How Singer Brian Justin Crum Turned a Toxic Relationship Into a Thumping Record

The “America’s Got Talent” all-star on riding the reality TV show wave.

You could call singer Brian Justin Crum the “Queen of America’s Got Talent.”

After playing Galileo Figaro in Queen musical We Will Rock You, Adam Lambert and Queen’s own Brian May rooted for the out entertainer when he appeared on AGT’s season 11 in 2016 (he made waves with Queen’s “Somebody To Love” and placed fourth). Last month, he made it to the finals of the show’s all-stars edition, AGT: The Champions, and released a soaring, powerhouse single and video of “We Are The Champions” while at it.

Crum, who also appeared in stage musicals Wicked, Altar Boyz, and Next To Normal, kicked off March with an original, deeply personal single and video, “Circles,” which kicks off a new stage in his career.

Crum had a frank and sassy chat with NewNowNext about the toxic relationship that inspired “Circles,” AGT, and which out rock icon he’d like to play in a movie.

So, what’s the story behind “Circles?”

It’s about a relationship I went through, and we kind of became addicted to our toxicity. We were making the same mistakes and hoping things were going to change, but I realized they never would change and I was really stuck in what my life coach calls “the crazy eight.” I changed it to “Circles.”

Has your ex heard the song?

I think he has, actually, and I think we’re both in agreement that that’s what was happening. I know he’s very happy right now and in love, and so am I, and it worked out for the best.

Did you send him an mp3 or did he have to buy it on iTunes?

Bitch, you gotta download it on iTunes! It’s available now!

You made it to the finals of AGT: The Champions and was eliminated in the same round as AGT royalty, Susan Boyle. Would you have felt evil if you made it further than her?

No, not at all! Not. At. All. Not even a moment. She was kind of kept very separate from us. She had her own area.

When Adam Lambert was on American Idol years back, did that plant the idea to pursue fame through a talent competition show as well?

No. I was so on my own path at that point, touring and in a Broadway show, of wanting to be a Broadway star and that was my journey at the time. I didn’t consider this path until years after.

Any Simon Cowell moments to share?

Not many. We don’t get to see the judges very often, but he has come up to me quite a few times and said what an amazing singer I am and what an amazing job he thinks I did. He hasn’t put his money where his mouth is yet, but he’s always shown me lots of love.

Would you recommend auditioning for AGT to someone who wants visibility?

Absolutely. I definitely recommend it, but I also recommend you have your ducks in a row as far as plan for what you want to achieve after. The visibility happens, and then it’s up to you to ride the wave and create more waves.

You sang Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror” the first time you were on the show—would you sing that now?

No, I don’t think that I would and I’ve said no to singing it at a couple of events. I watched the interviews on HBO and was so heartbroken. We’re in a world now where believing victims is very important, and it’s a political statement, and that’s where we need to put our focus.

Can you tell us about the original Queen rock concert “with a ballet twist” you’re planning? Somebody To Love?

Yes. We’re doing it again and hopefully lots of times. It was one of the coolest experiences I’ve had as a performer, so we’ll do it again and in the right way and right place with right people. We have wish list cities and venues and are deciding which direction we want to go.

Since queer music icons Elton John and Freddie are already spoken for with Rocketman and Bohemian Rhapsody, which queer musical icon would you like to play in a musical biopic?

George Michael. For sure. He’s always been my spirit animal, and a lot of my look and vibe has been inspired by him.

You’ve recorded songs by Queen, Robyn, Elton, Lady Gaga, Radiohead, Katy Perry, Cher, and Adele. Who would you love to cover next?

I’m a ladyboy, so I want to get some Whitney in the catalog. Celine, Barbra Streisand. I want to do a whole cover album of fierce divas who taught me everything I know.

Would you like to be a Drag Race judge?

That is number one on my to-do list this year.

Are you cheering for any of the queens on Season 11?

Brooke Lynn Hytes is so incredible. A friend of mine works in casting on the show and had lovely things to say about her. I hope she’s in the top!

Lawrence is a New York-based travel and entertainment writer whose work has appeared in National Geographic Traveler, Time Out New York and The New York Post.