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Killer Queen by Queen

Album: Sheer Heart AttackReleased: 1974Charted:
12
2
  • In the New Musical Express November 2, 1974, the song's writer Freddie Mercury elucidates on this song: "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."
  • 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. (thanks, Brentley - gibbon, NE)
  • 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. (thanks, Kraeg Minett - London, Canada)
  • This was the band's first major breakthrough on the worldwide singles charts, even though it was taken from their third album. (thanks, Tom - Trowbridge, England)
  • This song was covered by Sum 41 for the 2005 Queen tribute album Killer Queen. (thanks, Rachel - South Point, OH)
  • In Ben Elton's musical We Will Rock You, Killer Queen is an evil matriarch who controls the music industry. (thanks, Edward Pearce - Ashford, Kent, England)
  • 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. (thanks, Paul - Los Angeles, CA)
  • Brian May said in Q magazine March 2008: "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."

    He elaborated further on it in the Days of our Lives documentary: "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."

    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."
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Comments: 76

Seems to me the song is about a male homosexual (drag queen) if anything... kind of like Morrison's Madame George. As for the Marie Antoinette thing, who really cares, it's a cool line and probably in the mouth of the character a light-hearted sophisticated joke referencing the expensive champagne.Houston - New York, Ny
I almost fell over laughing after reading how Katy Perry wanted to become like the woman in this song. Yeah, she did pretty good at taking on the whore image. But that aside, this is an awesome song. I actually just listened to it for the first time :)Hunter - Philadelphia, Pa
Gunpowder, Guillotine (head chopping off device used against Marie Antoinette & the other nobility); note: history has slandered Marie -- she wasn't saying "no bread, then eat cake"(out of touch with what a lack of flour completely means); at that time, they ate two kinds of pastries -- plain, bread-like, & sweet, pastry(cake)-like -- it would've been reasonable for the servant staff to say, "we're out of bread to accompany lunch" & Marie replied with the meaning of, "Oh, serve them(our guests) the good breakfast stuff", as in don't quibble over details, we'll not go broke through giving a little more than is expected, especially when the alternative is to risk the entire community infrastructure by displaying poverty from the leaders (if Marie is so poor now as to not have bread, how much worse will this famine become for US??); Marie likely loved her subjects as much as a monarch ever did, & was optimistic about future improvements in her nation's straits. . . certainly is possible, likely even, that other nobles were feeding at the tough, making life worse for the little guy, but they'd not involve Marie in this as a co-thief nor even in knowledge of it.Cyberpope - Richmond, Canada
If you mix Gunpower and Gelatine and then set it on fire.. BOOM! You've made a simple form of Dynamite.Milly - Swansea, United Kingdom
Here it is 2012. For some unknown reason, these song lyrics have been stuck in my head for weeks. Read all these comments and find no one is addressing why this person is referred to as a 'queen'. Imo, I think this is definitely about an assassin (guaranteed to blow your mind). But it's about a MAN dressed as a woman (queen) (if you're that way inclined) (dynomite with the laser beam).Camille - Toronto, Oh
For the line "Gunpowder ______, dynamite and a laser beam", I hear the word "turpentine".Cam - Newport Beach, Ca
It's "gelatine", which I assume is like plastic explosives.Larry - Wayne, Pa
What is the actual word in the line chorus line "Gunpowder _________, dynamite with a laser beam"? It is hard to discern when listening to the song, and I've seen many interpretations such as turpentine and gelatine (? I know of gelatin, but not this), and I personally hear "guillotine" which to me makes sense with the rest of the lyrics, and coincides with the Marie Antoinette reference. However, I am notorious for mishearing things, so this may be another case of that.
Comments/suggestions?
Emily - Smithfield, Nc
I agree with Alexandria from Preston, CT. Songs shouldn't be covered. The original is ALWAYS the greatest.Nikita - Drogheda, Ireland
This was the first queen song I heard 1975?, It has been my number 1 faverite song of all times.
I have since then been an avid fan and collector of the band. Brian May is by far the greatest guitarist of all time.
Lawrence - Erie, Pa
this song is guaranteed to blow your mind anytime.Irfan - Bekasi, Indonesia
This pure-unadulterated original classical stuff before people got picky.This is Queen at thier and at the best time.Superb!John - Brisbane, United States
Shame,shame,shame on anybody who would dare compare the virtuous Emma Peel with some high class hooker!Charles - Glenside, Pa
I haven't seen this one represented yet, but there's a theory it's about Jackie O, as well. Just adding tinder to the fire. ^_^

"It's about a high class girl. I'm trying to say that classy people can be whores aswell. Thats what the song is about, though I'd prefer people to put their own interperetation on it- to read what they like into it." Freddie Mercury
Kate - Norfolk, Va
I wish people wouldn't cover songs like this.
I hate covers.
Alexandria - Preston, Ct
Alex you're an idiot.John - Wilmington, Nc
To comment on the chorus, there seems to be msny references to explosives...Gun Powder, gelatin(Nitro Glycerine) Dynomite with a laser beam, guaranteed to blow your mind...And also I thought Luke Menard's version of American Idol was amazing...C.z. - Chattaroy, Wa
I like Freddie's range on this song, it's impressive.Stephanie - Naselle, Wa
i would like to point out that mary antoinette did have like 3 husbands and they all died before her.Brandon Gallagher - Marysville, Sd
Sky Five, what song are you listening to? If your talking about Marie Antoinette; for one, she was the queen of France. Second did you not read at the top where Freddie Mercury himself said that it was about a classy whore?
The queen of England isn't a whore.
Sydney - Cincinnati, Oh
Travis covered this on their SING single...original is still the best.Nunzio - Darwin, Australia
To Andreas in Melbourne Austrailia,
Yes you are right! Queen is the only one who can do this song! In fact, no one can do Queen songs better than Queen....to think that the band was considering replacing Freddie!!!! That is impossible. There is no one who could ever replace him. He is a legend!
Valerie, California
Valerie - Eureka, Ca
I've heard a tribute to this song performed by Carmine Appice, Stuart Hamm, Glenn Hughes, Pat Thrall. It's professional but scary.Kivi - Yekaterinburg
Great song but what pray tell is a high class prostitute apart from an oxymoron?Alexander - London, England
Brian May wasn't present during the writing and recording of this song. He was in hospital recovering from a serious illness. The band left Brian the space to put his guitar parts when he was well enough to leave the hospital and get back in to the studio.Paul - Rothesay, New Brunswick , Canada
Queen is the only band that can play this song. not +41 or panic!, the original is the best.Andreas - Melbourne, Australia
Panic! at the disco covered this on their last tour. Also, i've heard it was about a transexual prostitute hence the name Killer "Queen".Alexandra - Venice, Fl
i would like to hear mcr do a cover it could sound pretty good, they could do both stay classic or put there own twist on it. either should be great coversDoug - New York, Ny
would any one be against me for saying that I think My Chemical Romance could make a great version of this song? , With the Black Parade album I think their capable of some pretty sweet stuff , and Gerard Way's voice could nail these kind of vocals.Clay - Reno, Ga
i LOVE cake!!!!! this song is pretty awesome, didn't quite understand it till now though,Tina - Monterey, Ca
I really believe the true inspiration for this song is the character "Emma Peale" on the famous series "The Avengers". Played by
Diana Rigg, Mrs. Peale was the living image of the woman described in the song.
Al - Baltimore, Md
This song is actually written about the Queen of England. Look at the passages, look at the title.Sky Five - Chattanooga, Tn
"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 numbers - not that Noel 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 own interpretation upon it - to read what they like into it." As Mercury said, it's about a whore, but I think Kelly's interpretation makes more sense.John - Eden Prairie, Mn
After a long and hard thesis on the French Revolution and the European Royalty that led to it's demise i can accurately say that it was a Spanish Consort who uttered the "let them eat cake" (in the english translation)Melissa - Adelaide, Australia
i love this song and it has an awesome guitar almost in the middle of the song.Ray - Stockton, Nj
Good song, Brian thought they might leave him out, but they saved a spot for his wicked solo bit. He was sick at the time.Jonathon - Clermont, Fl
Kept off the #1 spot by David "grannies love ya" Essex!! How did that happen?Paul - Redditch, England
I always thought, since I knew history and the fact that the queen never said let them eat cake, that it was about the kind of woman that would buy the best butter (review you Alice in Wonderland), but not have enough money to pay the gas bill. Oh well.Cyn - Fairfield, Ca
I first heard this song while going to my friends house at 10 pm. Then the hunt was on. I would not sleep until i get this song. I even resorted to downloading it (Forgive me Queen). But alas it took me FOREVER to get. But now its mine. And I play Guitar Hero just to play this song. Keep it up Queen!Andrew - Wimauma, Fl
trust freddie 2 write this, ever so him. love it to bits its one of those songs when u first hear it its like shes a kiler queen la la la namamnm lol, ahh those day where i didnt kno queen seamed so nieveRosa - Reading, England
damn, i wish i went to see WWRY play in Vegas. I was a week late :(Amy - Dallas, Tx
In the musical "We Will Rock You" my cousin Jeremy played Puff Daddy, one of the members of the Bohemian Rhapsody. I saw it in vegas last year and it was awesomeJames - Fountain Valley, Ca
QUOTE Great song did anybody know freddie was originally trained as an opera singer
- John, Duxbury, MA QUOTE - Erm, no he wasn't! Freddie never had any formal training for his singing, but his vocal range spanned 4 octaves which gave him the perfect kind of voice to sing opera. He was however an accomplished pianist reaching a grade IV, and he also, as a one off, danced with the Royal Ballet, again without prior training. He was just exceptionally naturally talented. A Mad Queen Fan. :)
Cari - Knebworth, England
sigh... nobody listens to the DIRECT quote adressing its meaning stated by the writer... whatev....Freddie - Orlando, Fl
alright, marie antoinette said that because she knew they were poor, and didn't care. the song, however, i believe, is about a drag queen.Matt - Uniontown , Pa
Sorry folks, but Marie Antoinette NEVER said "Let them eat cake." That infamous line was actually uttered nearly 80 years before by Marie Thérèse of Spain, the Queen Consort of Louis the XIV.

Marie Antoinette was a frivolous woman, a gambler, a clothes horse, and a wastrel with the French treasury, but these traits were the product of an upbringing that gave her no appreciation for the value of money or practical knowledge of how things actually worked. Women of her station literally had no concept of why everything could not be exactly as they wanted it to be every second of every day. Despite it all, she was actually quite sympathetic toward the plight of the underclass in France, but once the revolution started she, and all her family, were doomed.
Robert - St. Louis, Mo
This well written ditty put Queen on the map. It's probably the only Top 40 hit to mention Nikita Khruschev and John F. Kennedy in the same verse. Let's not forget Marie Antoinette.Howard - St. Louis Park, Mn
RE: Marie Antoinette and cake or dough or whatever...

1. This is apocryphal. She never actually said it.

2. We say "let them eat cake," but the expression in French is "Qu'ils mangent des brioches," or "let them eat brioche." The point is not that she was meant to have said they should eat burnt leftovers; rather, it points to her naivete - if there's no bread, why don't they have cake (or brioche) instead?

We may say that something crusty stuck to the interior of something is "caked on" (like dough, oatmeal, lasagna in a pan), but there is not a French verbal equivalent. Food does not get "brioched" to the inside of a pan or oven. Besides, bread dough doesn't stick to the oven. The outsides are floured to prevent that happening.
Daniel - Bloomington, In
In regard to the "Let them eat cake" comments, back then, the word cake referred to the burnt pieces of bread that were left behind in the baking ovens after the good bread was taken out. So, she was saying that if they don't have good bread, they could always eat the burnt pieces.Bill - Southeastern Part Of, Fl
This song is about me...Fredie should have found me before..or i was too small then. anyone wants to re-make the video..please contact me.. i m a most high-class dragqueen from India/NewdelhiSum Sum - New Delhi, India
I loved the video for this song! Freddie was such a pretty boy in this one.... him in his cute fur coat and tight white satin pants. Another one of my favorites..... but then again all Queen music is my favorite... Its just something I can't live without!!!!Alicia - Tamaqua, Pa
This song is one of the best ever. my friends and me have this on our video game jam list (dorky sounding but hey) and it's just a funny sight to see 12 kids sitting in a tiny room singing and jamming this song. ah good timesKatie - Alliance, Ne
Great song did anybody know freddie was originally trained as an opera singerJohn - Duxbury, Ma
Awesome, poetic lyrics. And a sexy sound, my favourite Queen song =)Elysia - Hamilton, New Zealand
In the musical We will rock you, the Killer Queen is the evil woman that runs only company (cant remember name) that´s allowed to publish music. It´s absolutely a fantastic musical and does wonders to the Queen songs.Sigurbjörn - KeflavÃ?k, Iceland
this song is sooooo great! it is the best queen song except for can't stop me now and play the game! i cant understand half the words though. the guitar in it is awesome!Jeanette - Irvine, Ca
geez, i wouldnt be mad if i was given cake instead of bread, depends on the times i guess, good songPhil - Niagara Falls, Canada
I love this song. Its sooo great. Freddie was the most amazing writer/artist in my opinion. I listen to it constantly as well as many other songs!Alicia - Tamaqua, Pa
Queen is the best band your mom ever heard.Yolanda Morphinite - Bountiful , Ut
A high class hooker, eh? Freddie, Freddie, Freddie...well my spin on it was that she was a high class top of the line assasinator. You know, like James Bond only a girl. That would make sense of the chorus and lyrics for me at least. I don't know. But what I do know is that this is a fantastic song with a good vocabulary and tune, so I won't read into the lyrics too much. Nice job, Queen.Kelly - Burbank, Ca
The legend goes that MA uttered this, but cake wasnt like we know it today. its the caked on crap that is on ovens from lots of cooking, and its really bitter and stuff. so she was pretty much saying "well if theyre gonna complain so much about nothing, then lets give them a step above"Chas - Webster, Ny
well... for the record.... hereswhat the guy who WROTE it says... "It's about a high class girl. I'm trying to say that classy people can be whores aswell. Thats what the song is about, though I'd prefer people to put their own interperetation on it- to read what they like into it."
Freddie Mercury
Freddie - Orlando, Fl
this song is not about a hooker people, and without the intent to be disrespectfull its kind of ignorant top think so.. Queen is master of hidden meanings and subjects for that matter. Killer Queenis about speed or uppers. The beginning is about MA and is meant to make it look like its indeed about a hooker or whatever. Then comes built in remedy for kruschov and kennedy. Its well known president kennedy dabbled with mysterious energy shots..The caviar and cigarettes bit refers to the high class life style many people who start to use uppers (esp cocaine)adopt, whether they can it afford it or not. The chorus speaks for itself. Then comes recommended at the price insatiable an appetite: again no comment.never kept the same adres cfould refer to dealers or whatever. Other signs are bits like momentarily out pf action, temporarily out of gas. I think killer queen is more suitable a name for speed then for a wild hookerAron - Amsterdam, Netherlands
as i know, Antoinette was so ignoret she didnt knew regular people cant afford cakes.Maor - Sederot, Israel
oh, and the quote showed up before marie was born . . .Liz - Someplace, Ct
new info about the whole "let them eat cake" thing - montsequie (i can't spell) - a french writer person, credited the quote to a young princess, whom he was kind enough toward her to not mention her name. I got this from a history teacher, so it is very relyable.Liz - Someplace, Ct
this song is one of the best ever but its really hard to understand the lyrics at some pointsClint - Lincoln, Ne
Kevin - you listen to Queen and JUST figured out they are great?
All my friends hate this song - i LOVE IT!
Liz - Someplace, Ct
One of my favorite solos, Queen rocksKyle - Montreal, Canada
The accompanying video recorded in a Top of the Pops session was later widely ridiculed by the band. Freddie wore a fur coat and had his fingernails painted black on one hand, and practice which dated back to their second album.Kent Lyle - Palo Alto, Ca
Freddie writes the most interesting songs! He's great isn't he?Kevin - Bridgeport, Ct
marie Antoinette said let them eat cake because the peasents were to poor to afford bread, but because she was queen so she thougt that there was no breaad.Gywn - Niskayuna, Ny
No, she was refering to the leftover bread dough that got caked to the walls of the ovens. Definatly no pity there...Ben - Brunswick, Me
this song is freakin awesomeAlf - New York, Ny
I really like this song...its really cool! but the chorus doesnt make too much sense to me...Shana - Pembroke, Canada
Actually, the "Let them eat cake!" line WAS said by Antoinette...but she was referring to a kind of cake eaten in the royal French court, so she may have been showing pity which was later misconstrued.Matt - Saugus, Ma