Top 20 Queens of the Stone Age Songs

Published: May 30, 2013

From their bluesy stoner rock origins up to their current status as rock ‘n’ roll royalty, Queens of the Stone Age have navigated one of the more interesting paths to rock stardom over the past decade-plus.

The band’s devastating one-two combo of 2000′s Rated R and 2002′s Songs for the Deafgave mainstream rock the kick in the ass it desperately needed at the start of the new millennium, proving that high-minded artistic ambition could be met with critical and commercial success.

Later, both 2005′s Lullabies To Paralyzeand 2007′s Era Vulgariskept the band’s weird musical mechanism running. Now, on the eve of their star-studded sixth studio album, …Like Clockwork, we revisit the psych-metal gurus’ finest musical moments.

20. Mosquito Song

Album: Songs for the Deaf (2002)

QOTSA are often times at their best when they’re straddling the line between heavy metal volume andpsychedelicabnormalities. “Mosquito Song”, the closing track on the band’s 2002 breakthrough Songs For The Deaf, delivers rich rewards by paring down the sonic mischief to little more than an acoustic guitar, Homme’s hushed vocal warble, and a touch of accordian. The quieter approach toggles the album’s otherwise robust, riff-heavy motif, but its trippy, oddball vibe still remains in tact. -Ryan Bray

19.Quick and to the Pointless

Album:Rated R(2000)

“I don’t even know what I’m doing here,” Homme mutters at the start of Rated R’s inspiredly weird sixth track. And after a brisk minute-and-a-half, neither do listeners. “Quick and to the Pointless” serves as a pefect microcosm of the album’s far gone, sun-baked vibe, cementing the record’s absurdist sense of adventure. Bassist Nick Oliveri takes the lead, barking his way through the song’s nonsensical lyrics like a half-crazed junkie jonesing for a hit, while the addition of some suitably zonked-out backup singers gives the track an extra campy kick.-Ryan Bray

18. 3s and 7s

Album:Era Vulgaris(2007)

Every so often Homme will blast out a vitriloic song as to counteract all the sex and sweat. Even though “3′s and 7′s” starts off with a riff that’s a close sibling to “Smells Like Teen Spirit”, this Era Vulgaris track is hardly an anthem of disillusionment. When the high sliding solo takes over, the grit and anger can be felt all around. Homme condemns the receiver with “Lie, lie to my face/ tell me it ain’t nothing/ that’s what I want to hear” and “Truth hurts so bad/ Wouldn’t you say?/ So why tell it?/ If ignorance is bliss/ then I’m in heaven.” The title is taken from a bad poker hand; one that the best can bluff and lie their way through, just like the subject of the song. The band’s always been best with thick chords and a heavy low end, and this song has it in spades.-Zach Schonfeld

17. How To Handle a Rope – A Lesson in the Lariat

Album:Queens of the Stone Age(1998)

Homme’s desert outfit might be one of the more technicallyadventurousbands to have found mainstream success over the past decade, but their artful ambition has somewhat overshadowed the simplistic raunch of their 2000 self-titled debut. ”How To Handle A Rope” gets anchored by a stomping drum beat and Homme’s primal riffage that recalls the simplistic grunge days when Mudhoney were just a neighborhood act and flannel was all the rage. It also goes to show just how much fun the band can be when they leave their artier pretenses at the door and just let it all hang out.-Ryan Bray

16. Run, Pig, Run

Album: Era Vulgaris (2007)

One of the bands oddest tunes, Era Vulgaris closer Run, Pig, Run pushes the blues to its most dissonant limits. The chord progression is sinister, but Hommes words are quite conversational: When I was young/ We used to play the game of hide & seek/ Someone go hide, I count to 10/ You probably never played.” The song sort of blooms as it progresses; Homme starts crooning like Prince and the guitars stack into a twisted mass of psychedelia. This was the last wed heard of Queens of the Stone Age until they dropped My God is the Sun a couple months ago. -Jon Hadusek

15.Give The Mule What He Wants

Album:Queens of the Stone Age(1998)

QOTSA’s self-titled debut earmarks a simpler time in the band’s history. In hindsight, it’s more Homme’s solo project than the result of the warped rock ‘n’ roll machine QOTSA would become just a few short years later. One breadwinner of the bunch was “Give The Mule What He Wants”, a cyclical groove that swings with the fury of Homme’s Kyuss days. Bigger things may have awaited the band, but it’s worth remembering the sludgey fun the band used to have before they became rock music’s most celebrated musical weirdos.-Ryan Bray

14.Better Living Through Chemistry

Album:Rated R(2000)

The title ofRated R’s fifth track lives up to its name and then some. “Better Living Through Chemistry” puts a particularly heavy accent on that last word, finding the band sprawling along on an epic improvisational freakout over the course of four-plus minutes. Homme’s guitar squeals while the rest of the band falls in fearlessly behind its leader, while the haunting voices echoing in the background give the track an extra cryptic edge. In the end, it’s another song that gives the album its seedy-but alluring-appeal.-Ryan Bray

13. Another Love Song

Album:Songs for the Deaf(2002)

Sandwiched between bluesy rave-up God Is In the Radio and the formidable Song for the Deaf, Another Love Song is short and sweet, highlighting a side of QOTSA that hasnt popped up before: the surf-rock tribute band. Complete with an e-bow, organ, backing harmonies, and a tremolo-tinged lead guitar, its probably the first time Queens has fallen closer to The Ventures than Black Sabbath. At just over three minutes, Love Song reveals the bands lighter, spontaneous side. But it also feels like a bittersweet sendoff for Oliveri, who takes the lead on the vocals and would be fired from the band before their next album.-Zach Schonfeld

12.Monsters in the Parasol

Album:Rated R(2000)

Homme recounts an acid trip in blunt detail on Monsters in the Parasol, another highlight fromRated R. The walls are closing in again/ oh well/ I’ve seen some things I thought Id never saw/ covered in hair. The guitar playing is appropriately spontaneous, remaining steady (chug, chug, chug) during verses before spiraling out of control as Homme launches into the chorus. Just like The Lost Art Of Keeping A Secret, this sticky bruiser will get stuck in your head and, to date, it remains a concert staple.Great video, too.-Jon Hadusek

11. Everybody Knows that You’re Insane

Album:Lullabies to Paralyze(2005)

Lurching from slow, Sabbath-style psychedelia to a power-chord anthem to a classic rock solo in barely four minutes, Everybody Knows That You Are Insane is Lullabies first extended rocker. Hommes delivery is sleazy and damning in equal measure, but its the lyrics that steal the show: You want to know why youre so hollow?/ Because you are, he sneers. You want to know just how long you can hide from what you are?/ Not very. Naturally, fans have taken it as a ruthless tribute to former bassist Nick Oliveri, who was fired from the band in 2004. If true, that may make it the most scathing attack on a former bandmate since John Lennons How Do You Sleep? Its the title that says it all bitter, quotable, and succinct enough that I had it as an AIM away message for a while back in 2005.-Zach Schonfeld

10.You Think I Ain’t Worth a Dollar, But I Feel Like a Millionaire

Album:Songs for the Deaf(2002)

You Think I Aint Worth a Dollar is one of the best album openers of all time. Even if youre sitting at home, listening on shoddy earbuds, this songs puts you on a desolate California freeway. The scene: Youre intoxicated, going over 100 MPH with the windows down, and Oliveri’s manic screams egg you on as you sneer and slam the pedal into the concrete. Then finallyat the peak of its momentum the song transitions seamlessly into No One Knows, which stands as one of the finest moments in the bands discography. It’s such an abrupt change up, but at the time, fully embalmed QOTSA with both danger and mystery. Three albums later, they’ve yet to reach this heightened state of torrential bliss. C’mon, gimme some more.-Jon Hadusek

9. Sick, Sick, Sick

Album: Era Vulgaris (2007)

Full disclosure: Sick Sick Sick was my introduction to QOTSA. Back in 2007, I was flipping channels one night back and landed on Fuse right as the music video switched on. It was the songs gutsy, clogging chords that snatched my attention, and from there on, I subscribed to Homme’s outfit. What works best on Sick Sick Sick is its bludgeoning pace, a sickening spring that’s almost vertigo-inducing. Theres hardly a melody, the guitar tones sound congested, and the vocals whisk on by like some grade school punk rock exercises. Eerie squeals and harmonies spook the back walls, only to really surface on the haunting bridge about two minutes in. It comes early in the album, which is a shame looking back, given that Homme was never going to top this on Era Vulgaris. -Jon Hadusek

8. Burn the Witch

Album: Lullabies to Paralyze (2005)

With growly call-and-response vocal assistance from Mark Lanegan and ZZ Tops own Billy Gibbons and lyrics that capture the Salem Witch Trials in terse, evocative phrases, Burn the Witch may at once be Lullabies to Paralyzes catchiest and eeriest number. Ask yourself/ Will I burn in hell?/ Then write it down/ And cast it in the well, Homme and his conspirators command in unison with a stomping guitar lick, but its the little things that stand out: the backing moans during the chorus, the wordless Aahs at 1:50, the bluesy buildup in the last minute, the way guitars and vocals work in strange synchronization. Dark and danceable in equal measure, its no wonder the song made its way into trailers forSaw II and True Blood. -Zach Schonfeld

7. Go With The Flow

Album:Songs for the Deaf(2002)

Songs for the Deaf solidified the Queens’ desert metal, and “Go With the Flow” is the best example of a high speed desert ride on the album. Homme sings of a longing heart with lines like “I can’t make you hang around/ I can’t wash you off my skin” and “I want something good to die for/ to make it beautiful to live” all over crunching rhythm guitars and a swirling high-pitched yelps that screech like tires on asphalt. It’s an unrelenting song always in fifth gear that culminates with a cacophony and an abrupt stop like the ride is suddenly over. This was the second song off the album to be nominated for a Grammy, and it lost out to, of all people, Evanescence. What happened to them again?-Nick Freed

6. Little Sister

Album: Lullabies to Paralyze (2005)

QOTSA have always been sexy; sexy in a sleazy, cigarettes and whiskey kind of way. With “Little Sister”, they took that sexy to a new kind of uncomfortable zone. Homme drew inspiration for the song from the Doc Pomus (made famous by Elvis) song of the same name, explaining, “I like the amalgam of imagery that it puts forward, that throwing a little pebble at the girl’s windows late at night, you know, trying to creep in the back door, you know. And I also love the Elvis song ‘Little Sister’ because I like the sort of sexual twist that’s put on by ‘little sister don’t you do what your big sister done.’” The guitars roll and churn, while the continuous jamblock pounds out the rhythm of those pebbles at the window. Homme’s voice is suave, and gives you the feeling that you don’t want him anywhere near your siblings. -Nick Freed

5.I Think I Lost My Headache

Album:Rated R(2000)

Playing like the soundtrack to a beachfront walk on acid, “I Think I Lost My Headache”, the surrealist nine-minute closer to Rated R, helped to define the trippy new direction the stoner rock gurus found themselves traveling in at the dawn of the new millenium. While Queens’ 1998 debut marked a logical starting point, picking up where Kyuss’ stoned riffage left off, “Headache” takes that six-string crunch to a weirder place populated by steel drums and echoey slide guitars. “Until my head explodes/ until my headache goes,” Homme sings over a melodic chorus that feels registered by Dave Grohl’s Foo Fighters. Now, isn’t that a coincidence?-Ryan Bray

4.First It Giveth

Album:Songs for the Deaf(2002)

If “Go With the Flow” is the desert drive on the album, then “First It Giveth” is the night before that getaway. It’s the anger, the alcohol, the drugs, and the isolation of the desert at night alone. The whole song feels like an ominous midnight horror flick; a dark Shape that rolls over the listener. In actuality, the song itself was written about the dangers of drugs in music, which Homme suggested: “I think at first you can draw inspiration and then eventually, it negates any inspiration” — hence “first it giveth, then it taketh away.” The song is especially fortuitous with the song’s co-writer Oliveri, who was later arrested by an LA SWAT team for holding his girlfriend hostage with a loaded shotgun and bags of cocaine. Yeah.-Nick Freed

3. The Lost Art of Keeping a Secret

Album: Rated R (2000)

The second track on Rated R, The Lost Art of Keeping a Secret is a straight-up pop song and the perfect foil to the insanity of Feel Good Hit of the Summer. Its here where Homme realizes he can actually produce some melody, as exemplified in the song’s twilight chorus (Whatever you doo-ooo-ooh, dont tell anyone). It’s deft, it’s catchy, and channels the lighter side to the band’s trademark “wear-all-black-and-smirk-with-a-cigarette-to-be-bad-ass” ethos. A couple of years before “No One Knows” fractured FM radio, this glucose injection was the bands most popular song at the time, reaching No. 36 on the Modern Rock charts. -Jon Hadusek

2. Feel Good Hit of the Summer

Album: Rated R (2000)

On first listen, it would be all too easy to peg the lead track to Rated R as a goof or a gimmick. But while a repeated refrain of “nicotine, valium, Vicodin, marijuana, ecstasy, and alcohol” (don’t forget the c-c-c-c-c-COCAINE) might not leave much up to the imagination, it’s hard to imagine another song that better sums up the album’s tweaked, sun-baked twist on bluesy metal andpsychedelia.As far as rock star cliches go, naked glorification of drug use is about as old hat as they come, but the band’s tongue-in-cheek smarts set the tone for one of the most bizarrely awesome rock records of the past 15 years. A concert staple, a crowd favorite, and a must-have for any Queens setlist (especially for festivals), “Feel Good Hit of the Summer” couldn’t be more aptly titled.-Ryan Bray

1. No One Knows

Album: Songs for the Deaf (2002)

The combination of Homme’s sweet spot riffs, Oliveri’s metronome-friendly bass lines, and Grohl’s kinetic drumming, “No One Knows” was an instant favorite with fans and critics. Homme said the song had been bouncing around in his head for nearly five years before it “became what it was supposed to be” and they, naturally, recorded it for Songs for the Deaf. The hit was, and remains, the highest charting and highest selling single in the Queen’s catalogue. It’s been placed on Best of lists by Rolling Stone, NME, 2002′s Pazz and Jop list, and was nominated for Best Hard Rock Performance at the Grammy’s, but lost to, oddly enough, Foo Fighters’ “All My Life”. This track rocketed QOTSA into everyone’s minds, or pushed their stardom to new heights, or is currently played day in and day out on Rdio or radio worldwide. -Nick Freed

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