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Killer Queen Critical Song Analysis

Killer Queen Critical Song Analysis

Introduction

The song under consideration is “Killer Queen” performed by the group Queen. It is on the list of the band’s third studio album titled Sheer Heart Attack. While writing this essay, I intend to provide the background details of the song such as genre, formal peculiarities, and the social context it pertains to. Next, I am inclined to reflect on my motives of choosing that particular work to be analyzed. Apart from that, I am going to make an attempt to explain its explicit and implicit content. Depending on the social issues and thus, the social context of the song being considered, I have an aim to contemplate the composer’s and performers’ attitude towards the problems themselves as well as their contribution to solving them. Lastly, I will have to make a conclusion basing on what I have found out while making a critical evaluation of the chosen song.

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The Background

“Killer Queen” by Queen was composed by Freddie Mercury, also known as Farrokh Bulsara, the band’s lead singer and key-board player. Other members of the group also contributed to its creation, especially Brian May. He was the lead guitar player whose solo in this particular song testified the band’s desire to experiment and search for a new sounding. The song was released in 1974. After I have done some research on the Internet, I have come to the conclusion that there has been a heated discussion around the song’s imagery, symbolism, explicit and implicit contents. Building on its lyrics, one can with utter surety assume that the “Killer Queen” has a broad social context the depth of which is stunning. Thus, there is a plenty of ways to decipher the meaning of the song and interpret its lyrics.

Reflecting on what the Queen had been doing while making their first two albums, Freddie Mercury points out the following, “It’s a turning point in that it sounds nothing like the noisy heavy metal sound to which we are accustomed from Queen …” (“Interviews,” n.d.). Basically, the genre of the song can be classified as rock music. In their third album, the musicians have artistically reconsidered it in a sense that they are reputed to be the godfathers of what nowadays is identified as glam-rock. Recalling those days, Brian May, in one of the interviews, said that he had expressed concern over experimenting with the genres when the group was working on their third studio album (“Killer Queen,” n.d.). Apparently, when composing a song, the musicians did not focus on some specific type of audience. At the same time, they expressed worry about how the public might accept their new work.

As far as the social contexts of the song “Killer Queen” is concerned, it is important to admit the following. Speaking of the meaning of the song and the audience’s interpretation of it, Freddie Mercury made an assertion that goes:

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. (“Interviews,” n.d.).

According to Freddie Mercury and Brian May, the band did their third album shortly after they had returned from a tour in the United States (“Interviews,” n.d.). In the early nineteen seventieths, USA and the Soviet Union were in a state of cold war. The first stanza of the song reads:

A built-in remedy

For Kruschev and Kennedy

At anytime an invitation

You can’t decline. (“Queen Lyrics,” n.d.).

Basically, these particular lines can be regarded as a direct reference to the historical reality that existed at that time. On the other hand, as the central figure of the song is a female, it is possible to assume that the author of the lyrics is also considering the problem of the status of women in the society. Actually, the issue remains one of the most topical social ones even nowadays. Other social problems addressed in the song are gender equality, gender-based prejudices, and equality as such, in particular the equality of social classes.

Speaking of the song’s lyrics, it is important to mention that it had been written before the music was composed. Critics believe that, as a rule, Freddie Mercury used to compose music first. All things considered, the social context is woven into the canvas of the song quite harmoniously, which proves that the song is a coherent whole. The mentioned fact, in its turn, means that the plane of content and the plane of expression complement each other perfectly.

Unfortunately, rock music has been stagnating recently. This does not mean, however, that no good music has been composed lately. Even though Freddie Mercury passed away, Queen remain popular to these days because their music is still topical and relatable to the audience. The group continues to give charity concerts, which means that the musicians are still responsive to the challenges of the day. Different genres of music contain a similar social message as the one that is presented in the song under analysis.

The Interpretation

Queen have got a huge amount of songs in their arsenal that address a variety of most burning social issues. The works are, for instance, as follows: “Under Pressure”, “Bicycle Race”, “Bohemian Rhapsody”, “Friends Will Be Friends”, “Life Is Real (Song for Lennon)”, “Radio Gaga”, “Liar”, and “Killer Queen”. In this regard, their distinctive feature is the presence of a vivid social context. Interestingly, “Under Pressure” proves itself to be the song the social context of which is, perhaps, the most powerful. “Killer Queen”, however, illustrates the versatility of the genre and the variety of social problems the musicians addressed in their songs: musical talent, historicism, fiction/imagination., and actuality in the song complement each other and make an artistically perfect unity. That is why I have decided to critically analyze this particular work. Apart from that, “Killer Queen” has been one of my favorite songs for a very long time.

Personally, I reckon that the song is satiric to a great extent. Its social satire seems to me mainly political (“Queen Lyrics,” n.d.; 5-8 lines). It is mostly based on an assertion that there are those who earn their living by ruling countries, while there are as well some who have no other option but to make money selling themselves.

As for the reaction of the listeners, it is important to mention the following. Some people tend to pay close attention to the song’s reference to Marie Antoinette and her famous phrase “Let them eat cake” (“Killer Queen,” n.d.; “Queen Lyrics,” n.d.; 3-4 lines). This fact in particular illustrates how ignorant, arrogant, and negligent a leader of a state can be.

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Critical Analysis

Status of women in the society and women’s hegemony are the two inseparably connected issues. As a whole, they constitute the central ethical conflict of the song. Females’ hegemony occurs mostly in patriarchal societies when women are treated by men as the inferior. A woman in the song conforms and acts respectively; she does not rebel against the social status that is, basically, humiliating and discrediting (“Queen Lyrics,” n.d.; 31-40). On the other hand, she attempts to take an advantage of her social position (“Queen Lyrics,” n.d.; 20-27 lines).

Gender-based prejudices are bound to appear due to the causal relationships with the aforementioned concepts, namely, the status of women in the society and females’ hegemony. It is necessary to note that these beliefs are an abomination and result from a distorted perception of gender roles. The way that the social problem of that kind manifests itself in the song being analyzed is self-evident.

Equality is the broader concept in itself and is addressed in the work circumstantially. It occurs when social groups respect each other regardless of age, gander, or race. Equality is important since the vast majority of modern communities hold honor and dignity above everything else. Honor and dignity, in their turn, are a key to understanding the equality.

Going Beyond

I admit that I used to pay little attention to the lyrics when listening to music. I would focus more on the expressive means, melody, and technique of performance. While doing a research and attempting to critically analyze one of my favorite songs and its social context, I have come across some interesting facts. The process has turned out to be really insightful. It has totally changed my perception of the song in a sense that I have started to realize the depth of it. In the future, I will do my utmost to be more attentive and take details into account when evaluating a work of art and a song in particular. For me as a recipient, paying attention to details is important, and it does make a difference since it gives an opportunity to comprehend the essence of art. Doing otherwise, one risks missing something really important.

“Killer Queen” by Queen

She keeps Moët et Chandon 

In her pretty cabinet 

'Let them eat cake,' she says 

Just like Marie Antoinette 

A built-in remedy 

For Kruschev and Kennedy 

At anytime an invitation 

You can't decline 

 

Caviar and cigarettes 

Well versed in etiquette 

Extraordinarily nice 

 

She's a Killer Queen 

Gunpowder, gelatine 

Dynamite with a laser beam 

Guaranteed to blow your mind 

Anytime 

 

Recommended at the price 

Insatiable an appetite 

Wanna try? 

 

To avoid complications 

She never kept the same address 

In conversation 

She spoke just like a baroness 

Met a man from China 

Went down to Geisha Minah 

Then again incidentally 

If you're that way inclined 

 

Perfume came naturally from Paris 

For cars she couldn't care less 

Fastidious and precise 

 

She's a Killer Queen 

Gunpowder, gelatine 

Dynamite with a laser beam 

Guaranteed to blow your mind 

Anytime 

 

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 all out to get you 

 

She's a Killer Queen 

Gunpowder, gelatine 

Dynamite with a laser beam 

Guaranteed to blow your mind 

Anytime 

 

Recommended at the price 

Insatiable an appetite 

Wanna try? 

You wanna try... 

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