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Adam Lambert Returns to the AMAs, For Our Entertainment

Lyndsey Parker
Reality Rocks

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Lambert returns to the AMAs

Two years after Adam Lambert kissed a boy and ABC executives didn't like it, during his notorious and now-legendary show-closing performance at the 2009 American Music Awards, the "American Idol" rabble-rouser returned to the show as an AMAs presenter this Sunday, effectively ending the network's unofficial Lambert ban and bringing the controversy-baiting Idol's crazy career full circle. "Has it been two years already? Wow, time flies," he quipped, as he took the stage wearing a natty suit (which appeared to be the same one he wore in 2009) and a knowing smile.

While AMAs executive producer Larry Klein recently insisted to The Hollywood Reporter that Adam was never actually banned from ABC, the fallout following Adam's racy 2009 performance--which, along with a same-sex smooch with his bandmate Tommy Joe Ratliff, featured a pack of dancers on S&M leashes and a certain simulated sex act, in case you missed it--was immediate, with Adam's planned appearances on the ABC shows "Jimmy Kimmel Live," "Good Morning America," and "New Year's Rockin' Eve" swiftly canceled and never rescheduled.

Thankfully, none of this seemed to derail Adam's career; in the short run, the scandal might have even helped him, in an age when any publicity really does seem to be good publicity. The performance took place on the eve of the release of his debut album, For Your Entertainment, and it certainly got people talking, helping FYE sell 198,000 in its first week and debut at number three on the Billboard chart. The hubbub also caught the attention of overseas media, in countries where fans tittered amusedly at America's "uptight" TV standards. In many ways, the incident made Adam a cause célèbre. But in the long run, there were repercussions beyond the 1,500 or so complaints to ABC that night: For months afterwards, the scandal was brought up in practically every interview Adam conducted, and he could never live it down. That 2009 AMAs performance was supposed to introduce to the public the actual excellent music he'd just put out, but sadly, it ended almost entirely overshadowing the music instead.

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Adam introduces OneRepublic

But now, in retrospect, it's understandable that ABC and the AMAs would welcome Adam back with open, studded-leather arms. Controversy is great for ratings, after all. Let's face it, the only segments of any awards show that viewers remember are the zany moments (Soy Bomb bumrushing Dylan at the Grammys, Kanye interrupting Taylor at the VMAs, Britney and Madonna engaging in their own same-sex liplock at the VMAs). And surely the only thing anyone remembers about the 2009 AMAs is Adam's wild performance. ABC ought to be thanking Adam, really. So maybe the invitation to come back to the AMAs was a thank-you, of sorts. (Conversely, while onstage, Adam emphatically thanked producers for the opportunity to return to the AMAs stage.)

Honestly, this year's AMAs show was so dull, and so light on true watercooler moments, I bet producers were secretly hoping Adam would do something jaw-dropping, something "outrageous," just to generate some sort of buzz and spice things up. Unfortunately, Adam didn't perform, he just introduced OneRepublic (a band featuring his frequent collaborator Ryan Tedder)...but still, it was all very exciting.

Adam Lambert's career is coming full circle in other ways besides his AMAs return. For instance, a couple weeks ago, he reunited with his "American Idol" Season 8 finale duet partners Queen at the MTV European Music Awards in an amazing, widely lauded performance. And this weekend, he revealed the details of his upcoming single, "Better Than I Know Myself" (co-written by hitmakers Dr. Luke, Claude Kelly, Ammo, and Cirkut) and the title of his For Your Entertainment follow-up album. The album title? Trespassing. Ha.

But Adam wasn't trespassing at the AMAs this Sunday. He was an invited special guest, and it was great to see him back.

Related links:

Adam Lambert reunites with Queen

Adam mentors 'Majors & Minors' kids

AMAs red carpet photos

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