Queen was a band that epitomized theatricality, excess, as well as sophistication. In an era where the album format reigned supreme, Queen albums were statements of intent. They were delivered in one vision, one that combined the songwriting ability of four tremendous artists: Freddie Mercury, Brian May, Roger Taylor, and John Deacon.
Is Queen important to the history of modern alternative music? You bet they are! From Foo Fighters, Muse, or My Chemical Romance the sound and scope of Queen’s music continues to influence modern times rock bands. This is why it’s about time that we spoke about their incredible discography. Here are all of the Queen official albums ranked in order of brilliance.
Queen Albums Ranked from Worst To Best
Flash Gordon (1980)
Queen was always a prog-rock band that understood how pop hits worked. In many ways, the Flash Gordon soundtrack album is a way of satisfying all of their teenage dreams. This is the music that accompanied the much-anticipated superhero movie. Much like the film itself, apart from the self-titled single, this went nowhere. Still, there are things to enjoy about this. Queen prove that they can craft interesting soundscapes. This is not, however, the space opera that fans may have expected. The worst album for a band of extraordinary standards, perhaps.
The Miracle (1989)
First of all, The Miracle is not a bad record. This should tell you enough about the quality control that the band utilized. By 1989, the band had navigated the troubled decade and had managed to find a balance between writing dance, pop, rock, and prog tunes. In many ways, this album has them all. It’s the pop-rock tunes, however, that serve the band the best. I want it all, Breakthru, and the self-titled ballad is good songs. Queen was still a great singles band. However, it is when the band attempts to create modern dance-rock numbers like on The Invisible Man and Scandal that they are less convincing.
Hot Space (1982)
For many fans, Hot Space is Queen’s poorest album. Like The Rolling Stones’ Dirty Work has long endured the reputation of being a record that is positively unlistenable. This is not entirely true. In fact, some might argue that better sequencing and less modern (now dated) production would have greatly helped the record. Besides that, of course, it is also the album that features the band’s collaboration with David Bowie, the always pleasing Under Pressure. There are gems here, like Las Palabras de Amor, but you are unlikely to find them on Best Of compilations.
Made In Heaven (1995)
Queen never did anything on a small scale. Their posthumous album, Made in Heaven, proved this. Yes, perhaps, the band had less than an album’s worth of material to draw from here. But, at its best, the record features Queen at their bombastic best. It’s a beautiful day, Let me live, or Too much love will kill you are incredibly touching given the circumstances. The songs also showcase Freddie Mercury’s still exceptional vocals, seemingly unaffected by illness. Heaven for everyone shows that Queen were, indeed, John Lennon’s rightful heirs for songs of hope and peace. And, surprisingly, the dance-rock groove of You don’t fool me might just be the band’s best attempt at this kind of style.
There’s no way to talk about Innuendo without addressing the circumstances under which it was made. This was Freddie Mercury’s swan song, sadly. Still, it was not news he cared to share with the world, not information that he wanted to affect the recording of the record. In many ways, this is a return to Queen’s original ideals. Innuendo is a grandiose prog-rock number that features convincing acoustic guitar playing from Yes’ Steve Howe. There are moments of pop eccentricity such as on I’m going slightly mad. And, of course, there’s the dramatic, poignant closer The show must go on. The singles were sensational, but greater consistency would have brought the album further up the ranks on our list of Queen albums ranked.
The Works (1984)
Queen had taken over the world during the 1970s. They were one of the bands that defined the decade. It made them both beloved and reviled by music listeners. The Works was one of their first attempts at managing the status of global superstars. It’s one of the first records where the band ops to deliver something for everyone. Radio Ga Ga and I want to break free were inescapable pop-rock hits. Hammer to fall reminded the world that Queen could still play hard rock. And, even though consistency is a bit of an issue once again, the hit singles were the basis for Queen’s memorable Live Aid mini-concert, their rejuvenation, and the reason for the medley at the end of Bohemian Rhapsody.
The Game (1980)
The Game was Queen’s first 1980s album and a good indication of where the band was headed. The quartet had long been one of the biggest groups in the world, one that routinely had singles at the top of the charts. This album did little to hide their pop ambition. Instead, the band doubles down on the hooks. When they work, these are superb, and ready-made for radio. While great, however, the sweetness of most of the tracks isn’t quite balanced with the hard-rock and prog assaults with which fans may have been accustomed. Another one bites the dust, Crazy little thing called love, and Play the game are still inescapable rock radio staples. Don’t try suicide is playful. Save me and Dragon attack show that few bands could a multi-layered, expertly-produced studio album rock sound quite like Queen.
A Kind of Magic (1986)
A Kind of Magic was something of a comeback. Queen, by their own lofty standards, had begun a descent in terms of commercial acceptance prior to this record. Many of the songs here were written for the likable, but dated movie Highlander. Overall, they capture a rejuvenated version of the group and one that, according to the song One Vision, was on far better terms than it had been in the decade prior. Several of the songs here became hits, especially in and around Europe. These include Friends will be friends, Who wants to live forever, and the title track. With this in their back pockets, Queen was back on the road, and backfilling out stadiums. In many ways, A Kind of Magic is the prototype for the rest of the band’s discography.
Albums made by the British quartet prior to 1975 might be less well-known by the general public. This is why the many that are unfamiliar with the Queen LP will be in for a pleasant surprise. Yes, the group is still struggling to find their sound. But, ambition was never a quality that Mercury and his bandmates lacked. Here, the band often sounds like a mix of British prog-rock and muscular heavy rock. Songs like Keep yourself alive, and Seven seas of Rhye stayed on Queen’s live setlist for years to come and may just express the delicate balancing act the best.
Queen II (1974)
Their debut attracted some attention but failed to set the charts on fire. Rather than second-guess themselves, Queen doubled down on the things that had made their debut a compelling listen. The recordings capture the band’s fascination with spectacle and sophistication, something that live audiences would have witnessed as well. But, Queen II also shows a band more in control of their ambition. The songwriting has received a great polish here. Songs like The march of the black queen, or Ogre Battle, both Freddie Mercury compositions, are reminiscent of Peter Gabriel-era Genesis. And, while, certainly plenty of British bands were investing their energy in prog-rock, few seemed as determined to get the world to listen as Queen.
Sheer Heart Attack (1974)
It often happens that the album just before a band’s commercial breakthrough gets unfairly forgotten. This is, partly, the story of Sheer Heart Attack, an artistic high-point for almost any other group and one of the best albums’ in Queen’s discography. By the time of its release of it, Queen had brought their pomp-rock to audiences across the world. As a consequence, they now know what will move an audience and where to trim their compositions. Brighton Rock announces Brian May as one of the leading guitar heroes on the scene. Now I’m here and Stone cold crazy are designed to be played in front of a large live audience. And Killer Queen shows that the group had found a way to marry their ambitions as both prog-rockers and hit-makers. An excellent release!
Like Led Zeppelin‘s House of the Holy, Queen’s Jazz is a document of a triumphant group of artists gazing at all that they have conquered. The album is loose, playful, and a rare thing for the quartet, even a bit silly. The musical abilities are all there. All of this helps to create one of Queen’s most enjoyable releases, an artsy pop record filled with gems like Bicycle race, Don’t stop me know, and the cheeky Fat bottomed girls. The album further cemented the band’s commercial momentum but also showed that Mercury and co. were able to showcase their sense of humor. And, as with Queen’s other albums of the era, it is the consistency of the deep cuts that makes the album endlessly enjoyable.
News of the World (1977)
By the time of the release of News of the world, Queen finally had the attention of the world. While some bands buckle on this kind of pressure, the British quartet appears positively delighted with all the spotlights shining on them. Of course, the album is mainly known as the one on which Queen cracked the formula for band-audience interaction in a stadium-concert setting. Large outdoor events would never be quite the same after We will rock you, and We are the champions.
But, there are no real weak compositions here, and even the album’s sillier numbers such as May’s bluesy Sleeping on the sidewalk, or Deacon’s Who needs you land well. It is also, perhaps, the album on which Queen achieved the greatest amount of balance between their wide-reaching ideas. Sheer heart attack gives the punks a run for their money. Fight from the inside grooves effortlessly. And, Spread your wings demonstrate that in terms of large power ballads, few bands could compete against Queen.
A Day At the Races (1976)
One of two Queen albums named after Marx Brothers movies, A day at the races carries on the formula of A night at the opera. This may have been a risky strategy, but the four songwriters are in excellent form here and deliver songs of the same calibre. Somebody to love shows that Mercury could use vocal multi-tracking for more straight-ahead pop numbers than he had done on the previous record. Tie your mother down proves to their older fans that they had not forgotten their rock roots. Good old-fashioned loverboy show that no other group could take older styles of music, in this case, music hall, and produce records that could go straight into the charts.
A Night at the Opera (1975)
A night at the opera, in many ways, is an album that the members of Queen had in them from their very debut. It took them, however, four albums to get to it. But, this is perfectly understandable. The band had spent the past years learning important lessons. They now knew how to win over a crowd using both pop and prog-rock tricks. They knew how to dazzle but not overplay. And all four group members were highly ambitious songwriters willing to fight to get their songs picked for a single.
Everything on the album is a classic. But, while certain numbers are more famous than others, it is when the record is treated as a quirky rock opera that it flows best. Not everything here is operatic music, but all the songs include traces of archaic music. And all of them are incredibly bombastic.
Yes, Bohemian Rhapsody is one of the most famous rock songs of all time. And, despite its fame, it remains extremely playable. But, there are so many gems. On 39, Brian May digs up his acoustic guitar for a futuristic country number. On Good company, May digs up his banjo for an old-time number about old-time wisdom. And on The prophet song, the guitar player uses multi-tracking to create an ominous, philosophical hard-rocker.
There are also pretty, slow numbers like Love of my life and You’re my best friend, which offered Queen more hits, and FM-rockers like Death on two legs and Sweet lady.
Queen would go on to become one of the most successful bands in the world. It was a status that, by and large, they managed to retain until the band’s dissolution following the tragic passing of Freddie Mercury. They would create many strong albums and have many other hit singles. However, A night at the opera stands as the pinnacle of their creative output and a high-water mark for all artsy rock bands with a desire to have their songs sung by a stadium audience.