Meaning of “Killer Queen” by Queen
There are three prevailing histories or theories behind the meaning of this song. The most-accepted is of course that put forth by the singer and songwriter of the track himself, Freddie Mercury. According to Mercury himself, “Killer Queen” is about a “high class” prostitute. However, some fans highly doubt this. They believe that the track is about the band, Queen, itself. And there is also a music executive, Eric Hall, who worked with Queen, who claimed that the song is actually about him, like a very well-veiled, poetic diss track.
Either way, as the title implies, the main character this song is about, in the eyes of the band, is the “Killer Queen”. And there are three main characteristics that she possesses. One is that she enjoys a high-class, pricey lifestyle which includes interacting with top-level powerbrokers, and she actually seems quite smug about it. Second, she is very seductive. Finally, third and perhaps most importantly is that the band perceives her as being lethally dangerous.
In fact more than anything, the overall purpose of this song appears to be to function as a warning to the listener against getting involved with the Killer Queen rather than actually criticizing her lifestyle or meaninglessly documenting her lethalness.
Facts about “Killer Queen”
- The usual writing style of Queen’s Freddie Mercury, who wrote this song, was to write the melody and music before the lyrics. However, with this track he did the opposite.
- Mercury earned his first Ivor Novello Award – giving to outstanding songwriters and composers – for penning this song.
- According to Mercury, “Killer Queen” is about “a high class call girl”. Moreover, he intended it to be a jab at some “classy people” but also for listeners to add their own interpretations to it.
- The line that references Marie Antoinette is based on a legend that she was so alienated from the plight of her people that when she was told they lacked bread, she replied then “let them eat cake”. However, this quote has been erroneously credited to her.
- “Killer Queen” was released as a single on 21 October 1974.
- This was Queen’s first international hit.
- In 2013, American pop singer Katy Perry released a fragrance called “Killer Queen” which is named after this song. Her decision to do so was based on her admiration of Freddie Mercury and the character of the “Killer Queen” featured in the song.
- The Australia pop band 5 Seconds of Summer covered “Killer Queen” in commemoration of the release of the 2018 Queen biopic Bohemian Rhapsody. Net profits generated from the song were donated to the Mercury Phoenix Trust, an anti-HIV/AIDS NGO founded by Queen members Brain May and Roger Taylor along with their manager Jim Beach.
How did “Killer Queen” perform commercially?
It was a great commercial success for Queen. It reached number 2 on the UK Singles Chart, number 12 on the Billboard Hot 100 and number 15 on Canada’s RPM 100 chart. The track also charted very well the following countries: Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, Norway and the Netherlands.
On which album does “Killer Queen” appear?
It was released as a single from Queen’s 1974 album titled Sheer Heart Attack. In addition to Sheer Heart Attack, this song is also featured on the following Queen albums:
- Greatest Hits (1981)
- Absolute Greatest (2009)
- Live Killers (1979)
- Queen Rock Montreal (2007)