Queen – Killer Queen

This is one of the first Queen songs I heard. I saw Queen’s popularity in America peak in with The Game. You couldn’t go anywhere without hearing Another One Bites the Dust. After that album, I didn’t hear as much from there here.  Now they are peaking again after the Bohemian Rhapsody movie.

The first single from Queen’s third album, Sheer Heart Attack was released in 1974. The song peaked at #12 in the Billboard 100, #2 in the UK, #15 in Canada.

Killer Queen was their first song to chart outside their native UK, where “Seven Seas of Rhye,” from their previous album Queen II. Their breakthrough to superstardom came with their next album, A Night At The Opera, which has the epic Bohemian Rhapsody.

The Sheer Heart Attack album cover was shot by Mick Rock, who did the famous cover of their previous album, Queen II. Freddie Mercury typically drove the visual direction of the band, but it was drummer Roger Taylor who came up with the concept for the Sheer Heart Attack cover.

Roger Taylor wanted them to look like they had been thrown up from a shipwreck on some distant shore,’ so that’s what ick Rock shot. He said they were soaking wet with a lot of spraying going on.

Queen — jacobthomas2: queen “sheer heart attack” photo... | Queen band,  Queen photos, Queen freddie mercury

Freddie Mercury :  “It’s about a high class call girl. I’m trying to say that classy people can be whores as well. That’s what the song is about, though I’d prefer people to put their interpretation upon it – to read into it what they like.”

Brian May: “This is a perfect pop record and one of Freddie’s greatest songs. It’s beautifully constructed and it’s also got one of the solos I’m most proud of.”
“Every slice of that record is pure pop perfection. Little things that visit once and come again, like the little bell in the second verse.”

From Songfacts

Regarding the line, “‘Let them eat cake’ she says, just like Marie Antoinette,” according to legend, Marie Antoinette (the Queen of France) said “Let them eat cake” after hearing how the peasants had no bread to eat. It’s more likely that the phrase was uttered by a French philosopher, not Antoinette. 

The Marie Antoinette quote has gone down in history as justification for the French Revolution. It demonstrates how out of touch with the common folk the ruling class had become. According to legend, when informed that there was no bread for the people to eat, she replied, oblivious, “then let them eat cake!” It is said, that enraged by this incredibly ignorant response, the people revolted. In the song, it is used to demonstrate at what level this high priced prostitute sells her wares. 

This was one of the first songs recorded at The Quadrangle, a studio opened at the Rockfield Studios complex in Wales in 1973. The following year, Queen recorded much of their Sheer Heart Attack album at Rockfield, and in 1975 they did the bulk of “Bohemian Rhapsody” there.

In Ben Elton’s musical We Will Rock You, Killer Queen is an evil matriarch who controls the music industry.
Nevertheless, he was a little reticent at first about releasing it: “I was a little hesitant; I was thinking are we setting ourselves as something very light?” He relates this back to how initially the band were very heavy and rock-orientated, and “Killer Queen” was a major departure from that sound.

Californian pop princess Katy Perry named one of her fragrances after this tune. She told Women’s Wear Daily the song’s lyrics really spoke to her when she was a teenager. “Killer Queen has been in my vocabulary since I was 15,” Perry said. “Freddie Mercury painted the lyrics of this woman who I wanted to be. She seemed very powerful, and she captivated a room when she walked in.”

This song was covered by Sum 41 for the 2005 Queen tribute album Killer Queen.

In the video game Guitar Hero 3, one of the unlockable guitars called the “Card Sharp Special” can have a finish called “Killer Queen.” In the description it says: ” Something about dynamite and laser beams? what’s that all about? and who am I to deny it?”, which is a reference to the song lyrics.

Killer Queen

She keeps her Moet et Chandon
In her pretty cabinet
“Let them eat cake”, she says
Just like Marie Antoinette
A built-in remedy
For Kruschev and Kennedy
At anytime an invitation
You can’t decline

Caviar and cigarettes
Well versed in etiquette
Extraordinarily nice

She’s a Killer Queen
Gunpowder, gelatine
Dynamite with a laser beam
Guaranteed to blow your mind
Anytime

Recommended at the price
Insatiable an appetite
Wanna try?

To avoid complications
She never kept the same address
In conversation
She spoke just like a baroness
Met a man from China
Went down to Geisha Minah
Then again incidentally
If you’re that way inclined

Perfume came naturally from Paris (naturally)
For cars she couldn’t care less
Fastidious and precise

She’s a Killer Queen
Gunpowder, gelatine
Dynamite with a laser beam
Guaranteed to blow your mind
Anytime

Drop of a hat she’s as willing as
Playful as a pussy cat
Then momentarily out of action
Temporarily out of gas
To absolutely drive you wild, wild
She’s all out to get you

She’s a Killer Queen
Gunpowder, gelatine
Dynamite with a laser beam
Guaranteed to blow your mind
Anytime

Recommended at the price
Insatiable an appetite
Wanna try?
You wanna try

Author: Badfinger (Max)

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

27 thoughts on “Queen – Killer Queen”

  1. Max, I remember the first time I heard this song, there were chills going up and down my spine. I never considered that this song was anything other than Freddy’s self-proclaimed autobiographical coming-out. I agree with Brian it has his kick-ass guitar riff that I still get the goosebumps over. I’m also embarrassed to say I never knew all of the lyrics until you posted them here today. I sang along but who knows what I was singing in some parts lol

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I just listened to it again…with the effects on the voices yea it’s hard to hear without the lyrics. I love Brian May’s solos…his solos you can hum…which is a very cool thing.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. although it’s yet another Queen song I think I’ve heard just a bit too often on radio, it’s undeniably a pretty good rock song in every respect, from the writing to playing to singing. But, like Lisa, reading the lyrics was interesting… I only knew about half of them, and hence didn’t really put it all into the real context.

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    1. Yea that is the same with me…I just listened to it and I was surprised at the same thing. Very clever lyrics. Elton John though is the top artist to me that I cannot understand some of his lyrics…I just do the sounds.

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  3. This song was my first introduction to Queen, and I loved it. I still think it’s one of their best songs. I never understood, however, what Freddie was singing about the Killer Queen keeping in her pretty cabinet (Moet et Chandon) in the opening line until finally seeing the lyrics a year or two ago.

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  4. Great tune. I absolutely love May’s guitar on that one. He has an amazing sound – truly signature.

    Your remark that “Killer Queen” was one of the first Queen songs you heard made me try to remember the first time I heard one of their tunes. It may have been “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” or “We Will Rock You/We Are the Champions.” I don’t think it was “Bohemian Rhapsody,” but memories are foggy.

    In some regards the way I feel about Queen is similar to ELO. While I find many of their songs are overproduced, they are brilliant tunes. I think “Bohemian Rhapsody” is a perfection illustration – massive, heavily produced sound, especially in the middle section when go into opera overdrive, but it’s just an amazing song. I know of no other tune that sounds like it!

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    1. Bohemian Rhapsody is epic no doubt. I read where you could see through the tape because it was wore out so much because of the overdubs…They took overdubs to a new level.

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  5. One of my favourite Queen songs. It’s so fun and playful, compared to, you know, We Will Rock You and Another One Bites the Dust (which are great but, a bit too overdone.) I always just assume Freddie’s singing about himself as the Killer Queen… : ) He really has fun with the lyrics and his performance is brilliantly OTT. May’s solo too is a good one. Great tune.

    Liked by 1 person

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