What Freddie Mercury would think of Adam Lambert, according to Brian May

When Bohemian Rhapsody first came out in 2018, it introduced the music of Queen and the artistic prowess of Freddie Mercury to a new generation of music lovers. In the movie, Canadian rock musician Marc Martel lent his vocals to the characterisation of Mercury. On tour, however, it was Adam Lambert who kept the spirit of the late musical legend alive.

Since Lambert appeared alongside the surviving members of Queen in 2009 at American Idol, his fate as a touring – and sometimes recording – honourary band member has been clear. With rumbles of a potential album featuring Lambert over the years, Queen fans and band members alike have praised his talents, making him the only figure worthy of coming close to emulating the work of Mercury.

Despite his prowess as a vocalist, however, Lambert always appears humble when compared to the late star. “Listen, there’s no replacing Freddie Mercury,” Lambert told Music News at the O2 Silver Clef Awards last year. “It’s impossible. Freddie Mercury is a mythic rock god. Not only did he sing the hell out of those songs, he wrote so many of them.”

Queen have toured extensively with Lambert, with his arrival becoming a welcomed addition to the beloved rock assembly. However, with Mercury unable to enjoy and appreciate this unique cultural moment, it begs the question: what would the singer think of Lambert? According to Brian May, Mercury would feel ambivalent about Lambert’s talent.

“Freddie would love and hate him, yeah; I mean, you know, he’d be like, ‘You bastard!’” May told Yahoo, adding: “Because I mean, Adam has a real gift from God. That voice is a voice in a billion, and nobody has that range, nobody that I’ve ever worked with.”

In the same interview, May also described how watching Lambert grow as a vocalist and performer reminds him of when he witnessed Mercury’s trajectory from an aspiring star to a musical king. “I’ve seen Adam develop, just like I watched Freddie develop,” he explained. “He was great to start with, but now, we’re doing something like ‘Who Wants to Live Forever’ onstage, and sometimes I almost stop playing because I think, ‘What did he just do?’”.

However, like Lambert, May reassures fans that the singer “in no sense imitates Freddie”. Lambert’s addition to the esteemed rock group is, of course, lightning in a bottle — but when it comes to the idea that anybody could ever replace the raw artistry gifted to the world from Mercury, no one will ever come close.

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