One of the most dynamic and dangerous vocalists the rock world has ever produced, the talent of Freddie Mercury was only dwarfed by his colossal personality. An exuberant and eccentric figure in the growing stage of glam rock, what Mercury achieved with Queen will likely never be repeated. He transformed what it meant to be a rock singer and delivered performance after performance, confirming him a legend.
One of the band’s earliest triumphs was the powerful number ‘Killer Queen’, a song that would catapult them into the stratosphere of the rock world. It depicted a sex worker with a penchant for the finer things in life and provided Mercury with the opportunity to show off his incandescent vocals, something we can see most clearly in the isolated track below.
‘Killer Queen’ was taken from the band’s third album Sheer Heart Attack and gave the group one of their most fearsome hits. Guitarist Brian May said of the song: “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.” Speaking about the song, May elucidated: “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.”
Despite the success, May was initially worried about releasing the song because it was such a departure from their hard rock sound. “I was a little hesitant; I was thinking are we setting ourselves as something very light?” He wasn’t to worry, though, as it allowed Mercury to finally find his feet and begin his reign as one of the greats of music.
Speaking to the NME in 1974, Mercury explained the song’s origin a little more clearly: “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.”
Listening to the song’s lyrics through the isolated vocal track not only allows us to hear the story mentioned above but also get a taste of Mercury at his peak. It would be this song that acted as a springboard for his own swashbuckling style. Of course, he did it all with his impressive vocals.
Listen below to Freddie Mercury’s isolated vocals for Queen song ‘Killer Queen’.