For classic rock fans, a common belief exists that certain songs should never be covered. That the original artists wrote and performed these songs so perfectly, any other interpretation could never do them justice. Two of the most common sacred songs are Lynard Skynard’s “Free Bird” and, of course, Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven.”
Another song in this category that almost every classic rock fan will say is Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody,” (unless the cover is from Wayne’s World, which gets an exemption because that scene is hilarious and not meant to be taken seriously in the slightest). Very few can sing like Freddy Mercury and Roger Taylor, as both were close to a four-octave range. Mercury’s vocals are beautiful and monumental while Taylor carries the opera section with his falsetto. Why even try when the odds of living up to the song’s standards are stacked so high?
Those odds didn’t stop Panic! At The Disco, who released a live cover they performed during The Gospel Tour. Surprisingly, the risk paid off, as lead singer Brendon Urie shows how talented he is beyond the band’s big hits “I Write Sins Not Tragedies” and “Nine in the Afternoon.” Though Urie seems more strained to hit the higher notes than Mercury did, he still sounds great. His voice has always been more theatrical than other rock singers, and that just may be why he can cover Mercury so well.
Critics have pointed out that Panic! uses the recorded, multi-layered voice track in their performance, but Queen regularly used it as well in their live performances. The original recording took weeks to get right. Trying to get a good interpretation of that live would be challenging for anyone and ultimately disappoint fans of the song.
Admittedly, the cover’s guitar solo is a bit muddy and lacking in comparison to the original. Other than that, Panic! At The Disco shows they have the ability to perform a sacred song that no one is supposed to touch.