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Queen’s Brian May Calls Singing Competition Shows a ‘Stupid, Stupid Idea’

Brian May
Scott Heavey, Getty Images

Singing competition shows have been popular for decades, and they’ve proliferated all over the TV dial since ‘American Idol‘ debuted over a decade ago. But don’t expect to find one playing on Brian May‘s set anytime soon.

The Queen guitarist is particularly disdainful of NBC’s hit series ‘The Voice,’ as he explained in a recent post at his website. And while a lot of rock fans turn up their noses at the pop and country performances that tend to dominate those shows, this isn’t about genres for May — it’s about art, and why we make or respond to it.

“When we sing, or play, for real, we are NOT screaming at the top of our lungs trying to persuade someone to notice us,” May argued. “We have messages, we have subtle emotions, we have beauty, which can only be shared by a performer in front of an audience whose whole attention is already freely given.”

And as for ‘The Voice,’ which adds a wrinkle by having singers audition to judges whose chairs are turned away from the stage? May thinks it’s the worst. “The performance is all about EVERYTHING the performer gives … in voice, in sound, in body language, in facial expression, in intimate eye contact,” he pointed out. “This stupid, stupid idea that someone can JUDGE a singer by turning his back on him, and missing out on proper contact, is, to me, a fatuous nonsense. And actually poisonous to the growth of young performers.”

Clearly, a large percentage of TV viewers disagree with May — and the fact that Queen has performed with ‘Idol’ alumnus Adam Lambert is somewhat ironic — but at the very least, his comments provide food for thought. After the televised singing competition craze dies down, it’ll be interesting to look back and see how many careers it actually helped create — and how shows like ‘The Voice’ ended up influencing a generation of young performers.

Next: Top 10 Queen Songs

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