When Queen Elizabeth II died at age 96 on Thursday (Sept. 8), she left behind a substantial legacy in terms of politics, culture and media. But if you rule a country for 70 years, you’re never going to make everyone happy, and while she was certainly beloved by millions, she inspired her fair share of critics and detractors, too.
That much is clear just by looking at the music inspired by the long-running matriarch of the royal family. For every positive or neutral tune about the Queen (such as the Beatles’ quickie “Her Majesty,” where Paul McCartney sings, “Her Majesty’s a pretty nice girl but she doesn’t have a lot to say”), there’s a sneering “God Save the Queen” from Sex Pistols or a hostile “The Queen Is Dead” by the Smiths (both all-time rock classics).
Primal Scream’s “Insect Royalty” is, unsurprisingly, not terribly flattering; The Stone Roses’ “Elizabeth My Dear” may sound more kindly upon first glance, but with lyrics like “Tear me apart and boil my bones / I’ll not rest ’til she’s lost her throne,” it really isn’t much more positive.
Some songs just reference her in passing, such as Madonna’s Rebel Heart track “Illuminati,” where she declares the so-called secret society isn’t “Queen Elizabeth or Kanye.” Others, like Pet Shop Boys’ “Dreaming of the Queen,” are more impressionistic: “Dreaming of the Queen / Visiting for tea / You and her and I / And Lady Di.”
Take a listen to seven of these songs below and see what each artist has said about Queen Elizabeth II over the years.