May 31: Montreal Gazette: Adam Lambert Says Things Would've Been Much Tougher Without American Idol [Photos] [ATop Info] May 31: Chantal Boivin Tweets: "I'm like the ultimate gay best friend!" Montreal Photos [ATop Info] May 31: AuxTV: Top 5 Pop Tracks: May [ATop Info] May 31: Metro Uk: Adam Lambert: I Went On American Idol Because I Couldn't Get Signed [ATop Info] May 31: GyaO! Yahoo! Japan Interview YouTube [ATop Info] May 31: Virgin Radio 96 Montreal Quebec Youtubes [ATop Info] May 31: Adam says, "Avoir" "Au Revoir" To Montreal Tweets & Just Jared [ATop Info]
I met Adam Lambert Thursday morning at an Old Montreal hotel and sitting on the balcony of a pretty swanky suite, he talked about being an openly gay pop star, his plans to step into Freddie Mercury’s shoes and perform with the surviving members of Queen this summer in Europe and how pumped he is that his sophomore album, Trespassing, made its debut on the American sales charts at the No. 1 spot last week.
I will have a full profile of the American Idol runner-up in the Gazette Tuesday. In the meantime, here’s a little advance taste – with Lambert responding to the folks who believe American Idol is the root of all evil in modern music.
“Of course, there’s a stigma,” said Lambert, who was open, generous and way more intelligent than your average pop star over the course of our 20-minute interview. “But you also know what’s wrong with the music world? Do you know how hard it is to get signed as a new artist? It’s f—ing impossible. So I feel Idol is this amazing P.R. platform and I did what I had to do to get noticed. I chose American Idol because it surpasses the business. It goes right to the audience. But the challenge is also making the leap from the show to the business. It’s a whole new obstacle course that you have to deal with at that point. You introduce yourself without original music. So you have to work backwards.”
Before meeting Lambert, I had asked the Twitterverse to tweet me questions to ask the glammy pop idol and one of the best came from Chris Hanna, who suggested I ask Lambert if he believes he could make the music he does, with the look he has, if it wasn’t for Idol.
So that’s exactly what I asked him – do you think you could’ve done what you’ve done without American Idol?
“No not me,” said Lambert. “I don’t think a major label would’ve signed me. I’d still be doing musicals or trying to get into writing, behind the scenes. Before Idol, I had started to do demos, to do session work, and that was cool. But that was a lot of – ‘Can you sound like this, can you sound like that?’ – and that started to get frustrating.
“I think the machine exists behind the show and it’s a well-oiled machine. Simon Fuller created a great brand. He did a good job trying to create an audience for music. For a young contestant who doesn’t have much experience, they can use the machine to their advantage. But then there are those of us who’re on the show and know what we want. I think when they met me and I got to the end of the show, they were excited. They thought – ‘OK this guy has ideas. He has a vision.’ I think they liked that. I think it’s case by case. Look at Kelly Clarkson. She’s been through the machine and has had a ton of commercial success but what I’ve seen is that she’s got a strong personality and she has her own ideas. So it is what you make of it.”
Each month, tons of new music from many taste-spanning genres is released into a fast-consuming, unforgiving market; it can be tough to get a handle on what’s new before it’s on to the next. In an attempt to highlight the standout releases, at the end of each month, AUX staff re-cap the month in Punk, Metal, Indie/Pop/Rock, Hip Hop, Electronic, and Pop with the top five releases in each. Consider it your cheat sheet for year-end lists.
Adam Lambert – “Shady” feat. Sam Sparro and Nile Rodgers This month, Adam Lambert became the first openly gay musician to have a number one record on the Billboard 200, and while this is a major achievement, the focus of Trespassing’s success should be based on music, and not sexuality. Trespassing is a collection of electro-pop triumphs and confessional ballads that showcase Lambert’s soaring vocals, with personnel comprised of pop music’s premiere hitmakers, such as Dr. Luke, Pharrell, Bruno Mars, Bonnie McKee, and Benny Blanco. The dark and sleazy “Shady” just might be the finest offering on Trespassing; at times sounding (and I can’t believe I’m writing this) somewhat like a combination of the dark synth-scapes of Trent Reznor and the funky new-wave instincts of Prince. It’s a strange, but satisfying musical stew, with three-part harmony and funky guitar work all over it. Adam Lambert isn’t the first Idol-alumni to conquer the charts (see: Carrie Underwood, Kelly Clarkson), but he’s definitely the most unlikely artist to find acceptance there. And, it’s well-deserved.
American Idol runner-up Adam Lambert talks to Metro about why he auditioned for the hit US show, his pride at being labelled a gay role model and his new album Trespassing.
What can people expect from the new album Trespassing? A lot of booty-shaking, funky, electro-dance jams. The first half is fun, upbeat dance stuff; the second half is darker and gets quite moody, exploring the harder-to-talk-about things in life. We all have light and dark in us and I wanted to reflect that.
What are the darker topics? There’s stuff about self-image and self-worth. There’s been times in the past couple of years I haven’t been completely sure of myself but have had to act as if I was. There’s a song about a relationship where you’re involved with someone who isn’t right but you keep coming back and Outlaws Of Love is about the struggle faced by the LGBT community. That one’s very important to me.
Do you feel obliged to be some sort of gay figurehead? If someone wants to look at me and say: ‘He’s a gay role model,’ I’m proud to wear that label. A lot of what I sing about is universal. The broader statement is it doesn’t really matter, we all want the same things.
Has being a pop star lived up to your expectations? It’s been interesting. There have been fantastic, glamorous moments but then some that are quite trying. But I guess that’s life in general. Everything’s magnified. It’s like regular life but exaggerated.
What have been the disappointments? There have been times where I’ve longed for anonymity again but everything comes with a price. If I have to give up my anonymity for this dream career then I’m OK with it.
What lessons has the industry taught you so far? Nothing’s logical – it’s all down to chance. It’s a game. There are moments when I take everything very seriously, then others when I laugh at it. You have to be able to toggle between both perspectives. On the one hand, it’s not brain surgery; on the other I want to sing about emotionally resonant subject matter.
Do you ever Google yourself? My mom sometimes sends me stuff. She’ll ask about stories that aren’t true. You have to take it all with a punch of salt. Every once in a while, I’ll get an abusive tweet but the positive ones outweigh the negative. The internet is great for people who want to anonymously spew venom. It’s extremes – either ‘I love you and want to have your babies’ or ‘die faggot’.
You’ve built up a devoted, cult following. Why is that? I keep it as real as possible. I’m an honest person. Fans said they appreciate that.
Do they take it a bit too far? All the time but I’ve learned to enjoy it. It’s charming. They’ll geek out and ask me to sign body parts. Fans have made dolls of me. Every now and then I’ll meet a fan who can’t keep it together and trembles and cries but it’s coming from a place of admiration.
Are there so many talent shows now it’s difficult for people to stand out? It’s what you make of it. I auditioned for Idol because I wanted bigger opportunities in my career. I realised I’d have a hard time getting signed to a label, so I did what I had to do to get myself out there. I just tried to make my performances on the show interesting. It was helpful I’d done a lot of professional theatre for ten years. I learned how to keep people’s attention, which I used to my advantage.
What’s the worst gig you’ve done? A topless production of Debbie Does Dallas The Musical. I kept my clothes on but there were naked girls on stage. I needed a job at that point.
Have you worn anything you now regret? All the time. Even things from three months ago make me wonder what the hell I was thinking. The last one was a leather poncho thing. I’m too fashion-forward for my own good.
Your boyfriend’s Finnish – has he taught you any Finnish? I can say: ‘F*** that s***.’
Would you go back to musical theatre? I’m happy doing what I’m doing. I’ve always loved Jesus Christ Superstar but I’ve never performed it. I’d love to sing that score someday.
What misconceptions do people have of you? People think I’m a diva, but I’m not. I’m pretty easy going. I just try to put on a good show. I’ve never asked for my dressing room to be repainted or for people to sort my M&Ms by colour. I’m happy with a cup of tea.