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Adam Lambert Can Do No Wrong?

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Adam Lambert can do no wrong.

Or so I was led to believe, judging by some fans’ reactions when I criticized his first Idol tour performance. “No true Glambert would ever say that!” But after he “loses his mind at AMA, has sex on stage,” even diehard Glamberts are taking sides in the controversy the guy seems to live for, given his appearance at the American Music Awards November 22, primetime on the ABC network.

Right: Adam at the Portland opening of the Idol tour, photo by Adrianne Martin

As one of the menopausal many who were swept away in the tsunami of Adamania during season eight of American Idol, I eagerly awaited the day I would hear Adam's first big single on the radio. So I woke myself up for the 6:55 debut broadcast on Ryan Seacrest’s October 30th show. I had no idea what to expect, but I’d become apprehensive as soon as I’d heard his CD’s title, For Your Entertainment, the lamest, tamest route this wild child could go, something better suited to Kate Smith or Jim Nabors.

Then when I saw the cover my jaw dropped. Why would one of the world’s most photogenic men pick a cheesy piece of fan art for his debut album? I was stunned to learn it was a photograph, and agreed when one web site named it one of the worst album covers of 2009, saying he looked like ”the bastard alien lovechild of Lisa Frank and Bonnie Tyler.” Homage or not, as he intended, it was cornier than Iowa.

The title made more sense when I learned it was the name of the first single, but when I heard the opening notes of the song itself, I knew it had not been written for my entertainment. I’m old fashioned. I like music to come from musical instruments. I like to be able to identify what instrument it’s coming from. So when I heard that toy-tinny synthy opening my heart sank. Bummer. It was just another catchy pop song any pop singer could sing.

This tacky trifecta of album title, cover, and choice of single did not bode well. At 7:07 I tweeted, “Adam Lambert, who is advising you?” At 7:15 someone else tweeted, “who heard Adam Lambert's 'For Your Entertainment' this morning on Ryan Seacrest radio show? What did u think?”

I shot back my first impression, “Over-produced pop-fluff disappointment.” I was unaware, at the time, that I was addressing the writer of the song, Claude Kelly. But even Kelly seemed taken aback by Adam’s AMA performance of his song, judging by his tweets:

aiight. Adam Lambert is closing this biyaatch. c'mon Glambert.

ok here we go. this is my song

there was a lot of riskque-ness in there…the silence on the my twitterfeed means u guys r shocked or too scared to say what u think LMAO

i think maybe they tried too hard for shock value…

1 weird thing about adams song is that they were bleeping words in the song for no reason: i didn’t write curses in that song. #shockvalue?

Was it all about shock value? The announcer hyped his upcoming performance as “eye-popping,” “must be seen to be believed,” “the performance everyone will be talking about tomorrow.”

I don’t shock easily. I’m an adult San Franciscan and half my friends are gay. But did Adam take it too far? Actually, I don’t care. Sex? Bring it on. Nor do I care about monitoring artists’ actions as inappropriate. I’m nobody’s moral guardian. What disturbed me about the performance was that it felt gratuitous and even somewhat hostile. Who was he flipping off? Just whoever doesn’t approve of him? Wasn’t he supposed to be “here for [our] entertainment”?

In case you can’t tell, I love this guy. He glam-rocked my world, and I want him to succeed and big-time. This performance was not worthy of him or his talent because it wasn’t about his talent. His voice is extraordinary, but there were plenty of exceptional voices on the AMA stage and Adam's amazing range is not what the water-cooler gossip will be about. When I saw Cirque du Soleil’s X-rated “Xumanity” I called it “a Vegas sham of sex, not true eroticism.” That’s what this reminded me of. It was not a fun exploration of human sexuality but a disingenuous display of it. Plus, nerves may have contributed to making his trademark bumping and grinding feel self-conscious.

As Rachel Sklar put it, “In this seen-it-all age of the meta, the dramatic, fearless, hyper-sexualized personas of Gaga and Glambert are less transgressive than reflective — two operatic baroque, characters less pushing the envelope than wearing it…he just didn’t wear it well.”

So did Adam Lambert do wrong? For me, a fan from day one, he made some disappointing choices his first time out, but I remain a fan. My collector’s edition of the CD is in the mail and I hope it does more to showcase his voice than what I have so far heard. I hope I love it, like I love his look, his spirit, his bravado, his vulnerability. I’ll meet him halfway on anything he does.

As for the world, did Adam make a career blunder? For Your Entertainment is now on the market. If it's true that audaci favet fortuna — fortune favors the bold — perhaps a fortune is indeed coming his way. But as Jay-Z put it when he picked up his award for Favorite Male R&B/Hip Hop Artist, “Men lie. Women lie. Numbers don’t.”

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About Alexandra Jones

  • Bisonhoof

    People who say “oh you can just change the channel” and “you are homophobic” are missing the point of what many of us are saying. Many of us loved his performance in AI and were hoping he’d win, hoping to see a great career like Elton John or other entertainers. But he did a total coin flip, just isn’t the same Adam we knew in AI. And like others, I would like to see performaces without all the sex stuff. Performance, vocal talent! We are not All of us teenagers. Man, we need to get back to the 50’s through 80’s where the real music lived. None of this drama brou-ha-ha, just brilliant music.

  • For you that may be the case, Heloise. But, let’s call a spade a spade. Madonna kisses Brittney. No big whoop. Men can kiss women and women can kiss women but man to man action? EEEEEEEEEEEEEKKKKK!! We go more spastic than Rush Limbaugh’s colon after a good session of blow.

    Again, I’m no fan of Lambert. Sure many will say don’t play the queer card and this is all about showing it so graphically. Then again, when people get all spastic over Obama, it’s not racist, it’s politics. Face facts, folks, some of it is just plain homophobia and racism. It happens. We need to talk about it. We need to get over it. If you were watching the AMA Awards and were offended by Mr. Lambert’s antics, all you had to do was CHANGE THE CHANNEL! It’s not like ABC is the exclusive state network — it’s FOX.

  • Silas, you did not read my article or comment. I said I was NOT paying attention to Adam. When he came on I thought “who the heck is this?” And kept writing. My bad. It looked generally sleazy so I tuned it out but did not turn it off.

    FYI: I googled and checked Youtube and found the offensive act. Some have the whole act some have only snippets of it. But that’s why I had to look for it. I missed the action. I am not homophobic but the prob IMO is that they want to PUT it in our FACE. I have the same reaction if it is STRAIGHT sex. Get a ROOM. I don’t want to see either one showing or squeezing their crotches for effect. Get it? It’s not homo sex but over-the-top sex regardless of who or what.


  • Theresa

    Wow… our world has come so far through racism, homophobics… and everyone is FREAKED out over a kiss on stage .. man on man. Why? It makes you uncomfortable. If you son is not gay, he will not all of a sudden be gay because he saw a man on man kiss. I have two sons 13 and 15 and would totally be fine had they been watching show. I would tell them to judge on talent and musical interest and put all this petty other stuff aside. My God, can’t people see how Elvis used to be condemned because he shook his pelvis a little too much or Mandonna because she used religious symbolism. It’s called art. Step back, calm down and enjoy the expression of music and art.

  • Anybody watch Dancing With the Stars tonite? Seeing Tom Delay was as offensive as Adam Lambert’s antics.

  • Personally, I don’t see Adam Lambert as talented. He’s another entertainment hack. He’s no Shirley Bassey or Michael Buble. That’s why I don’t watch Idol any longer, I find it to be a showcase for wannabe hacks except for Jennifer Hudson. She’s the most talented person to ever appear on that stage.

    You want REAL entertainment? Go see Bette Midler or Alice Cooper. Yes, I said Alice Cooper. I loved Bette Midler so much after seeing her Radio City concert that I tattooed her face on my left arm.

  • Me and my daughter loved Adam on Idol and wanted him to win as he deserved. The video link from this article is no longer, so I can comment on his latest performance. Oh well.

  • zingzing

    there’s a band named girls out there right now (they’re awesome) who put out a video for a song called “lust for life.” features a guy singing into another guy’s erect penis like it was a mic. it’s a brilliant song–first line is “oh, i wish i had a boyfriend…” (and even though it’s about wanting what his ex-girlfriend has, it does well to clear the idiots out of the room).

    give it a little search and enjoy, all you right wingers. while you wring you hands, we get to look at naked people doing funny things! yay! (look out for the “i love girls!” bit.)

    (there’s two versions, but search for the “xxx” version or the “nsfw” version.) yar.

  • It was undeniably over the top for broadcast TV, but I don’t understand why anyone was watching this show to begin with.

    If you are seeing oral sex in the album cover, you may be the one who is f-ing crazy. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar

  • Heloise, God gave you two hands. If you don’t want to see it, change the channel. All this hype about Adam Lambert and his ‘offensive’ behavior. There are six million damned channels on television at that hour and everyone is obsessed with this little gay boy. Give me a break. If you don’t want to watch, change the channel and watch Pat Robertson on the 700 Club. There’s a program that’s worthwhile — for goats.

  • He’s cut from scary cloth IMO. So what if we are a country of puritanical hypocrites. And I am overreacting. I don’t want to see it onstage during primetime.

  • Oh, Heloise. He’s a performance artist. He’s a rebellious gay boy who is sowing his wild oats. Oh, therein lies the problem. If he did 8 masturbation videos and campaigned against fags getting married there would be no discussion about his over the top performance. We’re a nation of double standards — a nation full of closet perverts who would rather cast judgment than deal with reality.

  • My article on the AMA went unpublished so I put it on my own site. Your article has focus because you followed this Adam weirdo and had a gut reaction. I had no reaction because I don’t watch Idol anymore period.

    Anyway, you guys are missing something here: look again at the “album cover” it is in-your-face oral sex simulation! That guy is f-ing crazy literally. It seems to be a male member made by a hand and glove? Oh boy, I watched the AMA and wrote about it but I freaking missed what this freak was doing because I could tell he was going to get freaky. So I was writing while he was singing. It did not sound well and now look it did not bode well for him because his invite to GMA has been canceled.

    The number done by some woman at the beginning was so over-the-top sexy I could not watch it and did not mention it.

    It now looks like male artists are trying to outweird and out-Michael Michael Jackson with little or no luck. MJ was great because the music was first and the sexy stuff came much later. Now everyone is putting the cart before the horse and making whores of themselves onstage. I can’t watch it anymore.

    You have some history with this Adam guy you fell for him! I didn’t and glad he did not even register with me. I did NOT see the crap he did until I looked for a replay online of it. He’s trash. Next!


  • Jordan Richardson

    He just shocked and awed me right out of buying any of his music ever.

    That’s too bad. Here I thought it was all about the music, yet you’re letting his sexuality and performance “shock and awe you right out of buying it.”

    And you claim “no one cares.” Bullshit. You obviously do.

  • Jordan Richardson

    I find it truly sad that this generation has been so vulgarized that sex is just a meaningless sport or barter for material gain, even among the very young.

    Oh stop it. Every single generation has had little reverence for sex, from the ancient history of the Greeks and Romans to to the off-kilter passive aggressiveness of the 1950s.

    “This generation” isn’t doing anything previous generations didn’t do.

  • Jordan Richardson

    The hyperbole on this performance is ridiculous


    Bear in mind that you actually have someone in this discussion suggesting that the “next step” will be for someone to “take a dump on stage” or “have his way with animals.”

    Interesting that a homosexual expression is compared to those activities.

    Lambert realizes that making it in music these days means that you have to also make it as an entertainer. He designed his performance to get tongues wagging and they are. Can’t fault him for understanding how the machine works.

  • Sydney

    The hyperbole on this performance is ridiculous. You have people saying its not about the gay, but then in the same breath say, stop pushing your gay in our face. I mean, excuse you. I doubt anyone would be saying to Madonna or Britney or GaGa or whoever straight female or male for that matter to stop pushing your straight on the masses, if any of them starting kissing on stage. So stop with double standard. You don’t like him, fine, don’t be ignornant and call him immoral cause your ignorance is showing. Its perfectly fine if Adam wants to shock and suprise, by all means do it, but the vocals need to back up the crazy and last night the vocals were not on point and he admitted that. People just need to stop with the pearl clutching because its silly to the max.

  • Alexandra Jones, yours is one of the best critiques of Adam’s performance at the AMAS that I’ve read. I’m another huge fan of his unique voice and talents and who cannot love looking at his beautiful face? I wasn’t so much disgusted as I was disappointed by this performance. The singing simply left me cold. He was trying way too hard to ‘entertain’ instead of concentrating his energies on capturing his audience with a beautiful interpretation of a song that could move us. I hope he can redeem himself in his next few televised appearances, because if he doesn’t, I’m afraid the soaring career I fully expected will fall flat before it ever takes off. He’ll be relegated to gay clubs, entertaining to his heart’s content and feeling bitter that America didn’t appreciate his ‘art.’

    He re-invented himself week after week on AI, so let’s hope he still has that ability.

  • stacey

    what the hell is wrong with you people? this is all entertainment. I really enjoyed it, it was hot! thats why I voted for him all season. Haven’t you seen his Zodiac show performances? he is unbelievably hot and out of this box. this is what I call artistry, and theatricality. we have been missing the theatricality in this generation, but now the messiah has arrived…AMEN!

  • Sarah

    I am a big fan of Adam, and I got his CD. I don’t care about the sex and the kissing, but there was something wrong with his voice. He was off key and intense, but the singing was really off. I know he can sing, I think he was concentraing too much on the choreography or something else. That was disappointing. He lost his control.

  • msvickyfonseca

    Have no of you people ever made a less than appropriate decision? Give it a rest – he really has done no worse than many others in the industry – he is right in saying we are not used to seeing such out of a male performer. I think the arrangement for this song live was pretty terrible – the song on album is far more pleasing. I am upset about the physical things he did -not because I was disgusted, actually I personally have no problems with it BUT i know how much crap and potential loss of listeners will result. For TV he probably should have not been so bold, especially for a first look. I still am a fan and I have listened to the whole album – it is fantastic. Please don’t turn your back over what many agree was a bad choice for Adam. We all have been there.

  • washington

    Next thing you know he will be taking a dump on stage and having his way with animals..So dont tell me his performance was stellar unless you are living in the underworld. God save us all!!!

  • Steph

    My first impression of him on AI was that he could be a potential winner… then I heard that fingernail scrapping scream and hesitated. I was really looking forward to hearing his song on the AMA, because I’d heard how well his voice had developed… nope, still the same scream

  • rose

    He just shocked and awed me right out of buying any of his music ever. Disgust. What is he thinking? No one cares about his sexuality. No one cares if he is immoral. But when its pushed in your face like that we DO care. He will never be a World star, he may be a star in his own “neighborhood”, but never ever a World star, and it is a shame because he DID have the potential. It is a shame.

  • Elise

    I find it truly sad that this generation has been so vulgarized that sex is just a meaningless sport or barter for material gain, even among the very young. Young women looking and acting like gutter whores and young men with no respect for themselves or these misguided girls. Truly devoid of soul and spirit, empty shells looking to fill the emptiness with their next loveless orxxgasm. And real talent has been replaced with shock appeal.

    It has nothing to do with being gay. I happened to like Lambert’s singing and rooted for him on AI. If a straight man had been doing the same gestures with all women, it would have been equally pornographic and disgusting.
    I feel sorry for the pathetic lot of youth today: but you’ve been brainwashed by the depraved of Hollywood from a young age and don’t even know what you’re missing. (:-(