No One Can Be The Next Freddie Mercury, But These Artists Would Do Him Proud

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Freddie Mercury would have turned 69 this Sept. 5, and as of right now, his 1991 death left a void where the greatest singers of all time are concerned. Because Freddie had so much behind his talent, it’s nearly impossible to think that there is anyone out there who could do what he did. Hell, it’s painful for me to even consider someone trying to take his place. But there are some performers today who could probably do a Queen song serious justice, not just because they have a great voice. That was a big part of Mercury’s charm, of course, but there were other key elements to what made him so special: his ability to think outside the box, and let his freak flag fly.

To cover Freddie, one needs a serious sense of showmanship. Freddie didn’t put on a show for himself, after all. What he did was a gift to us. Who can give us a similar gift?

Adam Lambert

We’ll start with the most obvious, the man who’s actually been touring with Queen. Still, title of the revised touring group, Queen + Adam Lambert, suggests that while Lambert has proven himself prepared and able to tackle Freddie’s vocals and stage presence with aplomb, he will still never be Freddie. And Lambert is clearly fine with that. Mercury would appreciate someone who wants the same thing for a royal audience – a great show featuring good songs sung with power and confidence. Lambert was an amazing choice as a guest frontman, and he’ll continue to perform as his own man, as Freddie always did.

Eric Nally

Everyone is abuzz over this flamboyant guest vocalist on Macklemore’s “Downtown” since he performed at the VMAs, but while he has said he appreciates the comparisons, Eric Nally prefers to “be unique” rather than have people call him the next Freddie Mercury. The multi-octave singer, who was the frontman of Foxy Shazam until 2014, seems to have the right idea when it comes to Freddie’s apparent mission of not trying to be anyone but himself and not some “great pretender” to the throne. Would Freddie be a fan of Eric? It’s hard to think he wouldn’t.

Lady Gaga

To not include Lady Gaga, whose stage name is inspired by Queen’s “Radio Gaga,” would be a travesty considering the kinds of shows that Gaga puts on for her fans. It’s easy to think that the way she utilizes technology and electronics in her music would disqualify her from fronting a classic rock band, but at the end of the day, this woman is all about showmanship and showcasing her undeniable talent. She can strip herself down and still keep every eye and ear on her. Like Freddie, she could easily fill a stadium with her voice on a simple ballad, then bring the house down with a flashy, deranged number. True, the choreography and studio tweaks don’t exactly scream “rock” the way Queen was purely a band on a stage with the help of some lights, but could Gaga stand in for Freddie the way Adam Lambert has been doing? Without a doubt. I mean, it took the two of them doing this together and it’s still not as effortless as Freddie, but still. Hand these two the keys to Wembley Stadium, please.


Another slightly predictable name for this list, Mika not only has the multi-octave range and carefree attitude that helped make Queen’s quirkier songs hits (“Fat Bottom Girls,” “Lazing on a Sunday Afternoon,” etc.), but he’s also the first Brit I’ve mentioned. That alone feels like a betrayal to Queen, who are so quintessentially British. Mika probably shares more culturally with Freddie, but much like Eric Nally, he hints that being compared to Freddie isn’t really what he’s going for, at least if we’re going by his lyrics in “Grace Kelly”: “I try to be like Grace Kelly/But all her looks were too sad/So I try a little Freddie/I’ve gone identity mad.”

But he’s got the stage presence. Check the strut.

Bruno Mars

Here’s where I’m going the unpredictable route. True, Bruno Mars is hardly glam rock and is definitely, squarely part of the R&B genre. But allow me to cite his Super Bowl show. That, for me at least, was some serious showmanship, and it feels like while Mars has established himself in mainstream pop culture, there’s something in there bursting to get out. Something weird. Something weird and big. He might not be identity-shifting weird like David Bowie, but neither was Freddie. Bruno Mars — who also uses a planet for a stage name, I might add — can put on a hell of a show, whether or not he has the biggest voice. Something about Mars makes him a blast to watch. Maybe it’s just that he’s so clearly having a blast onstage, which is what it felt like to watch Freddie.

Katy Perry

Hear me out on this one, because I know a lot of you are already drafting your angry comments. Much like Mika, Katy Perry is not afraid of getting weird, and like Lady Gaga, she’s not afraid of getting weird on a very big scale. She might tend toward the whimsical and poppy, but what about a few years from now? Again, as with Bruno Mars, recall her Super Bowl halftime show. Forget the silly Left Shark thing, and forget the Taylor Swift feud. Katy Perry will never have a polished voice, but she will always have a big voice for big songs in a big show. Freddie’s voice wasn’t as polished either, but it didn’t matter. He was singing his heart out, and Perry does the same thing. She might be a little too poppy, like Bruno Mars, but if she took a left turn toward glam rock, I think it’s entirely possible that she could turn out something wicked.

Miley Cyrus

Now I know you’re really shaking your heads, especially so soon after the VMAs. But if you experience Miley Cyrus with your eyes closed, there is a really epic singer under all that crack-baby, tongue wagging, image-obsessed nonsense. And it’s clear that Miley’s brain works differently than the rest of ours, so once she stops trying so f*cking hard to shock all of us — still exorcising those Hannah Montana demons, I guess — there might be a real, honest performer underneath all that “effort.” Right now, she’s obscuring a natural talent and true stage presence with a really distracting attention addiction. But I swear, Miley Cyrus could be a serious musical force in five to seven years. She can hold our attention with more than just her nipples, I know it. It’s from 2012, but watching this girl sing “Jolene” in an incredibly stripped down setting is a refreshing reminder that this girl is great and can be even greater.