Another Friday is upon us and that means that it is time for another song. Earlier this week, I watched this great 2 hr Biography on Queen. It was absolutely fascinating. Obviously, that was my inspiration for picking this weeks song.
To be honest, I have always had a great deal of respect for Queen. I agree that Freddie Mercury was a little bit over the top, but isn’t that what made him memorable? I just love it. I guess I appreciate the art of it the older I get. When you look past that, he was one amazing singer. He can hit notes that very few singers could even fathom reaching. He is without a doubt in my mind, one of the greatest musicians of the last 60 years.
To start off your viewing pleasure, I thought I would start with the music video that they made for this song in 1974.
I also wanted to include this amazing a capella version of this song. You can really hear the amazing voice that Freddie Mercury had.
Live version of the song. It is at a slightly faster tempo.
Another live version of the song. This is from 6/6/77. That was less than 2 months after I was born.
Dutch TV version from 1974. This footage is really old, but the voice is really pure on this one.
“Killer Queen” is a song by British rock band Queen. Written by pianist and lead singer Freddie Mercury, it featured on their 1974 album Sheer Heart Attack, and also appears on the band’s compilation album, Greatest Hits. When released as a single, “Killer Queen” was Queen’s breakthrough hit, reaching number two in the UK and number 12 in the United States. 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), with the song “Flick of the Wrist“. In 1986, it was featured as the B-side to “Who Wants to Live Forever“.
Mercury commented that he wrote the lyrics first before adding the musical arrangements. The recording features elaborate four-part harmonies (particularly in the choruses, and also providing backing parts in the verses), and also an elaborate multitracked guitar solo by Brian May, including use of the “bell effect“. The song, in the first line, mentions the phrase “Let them eat cake“, a phrase attributed Marie Antoinette: Let them eat cake, she said; Just like Marie Antoinette.
Besides using a 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 bass guitars, one of which does a descending run. Contrary to songs for the first two Queen albums, this one was partly recorded outside England, at Rockfield Studios in Wales.
“People are used to hard rock, energy music from Queen, yet with this single you almost expect Noel Coward to sing it. It’s one of those bowler hat, black suspender belt numbers – not that Coward would wear that. (…) 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.”
“‘Killer Queen’ was the turning point. It was the song that best summed up our kind of music, and a big hit, and we desperately needed it as a mark of something successful happening for us… I was always very happy with this song. The whole record was made in a very craftsman-like manner. I still enjoy listening to it because there’s a lot to listen to, but it never gets cluttered. There’s always space for all the little ideas to come through. And of course I like the solo, with that three-part section, where each part has its own voice. What can I say? It’s vintage Queen. The first time I heard Freddie playing that song, I was lying in my room in Rockfield [a residential recording studio in Wales], feeling very sick. After Queen’s first American tour I had hepatitis, and then I had very bad stomach problems and I had to be operated on. So I remember just lying there, hearing Freddie play this really great song and feeling sad, because I thought, ‘I can’t even get out of bed to participate in this. Maybe the group will have to go on without me.’ No one could figure out what was wrong with me. But then I did go into the hospital and I got fixed up, thank God. And when I came out again, we were able to finish off ‘Killer Queen.’ They left some space for me and I did the solo. I had strong feelings about one of the harmony bits in the chorus, so we had another go at that too.”
The song was played from 1974–78 live in a medley. In 1974, the song was played following “In the Lap of the Gods“, and in 1975–76, the song was played after “Bohemian Rhapsody“. In 1977, the song was played as the introduction to a medley, followed by “Good Old Fashioned Lover Boy“, and in 1978, preceded “Bicycle Race“. 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. The song was played at the Montreal Forum, Quebec, Canada in November 1981, and is recorded in the live album, Queen Rock Montreal. In 1984 and 1985, during The Works Tour, it was reintroduced in a medley following a truncated version of “Somebody to Love“.
She keeps Moet et Chandon
In a pretty cabinet
‘Let them eat cake’ she says
Just like Marie Antoinette
A built-in remedy
For Khrushchev and Kennedy
At anytime an invitation
You can’t decline
Caviar and cigarettes
Well versed in etiquette
She’s a Killer Queen
Dynamite with a laser beam
Guaranteed to blow your mind
Recommended at the price
Insatiable an appetite
To avoid complications
She never kept the same address
She spoke just like a baroness
Met a man from China
Went down to Asia Minor
Then again incidentally
If you’re that way inclined
Perfume came naturally from Paris
for cars she couldn’t care less
Fastidious and precise
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 out to get you
Recommended at the price
Insatiable in appetite
You wanna try.