Adam Lambert joined the legendary band to pay tribute to Bohemian Rhapsody at the Oscars
They transitioned into “We Are the Champions,” capping off the electric performance with a standing ovation from the audience.
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The Academy quoted the classic song (and the film’s title) when announcing Queen would be performing weeks before the Oscars: “Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy? We welcome @QueenWillRock and @adamlambert to this year’s #Oscars!”
The former American Idol runner-up has collaborated with Queen as lead vocalist for Queen + Adam Lambert since 2011, culminating in a successful world tour from 2014 to 2018.
In September, Lambert admitted to PEOPLE that he was “really nervous” about filling in for Mercury after the band hired him.
“Not only did I have to make sure my voice held up and I know all the words… but it was also the perception of fans; I definitely had some concerns,” he said. “This is not my music that I wrote: This is me, as a guest, with one of the greatest rock bands of all time, singing the songs that one of the greatest rock singers of all time brought to life.”
Lambert added, “Freddie is irreplaceable.”
“There’s no way to compare to him. It was always my hope that audiences would understand that I’m up there just excited to sing great music that everyone knows,” he said.
Lambert also had a cameo role in Bohemian Rhapsody, which centers around Mercury’s rise to fame with fellow Queen band members Brian May, Roger Taylor and John Deacon, as well as his death from complications of AIDS in 1991.
Bohemian Rhapsody has received plenty of buzz in the last few months, and Malek, 37, won the Golden Globe Award for best actor in a drama motion picture as well as the SAG Award for best actor. The film also won the Golden Globe for best drama motion picture, beating out Bradley Cooper‘s A Star Is Born.
The 91st Academy Awards are airing live on ABC from the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles.