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 Queen for a Day

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Actor Rami Malek on his long and challenging road to playing
Queen frontman Freddie Mercury in 'Bohemian Rhapsody'.

By Alex Suskind in Entertainment Weekly

Rami Malekow do you prepare to play one of the most famous (and famously enigmatic) performers in history? For Rami Malek, and his upcoming role as Freddie Mercury in the new biopic Bohemian Rhapsody, you remember that underneath all the pomp and circumstance of Queen's frontman was an individual coming to terms with himself. "I would consistently go back to his interviews and performances just to understand the [different] sides of him," the Mr. Robot star says. "Obviously, there is a very brave, brash entertainer who hits the stage. And then there is a human being who can be reclusive and lonely behind closed doors."

Freddie Mercury
Soundtrack CD
That duality gave the 37-year-old actor a pathway to capturing the late singer's magneticism. Malek was so committed to the role that he even flew to London on his own dime to do research before the film had funding. There he immersed himself in all things Freddie, reading biographies, watching old videos, and speaking with Queen members Roger Taylor and Brian May, who were on board with the film early in development. "They gave us creative freedom," says Bohemian Rhapsody producer Graham King of Mercury's bandmates. "I wanted to keep them as involved as possible. I needed their blessing for my own personal peace of mind." By the time Bohemian Rhapsody finally went into production, Malek, sporting fake teeth for Mercury's signature overbite, was ready to go. "When you put in those teeth," he says, "there's a very visceral change to the performance. When I took them out by the end of the film, I felt quite naked."

Making it past the finish line wasn't easy, though, as the long-gestating biopic has, over the years, occasionally resembled an episode of VH1's Behind the Music: salacious rumors, accusations of producers mishandling Mercury's sexuality, and the firing of director Bryan Singer more than halfway into production when he wasn't showing up on the set. But the cast and filmmakers were determined to tie it up, despite frustrations. "Every moment where there was a challenge on set, I just reminded myself: What would Freddie do? And I guarantee, he would've seen it through," says Malek. "We're proud of [the film]." 

 Long Live the Queen Mother

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Cher delivers a history lesson in modern pop on her new album 'Dancing Queen'.

By Marc Snetiker in Entertainment Weekly

'Dancing Queen' - CherCherCher
Dancing Queen
Warner Bros.

aving the time of her life hardly begins to describe what Cher gets up to on her 26th studio album, an ebullient cache of ABBA covers inspired by her stint in Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again. Between that scene-stealing cameo and the musical about Cher's life bowing this winter, Dancing Queen arrives as an autumn reminder of what the 72-year-old, left to her own devices (and patented Auto-Tune effect), still delivers as a pop diva.

It's no mistake that the thumping "Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight)" dropped as the album's first single -- it encapsulates what Cher accomplishes here: an unironic return to disco glam-pop. Not all 10 tracks reinvent the wheel, but some drip with Cher's club influence: a little electronica in "Waterloo," a luscious backbeat to "The Winner Takes It All," a line of sex-ready synth in "The Name of the Game." Dancing Queen is a curious experiment that helps ABBA's genre-fluid hits find a new home in 2018 -- but more than that, it's a spirited history lesson, from Cher to you, to teach EDM-heavy modern pop just where it came from. A- 

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