An image of the late Freddie Mercury is projected onto a screen while Adam Lambert + Queen perform onstage during the 91st Annual Academy Awards at Dolby Theatre on February 24, 2019 in Hollywood, California.
Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty Images
Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Oscars 2019: Queen rocks room full of champions for show opener

All it took was an iconic drum beat to signal a different style of Oscars this year.

Without a host for the first time since 1989, Sunday’s 91st annual Academy Awards, which typically open with a lengthy song-and-dance routine – whether from Billy Crystal or, er, Snow White – instead went with the simple power of Queen. 

The band – and original lead singer Freddie Mercury - is the inspiration behind multi-nominee “Bohemian Rhapsody.” So it was fitting that Queen, with Adam Lambert assuming his role as frontman, as he has since 2011, slammed through “We Will Rock You.”

The performance had the vigor of a rock show, with flashing lights and a rainfall of pyro behind Lambert and Queen originals Brian May on guitar and Roger Taylor on drums.

Brian May of Queen and Adam Lambert perform during the 91st annual Academy Awards at the Dolby Theater in Los Angeles, Feb. 24, 2019.
Photo: NOEL WEST/NYT

As Lambert poured on his signature swagger, prowling the stage in a black and turquoise jacket, audience members including Glenn Close, Amy Adams, Allison Janney and Jennifer Lopez pumped their fists to the anthem.

A segue into the usual “We Will Rock You” counterpart, “We Are the Champions,” prompted more of an audience singalong (of course, the song took on a high level of appropriateness in a room full of Oscars nominees).

“Welcome to the Oscars!” Lambert yelled at song’s end, as confident as if he were commanding an arena full of Queen fans.

As the band closed its performance, a portrait of Mercury appeared behind the band, the master giving his blessing. 

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About the Author

Melissa Ruggieri
Melissa Ruggieri
Atlanta Journal-Constitution staff writer Melissa Ruggieri covers music and entertainment news for the AJC. She remembers when MTV was awesome.  
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