Photo via Getty Images/Michael Ochs Archives
Sometime around the seventh grade, I discovered the glory of black lights and fuzzy neon posters with illustrations of shifty-eyed gnomes in medieval castles. I spent hours under the soft glow listening to my used CD collection, imagining what it was like to live in the heyday of The Who, Zeppelin, and Queen. My weekends were spent at the local CD store gathering finds for my collection while my dad and brother got their hair cut at the barber shop next store by a guy named Bob.
While I quickly shed the kitsch for more refined decor like framed posters of fairies, the music’s influence stayed, thanks in part to ’70s rock icon Freddie Mercury. Ask any audiophile, superfan, or Axl Rose, and you’re sure to hear a whole tour bus full of reasons why he’s second-to-none, but I’ve condensed his greatness into the essentials.
Photo by Ian Dicksonson via tumblr user last horizon
Mercury was the ultimate frontman. He could elevate crowds with a vaudeville-inspired medley of “Bohemian Rhapsody”/”Killer Queen” on the keys, and then parade to the other end of the stage for the final encore. His incredible vocal range showcased their trademark operatic rock style effortlessly. Our generation can thank Wayne and Garth for illustrating the finer nuances of this concept with their rendition of the classic rock ballad.
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When it came to fashion, Freddie was committed to looking fly. He marched to the beat of his own inner-stylist and donned everything from black patented leather and chains, to checkered jumpsuits and silk kimonos. Throughout the decades, opportunities to showcase his fashion-as-art increased with the advent of a little something called MTV. One of the more memorable videos from Queen was their venture into drag for “I Want to Break Free.” While the video was meant in fun, the song had deeper meaning and it was banned stateside by the cable network. I guess the moustache was too much.
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Mercury wrote songs that have now become stadium anthems, sure — but I think we can all agree that “Somebody to Love” and “Under Pressure” are also the kind of tracks you choose when you want to bring the house down on Tuesday Night Karaoke — or maybe that’s just my rag-tag team of friends. But whether you’re pondering some deeper meaning or just singing along to the chorus of “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” in rush hour traffic, I’ve found that Queen had a knack for writing songs for the underdog, which is probably why they translate so well to halftime shows and high school spirit rallies.
+Do you have a favorite Queen song or memory to share? Take a listen to the favorites on our playlist and share your feedback in the comments below!