Will Queen Ever Make an Album With Adam Lambert?
It’s nearly 10 years since Adam Lambert made his first appearance alongside Brian May and Roger Taylor of Queen during the finale of American Idol’s eighth season. That moment formed a relationship that’s seen Queen + Adam Lambert delivering a series of tours, appearing at the Oscars ceremony and, later this month, starring in documentary The Show Must Go On: The Queen + Adam Lambert Story.
It’s a purple period for the British rock icons, following the $900 million box office success plus the four-Oscar triumph of biopic Bohemian Rhapsody. With so much achieved alongside Lambert – who frequently states he’s representing Freddie Mercury, rather than trying to replace him, and helping to keep the music alive – the band are often asked the obvious question: are you going to record an album together? The answer remains elusive.
The doubt on May’s part stems from the failure of The Cosmos Rocks, the album released under the Queen + Paul Rodgers banner in 2008 while the Free and Bad Company frontman was working with the band. “[W]e spent a big part of our lives doing that with Paul… on which there was some good material and we worked damn hard for months on end,” May told Rolling Stone in 2017. “He’s great, there’s no doubt about it, but nobody cared. It just disappeared. We sort of got the message, rightly or wrongly, that people just wanted to hear Queen with Freddie on record. The evidence is totally the opposite in regards to live – they love what we’re doing now, there’s no question, so we gravitated towards the live stuff.”
There’s no saying whether the success of Bohemian Rhapsody has changed minds. It seems a sequel was considered, probably just as a way of banking on its success – but suggesting that the industry believes there’s a place for major-league Queen product. Surely if any time was the right time to take a risk on Lambert, it would be about now? Taylor, for one, wasn’t always against the idea. In 2016 he said: “If we do anything in the future, I’d like it to be something new… I don’t know how new it would sound, but I think if Brian could come up with a song or two which we felt, sort of fitted, you know…”
Obviously new music that fits Queen, but written without Mercury, is enough of a challenge; but if anyone can do it surely May and Taylor can. (And perhaps bassist John Deacon might be persuaded to come out of retirement to ensure the recordings feel right?) The amount of touring Queen and Lambert have done together proves there’s an audience for what they do; but in order to address the problem experienced with the Rodgers album, they’d have to ensure mainstream interest. Perhaps the documentary is aimed as a step towards filling in the gaps, so fans might better understand and support the relationship.
Arguing that Mercury would “love and hate” Lambert, May told Yahoo last year: “In no way does he imitate Freddie but he provides that piece of the jigsaw puzzle. It’s stupendous… we would never be doing this now if it weren’t for Adam.” If a wider audience can get behind that concept, perhaps an album becomes a surer success.
Lambert himself has more to bring to the table than ever before, going by recent comments he made while announcing his new solo record. Reporting that he’d gone through a “dark period” of suffering artistic compromise and finally rediscovered his love for music, he explained: “I love making and performing music, but there have been many times where I’ve had to compromise on my artistic vision, with executives making decisions based on money and not art.” The experience left him “second-guessing my own artistry and having my mental health suffer because of it,” but after professional and social support, he said he was returning with a new attitude. “The tracks will chronicle the journey of taking responsibility for my own happiness and strength, and searching for intimacy,” he added. “I’ve found the joy I was missing and I’m back in my power.”
Those who have seen Bohemian Rhapsody will recognize his life experience appears to match Mercury’s own – which could mean he’s now an even better candidate for representing the iconic singer in the studio. If that can be agreed upon, it only comes down to whether Queen + Adam Lambert can write the kind of music Queen fans want to hear, despite Mercury’s absence.