Killer Queen

Album: Sheer Heart Attack (1974)
Charted: 2 12
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  • In the New Musical Express November 2, 1974, the song's writer Freddie Mercury elucidated 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. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    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. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Kraeg Minett - London, Canada
  • The first single from Queen's third album, Sheer Heart Attack, "Killer Queen" was their first song to chart outside their native UK, where "Seven Seas of Rhye," from their previous album Queen II, reached #10. Their breakthrough to superstardom came with their next album, A Night At The Opera, which has the epic "Bohemian Rhapsody" on the tracklist.
  • The Sheer Heart Attack album cover was shot by Mick Rock, who did the famous cover of their previous album, Queen II, showing the four band members in darkness with their faces illuminated. 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. "He said, 'I want us to look like we're thrown up from a shipwreck on some distant shore,' so that's what I shot," Mick Rock told Songfacts. "Of course, they were soaking wet and there was a lot of spraying going on."
  • 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.
  • 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."
  • This song was covered by Sum 41 for the 2005 Queen tribute album Killer Queen. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Rachel - South Point, OH
  • 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. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Paul - Los Angeles, CA

Comments: 85

  • Bridget from CoThis was about a prostitute? Seeing as it referred to Marie Antoniette, I thought it was referring a historical event.
  • AnonymousAnother theory is its about JFKs killer, Jackie Onasis. Jackie was meant to be a CIA asset with previous experience and Russian connections. The job was inside controlled at the behest of the controllers of the federal reserve, three generals from the pentagon and used the driver and Jackie to deliver a message with a modified gun hidden in her blue clutch. A Message to any or all president or politicians who step out of line. Now whether you agree with such a theory it certainly seems to sit better than most.
  • Becriz from United StatesIts about a high class prostitute who murders.
  • Deborah Smalley from Louisville Kentucky I was teenager and early 20’s in the 70’s and 80’s. I loved Freddie Mercury. He was so confident in being himself. I was always so different from everyone around me. I felt like I was the only one that was wide awake and seriously I understood that I couldn’t make people uncomfortable with it. Instead it drew people to me. I felt Freddie Mercury in a deep personal way. He showed me there are expressive ways that were fun or happy, feel like yourself without taking people out of their comfort zone too much LOL I can’t sing a lick but Freddie allows me to belt out a song that makes me feel powerful and happy. Happiness is everything if you’re being yourself at the same time. Radio gaga
  • Mellissa from Southern CaliforniaI'm so glad that Brian May finally clarified the "What a drag" lyric. I grew up singing that, because I thought it couldn't possibly be anything else, given the context of the song and Freddy's sexuality. Then karaoke came to America, and my husband challenged me on the "wanna try" thing. Well, now we know it is both.
  • Belle from GeorgiaDoes anyone besides me think the actual lyric is, "Met a man from China, Went down to ASIA MINOR"?
  • George from Vancouver, CanadaIt was Maria Antoinette that said it, but this is a mistranslation; Certain impoverished people would come to the castle for a daily bread allowance; or it was her servants receiving part of their pay in food. The head of the larder said, "We're out of regular flour breads" & Maria said to go ahead & use the better/sweet flour. . . So it was actually a statement/act of generosity ("noblesse oblige"); likely the revolution was started, as most, by malcontents, who changed their minds about what they deemed fair pay/treatment, &, when they won, they didn't want to seem like greedy aarseholes, so they allowed the "let them eat cake" story(which was invented by an English history philosopher).
  • Leon from IntrnationalIt's about the continuing rivalry of chess grand masters of the USSR and other international teams and the effect they had during the cold war.
    Boris Spassky's innovative and aggressive use of the queen in his middle game was widely known in chess circles as Spassky's "killer queen offense".
    Freddie was an uncommon fan of international chess tournaments following the action from China, Turkey, and the middle east, Mercury lionized the Russian Masters unbeatable offense against all comers from all over the world . The song lyric metaphorically refers to events within particular tournaments and matches within Spassky's career.
    Mercury was embarrassed by his nerdish obsession with international chess and when interviewed about the hit song he made up a story about a classy whore.
    He later commented to confidants that the call girl story sounded sexier and more "rock and roll".
  • Jon from PhxNo matter what Freddie says, to me it is obvious that this song is about a high class transgendered prostitute. The hints are in the lyrics, "dynamite with her LASER BEAM", and throughout the song, Mercury is wailing, "what a DRAG". I'm sure that it was his own private joke...
  • Houston from New York, NySeems 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.
  • Hunter from Philadelphia, PaI 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 :)
  • Cyberpope from Richmond, CanadaGunpowder, 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.
  • Milly from Swansea, United KingdomIf you mix Gunpower and Gelatine and then set it on fire.. BOOM! You've made a simple form of Dynamite.
  • Camille from Toronto, OhHere 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).
  • Cam from Newport Beach, CaFor the line "Gunpowder ______, dynamite and a laser beam", I hear the word "turpentine".
  • Larry from Wayne, PaIt's "gelatine", which I assume is like plastic explosives.
  • Emily from Smithfield, NcWhat 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.
  • Nikita from Drogheda, IrelandI agree with Alexandria from Preston, CT. Songs shouldn't be covered. The original is ALWAYS the greatest.
  • Lawrence from Erie, PaThis 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.
  • Irfan from Bekasi, Indonesiathis song is guaranteed to blow your mind anytime.
  • John from Brisbane, United StatesThis pure-unadulterated original classical stuff before people got picky.This is Queen at thier and at the best time.Superb!
  • Charles from Glenside, PaShame,shame,shame on anybody who would dare compare the virtuous Emma Peel with some high class hooker!
  • Kate from Norfolk, VaI 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
  • Alexandria from Preston, CtI wish people wouldn't cover songs like this.
    I hate covers.
  • John from Wilmington, NcAlex you're an idiot.
  • C.z. from Chattaroy, WaTo 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...
  • Stephanie from Naselle, WaI like Freddie's range on this song, it's impressive.
  • Brandon Gallagher from Marysville, Sdi would like to point out that mary antoinette did have like 3 husbands and they all died before her.
  • Sydney from Cincinnati, OhSky 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.
  • Nunzio from Darwin, AustraliaTravis covered this on their SING single...original is still the best.
  • Valerie from Eureka, CaTo 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 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
  • Kivi from YekaterinburgI've heard a tribute to this song performed by Carmine Appice, Stuart Hamm, Glenn Hughes, Pat Thrall. It's professional but scary.
  • Alexander from London, EnglandGreat song but what pray tell is a high class prostitute apart from an oxymoron?
  • Paul from Rothesay, New Brunswick , CanadaBrian 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.
  • Andreas from Melbourne, AustraliaQueen is the only band that can play this song. not +41 or panic!, the original is the best.
  • Alexandra from Venice, FlPanic! at the disco covered this on their last tour. Also, i've heard it was about a transexual prostitute hence the name Killer "Queen".
  • Doug from New York, Nyi 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 covers
  • Clay from Reno, Gawould 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.
  • Tina from Monterey, Cai LOVE cake!!!!! this song is pretty awesome, didn't quite understand it till now though,
  • Al from Baltimore, MdI 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.
  • Sky Five from Chattanooga, TnThis song is actually written about the Queen of England. Look at the passages, look at the title.
  • John from Eden Prairie, Mn "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.
  • Melissa from Adelaide, AustraliaAfter 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)
  • Ray from Stockton, Nji love this song and it has an awesome guitar almost in the middle of the song.
  • Jonathon from Clermont, FlGood song, Brian thought they might leave him out, but they saved a spot for his wicked solo bit. He was sick at the time.
  • Paul from Redditch, EnglandKept off the #1 spot by David "grannies love ya" Essex!! How did that happen?
  • Cyn from Fairfield, CaI 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.
  • Andrew from Wimauma, FlI 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!
  • Rosa from Reading, Englandtrust 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 nieve
  • Amy from Dallas, Txdamn, i wish i went to see WWRY play in Vegas. I was a week late :(
  • James from Fountain Valley, CaIn 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 awesome
  • Cari from Knebworth, EnglandQUOTE 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. :)
  • Freddie from Orlando, Flsigh... nobody listens to the DIRECT quote adressing its meaning stated by the writer... whatev....
  • Matt from Uniontown , Paalright, marie antoinette said that because she knew they were poor, and didn't care. the song, however, i believe, is about a drag queen.
  • Robert from St. Louis, MoSorry 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.
  • Howard from St. Louis Park, MnThis 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.
  • Daniel from Bloomington, InRE: 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.
  • Bill from Southeastern Part Of, FlIn 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.
  • Sum Sum from New Delhi, IndiaThis 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/Newdelhi
  • Alicia from Tamaqua, PaI 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!!!!
  • Katie from Alliance, NeThis 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 times
  • John from Duxbury, MaGreat song did anybody know freddie was originally trained as an opera singer
  • Elysia from Hamilton, New ZealandAwesome, poetic lyrics. And a sexy sound, my favourite Queen song =)
  • Sigurbjörn from KeflavÃ?k, IcelandIn 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.
  • Jeanette from Irvine, Cathis 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!
  • Phil from Niagara Falls, Canadageez, i wouldnt be mad if i was given cake instead of bread, depends on the times i guess, good song
  • Alicia from Tamaqua, PaI 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!
  • Yolanda Morphinite from Bountiful , UtQueen is the best band your mom ever heard.
  • Kelly from Burbank, CaA 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.
  • Chas from Webster, NyThe 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"
  • Freddie from Orlando, Flwell... 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
  • Aron from Amsterdam, Netherlandsthis 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 hooker
  • Maor from Sederot, Israelas i know, Antoinette was so ignoret she didnt knew regular people cant afford cakes.
  • Liz from Someplace, Ctoh, and the quote showed up before marie was born . . .
  • Liz from Someplace, Ctnew 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.
  • Clint from Lincoln, Nethis song is one of the best ever but its really hard to understand the lyrics at some points
  • Liz from Someplace, CtKevin - you listen to Queen and JUST figured out they are great?
    All my friends hate this song - i LOVE IT!
  • Kyle from Montreal, CanadaOne of my favorite solos, Queen rocks
  • Kent Lyle from Palo Alto, CaThe 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.
  • Kevin from Bridgeport, CtFreddie writes the most interesting songs! He's great isn't he?
  • Gywn from Niskayuna, Nymarie 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.
  • Ben from Brunswick, MeNo, she was refering to the leftover bread dough that got caked to the walls of the ovens. Definatly no pity there...
  • Alf from New York, Nythis song is freakin awesome
  • Shana from Pembroke, CanadaI really like this song...its really cool! but the chorus doesnt make too much sense to me...
  • Matt from Saugus, MaActually, 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.
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