I just can’t get on with the rockabilly, Elvis impersonator thing.
I get it. I get it. It serves a lot of purposes. It’s a tribute to a hero. It’s roll in nostalgia. It’s weird riposte to the accusations of going too synth. It counterbalances the futurism with a backward gazing nostalgia.
And yes, you do a pretty good Elvis voice.
But, well, I just can’t get on board.
I don’t think I can even be bothered to wonder whether you’re being creepy, or making an ironic comment on the creepiness of rock music in general. I can’t be arsed to attempt to give you credit for subversion that probably isn’t there.
I can’t even be bothered to look at that instrumental bit at the end where it all gets a bit chaotic and interesting for about ten seconds before signing off with a little piano rock coda.
I might just give it the credit of searching for a lyric with a rude word on it.
But really, I’m just not interested in Queen as tribute act.
But on that note, I’ll digress, so we’ll all be fine, and I’ll still hit word count.
I’ve only seen two Queen tribute acts. They’re pretty weird things. For a start, neither of them have singers with Freddie or Roger’s range, so they miss notes that are absolutely critical.
For a second, this was a band with furious presence and legendary charisma. Its inimitable.
On some levels, this doesn’t matter. The songs are what we’re here for, and knowing you’ll never see the real thing, it’s still lovely to stand with a huge crowd of people and sing along to wonderful songs that are buried deep in your psyche.
But on other levels, you often drop into the uncanny valley, where something sounds so nearly right, that it’s really unsettling when a note is pitched wrong, or even just missed out entirely.
It seems rude to want a perfect rendition, when the band would’ve screwed with things no end (and in fact, many tributes will do the research, and do the slightly different versions from various live records). The live performances are broadly out of the scope of this project, because for me, my idea of a Queen live show is this fantastical set of performances that has swum through my head since I first heard them.
So of course, a tribute act is competing with an unfair dream version of a thing.
But then, that’s what you sign up for, I guess. Always being second rate, but getting to lap up some of that love, even if you know you are just channelling it back to a band that no longer really exists. To a hero that has left the building.
I think it’s respectful though. Even if it’s never quite hit the spot.
Which I guess is what’s going on here, too. Yet another tribute to the hero Elvis, trapped in a valley of never being able to be the thing it tries to be.
I can’t be arsed with it.
It sounds like a functionally upbeat piece of rockabilly about being creepy and desperate.
Hope that’s not too much of a cop out.
Queen: An Exploded Diagram is me having big and little thoughts about every Queen song in chronological order. If you want to support me, making it more financially viable and easier to explain to people at parties, please back my patreon.
Illustration by Emma.