Witherfall’s Joseph Michael and Jake Dreyer List Their Favorite Queen Songs
With the wide theatrical release of the Freddie Mercury biopic Bohemian Rhapsody coming tomorrow (November 2nd) and Witherfall’s new album A Prelude to Sorrow out the very same day (pre-order here), we figured it’d be the perfect opportunity to combine both into one! Queen (and Freddie) were always known for their dramatic theatricality and Witherfall’s music possesses a whole lot of that, so it’s not even a stretch; in fact, it was the band’s own idea! Below, vocalist Joseph Michael and guitarist Jake Dreyer list out their favorite Queen songs and tell us what makes each one special to them.
1. “Who Wants to Live Forever”
I was a huge fan of The Highlander TV show with Adrian Paul. This song would come on and I would be mesmerized. In hindsight this song carries so much weight. The vocal in the outro crescendo hook is so emotive. Chills.
2. I’m in Love with My Car”
Roger Taylor is so underrated as a vocalist. Queen were really such a talented band all around.
3. “Play The Game”
Another stellar vocal melody and arrangement. Also a very melodic and tone drenched solo. You can picture a young Slash obsessing over this as many of his melodic moments recall this very type of tone and style.
4. “We Are the Champions”
If you can’t hear the vocal genius of Freddy Mercury in this track there is no hope for you. It’s also a classic lesson in dynamics that is totally lost on modern bands.
5. “Somebody To Love”
As a vocalist and arranger, how could you not love this song? The vocal harmonies and the call and response are insane. The slip into falsetto at the end is so brilliant you barely notice the difficulty.
6. “Bohemian Rhapsody”
This one is the elephant in the room and probably the most Witherfall-like arrangement-wise. Even though the song has become part of pop culture now I don’t give a fuck; it is essential Queen. Brian May’s solo was a huge influence in making me want to pick up a guitar. The middle verse section where the drums kick in (Wayne’s World car scene) is one of the best riffs of all time. Period.
1. “Prophets Song”
By far my favorite Queen song. To me it is their heaviest (not that that matters) and the chorus is just amazing. The harmonies they all do just make the track sound very dark. The Japanese influence in the intro guitar lines is very cool, too.
2. “March of the Black Queen”
I love the progressiveness of the song. The arrangement is very original and contains all the best elements of Queen.
The flamenco middle bit is very influential to Witherfall, for example the beginning of “Ode to Despair” off of our new record and the middle section of “What We are Dying For” from our debut. Queen were extremely revolutionary in blending genres and did it so masterful in this song.
4. “Flick of the Wrist”
The Phrygian totanities that Brian May does in between the verses are what make him one of my favorite players, very musical and with untouchable vibrato. The two songs that come before and after (“Tenement Funster” and “Lily of the Valley,” respectively) are just brilliant in how they all sound like one composition, a classic Queen trait and something that Witherfall try to utilize when putting the track listing and sequencing together.
5. “Fairy Fellers Master Stroke”
The songwriting on this track is very original and the counterpoint the strings and voice do is amazing. Queen II is my favorite Queen record; it was their most progressive and adventurous and I feel this song incorporates it all. The way it seamlessly blends into the next track, “Nevermore,” just shows their mastery of composition.
6. “Sail Away Sweet Sister”
Brian May on vocals! This one and “39” are my favorite vocal performances of his, and the melodic acoustic solo that follows the vocal melody is very influential to my own writing. The way that everything is a composition and not just a solo for the sake of having a lead is something I try to do. The guitar solo has those classic Brian May harmonies, not just Maiden major and minor thirds. The ending bass lines by John Deacon and Freddie’s piano lend the track an especially haunting mood.
Both Jake and Joseph!
13. “Killer Queen”
Probably the most classically stylized chord progression ever used in a rock song, the damn thing even has a bassline that could have been composed in the era of figured bass. Also, the lead is probably the most lyrical guitar solo of all time; the vibrato and phrasing, just breathtaking! Brian May was a genius. The vocal harmonies are so original. The counterpoint between the instruments and vocals is something that Witherfall takes a lot of inspiration from.