfully toes the line between faithful cover and reconceptualization. The studio version is also a little more restrained, and therefore closer in tone to the original. – Jordan Becker
26. The Valiant Thieves – We Are the Champions
Would you believe this is the only version of “We Are the Champions” included on this list? Yeah, I’m surprised too. If you know of other good ones, drop them in the comments, but many I’ve heard tend to be melodramatic and overwrought. Not that this song demands subtlety – far from it – but it can turn into schlock pretty quick. That’s why I like this simpler version from Canadian jazz duo The Valiant Thieves, with singer Ann Vriend crooning like Diana Krall over a funky electric piano. – Ray Padgett
25. All About Eve – A Winter’s Tale
Another deep cut from Mercury’s posthumous swansong album with the rest of the band, Made in Heaven. The song rates a lot better with that hindsighted knowledge, the pathos diluting the sentimentality of the overblown production. A little. Folky goths All About Eve give a Sandy Denny-esque take to the vocals, courtesy singer Julianne Regan, simply and effectively singing over only a mournful synth, omitting all the chorals. Result: A song I never knew was actually a Queen song until I started my research for this piece. – Seuras Og
24. Crooked Fingers – Under Pressure
Released as part of a five-song E.P. Reservoir Songs in 2002, “Under Pressure” was part of a song-set that included one of the most daring versions of “Sunday Morning Coming Down” you are likely to hear, along with a banjo version of Neil Diamond’s “Solitary Man,” both fine, eclectic covers in their own right. With their version of “Under Pressure,” Crooked Fingers don’t try to mine the alchemy of the original; rather, they slow things down ever so slightly and mood-sets with swirling background synthesizers and sparse production interludes that removes some of the pop sheen from the song. – Walt Falconer
23. Nine Inch Nails – Get Down, Make Love
“Get Down, Make Love” is overtly sexual even by Queen’s standards, and Nine Inch Nails goes even further with plenty of extra breathing and moaning, in case you forget what this song is about. Techno elements are blended with heavier metal sounds, like someone literally pounding on a metal door, to produce a more ominous mood. NIN’s version is more spoken word with the occasional growling scream than singing, but it’s a crossover worth hearing. – Sara Stoudt
22. California Guitar Trio – Bohemian Rhapsody
What made “Bohemian Rhapsody” such a mind-blowing hit on its release was its embrace of excess, at a time when rock music was filled with excess, and Queen simply dialed it up to 11. Or 12. But what makes many covers of the song interesting is when it is stripped down, allowing you to focus on the song and not the atmospherics. This cover by the California Guitar Trio, three freakishly talented players who met at Robert Fripp’s Guitar Craft seminar and who played as part of Fripp’s League of Crafty Guitarists before setting out on their own, reimagines the song as an almost classical instrumental piece, with interlocking guitars, without forgetting that it is the same song that Wayne and Garth banged their heads to. – Jordan Becker
21. The Regrettes – Don’t Stop Me Now
Released as a stand-alone single in 2019, “Don’t Stop Me Now” was a perfect song choice for lead Regrette Lydia Night and her band. Brash and unapologetic, the song bursts with empowerment and feminism, both themes that are carried strongly through most of the band’s catalog. The gender transposition of male to female singer takes none of the dynamics away. When the band rips into the song and they start traveling at the speed of sound, Mrs. Fahrenheit is definitely in control. – Walt Falconer
The list continues on Page 4.
Cardi B Blinding lights
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!
Disappointed that The Muppet Show rendition of Bohemian Rhapsody is not number 1…
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.