Killer Queen

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This article is about the song. For other uses, see Killer Queen (disambiguation).
"Killer Queen"
Single by Queen
from the album Sheer Heart Attack
A-side "Flick of the Wrist"
Released 21 October 1974
Format Vinyl (7")
Recorded 1974, Trident Studios
Genre
Length 3:00
Label EMI (UK), Elektra (US)
Writer(s) Freddie Mercury
Producer(s) Roy Thomas Baker, Queen
Queen singles chronology
"Seven Seas of Rhye"
(1974)
"Killer Queen" /
"Flick of the Wrist"
(1974)
"Now I'm Here"
(1975)

"Killer Queen" is a song by the British rock band Queen. It was their first big international hit, reaching number two in the UK and becoming their first US hit.[3] Written by lead singer and pianist Freddie Mercury, it was featured on their third album Sheer Heart Attack and later appeared on the band's first compilation album, Greatest Hits.[4]

The song is about a high-class call girl.[3] It has been characterised as "Mercury’s piano-led paean to a Moët-quaffing courtesan".[5] It has also been described by AllMusic as the true beginning of Queen's "radio sound" and "recalls the cabaret songs of yesteryear, but also shows how Queen was fast becoming a master of power pop".[3] Rock historian Paul Fowles has written that "Killer Queen", with its "sleazy Parisian imagery", allowed "free rein" to Mercury's "unique brand of rock theater".[6] The song won Mercury his first Ivor Novello Award.[7]

Background and release[edit]

When released as a single, "Killer Queen" was Queen's breakthrough hit, reaching number two in the United Kingdom and number 12 in the United States.[8][9] It was released as a double A-side in the UK, the US and Canada (where it reached number 15 in the RPM 100 national singles chart),[10] with the song "Flick of the Wrist". In 1986, it was featured as the B-side to "Who Wants to Live Forever".[11] The song marked a departure from the heavier material of the band's first two albums, as well as the beginning of a more stylistically diverse approach in songwriting. At the same time, "Killer Queen" retained the essence of Queen's trademark sound, particularly in its meticulous vocal harmonies. According to Q Magazine, Killer Queen's guitar solo is the 2nd best in all time.

Mercury commented that he wrote the lyrics before the melody and music, whereas he would typically do the opposite. The recording features elaborate four-part harmonies (particularly in the choruses, and also providing backing parts in the verses), and also a multitracked guitar solo by Brian May which makes use of the "bell effect". The song's first verse quotes a phrase widely attributed (falsely) to Marie Antoinette: "Let them eat cake," she says, Just like Marie Antoinette. The melody is very similar to a famous French song from the previous decade called Les Champs-Élysées, itself based on an English song called Waterloo Road.

Recording sessions[edit]

Besides using his grand piano as usual, Mercury overdubbed the song with an upright (credited as "jangle piano"), to give the track a vaudeville sound. At one point there are two distinct bass guitar lines, one of which diverges into a descending run. Unlike the first two Queen albums, this song was partly recorded outside England, at Rockfield Studios in Wales.[12]

Queen on the record[edit]

Freddie Mercury:[13]

Brian May:

Live performances[edit]

The song was played from 1974–78 live as part of a medley.[14][15][16][17] In 1974-75, the song was played following "In the Lap of the Gods",[14] and in 1975–76, the song was played after "Bohemian Rhapsody" while "The March of the Black Queen" would usually follow this song.[15] In 1977, the song was played as the introduction to a medley, followed by "Good Old-Fashioned Lover Boy",[17] and in 1978, preceded "Bicycle Race".[18] In 1979, the band played most of the song, and after the guitar solo ended, the opening bars of "I'm in Love with My Car" were played.[19] The song was played at the Montreal Forum, Quebec, Canada in November 1981, and is recorded in the live album, Queen Rock Montreal.[20] In 1984 and 1985, during The Works Tour, it was reintroduced in a medley following a truncated version of "Somebody to Love".[21] Later, they made live video of 1974 live performance which is in list of performers on Top of the Pops.

In 2015 it was played as a medley with "Bohemian Rhapsody" on Queen & Adam Lambert Rock Big Ben Live by Queen + Adam Lambert, replacing "Bohemian Rhapsody"'s operatic bridge.

The ending part of this song was never played live by Queen.

Legacy[edit]

American pop singer Katy Perry cites "Killer Queen" as an important influence on her. She said: "Queen's track 'Killer Queen' made me discover music and helped me come into my own at the age of 15. The way Freddie Mercury delivered his lyrics just made me feel like a confident woman."[22]

The manga and anime series JoJo's Bizarre Adventure features a Stand named after the song.

Chart performance[edit]

Sales and Certifications[edit]

Region Certification Certified units/Sales
United Kingdom (BPI)[36] Silver 250,000^

^shipments figures based on certification alone

Personnel[edit]

On some performances Deacon provided backing vocals and played the triangle.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "10 Essential Glam Rock Albums". Treblezine. 6 June 2012. Retrieved 19 December 2015. cheeky art-pop romps ("Killer Queen") 
  2. ^ "Top 10 Freddie Mercury Queen Songs". Ultimate Classic Rock. Retrieved 19 December 2015. three near-perfect minutes of orgiastic heavy glam rock 
  3. ^ a b c d Prato, Greg. "Song Review by Greg Prato". AllMusic. Retrieved 19 December 2015. the song recalls the cabaret songs of yesteryear, but also shows how Queen was fast becoming a master of power pop 
  4. ^ Queen: Greatest Hits Allmusic. Retrieved 31 August 2011
  5. ^ Monahan, Mark (30 October 2015). "Why we still can't get enough of Queen". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 19 December 2015. 
  6. ^ Fowles, Paul (2009). A Concise History of Rock Music. Mel Bay Publications, Inc. p. 244. ISBN 978-0786666430. 
  7. ^ "Queen - forty years of glam-rocking genius". NME. 11 March 2011. Retrieved 19 December 2015. 
  8. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2006). The Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits. Billboard Books
  9. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums. London: Guinness World Records Limited
  10. ^ Top Singles - Volume 23, No. 14, 31 May 1975 Library and Archives Canada
  11. ^ Who Wants To Live Forever Ultimate Queen. Retrieved 4 September 2011
  12. ^ Mark Hodkinson Queen: The Early Years Omnibus Press 2004. Retrieved 31 August 2011
  13. ^ NME, 2 November 1975 (Queen Archives)
  14. ^ a b "Queen live on tour: Sheer Heart Attack: Setlist". Queen Concerts. Retrieved 26 December 2014. 
  15. ^ a b "Queen live on tour: A Night At The Opera: Setlist". Queen Concerts. Retrieved 26 December 2014. 
  16. ^ "Queen live on tour: Day At The Races (world): Setlist". Queen Concerts. Retrieved 26 December 2014. 
  17. ^ a b "Queen live on tour: News Of The World: Setlist". Queen Concerts. Retrieved 26 December 2014. 
  18. ^ Queen live on tour: Jazz Queen Concerts. Retrieved 30 August 2011
  19. ^ Queen Rock Montreal Killer Queen Ultimate Queen. Retrieved 31 August 2011
  20. ^ Queen Rock Montreal Allmusic. Retrieved 31 August 2011
  21. ^ Queen live on tour: The Works 1984 Queen Concerts. Retrieved 31 August 2011
  22. ^ "Katy Perry hails Freddie Mercury and 'Killer Queen' as a major influence". NME. 7 September 2013. Retrieved 19 December 2015. 
  23. ^ a b http://australian-charts.com/forum.asp?todo=viewthread&id=35092
  24. ^ Steffen Hung. "Queen - Killer Queen". austriancharts.at. Retrieved 23 June 2012. 
  25. ^ "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". Collectionscanada.gc.ca. Retrieved 23 June 2012. 
  26. ^ Steffen Hung. "Queen - Killer Queen". dutchcharts.nl. Retrieved 23 June 2012. 
  27. ^ "charts.de". charts.de. Retrieved 23 June 2012. 
  28. ^ Jaclyn Ward - Fireball Media Group - http://www.fireballmedia.ie. "The Irish Charts - All there is to know". Irishcharts.ie. Retrieved 23 June 2012. 
  29. ^ Steffen Hung. "Queen - Killer Queen". norwegiancharts.com. Retrieved 23 June 2012. 
  30. ^ "The Official Charts Company - Killer Queen by Queen Search". The Official Charts Company. 6 May 2013. 
  31. ^ Queen. "Queen - Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 23 June 2012. 
  32. ^ http://50.6.195.142/archives/70s_files/19750531.html
  33. ^ http://www.uk-charts.top-source.info/top-100-1974.shtml
  34. ^ http://collectionscanada.gc.ca/rpm/028020-119.01-e.php?&file_num=nlc008388.4057b&type=1&interval=50&PHPSESSID=7hpm3qmgc545on9jmipd18oog4
  35. ^ http://www.musicoutfitters.com/topsongs/1975.htm
  36. ^ "British single certifications – Killer Queen". British Phonographic Industry.  Enter Killer Queen in the field Keywords. Select Title in the field Search by. Select single in the field By Format. Select Silver in the field By Award. Click Search

External links[edit]