Well, to paraphrase Miss Spears herself: It's Adam, beeyotch!
Today, frustratingly teasing 30-second snippets from Glamerican Idol Adam Lambert's debut album For Your Entertainment leaked--as did some fluid from my completely cracked-open, exploded skull and the Adam-addled brains of countless excited Glamberts across the globe. The album basically sounds like if Britney Spears was a dude, could actually sing, and had quickie-married Brian Molko from Placebo instead of Kevin Federline. Or more specifically, it's like a soundtrack for an intergalactic, superfantastic one-way rocket ride straight to the center of Planet Fierce. Like a perfect pop creation concocted in a super-secret Swedish lab by mad pop scientists (everyone from Lady Gaga, Max Martin, and Pink to more rockin' contributors like Matt Bellamy of Muse, Rivers Cuomo of Weezer, and Justin Hawkins of the Darkness), with Adam Lambert springing fully formed from a dry-ice-smoking neon test tube, an exquisitely engineered, six-million-dollar pop star resplendent in a technicolor Skingraft lab coat.
In plain English, people, the album is good. Like, rilly, rilly good. While rock-purist types who were motivated to program Adam's American Idol voting number into their speed-dials because of his more straightahead classic rock performances (Zep, Aerosmith, Stones, Steppenwolf, U2) might be disappointed by FYE's unabashedly electropoppy sound, hopefully they'll soon realize that it's almost 2010--and hopefully the smattering of '70s glam and disco, '80s new wave, and '90s rave elements buried in the beats will tide those crusty old folks over. And as for Top 40 aficionados eager to hear something fresh on the radio or Lambert fans initially drawn to Adam because of his more out-of-the-box Idol performances (the controversial "Ring Of Fire," the goth-lite "Mad World," the lavishly cabaret-like "Feeling Good")...well, they're all in for a treat as well.
Yes, much like the American Idol show itself, For Your Entertainment unites many musical styles, and hopefully, will attract many types of musical fans. Who knew someone so seemingly polarizing as Adam Lambert could accomplish that? (That's a rhetorical question, by the way. I knew.)
We'll all have to wait until November 23 to hear full-length versions of the album's songs, but of course I am not waiting until then to share my extremely opinionated opinions. PLAY THE SONG SAMPLER HERE, and follow along with my mini-reviews, everyone...
1) "Music Again"
Regular readers of this column already know how I reacted upon learning that Justin Hawkins--the famously catsuited former frontman of the Darkness, and in my never-humble opinion one of the greatest ROCK GODS of the 2000s--was collaborating with Sir Glambert. I'm still recovering from the shock. But the pairing made total sense, really: After all, Justin and Adam are the last of the red-hot glam stars, and Adam is one of the few post-puberty male singers out there capable of nailing the dog-whistle-decibel falsetto notes in a Hawkins-penned song like "Music Again." After hitting my replay button compulsively, over and over, like a rat in lab experiment pressing on a food-pellet lever, this is still my far-and-away favorite track on FYE. The fist-pumping chorus, the choir of what sounds like a thousand immaculately conceived Hawkins/Lambert (aka Lambkins) children singing in Coke-commercial harmony, the glittery guitar riffs, the total feelgood lyrical sentiment that might actually echo the thoughts of many Adam diehards ("You make me want to listen to music again")...wow, it's just perfect. It makes me want to put on a zebra-striped spandex unitard and a flying V guitar and dance around the Yahoo! office. Plus this song allows Adam to use the phrase "raison d'etre" in a song--most definitely an Idol first. Best. Idol. Album. Opener. Ever.
2) "For Your Entertainment"
Masterminded and glossed to pinup-shiny perfection by Claude Kelly and Dr. Luke, this was definitely the best choice for Adam's first official something-for-everybody single. Edgy enough to earn him the cred that sadly eludes many other talented Idols, uptempo enough for the clubs, catchy enough for the radio...come on, this single's been out for four days now, bring on the remixes already! Someone call Daft Punk, please.
3) "Whataya Want From Me"
Max Martin can do no wrong. This is a fact. The man is a Swedish machine. He has crafted shiny happy pop for Britney Spears, Kelly Clarkson, the Veronicas, Katy Perry, Sugababes, Pink, several jillion-selling boy bands, and AmIdol darling Allison Iraheta, for starters. What the heck is in the Stockholm water, and can I please have a sip? Anyway, this latest Max Martin hard-candy-coated confection, co-penned by Her Pinkness, was supposed to be on Pink's last album but inexplicably didn't make the cut. Pink's loss is Adam's gain, as this is a solid, fun tune I could see Adam performing with plenty of Pinkish attitude, baby, attitude on Gossip Girl next season. I'm glad this didn't get selected as FYE's lead single--"For Your Entertainment" is a more appropriate, statement-making call to arms--but it's got second-single potential for sure.
Fourth Idol judge Kara DioGuardi has officially redeemed herself after that "No Boundaries" coronation song disaster with this boot-stomper, co-written by Adam. This song has swagger, baby, and is suitable for strip-club and soccer-stadium play in equal measure. That's a compliment, by the way.
Months ago when I learned Adam Lambert would be covering one of my favorite bands, Muse, on the Idols Live Tour, I screamed so loud I made Justin Hawkins sound like that frog-throated dude from the Crash Test Dummies. So readers can only imagine how I reacted when I learned he was actually covering this unreleased Muse power ballad on his debut album. A majestic, Bond-theme-reminiscent opus a la Muse's "Invincible"--with just a little glittery bit of ABBA's "Winner Takes It All" sprinkled in--this operatic stunner is one of the album's best showcases for what won over Idol viewers in the first place: Adam's superhuman voice. If Matt Bellamy and Adam Lambert ever sang this as a duet, the combined force of their vocals would probably cause the earth to collapse into a supermassive black hole. EPIC.
6) "Sure Fire Winners"
A Rob Cavallo-produced, feline dance-rock grinder with a Gary-Glittery chantalong chorus that seems lifted from "We Will Rock You 2: Electric Boogaloo," backed by glitchy, twitchy, itchy industrial beats, this is another winner, indeed. I expect high-rotation strip-club play for this one as well. Again, that's a compliment. This song is sexxxxay!
7) "A Loaded Smile"
The second Lambert co-write on the album (his collaborator was no slouch: Linda Perry!), this slow-burner has a slinky, Egyptian groove to it not unlike Adam's aforementioned breakthrough "Ring Of Fire" performance on Idol. And as he did on "ROF," he reaches interstellar octaves that the Vienna Boys Choir would have trouble hitting even after sucking on a helium tank. Adam may not be as prolific a songwriter as his fellow season 8 Idol Kris Allen (Kris has writing credit on nine of his album's songs; Adam has credit on four), but here he does prove that he is more than just a pretty voice.
8) "If I Had You"
Second to "Music Again," this is my black-fingernailed-hands-down favorite track on FYE. The stuttering vocals kind of remind me of some cuts on fellow quirky Idol Blake Lewis's underrated Heartbreak On Vinyl album; the Now That's What I Call '90s rave-disco beats have me fishing in my Yahoo! desk drawer for a spare glowstick; and overall it sounds like a 12-inch of Swede diva Robyn's "With Every Heartbeat" revved up from 33 to 45rpm. This is the song that'll get played in exercise classes at every 24-Hour Fitness and Crunch gym in America. It'll be like sweatin' to the newies!
9) "Pick U Up"
Now, I'm 99.9999999999999999 percent certain that when the honchos at 19/BMG were having their power-lunches about the Lambert album, they were not thinking about me at all. But if I were a one-woman focus group, their conversation would have gone something like this: "Hmmmm...what would make Lyndsey Parker happy? How about we have Adam do some songs with...Muse...Justin Hawkins...Lady Gaga....and oh, what's Rivers Cuomo up to these days? How about we give him a call, too?" Really, I never thought I'd see any such credits on an Idol album sleeve, but Adam is no typical Idol, obviously. The bespectacled Weezer legend contributed this life-affirming, arena-enthusing pop-rocker to FYE, and it sort of sounds like a mashup of the coda of Weezer's "Perfect Situation" and the big key-change moment of Kelly Clarkson's "Since U Been Gone." It's full of raditude, and one of the songs on the album most likely to get some rock-crossover airplay.
Okay, this is the Lady Gaga track (another inexplicable cast-off; it didn't make Gaga's album The Fame), and with its rocktoberfest oompa-oompa beats and sassy vocals, it's like Robbie Williams covering Chumbawumba's "Tubthumping" backed by the Scissor Sisters in some Amsterdam drag cabaret. So of course, it's another one of the standouts for me. I'm gaga for it.
A keening ballad co-written by Nashville songwriters Aimee Mayo and Chris Lindsey and unstoppable hitmaker Ryan Tedder of OneRepublic, this groover is the most Timberlakian of the album's offerings, bringing to mind JT's melancholic ballads like "What Goes Around Comes Around" and "Losing My Way." Glamberts of various genders and persuasions will likely swoon when Adam tours and croons this one under a cobalt spotlight or while descending an illuminated red staircase. And I'm already imagining a slow-motion music video that's basically a frame-for-frame recreation of the Velvet Goldmine glitter-shower scene. Make it happen, Jonas Akerlund!
Another Adam co-write (with his megatalented L.A. buddies--songsmith Ferras, former Zodiac Show bandmate Alisan Porter, and Ely Rise), this is FYE's most outright rocking song, all showboaty '80s hair-metal theatrics straight out of "The Final Countdown" or "Eye Of The Tiger," with a little bit of widescreen emo (think 30 Seconds To Mars) tossed in to modernize it. Fans of Adam's aforementioned Idol performances of classic rock hits will gravitate most to this cut, I predict. And this might have made a better theme song to 2012 than "Time For Miracles," actually.
13) "Broken Open"
Co-written by Adam with producer Greg Wells and Evan Bogart, this is a hypnotic jam a la later-period Cure or Duran Duran's "Come Undone." It's hard to believe this one wasn't co-written by Ryan Tedder too--it has that sort of vibe. Smooooooth.
14) "Time For Miracles"
Originally not slated to appear on FYE since it was an entirely separate movie project, this big 2012 ballad admittedly doesn't quite gel with the rest of Adam's album. But since it was written to be an end-credits anthem, it sort of fits its placement as the last track on FYE. It's the grand, Idol-esque, pyro-and-confetti-strewn finale to the main event.
...And those are my thoughts, for your entertainment. Is it November 23 yet?
- Adam Lambert
- Justin Timberlake