When I first heard that American Idol was doing Queen, I thought that they meant Queen Elizabeth the Second. I had visions of Simon’s royal highness sitting at the front end of the Kodak Theater stage in crown and robes tapping out the beat with her scepter. Perhaps, she would say a few gracious words to the contestants, or even knight Simon for these royal command performances.
I thought too that the rest of the royal family could get in on the fun. I could see Taylor teaching Prince Charles how to dance and maybe Kellie giving Lady Camilla makeup tips with her community snot rag. Maybe there would have been a scene of Ace Young giving Prince Harry one of his beanies. Perhaps they could steal viewers from 24 by having Randy and Paula meet with Tony Blair about the content of the Downing Street Memos.
Now, that would have been great television.
Instead, Queen turned out to be these old guys dressed up as glam rock and rollers trying to explain to Ace that they weren’t going to change their arrangement just for him. I was honestly a little confused. There were all these scenes of Brian May et al., working on arrangements with the contestants, but on Tuesday night, the last eight Idolators were backed by the competent but usual American Idol band plus backup singers.
In a couple of behind the scenes glances we got of Ace Young, one of the interesting things is that he’s as much of a musician as he is. He actually does have ideas about specific changes he’d like in the arrangements and shares them. The end of the segment strongly suggested that Queen was respectfully not dismissive of Ace Young-the-musician. Watching it gave me the impression that Ace is quite serious about his music rather than all about staring languorously into the camera. It’s one of these persistent hints that the producers of the show want you to see the contestants in a particular way whether it’s Ace, Kellie, Paris, or Chris.
If American Idol is supposed to be about being “today’s” pop sound, I am curious about the recent run of guest judges. When was the last time you saw a young adult browsing for Kenny Rogers or Barry Manilow at the local music store? No, Bobby Bennett doesn’t count. Think about this, when Ryan came out and said “Here he is performing from Queen’s 1978 album….”