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Music Review: Adam Lambert – For Your Entertainment

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Just as Adam Lambert dragged a woman across the stage in his American Music Awards performance, he dragged me into the pop music arena after forty years as a classical music lover. I don’t discount all of pop, but I find Top 40 formulas in general cliché, repetitive, over-produced, often juvenile and at worst, undistinguished. For instance – -Colbie Caillet and Taylor Swift — are they the same person? Their music is as interesting as a dishrag.

Lambert couldn’t get no satisfaction on the stage of American Idol as one of the Top 36, but he gave me plenty and I’ve been listening ever since, anticipating his first solo outing with a mixture of excitement and dread. Would it be all he is capable of, or just another AI-engineered throw-away? On first hearing, I dismissed the title track, “For Your Entertainment,” as pop fluff, but it has willy-nilly imprinted itself on my brain as the soundtrack of the sexiest music video this side of paradise. The thing is hotter than boiling magma.

Note to self: also never judge a CD by its alarming web-streaming 30-second snippets. Apart from the dreadful art direction, the CD does not disappoint; in fact I was astonished by its wealth of interesting material. Matthew Bellamy’s middle-eastern-flavored “Soaked,” delivers something I rarely hear in pop music: a beautiful melody, perfectly suited to Lambert’s range, power, and heart. And Adam’s yearning, anguished performance of Pink’s haunting, simple ballad, “Whataya Want From Me?” brought tears to my eyes. Even the sappy overblown Hollywood-epic anthem “Time For Miracles” has won me over, with vocals Brian May of Queen predicted would “make jaws drop all around the world.”

The least effective songs are ones too ordinary to waste his voice on. The sleepy Lambert co-written “Broken Open” sounds like KD Lang on valium, and the bizarre wah-wah effects and drum-kit beat turned me off to Linda Perry’s “A Loaded Smile.” Another, “Aftermath,” is too generic a noisy rocker with AI coronation-style lyrics. They’re the only ones excluded from my FYE Faves playlist.

That leaves 13 highly listenable songs out of 16 (14 on CD and two more available as ITunes downloads), a pretty good track record, as it were. I could see any number of them climbing to the top of the charts given the airplay: Lady Gaga’s “Fever,” “Strut,” “Sure Fire Winners,” the disco-romp “If I Had You,” “Pick U Up,” or the two bonus tracks: “Down the Rabbit Hole,” and “Masterplan.”

All these tracks give out a happy, danceable energy and any one of them is more pleasing than the Kings of Leon No. 1 snooze-fest “Use Somebody,” but “Sure Fire Winners,” and “If I Had You” top my iTunes playlist. In “Pick U Up,” Adam hits the high note you’d expect him to, then surpasses it and stays in that register for the rest of the song. “Fever” makes me itch for an Adam-Gaga dream-team tour right now.

I read on a comment board that had it been all about the music, not his personal life, as Adam often stated during his AI run, that he wouldn’t have gone on the show to begin with. There are those who hold that AI is the biggest bullshit fraud/charade in music, a pop culture travesty ridiculing and exploiting marginal talents with over-inflated dreams — but even if so, Adam Lambert was the diamond among the zirconium. I say, blessings upon American Idol for delivering to us the glittery alien from Planet Fierce! We’ll take him however we got him.

Considering that FYE was put together in six months, during two-and-a-half of which Adam was on a 50-city tour, this is an impressive debut from the first American Idol contestant to walk onto its stage already a star. Less than one year later, he is peer to the artists he admired as a fan. Apparently he needn’t drag us kicking and screaming to buy the disc. He was predicted by USA Today to ring up 230,000 sales in his first week (actual numbers are coming in just under 200,000) compared with Idol winner Kris Allen’s 80,000. I am confident that “For Your Entertainment,” and Adam himself,are surefire winners with a long shelf life. Mazel tov, Glambert.

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About Alexandra Jones

  • I love this album! Best ever – I cant get enough of Adam LAmbert!

  • MaryL

    Great review! I love this album. It’s the best I’ve bought in years. I can’t wait to see him on tour.

  • irisita69

    “blessings upon American Idol for delivering to us the glittery alien from Planet Fierce!”
    I second that!!!!

  • Len

    Love, love, his album love! My fave are Whataya want from me and Fever but the rest of the songs are all excellent – can’t stop listening to it! Adam Rocks!!!

  • Jane

    Great review! Wow is all i can say! Breath- taking songs!

  • B.


    Enjoyed your article. Adam has ‘dragged’ me into the pop world,too. I think he’s sensational. I have never had a musician ‘crush’ until now (Jon Bon Jovi,came close). The entire package (voice,looks,personality,charisma…)that is Adam, drives me crazy! Finally I ‘GET’ the Elvis ‘mania’!

    I LOVE the entire album. We do not share the same opinion of ‘Broken Open’. I think it is one of the most effective songs on the album. To me it is haunting and ethereal and puts me in a ‘trance-like’ body numbing state. It is one of the most beautiful ballads my ears have had the pleasure of hearing. The fact that Adam co-wrote the track makes it even more fab! It is one of those songs that grows on you with repeat listening. I suggest you revisit the song and PLEASE…. don’t think of KD Lang!!

  • ellen

    I love how every reviewer has different songs as their favorites and least favorites. Adam is so right about everything being about personal taste. He really has given something for everyone on this album while still making it a coherent statement of who he is. Like this reviewer, I love almost all the tracks. The only ones that don’t work for me are “Strut” (to me it sounds like it’s trying too hard and lacks subtlety and sophistication) and “Aftermath” (though it wouldn’t been a better winner’s single than ” No Boundaries”). Yet these songs are some other reviewers’ favorites. That’s what’s so great about this album: it has fun dance-pop tunes (IIHY, PYU, FYE), haunting vocals (Broken Open, Loaded Smile) and dramatic ballads (Soaked, TFM) all executed with vocal perfection. What more can one ask of a debut album?

  • ellen

    * make that WOULD have been better than No Boundaries.

  • Cheri

    Thanks for a great positive review of Adam’s cd. It is very creative and a joy to listen to. Hope he starts getting a lot of radio airplay soon.

  • Lauriellen

    Great review. I listened to talk radio all the time. That is how much I disliked pop music. For me, there hasn;t been a decent song since the 1980s. I’m a punk/alternative/new wave kinda girl. I am an AI fan and did follow Clay Aiken. But he never broke into the pop market. He stayed relevent for a while doing Christmas and cover tunes. So when Adam got my attention during the audition rounds (Bohemian Rhapsody does that to me), I started seeing his interviews and looking up artists that he likes like Katy Perry, Golfrapp, Muse and Gaga. I liked Muse so much I bought their CD. I started listening to the radio and loving some of the same stuff that Adam loves. So “MUSIC AGAIN” is my theme song. Although now that I have my Adam CD plus the 2 downloads, plus “Take One” (I broke down. There are 3 songs on there that are awesome)the two AI CDs and all of Adam’s AI studio versions, I have no need to turn on the radio.

  • RC

    I actually like Broken Open and A Loaded Smile, haha! But my favorites change everyday, and these two songs from what I understand are eclectic (but perhaps the most interesting ones in the album). I enjoy seeing different people have opinions on it. The album is such a journey, and the progression is very interesting, like a rollercoaster ride, with uptempo, slow ballad, rock anthem, dramatic flairs, etc.

    My more constant favorites are: Strut, Music Again, Broken Open, Fever, and itunes bonus track Down The Rabbit Hole. But I enjoy the rest of the album, and even Aftermath, which is probably my least favorite, kind of lifts my spirits when I hear it.

  • Jenn

    Yep you said it – dragged into pop music by the ear!! I really do love this album. I disagree with you about Broken Open, I love that one too. It is very real when you have a friend who is deeply empathetic and lets you break. The video for FYE is so hot it makes my blood boil!! Love it all and especially love the way he brings vocal intricacy to each song and saves it from pop hell. I am shocked and loving it!!!

  • gs

    thanks for the nice review. Agree with so much of what you said re:AI and the over produced albums. Adam’s is sheer delight. The more you listen, the more delighted.I do love Broken Open,however, and feel that is Adam at his most vulnerable. he is very proud of this song, which draws me to it even more.

  • gg

    Thank you for a bright review amidst the negative insanity he is subjected to at present. I hope his songs get airplay, they certainly deserve it.

  • Ann

    Thanks for the great review. Adam has definitely caused me to want to listen to “Music Again” (mostly to his own music). His “For Your Entertainment” CD is wonderful – something there for everyone.

  • adamsluvjnes

    I loved your review, but have to disagree about A Loaded Smile and Broken Open. ALS is like Adam smearing all of his sexiness on me through his voice. There are shades of Prince in this song and Adam’s voice just melts me. Broken Open is so heartfelt and open, it is as if your soul just opens up and brings Adam in. Adam is one in a million.

  • mariana

    Dear Alexandra,

    Congratulations for your honesty and courage
    I am happy to see a critic saying good things about ADAM after AMA. Before, all critics were spreading good vibes about Adam. Now, that Adam. is under a “such severe and unnecessary scrutiny” they all want to feel safe and as a consequence, nobody is as happy with him anymore. The negativity rules.

    I can’t find my words to tell you and the world how much I love this guy. I have a hard time to see how blind the people are when is about recognizing a SENSATIONAL AND UNBELIEVABLE TALENT.

    Yes, I am melted, addicted and happy. He made me feel young again, he made me feel sexy, loved and oh, so HAPPY.

    Every night we (myself and husband) get together around the sound system, we take a seat in comfortable armchairs, we close our eyes and listen. It’s true, sometimes we dance. Adam simply caresses our ears and souls with his voice. In “Open broken” I always look up to see the angels falling down on me.

    Adam will become an artist that will majorly impact the future of the rock/pop music. This is why “all the big figures of the music world” gravitates around him. THEY SEE WHAT WE SEE: ADAM AS THE PART OF THE FUTURE OF ROCK/POP MUSIC.

  • poprocks

    YOURS is the first review who realizes how fantastic adam’s CD is AND was done in such a Short peorid of time!! Thank You for getting that!
    I love all the songs on this CD and you are right—Adam walked onto that stage already a Star!

  • Kevin

    Let me guess…judging by your criticisms of the other artists, you are either gay or black.

  • Elizabeth

    Thanks for an insightful review, Alexandra. Wish people like Kevin #19 would just go away. I always enjoy CONSTRUCTIVE opinions though. Snark not so much.

  • mkt

    Thank you for an honest and brave review. I feel like some critics are afraid they might be embarrassed if they give this album too much credit.

    I would like to mention two songs. You were close with the KD Lang on Valium comparison with “Broken Open.” I felt the same way the first time I listened to it. I actually skipped to the next song after a few seconds. When I went back and listened to it a few more times, I realized it felt like I had actually taken a Valium. Now, it puts me to sleep every night. It’s a terrific lullaby.

    And I have to mention “Sure Fire Winners.” In my opinion, this is the first song to successfully blend pop and rock.

    I can just picture the crowds at his concerts. Teenagers, grandparents, hard core rockers, pop lovers…..I could go on and on.

    Adam Lambert is phenomenal and I’m not afraid to say it!

  • jsh

    Love your review! Love Adam’s album, can’t stop listening to it. I love the fusion of so many sounds & styles. I happen to love all the songs, can’t really pick a fave, or at least I never skip over single tune. I hope he gets to tour, cuz he is so amazing singing live. Like, Manilow said yesterday, he’s got a great set of pipes!

    For those of us who are sick of the vanilla performers such as Taylor Swift. who btw, cannot sing live, I’m glad Adam came on the scene to stir things up!!!

  • ML

    Love your review. FYE absolutely one of the best album. I loved all the songs. I listen everyday over and over..

  • Wicked Glitter

    I just love that picture of Adam . It is from my favorite part of his gorgeous video. That sexy little smirk he gives towards the end. So HOT! I love his CD so much. I thought “Broken Open” was so beautiful. That was the song that brought tears to my eyes. This is the first time that I have ever bought an album where I have loved every single song. We are so lucky to have Adam.

  • GAGA for ADAM

    Thank You for the great FYE Review and Greetings from Northern Europe! Today I had to drive almost 600 km (most of it in very bad weather) — couldn’t have done it without Adam!!! Had his CD as my only companion — and what a feast I had! Besides, where else can you listen to his vocals at full blast and uninterrupted??? The more I listen, the more mesmerized I am by this talented glittery alien. No need to pick fav’s, LOVE them all, LOVE his voice in all its vocal range and glory.

    Each time I listen to his CD, I find something new…like today when it suddenly hit me from which ”golden & old rock anthem” the guitar sample on Sure Fire Winners is from! Adam politely honours his musical idols from the past…And in the end of Pick U Up, just before the laughter, he “imitates” Axl Rose (would LOVE to hear & see Adam perform Sweet Child of Mine by Guns&Roses).

    The best thing, however, is to see him perform live! That stage presence & charisma, not to mention how funny, sexy, hot (please fill in the rest…) he is. You (Americans) are so lucky!!! Here we have to settle for TV shows, Internet vids etc. We can’t even buy the Deluxe version of his CD (cannot buy or download the bonus songs, ggggrrrhhh!!!) Hopefully someday Adam comes to tour Europe… I wish him all the best in the ruthless & tough entertainment business!

  • Martha

    Thanks for the great review and the courage to be honest and objective, which many commentators have not even attempted. I am not music or art critic, since in my 56 years on this planet I have not been interested in either, until I accidentally tuned my TV into one of Adam’s performances. The rest is history and I love this young man’s talent to the extreme degree that I have been playing his CD non-stop, I even go to sleep listening to his wonderful voice. I am very grateful to Adam for introducing his music into my busy life.

  • Angel

    Great review. i thought I may be skipping a song or two in FYE album. But I love all the songs. And I have not listened to the radio for quite a long while. And when I do, I go to the oldies. I love Soaked especially the intro music. But I love most are the dance tunes and don’t know whch really is my fave Music Again (which you forgot to comment) or Fever. I love Pick You Up and of course Time For Miracles. Bravo, ADAM!

  • Amy Jones

    You don’t like “Broken Open”?! Girl, you are crazy!! That song is quite possibly the most beautiful thing I’ve heard in 10 years.

  • Justin

    This CD is like crack – you cannot stop listening to it once you start, no matter how hard you try.

  • Godless

    Great review! I’m listening to this CD for the first time right now, it’s fantastic. What a voice.