Earlier this year, 5 Seconds of Summer reappeared on the music scene with expensive haircuts, even more expensive leather jackets, and a sleeker sound that pivoted sharply away from their pop-punk roots. The guitars were still there, but instead of heaping on the power chords, they’d amble into vibey new-wave territory or support fragile heartbreak worries.
Their Youngblood album dropped over the summer, and now, just a few months later, 5SOS have taken their decided more polished sound into the hallowed halls of operatic classic rock, covering the theatrical “Killer Queen” for the upcoming Freddie Mercury biopic Bohemian Rhapsody. It’s the second cover we’ve heard from the film after Shawn Mendes and teddy<3’s acoustic take on “Under Pressure.”
Here, Luke, Michael, Calum, and Ashton wrap their voices around each other (as they often do) to recreate the lightheaded heights Mercury achieves on the Queen classic’s chorus. It’s so faithful — both in the vocal tightness and the guitar tone — that you might briefly pretend it’s the real thing. But once the verses begin, the lonely instrumentation feels very much like Youngblood.
This particular song choice could’ve put 5SOS in a tricky spot, given its dynamic complexities. But the production here sounds very expensive, too, (and good), and it should! It’s a Queen song. As a result, it’s an excuse to throw in everything but the proverbial sink to aim for the theater rafters.
“We chose to cover, ‘Killer Queen’ because we kept hearing it while writing our third album, Youngblood, and were so enamored by the production and their early realization of the minimalist approach to the track,” the band said in an accompanying statement. “For us, the exploration of individual vocalists in a band is incredibly important and Queen helped us to see the future of how we want to sing, in addition to how we play our instruments. As a pioneer of individuality, Freddie taught us what it means to embrace the idea of truly being yourself and that’s a part of Queen that lives on in their music now, more than ever.”
Like with “Under Pressure,” proceeds from the sale of the song benefit the Mercury Phoenix Trust, which some surviving members of Queen set up after Mercury’s death to help fight HIV/AIDS. Stream 5SOS’s faithful “Killer Queen” cover above before Bohemian Rhapsody hits theaters November 2.