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Various Artists

Artist-salute discs make plenty of sense from a business standpoint, since they let labels milk material that was paid for long ago. Problem is, they're almost always lame -- and this homage to Freddie Mercury and friends certainly doesn't buck the trend.

There are lots of ways to go wrong on this sort of project, and Killer Queen finds most of them. Over-singing? Check out Joss Stone's evisceration of "Under Pressure" and Gavin DeGraw's Ramada Inn-ready take on "We Are the Champions." Moronic new arrangements? Look no further than Be Your Own Pet's idiotic sprint through "Bicycle Race." Overtly aping the original vocalist? Failed American Idol contestant Constantine Maroulis covers that while returning to "Bohemian Rhapsody," which wowed Simon, Randy and Paula, but probably only because they'd just been subjected to Anthony Federov. Fortunately, the Flaming Lips' rendition of "Rhapsody" is everything that Constantine's turn isn't: fresh, witty, and odd. More tracks like it would have made this collection as good a deal for album buyers as it is for the record company.

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Michael Roberts
Contact: Michael Roberts

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