“You can be anything you want to be,” Freddie Mercury once said, “just turn yourself into anything you think that you could ever be.” With his eclectic love of music in all of its guises, it’s easy to imagine that when he wasn’t Freddie Mercury the frontman of Queen, he was Freddie Mercury the soul star behind ‘Respect’ or the long-haired rocker riffing out to ‘Kashmir’ with his audience as a mirror and maybe one of his many cats.
That same eclectic mix was what made Queen so beloved with such a wide brushstroke of fans. The band cobbled together operatics, pop sensibilities, searing guitar solos, soulful refrains, and an unburdened sense of rock ‘n’ roll bravura. This garnered them fans from a wide range of genres and established them as one of the most unique acts around.
Much of that style came from Freddie Mercury’s refusal to be cornered into any kind of trope both musically and on an individual level. As the trailblazing stage commander once declared himself: “I won’t be a rock star. I will be a legend.”
With a voice that landed on Mars long before the Rover, he was indeed comparable to his opera heroes like Luciano Pavarotti, but he was equally capable of the solemn and softer balladeer style of Dusty Springfield. This meant that many struggled to place them for a while but remained determined to do so for some futile reason all the same. As Mercury once explained: “Back in the old days, we were often compared to Led Zeppelin. If we did something with harmony, it was the Beach Boys.”
All of this was tied together with his profound individualism which made Queen’s varied back catalogue into a coherent tome that stated one thing clearly: “The most important thing is to live a fabulous life. As long as it’s fabulous I don’t care how long it is.”
When celebrating the life of Freddie Mercury and the music he loved most, his old bandmates in Queen compiled a list of his favourite songs. These are the anthems they fondly remember him humming in the studio, rattling through in rehearsals or overplaying to death on the tour bus. It’s certainly a list that makes for interesting reading, and albeit the collection is wildly hodgepodge there is definitely something about each of them that just seems to have a bit of Freddie Mercury in it. Enjoy.
Freddie Mercury’s 25 favourite songs:
- ‘Toto’ – Africa
- ‘Kashmir’ – Led Zeppelin
- ‘I Get Around’ – The Beach Boys
- ‘Careless Whisper’ – Wham!
- ‘Jailhouse Rock’ – Elvis Presley
- ‘Woman in Love’ – Barbra Streisand
- ‘Relax’ – Frankie Goes to Hollywood
- ‘Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting’ – Elton John
- ‘I Just Don’t Know What to do With Myself’ – Dusty Springfield
- ‘Respect’ – Aretha Franklin
- ‘Rock With You’ – Michael Jackson
- ‘Unchained Melody’ – The Righteous Brothers
- ‘Make It Easy on Yourself’ – The Walker Brothers
- ‘Carnival is Over’ – The Seekers
- ‘Please Don’t Tease’ – Cliff Richard
- ‘Love Me Tender’ – Elvis Presley
- ‘Imagine’ – John Lennon
- ‘Billie Jean’ – Michael Jackson
- ‘Take My Hand, Precious Lord’ – Mahalia Jackson
- ‘(You Make Me Feel Like A) Natural Woman’ – Aretha Franklin
- ‘Goin’ Back’ – Dusty Springfield
- ‘Vesti La Giubba’ – Carreras, Domingo, Pavarotti and Mehta
- ‘Little Red Corvette’ – Prince
- ‘Pull Up to the Bumper’ – Grace Jones
- ‘D’amour Sull’ali Rosee’ – Guiseppe Verdi