Okay, so I know I’m a day (or two) late. It was hard work narrowing down so many awesome videos to the ten best, not to mention putting them in order. But here it is, the top ten Queen videos.
10. “It’s a Hard Life” (The Works, 1984)
We start off here with a video that is inexplicable and camp-tacular (even by Queen’s standards). This may not be the band’s most popular video (in fact, at least one or two of the band’s members openly despise this video), but in my personal opinion, its weirdness is what makes it so charming. Looking like the mutant love child of a Shakespeare comedy and that one scene from Labyrinth, we see Freddie Mercury prancing around in what is almost certainly the weirdest outfit he’s ever worn (and for a man who’s not exactly known for dressing conservatively, that’s really saying something) and wearing a really strange wig in some scenes for no apparent reason, and Brian May playing a wicked solo on a skull. Also, look closely for John Deacon walking around with his noble steed, a stuffed unicorn head on a long wooden stick.
9. “The Invisible Man” (The Miracle, 1989)
There’s only one thing that pisses me off about this video, and that’s this: no matter how much time I waste playing video games, not once have I ever gotten to the point where Queen emerge from my closet and dance around my room. Talk about false advertising! The kid in this video is basically the luckiest kid ever (the only possible exceptions being the kids in the video for “The Miracle”). He even gets to wear John Deacon’s badass cowboy hat. Lucky! And yes, the song sounds eerily similar to the theme from Ghostbusters. Let us speak no more of this.
8. “Liar” (Queen, 1973)
If you need any more convincing that “Bohemian Rhapsody” was not, as is sometimes falsely claimed, the first music video ever, at least know this: it wasn’t even Queen’s first. “Liar” stands out from most of the videos in this list in that it is a simple performance video. There’s no storyline, no characters outside of the band, nothing but the band performing on a brightly lighted stage that probably isn’t in front of a real audience. Even the outfits are pretty low-key for a band that could have been considered part of the “glam rock” scene that was emerging in England around that time. Still, stripped of the gimmicks they’d come to be known for both onstage and onscreen, Queen have an undeniably magnetic stage presence. Despite its length of six and a half minutes and its simplicity, the video for “Liar” never bores.
7. “Princes of the Universe” (A Kind of Magic, 1985)
Don’t ask me why, but movie tie-in music videos generally annoy me, especially when the totally awesome song was written for a possibly-not-so-awesome movie, thereby making it so that there isn’t a non-movie-tie-in version of the video that I can watch instead. However, I’m going to make an exception for “Princes of the Universe,” a song that was written for Highlander and which, to my knowledge, doesn’t have a video that leaves out all those movie clips. I haven’t even seen Highlander (but I do want to, for precisely three reasons, the Queen-filled soundtrack being one of them. The other two, by the way, are Clancy Brown and kilts. But mostly Clancy Brown). Doesn’t matter. The fact is, movie tie-in or not, this is one of the most epic music videos ever. If anything, the connection with the movie makes the video all the more epic, because of the way it includes the band in the action of the movie, placing the band in the same setting as what I’m guessing is a pretty important scene in the movie. There’s even a brief moment of interaction between Freddie and the film’s hero. If that’s not epic, I don’t know what is. As an added bonus, I don’t think anyone ever looked cooler with the wind blowing through his hair than Brian May.
6. “Save Me” (The Game, 1980)
The video for “Save Me” is as gorgeous and moving as the tender love song it illustrates. Half live-action performance video, and half animated narrative, this is perhaps Queen’s most beautiful video. I’m at a loss to describe this video further than the fact that it features a dove motif (I’m a sucker for bird symbolism. Actually, I’m a sucker for birds in general), so I’ll say no more about it and let the video speak for itself.
5. “Bohemian Rhapsody” (A Night at the Opera, 1975)
Seriously, did you think I’d be able to list the top ten Queen videos without including this song? While not my favorite Queen video by a long-shot (though still, within the spectrum of music videos in general, it ranks pretty darn high), “Bohemian Rhapsody” is undoubtedly the most influential, to the point that some people are still under the impression that it was the first music video ever. If you’ve been paying attention to this blog (or even to this particular post), you’ll know this assumption to be false, yet the very fact that this is a widely-held belief shows how much of an impact the “Bohemian Rhapsody” has had on the history of music and the art of music video. And perhaps, while not the first music video ever made (remember, Bob Dylan had 10 years on them), it may be one of the first music videos that truly mattered; that proved that the music video was an art form in and of itself and not just a creative way to promote a record.
4. “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” (The Game, 1979)
When I showed a friend of mine this video about a month ago, her response was that it was “like a bisexual version of Grease.” I couldn’t have described it better myself, but I’ll try: to me, this is one of the all-time sexiest videos ever. Sure, it’s kinda goofy and looks like it was made on a budget of $150 and maybe a blowjob here and there, but that doesn’t matter. Why? Because…Freddie Mercury. Leather. Superfluous close-up of Freddie’s leather-clad ass. Brian May in awesome shades. Freddie Mercury getting his shirt ripped off by his co-ed posse of backup dancers. Roger Taylor without a shirt. Freddie Mercury doing what could be described as pole-dancing. Oh, and did I mention Freddie flippin’ Mercury? As a side note, is it just me, or does Freddie kind of look like Jakob Dylan in this video?
3. “One Vision” (A Kind of Magic, 1985)
Okay, this one starts out a little weird, with the warped voices and the wobbly still from the “Bohemian Rhapsody” video, but once you get past that, this is one fun video. Filmed around the same time as the band’s legendary performance at Live Aid (note the logo on Brian May’s white t-shirt), the video shows the band recording the song and having one heck of a fun time in the process. I get the impression that someone decided to put cameras in the studio, start recording, and just let the band do whatever the heck they felt like. Turns out, they’re really silly boys. Also, Brian really should have worn black tank tops more often. Because of the sexy.
2. “I’m Going Slightly Mad” (Innuendo, 1991)
The video for “I’m Going Slightly Mad” is delightful. More delightful, in fact, than it has any right to be, considering the tragic reality surrounding both the song and the video. Released mere months before his death, Freddie Mercury wrote this song about his experience with AIDS-induced dementia. By the time the video was filmed, the singer’s illness necessitated the use of heavy makeup and black-and-white film to disguise his condition. This same use of makeup and monochrome, however, is part of what makes this video so charming and quirky, which only makes it more tragic when one remembers that all that charm and quirk are coming from a man who’s months away from his death bed, and knows it. In spite of all that, however, this video made me laugh the first time I saw it, and continues to make me smile. It’s heartwarming to know that Freddie could still act goofy and irreverent even as his life was coming to a close. This, along with all the weird goings-on in this video — Freddie’s banana wig, John Deacon as an unenthusiastic jester, and let’s not forget REAL LIVE PENGUINS (!!) along with Brian May in a penguin suit — make this one of my very favorites.
1. “I Want to Break Free” (The Works, 1984)
This is by far the greatest Queen video of all time. For lots of reasons, but if for nothing else, for the cross-dressing. Which is apparently a reference to a long-running British soap opera called Coronation Street. Which I’ve never seen, but I believe it. What I don’t believe is that this video is actually marked as “age-restricted” on YouTube. What the hell, YouTube? Buncha homophobes need to get the hell over themselves. They’re the ones who’ll have a bad influence on the children. But anyway, enjoy the video. Unless you’re one of those homophobes. If you are, get your ignorant ass off of my blog and never darken my door again.
Bonus: “The Great Pretender”(1987)
And here’s a little something from Freddie’s solo career: his take on a classic by doo-wop group The Platters. Features clips and re-enactments of his previous videos as both a member of Queen and as a solo artist, some of which are on this very list. But mostly I decided to put this here because of the cross-dressing. ‘Cause I’m kinda into that. And because this video not only gives us a chance to see Freddie in drag once again, but also Roger Taylor. And there was much rejoicing (coming from me, anyway).