Warning! The following contains spoilers for tonight's Queen-focused episode, so read at your own risk!
On paper, an American Idol episode devoted to Queen performances should've been one of its best. Freddie Mercury was one of the most talented vocalists of his generation, and the ABC series has prided itself on highly talented amateurs. Plus, Bohemian Rhapsody had a great box office run, and former Idol competitor Adam Lambert is the rock groups' current frontman. The episode should've been a home run, but for the most part, the performances fell short of reaching Mercury-esque levels of excellence.
Which is rather surprising, given the talent pool of Season 17, even for Queen-centered covers. Few viewers likely would have expected any of the American Idol competitors to falter at this point, yet the competitors came and went, and there were valid complaints to be had with every performance. Many of the judges chose "showmanship" as the contestants' biggest issue, perhaps knowing that with live voting results in play, their comments could easily gets someone knocked out of the competition.
In particular, the quirky Walker Burroughs fell victim to this criticism. Judge Lionel Richie instructed the contestant to do less thinking and to naturally flow on stage when he performs. His performance of "Crazy Little Thing Called Love" wasn't bad, necessarily, but for one of Queen's mellower vocal ballads, Burroughs could've been delivered something far more memorable. Case in point: he ended up being eliminated later in the evening alongside Alyssa Raghu.
It also didn't help that this season's contestant to beat, Alejandro Aranda took a risk by taking one of Queen's more classic tracks and converting it to fit a style that was more suitable for his talents. The result was a rendition of the iconic "Under Pressure" that was devoid of any of the high notes and aggressive energy that propel the song's momentum.
Some loved Alejandro's take, while others were less than thrilled. That's pretty a pretty rare split for Alejandro, and if one of the season's biggest standouts couldn't get universal praise, what chance did any other competitor stand throughout the night?
The "pressure," as it were, to blow audiences away with Freddie Mercury performances may have been why American Idol's producers opted to balance the Queen stuff with themed duets adhering to iconic songs from movies. These were far and away the better performances as compared the Queen moments. So while that might have seemed like a weird decision at the outset, it ended up being a great way to break up a night of some disappointingly meh performances.
If there was one exception to the so-so-ness, it was Laci Kaye Booth, who said she listened to every single Queen song before choosing the one she'd perform. Her selection was "Love Of My Life," and while it wasn't quite the performance Freddie Mercury would've given, there's no denying it was one of the best of the night.
Also without question, the roughest performance of the evening went to fan-favorite Wade Cota, who tried to use his raspy voice to sell "We Are The Champions." Things got pretty shaky midway through, and Wade soon straight-up missed some lyrics and was forced to wait for his chance to come back in a few seconds later. Check it out below.
He recovered and finished the song strong enough, but online chatter was very down on the performance. Luckily for him, and much to the disbelief of many, Cota avoided elimination this week.
At the end of the day, American Idol's contestants still make up an incredibly talented bunch. The problem is that these young singers were asked to replicate a one-of-a-kind voice, and even the most talented professionals can still have trouble measuring up to Freddie Mercury's legendary vocals.
As far as social media reactions went, viewers seemed to be mostly in agreement about how the night went. Some were fairly kind in stating that opinion, while others were a bit more frank.
With more eliminations to come in the future, American Idol airs on ABC Sundays at 8:00 p.m. ET. Stick with CinemaBlend for more updates throughout the competition, and the latest news on the hottest television, movies, and pop culture news.
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Mick Joest is a Content Producer for CinemaBlend with his hand in an eclectic mix of television goodness. Star Trek is his main jam, but he also regularly reports on happenings in the world of Star Trek, WWE, Doctor Who, 90 Day Fiancé, Quantum Leap, and Big Brother. He graduated from the University of Southern Indiana with a degree in Journalism and a minor in Radio and Television. He's great at hosting panels and appearing on podcasts if given the chance as well.