Queen’s underrated gem “The Show Must Go On” got even better when Celine Dion got her hands on it. Dion did a powerhouse performance of the song at the Billboard Music Awards, accompanied by a full orchestra. However, one of the best versions of the song combines Freddie Mercury’s original vocals with the Billboard performance, creating a dramatic duet between two of the greatest singers in popular music.
At the Billboard Awards, Dion really shows off a different side to her and definitely leans into Mercury’s powerful and strident energy on the song. It’s really a sight to see Dion really go all out with such bold energy onstage, and it’s a testament to her versatility as a performer. Check out the mashup below, which gained 10.8 million views on YouTube, making it more popular than Dion’s original Billboard appearance.
Hearing Mercury and Dion together is just sublime. Mercury’s tenor reaches towards the top of his range as he sings like his life depends on it. Dion, by contrast, sings in her lower register and gives off a vibe like a tough survivor, giving the song a different yet complementary energy.
Fans loved to hear the two icons together on the song and added comments such as “A talent for the ages! Freddie’s voice and song just make my heart skip a beat,” and “They are two of the greatest and most powerful vocalists in history. They are also two of the biggest-selling artists in history. They are in one word: legends.” You can hear Queen’s original studio recording for the song below, which tastefully combines the groove of the band with an orchestral backing.
“The Show Must Go On” has quite a story behind it, as many Queen songs do. The song is credited to Queen but was primarily written by their guitarist, Brian May. The power ballad is the 12th and final song on the band’s fourteenth studio album, Innuendo, which was the last album to be released while Mercury was still alive.
The lyrics address Mercury’s battle with AIDS and his struggle to continue performing while dealing with his illness. At the time, the public was not aware of his diagnosis, although there had been some speculation that he was seriously ill.
When the band hit the studio in 1990, May wasn’t sure if Mercury could complete the recording of the song, due to his physical deterioration. May recalled that “I said, ‘Fred, I don’t know if this is going to be possible to sing.’ And he went, ‘I’ll f***ing do it, darling’—vodka down—and went in and killed it, completely lacerated that vocal.”
May is absolutely correct that Mercury completely slayed the vocal. It’s everything a rock vocal should be: powerful, emotional, and a joy to listen to. In any other band’s discography, “The Show Must Go On” would be one of their biggest hits, but due to the superlative quality of Queen’s output, it’s just one of their deep cuts.