Bohemian Rhapsody tops the best rock songs in Manhattan

By Ned Seaton

Evidently, Manhattan is a Bohemian sort of town.

“Bohemian Rhapsody,” the elaborate 1975 song by the band Queen, topped The Mercury’s totally unscientific, just-for-fun, don’t-take-this-too-seriously voluntary reader survey of the top rock songs of all time.

In connection with the appearance by the classic rock band Foreigner here, we asked readers to give us their top 5 rock songs. A whole bunch — don’t ask me how many, I don’t know — sent theirs in during the week that we held the voting open. We awarded points based on those rankings to pull together a composite ranking. Here’s the list of the top 10 point-winners:

1. Bohemian Rhapsody, Queen

2 (tie). Thunder Road, Bruce Springsteen

2 (tie). American Pie, Don McLean

4 Shook Me All Night Long, AC/DC

5. Stairway to Heaven, Led Zeppelin

6. Back in Black, AC/DC

7. Hotel California, Eagles

8. Satisfaction, The Rolling Stones

9. Born To Be Wild, Steppenwolf

8.Three Days, Jane’s Addiction


I could go on. Well, in fact, I will, because it’s sort of fun.

There was amazing variety: people named 147 different songs. What many consider the first rock song – Rock Around the Clock, by Bill Haley and the Comets – was on one voter’s top 5 list, while a 2007 song, No Shame, by a band called Two Cow Garage, was on somebody else’s. One joker submitted the Benny Hill Show Theme Song, Yakety Sax, and also a country tune, Beer in Mexico, by Kenny Chesney.  The guy probably colored outside the lines in preschool art class.

The band with the most songs named on somebody’s top 5: Led Zeppelin. They had eight songs: Stairway to Heaven, D’Yer Maker, All of My Love, Dazed and Confused, Kashmir, Achilles Last Stand, Ten Years Gone and Thank You. Pink Floyd and The Rolling Stones each had six songs nominated, and the Beatles had five. Dylan, Guns ‘N’ Roses, Hendrix, and the Eagles had four. (On the Eagles, it’s worth noting that Joe Walsh and Don Henley — members of the band — each got a nod. For that matter, it’s worth noting that Bruce Springsteen had three songs on the list, and a fourth — Blinded By The Light, that he wrote made the list even though it was performed by Manfred Mann.)

While we’re on the subject of Springsteen, some readers might wonder about me calculating these results, since I wrote a column advocating Thunder Road as the greatest rock song ever. I am also generally in the bag for Springsteen, as many of you know.  All I can say is that I honestly compiled the results and only counted my own ballot once. I will confess that if I thought I heard the squirrels in my neighborhood whisper the words Thunder Road, I counted that.

Hey, I said this wasn’t to be taken too seriously.  As long as I’ve got this keyboard in front of me, I’ll mention that the person who submitted Blinded By the Light had ridiculed my Springsteen-worship. Ah, the irony. Maybe he didn’t even know.

Want the full results?

Here’s the rest, in order. Lots of ties, so don’t get too caught up if your favorite is listed just slightly below something you think is garbage.

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