Bloody hell, is nothing sacred?
Initially, this thought seared my brain after watching promos for tonight's American Idol (Fox, CTV, 8 p.m.). Whaa? The Top 8 will perform songs by ... Queen?
So Britain's glam-rock quartet, the versatile showmen who influenced everybody from The Flaming Lips to Franz Ferdinand, will be honoured by a talent show in which aspiring popstars earn nicknames like Chicken Little?
Don't get me wrong. I love this season's contest. And I love the band. But like water and electricity, Queen and Idol are two forces that should never meet unless, say, Constantine Maroulis is the middleman.
Then again, Queen has always been ahead of the marketing curve, from pioneering the music video ("Bohemian Rhapsody") to creating branded icons (the zodiac crest). And, these days, if you're looking for new fans, American Idol's reach is more powerful than a thousand Wayne's World movies.
So, on balance, this unholy alliance might benefit Queen, which is now touring with Paul Rodgers handling vocals. But is it fair to the young Idols?
Freddie Mercury, Queen's fiendishly talented singer who died in 1991, is one of rock's legendary frontmen, a dynamo blessed with blistering range, theatrical impulses and incomparable stage presence.
I mean, if the Idols stumbled with Stevie Wonder songs, tonight could be like watching Paris Hilton play chess. (This may explain the curious expression on guitarist Brian May's face in the promos: he looks like somebody just told him a hilarious joke right before firing a slingshot into his crotch.)
This season, Idol has been determined by song choice. So selecting a track from Queen's diverse catalogue will be critical tonight. Here now, some humble suggestions:
Contestant: Chris Daughtry, 26
Ideal Song: "Save Me" (1980)
Since Chris has already terrified Idol viewers with a vaguely Satanic cover of Creed, he may be tempted by one of Queen's heavier numbers — "Keep Yourself Alive," "Put Out the Fire," "Hammer to Fall." But this gem will give Chris a chance to screech while still showcasing his more melodic side.
Second Choice: "Who Wants to Live Forever" (1986)
Contestant: Taylor Hicks, 29
Ideal Song: "Crazy Little Thing Called Love" (1979)
No question, Taylor is the most intriguing Idol performer this season. With his white hair, blotto mannerisms and perma-grin, he looks like he's been possessed by a lost soul from the Mississippi Delta. This back-and-forth, pause-and-groove track is, ahem, Taylor-made.
Second Choice: "Radio Ga Ga" (1984)
Contestant: Ace Young, 25
Ideal Song: "Good Old-Fashioned Love Boy" (1977)
Don't be fooled by the post-coital camera stare or the scar on his chest. Ace is more boy-band than bad boy. But questions remain as to his vocal chops. This challenging track will provide answers while giving a lyrical jolt to his fan base of fluttering hearts.
Second Choice: "Don't Stop Me Now" (1979)
Contestant: Kellie Pickler, 19
Ideal Song: "I Want to Break Free" (1984)
Kellie's "what's a salllmon-kalamarrie-ballsy-minx?" ditz routine is getting a bit tired. But as Lisa Mansfield demonstrated during a Mercury tribute concert: this catchy, 4/4 track is ideal for female vocalists whose talent may be exceeded by their ambition.
Second Choice: "Play the Game" (1980)
Contestant: Paris Bennett, 17
Ideal Song: "Somebody to Love" (1976)
Paris is a sonic mystery: a baby-girl hush when she talks, a powerhouse boom when she sings. She has the ideal mix of range and steely confidence to pull off this operatic, gospel-swirling track.
Second Choice: "The Show Must Go On" (1991)
Contestant: Katharine McPhee, 22
Ideal Song: "These are the Days of Our Lives" (1991)
This ballad, recorded while Mercury was courageously battling his illness, has both
You know, good times are now.