Adam Lambert returns to American Idol Thursday night, taking on a more prominent role than when he first graced the Idol stage as a contestant in 2009. Lambert is acting as guest judge, filling in for Keith Urban in the New York auditions.
Lambert’s appearance airs as he’s performing in a series of shows in Europe with legendary rock band Queen. The match has met with stellar reviews, with papers such as the Guardian singling out Lambert for praise.
“[T]his show succeeds because of Adam Lambert, not despite him. The 32-year-old has said he wants to celebrate the flamboyant, camp, gay Mercury rather than replace him, but he definitely has the Freddie factor. Where the band’s earlier tours with heterosexual, macho, ex-Free, bluesy shouter Paul Rodgers felt wrong, the black leathered, bequiffed, nail varnished Lambert is every bit the showman that was Mercury.”
It is not Lambert’s first time around as frontman for Queen. His association with the band began not long after he released his first record post-Idol. The Mirror noted this tenure with the band as it approved of his performance in the tour’s first night in the U.K.
“Adam, now at home in the role after rave reviews on the world tour three years ago, pays homage to Mercury without trying to replace the irreplaceable.”
Lambert and Queen also have a place on Thursday’s American Idol. Harry Connick, Jr., muses he missed an opportunity to critique Lambert when he was an Idol contestant, and asks him to audition. Lambert takes the stage and introduces himself to Connick and fellow judge Jennifer Lopez as Adam from San Diego before performing an a cappella version of “Bohemian Rhapsody.”
Adam Lambert did not win American Idol. In Season 8, he came in second place to winner Kris Allen.
You can take a look at a preview clip of Lambert’s second Idol “audition” below.
The Guardian also notes that despite Lambert’s presence on the Queen stage, Freddie Mercury still has a place. It is most strongly felt during the band’s performance of that classic song, “Bohemian Rhapsody.”
“[I]n a way, this is still the late star’s gig: a homage to his music. It’s Mercury who provokes gasps when he appears on screen to ‘duet’ with Lambert in a Bohemian Rhapsody so riotous one fears the venue may combust.”
American Idol airs Wednesday and Thursday at 8 p.m. on Fox. Queen + Adam Lambert, as the collaboration is listed on Queen’s official website, is touring the U.K. and Europe through February.
[Adam Lambert image Miguel Starcevich / Fiasco Magazine via Ryan Seacrest]