Since he became the de facto lead singer of Queen in 2011, Adam Lambert has often thought about what Freddie Mercury might think.
“I often wonder, ‘Is Freddie’s spirit aware that we’re still celebrating him and singing his music? Would Freddie like the way I sing?’ And I hope, with all my heart, that he would approve of everything that we’ve been doing with these songs,” Lambert, 41, told The Post. “For me, a ghost is the memory of somebody that’s existing collectively in a group of people. The entire audience is remembering Freddie, so his ghost is in the room. And I hope it’s a happy, satisfied, proud ghost.”
Lambert has been the ultimate cover boy since hesang his way to a runner-up finish on “American Idol” in 2009. And the tune transformer continues to flex his powers of interpretation on his new album “High Drama” (out Friday), radically remaking songs by everyone from Duran Duran and Kings of Leon to Lana Del Rey and Billie Eilish.
“I wanted to do songs that could come from my own life, from my experiences,” said Lambert. “And I wanted to do songs that were [by] other artists who were real individuals. Most of the artists on this album march to the beat of their own drum. And I really respect that.”
The Grammy-nominated glam-rocker — who publicly came out as gay to Rolling Stone in 2009 — also embraces queer icons on “High Drama.” He delivers a torchy take on Noël Coward’s “Mad About the Boy” — which will be featured in an upcoming documentary about the late British playwright — and makes like an emo Boy George on a moody redo of Culture Club’s ’80s classic “Do You Really Want to Hurt Me.”
“Actually, George is a friend of mine,” said Lambert. “He’s someone that I really admire. I don’t think he always gets the credit he deserves when he was really out there being exactly who he was in the early ’80s, when it was a little tricky to proclaim that.”
With his stellar second LP, 2012’s “Trespassing,” Lambert made his own queer history: He became the first openly gay man to have an album top the Billboard 200 upon its debut. Still, he has battled homophobia along the way — including when he kissed his male bassist during his performance of “For Your Entertainment” at the 2009 American Music Awards.
“It was a big wake-up call for me because growing up in West Hollywood … being around other creative people and kind of weirdos like me, I didn’t realize the level of homophobia that we were still dealing with in our country,” he said.
Now, though, Lambert is “happy to have been part of the wave” of queer artists crashing the mainstream — from Frank Ocean and Lil Nas X to Sam Smith and Kim Petras. “I mean, the stuff that Lil Nas X has been doing the last couple years is fabulous … getting to be sexual and be bold about it,” he said.
And Lambert is thankful that, in a prophetic moment, he performed a little ditty called “Bohemian Rhapsody” during his “American Idol” audition in 2009. “I mean, the universe really does work in mysterious ways,” he said. “I’m so glad that I picked that song. And then [Queen was] brought on to the finale to perform, we met, one thing led to another, and now I’ve been touring with them over the past decade.”
But while he loves his killer Queen gig, Lambert has never officially been a member of the band.
“I’m a lifelong Freddie Mercury fan — I think he is irreplaceable,” he said. “I think we’re all very clear that … it’s not been a replacement. It’s not been [me] taking over. It’s always felt like a collaboration that allows us to celebrate Freddie, that allows us to celebrate the music of the band. I feel, in many ways, that I’m of service to Brian [May, Queen’s guitarist] and Roger [Taylor, its drummer], so that they can get onstage and perform their songs. And you couldn’t ask for a better job.”