I've been called a lot of names during my life and career, but Freddie has seldom been one of them. (And let's not start now.)
So, imagine my surprise when Mike Stern told me about this “Freddie thing” people were doing online.
As yet another indicator of my advancing age in music radio, the Freddie that immediately came to mind was Freddie Garrity, lead singer of Freddie & the Dreamers.
Never heard of them? Then you missed an interesting cul-de-sac of the British Invasion. Counter to the history books that glorify the original years when Classic Rock became certifiably classic, there were a bunch of artists spawned during this exciting period when seemingly every song released came from the Mother Country.
Sure, there were the Beatles, the Stones, the Kinks, and so many others that many Gen Zers know their music by heart.
But a couple of clicks away were Gerry & the Pacemakers, Petula Clark, the Dave Clark Five, Herman's Hermits, and Cilla Black.
And Freddie & the Dreamers.
The bad was formed by Freddie Garrity, a 5′ 3″ talk Brit who bands had a number of hits around the time the Beatles went viral.
But it was their stage antics that stood out in a rapidly growing explosion of music from across the pond.
“Do The Freddie” was the song that turned into a dance craze, earning the bands appearances on American, including “The Ed Sullivan Show.” Their album of the same name included dance diagrams from the Arthur Murray School of Dance.
It wasn't pretty but when those millions of teenagers in the Baby Boom were looking for whatever was next, the Freddie has its 15 minutes of fame:
You can only imagine the junior high school taunts that came in droves. It was like being named “Alexa” is today.
Segue to the real Freddie – Freddie Mercury, of course.
And as the unstoppable Queen craze adds new digital chapters, Google and YouTube have come up with something cleverly remarkable – the Freddie Meter.
It's a nifty piece of software that mashes up augmented reality (AR) with Classic Rock. AdWeek's David Cohen reports the video site is the product of Google Creative Lab and Google Research, of course with Queen, UMG, and Hollywood Records in the mix. (Something tells me that rocket scientist Brian May had a hand in it as well.)
You can choose from four Queen classics – “”Don't Stop Me Now,” Somebody to Love,” “We Are the Champions or you can channel Wayne and Garth and give your vocal chords a workout with “Bohemian Rhapsody.”
And not surprisingly, you can post your efforts, using the #FreddieChallenge to ensure the whole world knows how far you fall short from matching the vocal abilities of the Freddie Mercury.
This 1-minute promotional video channels the joy of singing along with Freddie:
The Freddie Meter was created to celebrate Queen's first live performance of “Bohemian Rhapsody” 44 years ago in the UK. It's also an effort to raise funds for the Mercury Phoenix Trust, a charity founded by Brian May, Roger Taylor, and Jim Beach to combat HIV/AIDS.
Alas, my scores was way sub-Freddie, but it was a treat to learn that outside the echo chamber of my shower, I really can't sing. My 35% Freddie Score (broken out by pitch, melody, and timbre) sadly add metrics to the karaoke process. You can try as often as you like to earn a better score.
It's yet another sign of how music that is decades old continues to remain an important part of our pop culture and our lives.
Thanks to technology, there continue to be new and different ways not to just to listen to Classic Rock, but to experience it in ways not possible when these songs were released.
These are the innovations we're looking forward to seeing for ourselves at CES in early January. Developers and technologists all over the planet are looking for new ways for us to entertain ourselves, combining innovation with killer content.
So, this weekend, when everyone is out shopping, open your laptop or fire up your phone, and test your vocal talents against one of the greats.
Do the Freddie.
Learn more about the Mercury Phoenix Trust here.
Jacobs Media has consistently walked the walk in the digital space, providing insights and guidance through its well-read national Techsurveys.
In 2008, jacapps was launched - a mobile apps company that has designed and built more than 1,200 apps for both the Apple and Android platforms. In 2013, the DASH Conference was created - a mashup of radio and automotive, designed to foster better understanding of the "connected car" and its impact.
Along with providing the creative and intellectual direction for the company, Fred consults many of Jacobs Media's commercial and public radio clients, in addition to media brands looking to thrive in the rapidly changing tech environment.
Fred was inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame in 2018.
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