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With no host, the 2019 Oscars opened with a strange Queen concert

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The Academy is the champion, it insists

We knew the Academy Awards would skip a host this year. But what the show lacked in monologues, though, it made up for in musical performances — because this year’s Oscars opened with a performance from Queen.

The modern-day version of Queen, that is. Former American Idol contestant Adam Lambert fills in on vocals when the band tours, and he appeared on stage to rock the theater with the rest of the band. Lambert is always a ready, able performer, so he brought more energy than the average Oscars host usually would. He’s no Mercury, as the medley of covers (including “We Will Rock You” and “We are the Champions”) reminded us; but passable takes on some of the best songs of all time are ... fine. Even if this mini-concert lasted a scant five minutes, tops.

At least Javier Bardem was having the best time:

Other attendees having a good time included Lady Gaga:

And Mike Myers, who’s here!

Jordan Peele was only kind of feeling it ...

As was Bradley Cooper:

As for Christian Bale? He wanted the real show to start, thank you very much.

Queen’s appearance at the Oscars isn’t random. Bohemian Rhapsody, nominated for Best Picture and myriad other awards this year, is a biopic about the life of Freddie Mercury. Mercury died of AIDS-related complications in the early ’90s, but Bohemian Rhapsody focuses on his high points. It’s not the most critically celebrated Oscar nominee this year (although Rami Malek’s take on Mercury is considered the favorite to win), but Bohemian Rhapsody has won over plenty of audiences worldwide since it premiered last fall.

The road to the 91st Annual Academy Awards was a rocky one. In mid-2018, the Academy announced a category meant to celebrate bigger-name blockbusters, but nixed the idea after intense backlash. A controversial hosting choice, Kevin Hart, ended up dropping out from the gig only months before showtime after his homophobic social media history resurfaced. And most recently, the organizers announced that it would present important categories like Best Cinematography off-air — despite the fact that the Academy’s president is part of the cinematographers’ guild himself.

All of this led to an Oscars ceremony without a host for the first time since 1989.