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10. Shirley Bassey – Who Wants To Live Forever

There aren’t actually many singers who can effortlessly overemote even more than Freddie, and Dame Shirley Bassey, the Tiger Bay Temptress, nails this with the total goosebump experience. A song that when I first heard it, sung by Seal at the Mercury memorial concert, had me in tears. Bassey does that again, the orchestra sawing away majestically, her voice soaring through the notes as it comes to a close. Phenomenal. – Seuras Og

9. The Once – You’re My Best Friend

A Night at the Opera featured a wide variety of styles, including the sweet love song, “You’re My Best Friend,” the first single written by Queen bass player John Deacon, who wrote it for his wife. Newfoundland-based folk trio The Once strip the song to its studs, turning it into a guitar- and banjo-driven ballad, fronted by the beautiful vocals of Geraldine Hollett. It’s the kind of cover that makes you want to find more music by the band. – Jordan Becker

8. The Braids – Bohemian Rhapsody

Let it not be said that nothing good came from the Jon Lovitz “comedy” High School High. The soundtrack was far better acclaimed than the movie, featuring a wide-ranging snapshot of the mid-90s rap scene. One of the songs featured within was a cover of “Bohemian Rhapsody” by the Braids. Produced by Stephan Jenkins of Third Eye Blind before the third eye had even started giving him a little trouble, the song features a slow R&B groove and some beautiful harmonizing. Singers Zoe Ellis and Caitlin Cornwell kill it softly, giving the song a softness and warmth it never knew it needed. You’ll be left wishing the duo had more than one album in them. – Patrick Robbins

7. Why Mona – We Will Rock You

The opening of this song gives no hint of what it’s covering. Without parsing the lyrics, you still might not immediately make the connection as the song progresses. The sound reminds me of Lana Del Rey’s “Young and Beautiful” from the Great Gatsby soundtrack, and Why Mona brings that same powerful yet mournful energy to this stadium anthem. – Sara Stoudt

6. Neko Case & Her Boyfriends – Misfire

You’d think Queen bassist John Deacon had written “Misfire” as a giddy, rip-roaring alt-country duet, going by what Neko Case & Her Boyfriends do with it on 1997’s The Virginian. Case and the band tackle the rock group’s Sheer Heart Attack deep cut with such gusto and effortlessness that it positively bristles with hoedown-style vigor, riotousness, and fun. She trades vocals with Matt Murphy of the Super Friendz, belting out her lines with the spunk of Loretta Lynn, and the ferocity of Kate Pierson. She demonstrates, meantime, that Queen are as much a part of her musical personality as anyone by the name of Emmylou, Patsy, Hank, or Wanda. – Adam Mason

5. Eve St. Jones – Another One Bites the Dust

Despite the song’s extreme genre-bending, Eve St. Jones pulls it off without sounding cheesy. Her breathy vocals give an air of flirty taunting, and little flute trills break up the monotony in the jazz trio beat. – Sara Stoudt

4. Beach House – Play the Game

With its swoon-worthy hook and fabulous Freddie falsetto, “Play The Game” is easily one of the most outright gorgeous and soulful songs the band has ever recorded. Dreampop duo Beach House turn on the fog machine in their 2008 cover, transforming the song into a exquisitely Suicide-esque and stunning electro-shoegaze ballad (think “Dream Baby Dream”). And Victoria Legrand’s fabulously hazy high notes on the chorus are butterfly inducing. – Hope Silverman

3. Jake Shimabukuro – Bohemian Rhapsody

When you’re competing with one of the greatest rock singers of all time, on one of the most famous vocal arrangements, it makes sense to do what Jake Shimabukuro does in his cover of “Bohemian Rhapsody”: ditch the vocals. It helps if you are also virtuosic on whatever instrument you use to replace said vocals, and Shimabukuro is exactly that on the ukulele. Instrumental covers can often sound nice while losing some of the magic of the original, but this one has incredible energy, and the ukulele has its own wonderful “voice” as played here. It’s one of the toughest songs to cover, and Shikmabukuro pulls it off superbly. – Mike Misch

2. Emilie-Claire Barlow – Under Pressure

Canadian jazz singer Emilie-Claire Barlow decided to not even try to capture the magic of the original “Under Pressure.” Instead, she, conductor Jules Buckley, and producer Steve Webster rethink the entire song. Barlow plays with the vocal melody as any jazz singer would, enunciating words that Mercury elides through as he sings. (I’ve never really understood half the words, myself.) And the orchestra almost sounds like it’s playing an entirely different song. There’s even a saxophone solo. It’s a complete rethinking of the song which manages to actually avoid the shadow of the original, if only for a few minutes. – Riley Haas

1. Macy Gray – We Will Rock You

Stomp stomp clap. Stomp stomp clap. The rhythm that launched a thousand pep rallies, “We Will Rock You” makes a promise that Queen had no trouble keeping. It’s a rhythm that’s been sampled or interpolated by artists from Ice Cube to Eminem, Lady Gaga to Beyonce. But Macy Gray went one step beyond, filling out the song with more instruments and her own distinctive vocals. Now it sounds like it’s moving through a dark, wet, smoke-filled alley. One listen and it’s clear: Nobody, but nobody, better put Macy back into her place. – Patrick Robbins

Check out more installments in our monthly ‘Best Covers Ever’ series, including Radiohead, Depeche Mode, Madonna, and ABBA.

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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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