Reality Rocks - Archive

Adam Lambert, Cover Boy

Lyndsey Parker
Reality Rocks

I don't know if I've ever read Entertainment Weekly outside of a dentist's office. But last night when I was at 7-11, I saw the latest EW issue and could not resist setting down my Slurpee, pulling out my wallet, and ponying up the $3.95 for my own soon-to-be-laminated-for-posterity copy. Something about the capslocked headline "LOVING ADAM LAMBERT" and subheader "The Most Exciting American Idol In History," glossily glinting under the glare of the mini-mart's fluorescent lighting, just caught my eye.

If I'm not mistaken, this is unprecedented: Never before in American Idol history has a contestant landed a SOLO cover on a major mainstream magazine before winning. Or not winning, since we still don't know for sure what will happen with Adam this Idol season. But this new four-page EW spread makes me think it doesn't even matter if Adam wins American Idol, really. Because this PR coup reminds me of the famous and buzzy Clay Aiken Rolling Stone cover story of 2003...

Clay had just lost the season 2 Idol title to Ruben Studdard, but that was neither here nor there: His provocatively titled "Growing Up Clay" story landed him on Rolling Stone's cover before Ruben did, and he went on to sell not only more albums than Ruben, but more albums than most other AmIdol winners.

Just like Adam probably will, when his record finally comes out.

Interestingly, Clay Aiken's sexual orientation was always the subject of great scrutiny until his recent public acknowledgment of his homosexuality, and it was that mystery that might have made him--and now Adam--such a fascinating and fixated-upon figure. Adam's new EW story, quite eloquently written by openly gay journalist Mark Harris, actually focuses a great deal on Adam's "unambiguously ambiguous sexuality," the age-old "is he or isn't he?" debate, and the obvious question, "Is America ready for a gay Idol?" (especially, as the article points out, a gay Idol who sings "'I'm gonna give you every inch of my love' while wearing skintight pants and green-glitter eyeliner").

But ultimately Harris makes an important point: It doesn't matter. The viewing public--gays, straights, hard rockers, pop fans, tweens, grandmas, haters who never bothered to watch American Idol before this season, Slash--have unexpectedly embraced Adam Lambert, glitter eyeliner and all. Even Randy Travis is probably drinking Adam Lambert Kool-Aid by now.

So I think this is a sign that America really IS ready for Adam, win or lose. Entertainment Weekly wouldn't have risked putting Adam on its cover so early otherwise.

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