Queen Minus Freddie Mercury? No Thank You
Friends have urged me unsuccessfully to attend tonight's Queen concert with them. As the band and guest singer Adam Lambert tour, I imagine this scene unfolding for others elsewhere. Some are excited to see Brian May, a we're-not-worthy, guitar-playing legend. Others are interested in Lambert, whose voice is matched, if not surpassed, by his panache, and how he'll interpret the band's array of insanely great songs.
These are strong arguments for, which makes the argument against seem so basic. For others like me, the defense for our disinterest boils down to this: no Freddie Mercury. As honest as it is, it sounds childish. I've said it out loud and can tell you it recalls a grade-school playground debate.
"How come you don't wanna come?!" they whine.
"Because Freddie Mercury won't be there! Duh!"
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In real life, I don't normally explain a personal preference in 800 words or less, but this is the blog world, a place where "no thanks, I'm good" is akin to "I'm too stupid to explain my position." So, for others whose friends and fellow music fans demand a more articulate argument against Queen + Adam Lambert (read: Queen - Freddie Mercury), here are some Psychology and Philosophy 101 notes to bolster your opposition:
GROUPTHINK Wiki defines groupthink as "a psychological phenomenon that occurs within a group of people, in which the desire for harmony or conformity in the group results in an irrational or dysfunctional decision-making outcome."
The tour has been getting positive reviews. Lots of attention has been paid to Lambert, the onetime American Idol runner-up whose flamboyance is better known than his recordings. He's a much better fit than Queen's last post-Freddie front man, Paul Rodgers.
All of us who missed Queen live in their heyday really want to be able to say we saw Queen. So, we buy into the reviews and the good word of mouth and the Facebook posts that make this sound like a good idea. These reviews all say the same thing: for someone who is not Freddie Mercury, Adam Lambert is better than Paul Rodgers, or maybe anyone else in music today. They also reiterate Lambert is not Freddie Mercury.
And yes, I am aware that Rocks Off's own Selena Dieringer just listed this show as one to not miss this summer. A silly and borderline-disturbing expectation from some readers suggests since we all write under the same banner we also should all unify our respective opinions from a shared brain. This would be highly unfortunate for Selena, who is a wonderful and thoughtful writer and person. I appreciate that she is excited, but I don't share her enthusiasm (or her frontal lobe).
Story continues on the next page.
Photos by Neil Preston/Courtesy of Live Nation
EMOTIVISM This is the "meta-ethical view that claims that ethical sentences do not express propositions but emotional attitudes." Whether I want to see Queen in the band's current state is not really an ethical quandary. But, my philosophy on it -- and many share this sentiment -- is entirely tied to my emotions about the band.
The best concert experience is one that stirs up our human feelings. Those feelings are sometimes dormant and need a good, loud alarm with a three-song encore to awaken them. That's why we go see acts whose best, most creative days are behind them.
I love Queen's music and allow it on occasion to transport me back to senior year, when at least once a week I blared "Get Down, Make Love" in my dookie-brown Honda Civic for the four girls I carpooled to school. No subtlety whatsoever, but that was part of my emotional tie to that band.
I don't have an emotional tie to Queen + Adam Lambert. As nice as it might sound, it'll fall short of what I want from a show.
ESSENTIALISM In their philosophy primer, Plato and a Platypus Walk into a Bar..., writers Thomas Cathcart and Daniel Klein discuss Aristotle's thoughts on essentialism. They write, "the way (Aristotle) put it is that essential properties are those without which a thing wouldn't be what it is, and accidental properties are those that determine how a thing is and not what it is.
Adam Lambert is an accidental property. Freddie Mercury - and, to a lesser but still very important degree, the band's bass player, John Deacon -- are essential Queen properties.
It's true, Lambert has vocal skills required to match Mercury's four-octave range. And Mariah Carey could sing lead in a Beyonce-free Destiny's Child reunion. Witnessing that might be cool, but it wouldn't mean you've seen Destiny's Child.
It doesn't diminish the contributions of Queen's remaining members to suggest a show featuring only half the band isn't really a Queen show. On the contrary, it strengthens their musical legacy.
In the end, they won't be remembered for a very good group of 2014 shows with a capable young stand-in. They'll be remembered for the music they originally created, together as a foursome in a band none of us will ever get to see again.
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