Okay, okay, let’s get this out of the way.
I know, I keep on going on about how terrible it is that people don’t know Queen beyond the greatest hits. That’s our starting point here, our thesis.
But I think it’s really important to add something to that.
The greatest hits are also incredible.
This isn’t some hipster death cult saying ‘oh, but you don’t really know Queen until you’ve listened to the Prophet Song acappella fifty times in a row*’. This is childish glee about just how excited it is possible to be about a band, an album, a song.
And this song is fucking glorious.
You can tell it’s up my street when Freddie describes it as ‘one of those bowler hat, black suspender belt numbers’. Either about a high class sex worker, or just a dig at high classness and what lies underneath.
It’s clearly about sex. Or rather, sexiness.
And it’s dominated by sultry lyrics, playful voices, jangle piano, glorious harmonies and an overwhelmingly endearing guitar solo.
Okay, maybe I don’t know what dominated means. I think I just want to be dominated by this song.
Which fits. It’s all fine here. We’re certainly not about to start shaming anybody, I hope.
Apparently Brian was ill, and they recorded the track, and he had to come in later, and drop in a guitar solo. And what a job. It’s so, so perfect here. Louche and dramatic, playful and engaging. It makes me want to move my body. My arms want to swirl away with it.
The way the piano slams into the solo, as well, offering a punchline, halfway through.
And, jumping ahead, the way the guitar sounds like it’s being joined by a bagpipe at the end, but it fact it’s just more guitar.
After slating May’s song writing on the first half of Queen II, I’m so hot for the way he counterpoints and complements Freddie here.
Because frankly, this is so clearly Freddie’s song. If you wanted an archetype for the pose that is Freddie Mercury’s stage persona, you’ve got it all on show here. Wittily scathing, broodingly sexy, flirtily ridiculous. Loud and hot.
Fastidious and precise
I’m so in love with Freddie here. I genuinely wonder how much of my sexuality came out of this song. The way desire is a performance, the way aloofness is made gorgeous, and wit is so, so very, very sexy.
I think I even find the finger clicking intro is sexy.
But the thing I love, I think, amongst the other things I love, is that it’s never about bodies. All this sex is about character, personality, excitement. We aren’t here to leer, we’re hear to learn.
A built-in remedy
For Kruschev and Kennedy
Or ‘fuck the cold war, let’s get hot’.
It’s wonderful, isn’t it, that after two albums of hard and fantastical rock, Queen get to stamp their presence on the world, their first international hit, with a piece of sexy vaudeville. A delicate but saucy piece of boudoir burlesque, that isn’t aggressive, but empowering.
Freddie says he’s taking the piss out of the high class by saying they’re all prostitutes, but I feel like he identifies more with the Killer Queen than he wants to give away. Or at least, that’s what his role is here.
And he revels in it, pours himself into it’s lustiness. Every breath. Every word. Every lilting bite.
I’ve been singing along with this song for as long as I can remember being alive. I had all the lyrics wrong, and I had no idea what they were about, but I knew I wanted to be Freddie, and I wanted to be the Killer Queen too.
Someone bring me my Moet et Chandon.
It’s in that pretty cabinet.
*Though I have done this
Queen: An Exploded Diagram is me having big and little thoughts about every Queen song in chronological order. If you want to support me, making it more financially viable and easier to explain to people at parties, please back my patreon.
Illustration by Emma.