10 Bands That Owe Queen a Round
There’s something singularly comforting about Queen, a band that seems like it’s existed forever. But of course, they weren’t always omnipresent or universally loved, and when Freddie Mercury and the gang first came on the scene, more than a few radio listeners undoubtedly had their minds blown by ‘Bohemian Rhapsody.’ Did some of those folks — young, impressionable musicians in particular — surreptitiously internalize Queen’s splendor for eventual use in their own bands? Maybe. Queen may not have set out to defy genres, shatter stereotypes and nab their frontman the All-Time No. 1 Showman Award in one fell swoop, but they pulled off precisely that trifecta, and all these years later, plenty of young disciples are glad they did. What follows are just 10 of the Bands That Owe Queen a Round — if not here on earth, then on whatever groovy astral plane Freddie’s calling home.
Now, male falsetto lead vocals don’t necessarily a Queen follower make, but this wonderfully over-the-top British group follows in Freddie’s footsteps in more ways than one — including its arena-ready anthems and fantastically theatrical performances. The Darkness have even covered ‘Tie Your Mother Down’ with original Queen guitarist Brian May in tow.
Hear us out. Sure, Daft Punk isn’t an obvious choice for a list of Queen disciples, but as they’ve shown clearly with ‘Random Access Memories,’ these freaky Frenchmen are fans of a broad assortment of music from the ’70s. They’ve revealed this affinity throughout their careers, and you might even describe ‘Television Rules the Nation,’ from 2005’s ‘Human After All,’ as a modern-day cousin of ‘Radio Ga Ga.’
It’s our totally biased opinion that Freddie Mercury would have heartily approved of the Ark. But our theory isn’t much of a stretch. The band’s mix of showmanship and highly infectious songs reignite Queen’s torch in a way we think Mr. Mercury would’ve gotten behind, especially after hearing the Ark’s ‘One of Us Is Gonna Die Young.’
Although Foxy Shazam have gone on record as disgreeing with critics’ comparisons to Queen, the similarities are tough to deny. And frankly, there ain’t nothing wrong with that. Foxy Shazam’s ‘Unstoppable,’ which lead singer Eric Nally says was written to become a sports-arena standard, could easily go head to head with Queen’s ubiquitous jock jam ‘We Will Rock You.’
True, venerable riff slingers Judas Priest come bearing a slightly harder-edged, S&M-tinged image, but that doesn’t mean they don’t borrow musical elements from genres other than metal. In many ways, ‘British Steel,’ released in 1980, is pure chrome-plated rock of the best kind. And if you’re aiming for larger-than-life rock, who better to emulate than Queen? Priest frontman Rob Halford has even fessed up about his love of the band, admitting, “All I’ve got on my iPod is every single Queen song and every single Judas Priest song. Queen were an incredible heavy metal band.”
Panic! At the Disco
But the real question is: What would Freddie Mercury have had on his iPod? Our money says it’d be something like the chorus-driven and highly danceable Panic! At the Disco. After all, it’s a sound that Queen helped pioneer. What would he have had on repeat? Probably ‘Let’s Kill Tonight.’
In terms of sheer stage presence alone, the Donnas owe Queen a round. No testosterone necessary here: The Donnas, whose music is heavily steeped in punk, are no stranger to big songs ready for even bigger venues, just like Queen was from the get-go.
Sparks also started off in the swinging ’70s, and some say — with good reason — that their early music influenced Queen. Either way, this L.A. duo clearly drew on Queen’s affinity for all things larger than life. And that’s not all. For all their theatricality, Queen were also fans of musical mirth (see: ‘Fat-Bottomed Girls’ and scads of others), and that’s essentially what Sparks have built their career on, as evidenced in 2002’s ‘Suburban Homeboy.’
Hot Hot Heat
These Canadian indie rockers consistently knock their power choruses way out of the ballpark — er, hockey rink — and for that, they probably ought to offer Brian May a Molson or two.
You don’t need elaborate production values to owe Queen a debt of gratitude. If nothing else, the perpetually positive, white-t-shirt-clad Andrew W.K. owes Freddie Mercury a round for his ability to get a crowd to nearly crap themselves with joy and wonder, as witnessed in this live clip of ‘Ready to Die.’