×

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

  • Billie EilishiHeartRadio ALTer EGO, Show, The

    Billie Eilish, Coldplay, the Black Keys Rock iHeartRadio AlterEgo (Photos)

    iHeartRadio celebrated the alternative stars of its airwaves on Saturday night with AlterEgo, inviting the likes of Billie Eilish, Coldplay, Blink-182 and the Black Keys to Los Angeles’ the Forum. Eilish kicked off the show — a solid strategy in getting the younger set to get in on time — with hits like “Bad Guy,” [...]

  • Singer David Olney

    Singer David Olney Dies During Performance at Florida's 30A Festival

    Singer-songwriter David Olney has died at age 71, after falling silent and dropping his head in the midst of a performance at the 30A Songwriters Festival in Florida Saturday night. Some news reports said he “collapsed” on stage, but that isn’t quite true: Olney simply became still on his stool, leading some audience members and [...]

  • Paradigm Agency Cuts 30 Staff Positions,

    Paradigm Agency Cuts 30 Staff Positions, Mostly in Music

    Paradigm has made a significant cut to its staff, laying off about 30 agents and support staff or 4% of its employees, Variety has confirmed. Sources said most of the layoffs were in the music area at the agency and took place Friday.. Paradigm, which had about 700 employees prior to the layoffs, had no [...]

  • Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters

    Dave Grohl on Dimebag Darrell's Legacy, How Pantera Influenced the Foo Fighters

    Dave Grohl is thisclose to finishing a new Foo Fighters album. “It’s the record that we’ve threatened to make for a long time,” he says. “We’re finally doing something that’s surprising even us.” But on Thursday afternoon, Grohl is 100% focused on late Pantera guitarist Dimebag Darrell Abbott, who is being honored that night at [...]

  • Grammy Awards 60th Annual Grammy Awards,

    Recording Academy Paid Millions Annually to Outside Law Firms

    Among the concerns listed in a memo sent to the Recording Academy’s head of HR by president/CEO Deborah Dugan before she was placed on administrative leave Thursday was an item about the organization’s “exorbitant and unnecessary” legal fees to outside law firms, according to sources familiar with the document. According to the most recent 990 [...]

  • Bob Mould

    Bob Mould Showcases Catalog, Ejects Right Wing Heckler at Tour Opener

    Bob Mould kicked off a somewhat unusual solo electric tour at the Narrows Center for the Arts in Fall River, Mass. last night, with a 75-minute set that drew evenly from across his four decade career. Mould may have embraced a sunnier perspective since moving to Berlin three years ago — as evidenced by his [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content