Killer Queen

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This article is about the song. For other uses, see Killer Queen (disambiguation).
"Killer Queen"
Killer3cdfront.JPG
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, the track was recorded for their third album Sheer Heart Attack.

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".[4] 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".[5] The song won Mercury his first Ivor Novello Award.[6]

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.[7][8] 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),[9] with the song "Flick of the Wrist". In 1986, it was featured as the B-side to "Who Wants to Live Forever".[10] 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.

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.[11]

Queen on the record[edit]

Freddie Mercury:[12]

Brian May:

Live performances[edit]

The song was regularly performed between 1974 and 1978 as part of a medley.[13][14][15][16] In 1974–75, the song was played following "In the Lap of the Gods",[13] and in 1975–76, the song followed "Bohemian Rhapsody".[14] In 1984 and 1985, during The Works Tour, it was reintroduced in a medley following a truncated version of "Somebody to Love".[17]

Chart performance[edit]

Sales and Certifications[edit]

Region Certification Certified units/Sales
United Kingdom (BPI)[31] 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. ^ Monahan, Mark (30 October 2015). "Why we still can't get enough of Queen". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 19 December 2015. 
  5. ^ Fowles, Paul (2009). A Concise History of Rock Music. Mel Bay Publications, Inc. p. 244. ISBN 978-0786666430. 
  6. ^ "Queen - forty years of glam-rocking genius". NME. 11 March 2011. Retrieved 19 December 2015. 
  7. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2006). The Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits. Billboard Books
  8. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums. London: Guinness World Records Limited
  9. ^ Top Singles - Volume 23, No. 14, 31 May 1975 Library and Archives Canada
  10. ^ Who Wants To Live Forever Ultimate Queen. Retrieved 4 September 2011.
  11. ^ Mark Hodkinson Queen: The Early Years Omnibus Press 2004. Retrieved 31 August 2011.
  12. ^ "Queen Interviews - Freddie Mercury - 11-02-1974 - NME - Queen Archives: Freddie Mercury, Brian May, Roger Taylor, John Deacon, Interviews, Articles, Reviews". queenarchives.com. Retrieved 9 November 2016. 
  13. ^ a b "Queen live on tour: Sheer Heart Attack: Setlist". Queen Concerts. Retrieved 26 December 2014. 
  14. ^ a b "Queen live on tour: A Night At The Opera: Setlist". Queen Concerts. Retrieved 26 December 2014. 
  15. ^ "Queen live on tour: Day At The Races (world): Setlist". Queen Concerts. Retrieved 26 December 2014. 
  16. ^ "Queen live on tour: News Of The World: Setlist". Queen Concerts. Retrieved 26 December 2014. 
  17. ^ Queen live on tour: The Works 1984 Queen Concerts. Retrieved 31 August 2011.
  18. ^ a b Steffen Hung. "Forum - 1970 (ARIA Charts: Special Occasion Charts)". Australian-charts.com. Retrieved 9 October 2016. 
  19. ^ Steffen Hung. "Queen - Killer Queen". austriancharts.at. Retrieved 23 June 2012. 
  20. ^ "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". Collectionscanada.gc.ca. Retrieved 23 June 2012. 
  21. ^ Steffen Hung. "Queen - Killer Queen". dutchcharts.nl. Retrieved 23 June 2012. 
  22. ^ "charts.de". charts.de. Retrieved 23 June 2012. 
  23. ^ Jaclyn Ward. "The Irish Charts - All there is to know". Irishcharts.ie. Retrieved 23 June 2012. 
  24. ^ Steffen Hung. "Queen - Killer Queen". norwegiancharts.com. Retrieved 23 June 2012. 
  25. ^ "The Official Charts Company - Killer Queen by Queen Search". The Official Charts Company. 6 May 2013. 
  26. ^ Queen. "Queen - Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 23 June 2012. 
  27. ^ "Cash Box Top 100 5/31/75". web.archive.org. Retrieved 9 November 2016. 
  28. ^ "Top 100 1974 - UK Music Charts". Uk-charts.top-source.info. Retrieved 9 October 2016. 
  29. ^ "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". Collectionscanada.gc.ca. Retrieved 9 October 2016. 
  30. ^ "Top 100 Hits of 1975/Top 100 Songs of 1975". Musicoutfitters.com. Retrieved 9 October 2016. 
  31. ^ "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]