×

Queen and Adam Lambert Open Hostless Oscars (Watch)

Queen, with singer Adam Lambert, opened the Academy Awards Sunday night with a powerful, abridged version of the group’s 1977 double-sided single, “We Will Rock You” and “We Are the Champions.”

The performance opened with drummer Roger Taylor thundering out the iconic drumbeat of “We Will Rock You” as Lambert, clad in a sparkling turquoise jacket with black pants, a black shirt and black cravat, roared out the song’s lyrics, originally sung by Freddie Mercury, who died of AIDS in 1991. The group quickly segued into “We Are the Champions,” moving quickly to the song’s rousing chorus as stars in the audience, from Tom Cruise to Octavia Spencer to Jennifer Lopez, could be seen singing along. A beaming Rami Malek, who portrays Mercury in the Queen biopic “Bohemian Rhapsody” — nominated for five Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Actor for Malek — was briefly shown seated in the crowd.

As the song raced to its conclusion, Lambert and guitarist Brian May raced toward the front of the stage as the image of Mercury appeared on the screen behind them and fireworks cascaded from the ceiling.

While Lambert’s vocals are not featured in “Bohemian Rhapsody” — they’re either Mercury’s or those of soundalike Marc Martel — he has had a good run fronting Queen in the years since the three first appeared together when Lambert was a contestant on “American Idol” in 2009. The group began working together more seriously in 2011, launched a tour the following year and have done several treks, including a Las Vegas residency, since then.

The pairing makes sense multiple levels. Lambert, unquestionably one of the strongest singers to emerge from “Idol,” is versatile enough singer to cover Freddie Mercury’s range; their voices are similar but not so much that Lambert falls into tribute-singer territory; and the fact that he rose to fame singing covers on “Idol” somehow makes his role in Queen an easier fit than another vocalist more associated with a different band and song catalog, as was the case with former Bad Company and Free singer Paul Rodgers, who sang with Queen previously.

The performance marks a rare instance where a music spot on the Oscars might be considered one of the show’s biggest ratings-baiting “gets,” between the movie’s blockbuster success ($212 million in the U.S. to date, and a worldwide cume of $854 million) and the fact that Queen itself is undyingly popular (the song that gave “Bohemian Rhapsody” its title was named in December as the most streamed song ever that originated in the 20th century). While “Bohemian Rhapsody” takes considerable liberties with the group’s history, the power of the band’s music and a spellbinding performance from Malek have overshadowed most of the criticism.

Watch the performance below:

More Music

  • Ryan Adams Sexual Harassment

    Ryan Adams Re-Emerges After Sexual Misconduct Allegations

    Singer/songwriter Ryan Adams, who was blasted with accusations of sexual misconduct earlier this year, including inappropriate texting with a minor, re-emerged on social media with a long post early Saturday. “I have a lot to say. I am going to. Soon,” he wrote. “Because the truth matters. I know who I am. What I am. [...]

  • J. Cole

    Apple Music Launches 'Rap Life' Playlist

    Apple Music announced the launch of “Rap Life,” a new global playlist focusing on contemporary rap artists and culture. It replaces the former “The A-List: Hip-Hop” playlist. Said Ebro Darden, Apple Music’s Global Editorial Head of Hip-Hop and R&B: “We flipped it to dig deeper into into the lifestyle [and to] keep pushing the culture [...]

  • New York City NYC Placeholder

    CityFM Podcast Takes a Deep Look at New York’s Music Scene (Listen)

    First among the many projects listed at the beginning of New York Music Month in June was a WNYE radio show and podcast called CityFM that promised to “explore the city’s music culture, emerging artists and trends, and upcoming events told through the lens of what’s happening around the city in Summer 2019.” And while [...]

  • Black Ball

    President Trump Speaks in Support of A$AP Rocky (Watch)

    UPDATED: In one of the more surreal moments from a presidency filled with few not-surreal moments, President Trump spoke out today in support of rapper A$AP Rocky, who has been jailed in Sweden for more than two weeks after an altercation with fans he said were harassing him. “A$AP Rocky is a situation in Sweden, [...]

  • David Crosby and Cameron Crowe'David Crosby:

    Cameron Crowe Picks Five Favorite Underrated David Crosby Tracks

    “Music is love,” as David Crosby once sang, and nothing breeds deeper love than a sense that something is overlooked. So that’s why Variety asked Cameron Crowe to dig deep into the Crosby canon and pick not just a triad but five favorites from among the CSN singer’s most underrated tracks. Crowe, of course, has [...]

  • Live Nation Logo. (PRNewsFoto/Live Nation)

    Live Nation Confirms Placing Tickets Directly on Secondary Market at Artists’ Request

    Representatives for Live Nation, the world’s largest live-entertainment company and owner of Ticketmaster, confirmed that it bypassed conventional channels and directly placed thousands of concert tickets on the secondary market upon artists’ request, in an article published in Billboard. In a statement shared with Variety, the company acknowledged that it has facilitated the transfer of [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content