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The 11 best Queens of the Stone Age songs

Why have a Top 10 when you can have one more? Here are our 11 favourite QOTSA songs, ranked

The swaggering, desert rock demi-gods Queens of the Stone Age returned in earnest last year with their eighth studio album In Times New Roman… and delivered some of the best live performances of the summer at Dreamland Margate and Glastonbury, to name a few.

Recently announced as headliners at Download 2024, we take a look at Josh Homme and co.’s extensive back catalogue and rank the band’s best 11 songs.

11. I Sat By The Ocean

(… Like Clockwork, 2013)

Kicking it off with one of Queens of the Stone Age’s lightest and more accessible offerings. ‘I Sat By The Ocean’ nevertheless demonstrates the band’s knack for off-kilter ear worms that still develop a brooding sense of drama, as Homme here describes he and his ex-partner as “Passing ships in the night.”

10. Emotion Sickness

(In Times New Roman…, 2023)

The lead single from the band’s latest album, In Times New Roman…, the beauty of this track is the contrast between the sludgy, bendy blues of the verses and the sweet, high pitched 70s rock of the choruses. Don’t be fooled by the latter: it’s an abrasive song about falling out of love that tackles Homme’s unfortunately public dispute with his ex-wife Brody Dalle.

9. Make It Wit Chu

(Era Vulgaris, 2007)

This is easily one of Queens’ catchiest tracks thanks to its simple, infectious chorus that begs to be sung back in that soulful falsetto. Initially recorded with PJ Harvey on the Desert Sessions’ Vol. 9 & 10, it’s got a kind of sweltering and hypnotic sway that gives the track a sweaty intimacy.

8. Little Sister

(Lullabies To Paralyze, 2005)

Inspired by Elvis’ own song of the same name, the thrashing ‘Little Sister’ was recorded in one take and features one of their catchiest, wailing guitar licks. Probably better to focus on that than the erm, pretty incestuous lyrics.

7. In The Fade

(Rated R, 2000)

The track that sounded so good after Screaming Trees’ late Mark Lanegan laid his vocals on it they invited him to be a permanent member, ‘In The Fade’ strangely sounds and feels like one of Queens’ most life-affirming tracks despite the sense of defeat and acquiescence in the lyrics. There’s a lot of space to it, which make some of the guitar fills so satisfying when they spiral outwards, but Lanegan’s characterful vocals are the standout.

6. 3’s & 7’s

(Era Vulgaris, 2007)

One for the Guitar Hero heads. ‘3’s & 7’s’ is easily one of the band’s most fun songs thanks to its rifftastic solos and mega-crunchy chords. This one makes the list purely for the vibes.

5. The Lost Art Of Keeping A Secret

(Rated R, 2000)

‘The Lost Art Of Keeping A Secret’ was one of Queens’ first breakouts, charting modestly at home and in the UK. For all its sharp bursts and heavy breakdowns, the song also has the cool curiosity of a detective show, thanks to those chilly xylophones and the sense of enigma that guides it. It’s as if Homme himself is our flawed but brilliant sleuth with little regard for the rules.

4. Go With The Flow

(Songs For The Deaf, 2002)

One of the first songs Homme wrote with Nick Oliveri in the Songs For The Deaf sessions, this unrelenting ripper is a euphoric blast that all for the driving, forward-moving energy that mirrors its lead mantra, still manages to boast the rhythmic dexterity that makes the album so exciting. It’s actually one of the few tracks drummed by Gene Trautmann and not Dave Grohl.

3. I Appear Missing

(… Like Clockwork, 2013)

There’s something that makes ‘I Appear Missing’ very distinct from the rest of Queens’ discography. It sounds something like if Homme partnered with Thom York and Johnny Greenwood to cover The Beatles’ ‘I Want You (She’s So Heavy)’, no? In any case, since its release a decade ago it has shot up the ranks to become a firm fan-favourite.

2. Song For The Dead

(Songs For The Deaf, 2002)

Featuring the air drums to end all air drums, ‘Song For The Dead’ is an apocalyptic anthem that sounds like satan rising from the depths of Hell. If you don’t think this deserves one of the top spots for being too obvious a choice then he’s coming for you first. Just kidding, but if you ever find yourself fancying a momentary embrace of all that is wicked, then stick this snarling, warbling, tempo-shifting odyssey on.

1. No One Knows

(Songs For The Deaf, 2002)

Amidst all the raucous cacophony of Songs For The Deaf is a bouncy and groovy palate cleanser that clears the path of chaos like Moses splitting the Red Sea, only for the waves of distortion to collapse into an even more malevolent maelstrom.

The tones and textures of ‘No One Knows’ are utterly delicious as its scratchy melody, rooted in the early Desert Sessions, twists between the thumping rhythm beneath it – it’s “four-to-the-floor slime of the highest quality” as Pitchfork‘s Eric Carr put it at the time. An undisputed winner. As for the meaning? “It’s a mystery what that song’s about,” Homme told MTV after its release. “No one knows.”

Queens of the Stone Age headline Download 2024 – find tickets here