Posted tagged ‘Adam Lambert’

That Time I Sang At Motown

October 12, 2016

Ray at MotownIn March of 2011, I had the good fortune of being taken to the Motown Museum by two friends and loyal Musers J.L. and J.C. No photographs were allowed inside the museum but the photo of me standing outside is relevant to the story.

Eventually we got to the garage that was converted into the legendary recording studio – the hallowed ground trod by, well, everybody. Stevie. Marvin. The Supremes, Temptations, Miracles and Four Tops. My imagination racing, I could barely construct a coherent thought on the one hand and constrain myself from behaving like a 5-year old at Christmas on the other.

The docent snapped me out of my mania by asking me to take off my overcoat. That seemed like an odd request especially since he didn’t ask anybody else in our tour group to do so. He asked me to turn around and hang it on the hook on the wall behind me. He then directed me to stand directly underneath one of three mics hanging from the ceiling. Again, that seemed odd but I complied since I could still barely think straight and needed help managing basic motor skills.

The docent then asked me to sing. At that moment, in that place, only one song could come out of my mouth. “I got sunshine, on a cloudy day.” I totally nailed it, of course.[1] “And when it’s cold outside” – he stopped me and told me to turn around and look at a picture behind me.


There was David Ruffin, the lead singer on My Girl, under THAT mic. And behind him on THAT hook on THAT wall was a black overcoat exactly like mine! I STOOD IN THE SAME SPOT AS DAVID RUFFIN! I SANG INTO THE SAME MIC AS DAVID RUFFIN! WITH MY COAT LIKE DAVID RUFFIN’S HANGING IN THE SAME SPOT AS DAVID RUFFIN’S!

J.L. and J.C. will verify that I gasped and my knees literally buckled.

Best musical moment ever.

And that’s my story of singing at Motown.

P.S. One of the things I miss about Idol is picking what songs the Idolists should sing on Motown night. And a peak Idol memory is of Adam Lambert getting a standing ovation from Smokey Robinson for singing Tracks of My Tears, thankfully preserved on YouTube.


[1] And in my still semi-hallucinatory state, I was waiting for Berry Gordy to come out of the booth and sign me to a record deal on the spot.



Will The Voice Winner Be a Winner?

May 25, 2016

Congratulations to Alisan Porter for winning The Voice aka The Game Show With Singing – a show I find utterly detestable for reasons I have articulated at length over the years[1] – and to her coach Adam Lambert. Oh, you thought her coach was Xtina? Well, of course she was on the actual show. But Alisan got more than a little help from Adam, too.

They have a professional relationship that goes back to Alisan co-writing the anthemic, self-empowerment song Aftermath for Adam’s debut album For Your Entertainment­ – an interesting connection of reality singing show artists. As to The Voice, Alisan gave a shout-out to Adam in a post-show interview (while sitting next to Xtina) who she said called every day with advice on song selection and wardrobe, and post-performance critiques that also included comments about her make-up! And just as important as the coaching was the constant urging on Twitter to his sizable Glambert fanbase to support Alisan, which is how I followed (but not watched) her progress on the show.

Hopefully, The Voice­ will do for her what it did for its previous champion Jordan Smith, which is to FINALLY support their winners after seasons of absolute neglect. The history of the show has been so bad that before Jordan was crowned, well-known music writer Lyndsey Parker of Yahoo Music and even Voice­ coach Pharell said that Jordan – his season’s presumptive nominee favorite  – might be better off not winning because of the show’s failure to promote its stars[2].

Ultimately, the hue and cry reached a tipping point when Adam Levine reversed his prior stance of, “It’s not our fault if they’re not successful” by publicly calling out Universal Records to get behind Jordan and keep their stated promise to the artist and the public by making and supporting an album.

Given that initial support, Jordan’s album Something Beautiful opened strongly at #2 on Billboard when it was released two months ago. However, the album has since dropped out of the charts although his single Stand In the Light stands at #26 on the Adult Contemporary chart[3].

Perhaps Jordan will get a boost when NBC runs his cover of OneRepublic’s I Lived during the Summer Olympics. I’m sure they learned from having Idol’s Phillip Phillip’s Home on auto-repeat during the 2012 Summer Olympics – it only went on to sell 5 million copies in the U.S. – and would very much like to see their own show reap the benefits.

[As an aside, I had to laugh at the over-the-top P.R. for the album which said that Something Beautiful “earned the highest ranking on the chart by any winner of a television singing competition in almost 5 years” – “almost” apparently means picking an arbitrary time period that missed including by a few months a #1 album by Scotty McCreery who won on that other show.]

So what Alisan has to look forward to is an uncertain future in terms of support from the show for her post-Voice career. Lyndsey Parker is rightly cautious when she says, “It remains to be seen if Alisan’s Voice victory will change the course of her career, considering that most of the show’s winners have not become household names.”

It’s really difficult to succeed in today’s music business and by the business, I mean the industry. It’s almost impossible if the people contracted to help you succeed don’t care to do their job. Given her connection to Adam Lambert, I’m hoping The Voice and Universal Records do what’s right for her career.


[1] All too briefly: winners not actually winning what was promised; misrepresented backstories of contestants; byzantine voting calculations and a contestant contract that allows The Voice to manipulate voting results; blind auditions that aren’t always blind; insufficient criticism of contestants that over-represents their abilities and career prospects. And I could go on.


[3] Although only 124 radio stations are playing it. It says something about the state of contemporary radio that you can have a hit song with so few stations playing it. No wonder becoming a successful recording artist is so hard these days.

Welcome to the Show (and today’s pop music)

March 22, 2016

Last week on Idol My Boy Adam Lambert introduced his new single Welcome to the Show. Before you expect me to automatically love it – a completely fair assessment – let’s separate Adam’s voice which I would love no matter what he sings and the actual song that Adam is singing in this case.

First, let me thank the Millennials for blowing up the music beloved by the typical demographic of Idol and The Voice aka The Game Show With Singing. The music we knew fit into neat little categories: pop, rock, R&B[1] and country. With today’s most popular music, however, those early distinctions are irrelevant. Increasingly, the best pop music today blends genres and even eras of music seamlessly. In her 1989 album, one-time country/pop singer Taylor Swift channels late 80s pop. With Uptown Funk, Bruno Mars and Mark Ronson channel the 80s Minneapolis funk sounds of The Time. Blurred Lines recalls Marvin Gaye’s 70s disco hit Got To Give It Up. Swedish DJ/Producer Avicii teamed up with American soul singer Aloe Blacc to make the hit song Wake Me Up that combines folk, country, electronica and R&B into a dance-club song. And all of these songs use modern technology and production that make them sound current.

With interests in music as wide as mine, it’s this genre/era-spanning quality that explains why I love today’s music so much. And it’s why – above and beyond Adam Lambert’s unrivaled voice – I am addicted to his new song Welcome to the Show.

What kind of song is this? It’s certainly anthemic. It’s electro-pop[2] but it’s very dark and moody in contrast to electro-pop’s typical lightness. And it’s also meant to be inspirational which belies it’s dark and moody tone. And just when you think the beat is going to go big in a disco/house music direction, it stays big in an arena rock way. And finally because he can, Adam throws in a variety of R&B vocal licks.

So, again, what kind of song is this? It’s a rock, pop, moody ballad and a variety of sub-genres all at the same time. And, again, it’s why I love it. Much of the music I listen to today fits this kind of indescribable description but still marked by the artist’s particular talent – in this case Adam’s remarkable voice and vocal ability.

Moreover, it fits the way the business of music – and by the business I mean the industry – is done today where artists can create and publicize their work very spontaneously. In a recent interview Adam said there was really no rhyme or reason to unveiling his new single, which doesn’t belong to any particular album . . . he just liked it.

“I just want to put something new out. Why not? Why do we have to follow any sort of rules?’” he explains. “It’s spring, and it feels like a new year  . . . It also doesn’t necessarily signify that The Original High is over, by any means, either. It was just, hey – we wanted to put out a song.”[3]

As to the details of Welcome to the Show’s origin, it was written by Swedish singer-songwriter Laleh who has written big hits for Demi Lovato (Stone Cold) and Tori Kelly (Should’ve Been Us), as well as three songs on Ellie Goulding’s new album Delirium. And it was produced by Max Martin – The Omniscient and Omnipotent Overlord of the Pop Music Universe[4] – who also produced Adam’s recent album The Original High as well as the songs Whataya Want From Me and If I Had You from Adam’s debut album For Your Entertainment.

Welcome to the Show has garnered it’s deserved share of buzz. And yeah, the actual review here was 80 words. The rest was was another 600+ words of contextual musings. It’s what I do.


[1] A code for “black” music. R&B was seen as a more innocuous and accurate term (although Jerry Wexler who created the term wished he had called it “rhythm and gospel”, instead) than “race’ music as it was first known which essentially separated black music from everything else per the Jim Crow culture of that day. Thankfully Berry Gordy – building on the work of Little Richard – came along and made R&B more desired and widely available, i.e. “The Sound of America” as Berry liked to call Motown.

[2] Nearly every day a new category springs up in a feeble attempt to describe the sound of similar songs.


[4] Take about a week to go through this list:

Exit Tristan. Enter Her Career?

March 20, 2016

In a fairly typical Idolist exit interview with the press, reports that Tristan – the Idolist eliminated last week – when asked about her future career plans, responded with a coy, “Umm. That’s . . . I can’t really give anything right now to answer that question.”

So what do we make of that?

  1. Such career discussions are quite common for an Idolist-with-Potential and Tristan certainly fits into that category. However, such conversations are not always with the primary Idol principals, 19 Entertainment (Idol’s management) and Scott Borchetta of Big Machine Records (Idol’s label). Other non-Idol related parties may be involved.
  2. Whoever the discussions are with, they are not necessarily consummated with actual deals. The talks simply could be exploratory and since they involve a minor, the conversations will be complicated and take time.

tristanBut let’s be honest. Given that Scott has to sign the winner and make their album, he surely had some influence on the Evil Genius Producers’ early season edits. As a result, Tristan was heavily promoted at the beginning of the season as a legitimate frontrunner. And she was a legit frontrunner because: 1) she’s a beautiful girl; and 2) she’s got a great voice. She ended up being derailed by not picking suitable songs for her age, voice or life experience. But if she looks like a star and sounds like a star, a smart label can give her the right songs and the right marketing to possibly make her star.

Speaking of marketing, Tristan still insists that she’s a country singer despite constantly getting suggestions to focus more on pop. Maybe she’s right or maybe she’s an inexperienced fifteen year-old holding on to a pipe dream. Either way, a good label will also figure out what she’s best at, which will certainly include a determination of where she’s most marketable.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention her comments on Adam Lambert who she said was “amazing because he’s a very kind person and very upbeat. He gave us good advice and was really nice to us.” I have consistently found that anybody who writes/talks about Adam says the same thing. [1]

In any case, Tristan is certainly worth following and by “following” I mean, I’ll follow for you. One of the reasons she was an early potential My Girl was that I saw in her a post-Idol marketability. The raw material of a solid career in music is certainly there. Time, good management and a smart label may do the rest. I’ll certainly be rooting for her[2].


[1] That includes someone I spoke with myself (over a glass of post-show Chardonnay), singer-songwriter Ginny Blackmore who worked with him on his Trespassing album. Ginny said, “There’s not a nicer person in the world.”

[2] Not only for my personal satisfaction as an early fan but to be able to say to the masses, “I believe I had that.”

La’P Has No Peers

March 17, 2016

“Welcome to the show,” sang My Boy Adam Lambert but between his reveal of his banging new song of the same title and two superb performances by La’P, it was hard to know who the headliner of the show was.

I think even My Boy would want me to start my musings with La’P. I will say it again – she is one of the greatest performers Idol has ever seen. The image of J-Lo crying after La’P sang My Girl Mary J. Blige’s No More Drama is all the review that performance needs. One of the boys will probably win this final season and that would be a travesty of the Kris-Allen-over-Adam-Lambert level. Include her exquisite performance of Indie.Arie’s Ready for Love; her scintillating version of Come Together last week; and all of her other amazing performances this year, and she is fully in a class by herself in this competition which is ironic since the last time an Idolist had that status – and the judges said so at the time – it was about the guest performer tonight.

The other big deal to me tonight was the elimination of Tristan. It wasn’t surprising given her lackluster string of performances befitting someone who is “good for fifteen[1]” – which she certainly is. It was disappointing in that it was her and Sonika in the Bottom Two, which basically means it’s a La’P vs. the guys situation per the voters. However, I’m happy to see that the voters are supporting Trent who is clearly more talented than Boy Band Dude and Mackenzie.

And speaking of voting – are we voting based on who has the more tragic backstory? In this rush to judgment season where we’ve barely spent any time with the Idolists and learned very little about them, why did the Evil (maybe not so) Genius Producers decide before their most important performances of the season to bring out the mini-Hallmark inspirational bios of each Idolist? This is not to belittle their very real struggles. As viewers of reality TV we understand that we’re being manipulated and as long as the manipulation is minimal, we can live with it because it’s expected. But when the manipulation goes too far, I feel like my intelligence is being insulted. We should have been learning about the Idolists earlier and more often and not be made to emotionally invest in them in the space of a teary, sixty second story.

OK, I’ve held off long enough. Can we just talk about how amazing the show started with the clip of Adam’s Mad World moment – which is still regarded as one of the great moments in Idol history – followed by the live reprise? And I am fully addicted to the new song Welcome to the Show. I can see him opening the rest of his tour with that song which makes me happy for the people who will get to hear that. Actually, no it doesn’t. I hate them already.

One last thing before I get to grades. By and large, America is as bad with song choices (America’s Choice Week) as they are with voting. So bizarrely bad were some of the choices, they were solid evidence of why letting the public pick an American Idol is an adventure that hasn’t always worked out so well.[2]

Round 1

Trent: Counting Stars OneRepublic. Horrible song for him. Too bouncy and poppy for his croony voice. C-

Boy Band Dude: Numb Linkin Park. Terrible song. BBD brought none of the drama that Chester Bennington’s voice brings to the original. D

La’P: Ready For Love India.Arie. Completely and utterly captivating. I was simply watching and not even thinking. Mesmerizing. A+

Mackenzie: Wild World Cat Stevens. Once again, a horrible song choice. In addition, it was terribly arranged for him and he was pitchy and completely off rhythm. D

Tristan: Independence Day Martina McBride. She has a beautiful voice but this lacked the emotional force of an empowerment song. C

Sonika: Let It Go Demi Lovato. She’s a shy fighter and it wasn’t clear which one of those two won. B

Round 2

Boy Band Dude: Sound of Silence Simon and Garfunkel. This was his best performance. He was very emotionally connected which made up for the fact that he’s just not a very good singer. B+

Mackenzie: Billie Jean Michael Jackson. My Daughter Diandra said, “I’m gonna go do some laundry.” I was tempted to join her but I thought I couldn’t responsibly give it a grade unless I tortured myself by listening listened to the whole thing. Where did the melody of the song go? Where was the emotional drama of the original? What was that? And why were the judges so moved to praise it? C (for effort at “swinging for the fences” even though he struck out)

Trent: Simple Man Lynyrd Skynyrd[3]. This song perfectly suited his twangy soul voice. A

Sonika: Clarity Zedd. Bad song choice. She doesn’t haven’t have enough stage personality or punch in her voice for a dance-pop song. C

La’P: No More Drama. Mary J. Blige. Reviewed above. And you can’t put a grade on that level of artistry.

I have a lot more musings on La’P to come soon as well as a brief review of Adam’s new single. So I’ll leave it here for now. I need to go listen to Welcome to the Show a few more times. And I’m guessing my “few” is more than yours.

See you next week.


[1] The best two young teenagers ever for me were Allison Iraheta (4th place Season VIII, i.e. Adam’s season) – who we see each week among the backup singers and is starting to get some buzz for her band Halo Circus; and My Girl Lauren Alaina who has a solid career following her runner-up finish in Season X.

[2] See the cases of Allen vs. Lambert and Dewyze vs. Bowersox. And even Fradiani vs. Jax.

[3] Although his arrangement and vocals were far closer to the acoustic version by Shinedown.

This Week’s Idol – What You Need to Know

March 16, 2016

Well, of course this week is all about Adam Lambert appearing on Idol! But wait – there’s more! During a day off from his amazing The Original High Tour, he and Max Martin – The Omniscient and Omnipotent Overlord of the Pop Music Universe – recorded a new song that will drop on Thursday. It’s titled Welcome to the Show and features the Swedish vocalist, Laleh, who co-wrote Demi Lovato’s current single, Stone Cold, and two songs for Season IX Idolist Tori Kelly’s[1] album Unbreakable Smile. The track was also produced by Ali Payami, who worked with Adam on his hit Ghost Town.[2]

And, yes, Adam will be singing Welcome to the Show on Thursday. At least we hope so. He was forced to cancel a show on Monday night in Florida due to an unspecified condition “requiring at least 48 hours of vocal rest to prevent serious vocal damage”.[3]

Oh yeah – the Idolists will be singing, too. This week’s theme is America’s Choice – songs picked by viewers. Only one Idolist will be eliminated this week, although it’s not clear whether that will be through just the viewers’ votes or if the judges will be involved again. In any case, I think Sonika has to be the most likely person to go at this point with Trent a possibility, too.

Here’s a behind-the-scenes tease of the track. Adam calls the song anthemic although the tease hides that fact. As a friend recently told me, Adam could sing the dictionary and I’d get excited. Fair enough – and I’d be especially happy if he went with all 20 volumes of the Oxford English Dictionary.

I also love that Adam’s label is doing this. In today’s music business – and by the business I mean the industry – it’s crucial to treat music like social media, i.e. staying relevant by keeping yourself “out there” and continually generating buzz. Randomly dropping new music is something artists are doing more often to maintain a presence when music consumers have so many easily available options. Good job Warner Brothers!


[1] Who was eliminated before we ever saw her. And managed to become a big star just fine without Idol.

[2] Songwriting and production info from

[3] News from Tampa Bay Times blog

American Annoyances

March 10, 2016

“The only show that turns everyday people into global icons.” In the cases of Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, Chris Daughtry and Adam Lambert – Ryan’s statement tonight regarding Idol is true – but I wonder if such a thing is possible anymore. And I’m really skeptical after seeing an Idol poll of whether a guy or girl was going to this win year favored guys by a 2:1 margin.

Are these people, like, leaving the room when La’P sings? Are they aware that she’s in the contest? While Global Icon Status is not likely to be in her future, apparently many people think Kelly Clarkson’s favorite Idolist won’t even see Final Winner of American Idol Forever in her future, either.

As long as I’m talking about things that are annoying, the Evil Genius Producers conveniently ignored not one but TWO opportunities to mention that Boy Band Dude Dalton had actually been in a boy band – and one created by Executive Producer and Idol creator Simon Fuller. The first time was before BBD’s Backstreet Boys duet with Mackenzie when he said, “I enjoy boy band music.” Yeah, duh. And then in his min-bio, his mom mentioned that “he started performing live” without ever getting to the part about his band.

One of my many grievances with The Voice aka The Game Show With Singing is that they have too often withheld facts about the professional history of its contestants. It really bothers me to see Idol going that same route in it’s final attempt to create one of those global icons much less a successful recording artist.

And speaking of recording artists, it’s been nearly a year and all we have from last year’s winner Nick Fradiani is the new single he introduced tonight? Where is the album Scott Brochetta? As to that single:

  • I’m more than a little surprised to hear Nick doing a blued-eyed soul song.
  • It’s actually a good song.
  • I can think of at least two dozen people I’d rather hear sing that song instead of Nick mostly because I’d rather not hear him sing the song at all[1].

And can we put a ban on Whitney Houston songs? Please?

Alright, enough airing of annoyances. With the justified eliminations of Lee Jean and Avalon, we are down to the final six and quite quickly. These two-per-week eliminations are way too fast and the shared responsibility with the judges for the results are weird, too. Oh, I’m starting to air annoyances again.

OK, if we are to believe the early polling, the winner will either be Boy Band Dude, Mackenzie and The Swaybots[2], or Trent, as opposed to La’P, Tristan, or Sonika. Here’s how I would categorize them at this point in the competition.

Should Win

La’P Come Together (The Beatles). What a killer performance! Yes, I was whoopin’ and hollerin’ again. I’m at the point where she’s not only giving the best performances this year, she’s giving some of the best performances in Idol history. A+

And her duet with Trent (Wiz Khalifa and Charlie Puth See You Again) was immaculate, too. A

I also thought the backstory of her teacher’s inspiration and the teacher surprising her by coming out for the filming this week is a full-on attempt by the Evil Genius Producers to influence the voting in La’Ps favor.

Could Make Comeback Win

Tristan A Broken Wing (Martina McBride). While the performance was nothing special, it was her best country performance due to Tristan finally making a good song choice. The Evil Genius Producers promoted her early for a reason and the Idol demographic loves country singers which may be how she overcomes her obvious vocal disadvantage when compared to La’P (a disadvantage that all the other Idolists have, too). B

Her duet with Lee Jean (Aerosmith Don’t Want to Miss A Thing) was better for her than him but still showed how she struggles with big high notes. B

Will Probably Win and I’m Already Starting to Get Angry

Boy Band Dude Eleanor Rigby (The Beatles). I thought this was terrible. I cannot fathom what the judges were thinking with their praise. He is simply not a good singer and his stage prancing doesn’t make up enough for that. C-

And I thought his duet with Mackenzie was terrible, too. F

Mackenzie and the Swaybots You Are So Beautiful (Joe Cocker[3]) This was adequate. He’s just not that good of a singer, though. B

And I thought his duet with Boy Band Dude was terrible. F

Shouldn’t Win

Trent Stand By Me (Ben E. King). I do like his quirky voice although he hasn’t quite mastered how to use it to best effect like La’P has with hers. I also agreed with HCJ that his sense of rhythm doesn’t always match the intensity of the band’s beat. Hence, he can sound lounge-singery at times.[4] Like tonight. B

And A+ for his duet with La’P.

Sonika I Have Nothing (Whitney). All the mini-divas always think they can sing Whitney. They can’t.[5] Sonika is pretty. She dresses fabulous. She has a really nice voice but not the kind of vocal fierceness to take on these big Diva songs if she’s not willing to “release” as K-Urbs likes to say. B-

And C- for her duet (Andra Day Rise Up) with Avalon.

singing adamIf I muse any further, I’ll be airing even more annoyances so I’ll just leave it at this. ADAM LAMBERT IS GOING TO BE ON NEXT WEEK!!!!!!!!!!!! 

p.s. Wouldn’t a duet with he and La’P be amazing? Not in the place of him singing solo, of course.


[1] You have no idea how upset I still am that he won.

[2] Who were out in full force tonight.

[3] Written by Billy Preston and first appeared on his 1974 album The Kids & Me; and released on the B-side of his single Struttin’. Joe Cocker’s hit version appeared later that year.

[4] What other writer would dare use “hence” and “lounge-singery” in the same sentence?

[5] Jessica Sanchez was the exception.

Watch Adam Lambert in Concert!

March 7, 2016

Not able to see Adam live in concert? No worries. Your friendly neighborhood Muser has you covered. Via the magic of YouTube, a dedicated fan with a great view posted good quality videos of each of the songs from Adam’s February 28 show at the Sands Bethlehem Event Center. I’ve compiled them here in the order of the show’s setlist.

His show has three distinct sections that I call: Future Rock Adam; Crooner Adam; and Dance Party Adam. A longer version of this show – which I saw the following week in Washington, D.C. – has the same three sections but includes a medley of Runnin’/Chokehold/Sleepwalker during Future Pop Adam; and Lay Me Down (Avicii song that Adam sings on) and Shady during the Dance Party.

Of course there’s nothing like being there and experiencing the energy but if you’re wondering what The Original High Tour looks and sounds like, here you go.

Future Rock Adam

Intro/Evil In the Night/For Your Entertainment

Ghost Town


Whataya Want From Me


Crooner Adam

After Hours

Mad World

Another Lonely Night

Dance Party Adam

The Light/The Original High/Never Close Our Eyes


Let’s Dance

These Boys

If I Had You

(Encore) Trespassing/Another One Bites The Dust

How Adam Slayed Bethlehem

March 1, 2016

future adam 3The expectations for Adam Lambert’s Original High Tour stop at Sands Event Center in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania were set by his opening act Alex Newell[1]: “I’m gonna get the stage warm for Adam so he can slay all your lives.”

Yes, Adam did slay. Here are the nine ways he slayed Bethlehem – as he apparently has on each of the tour stops so far.

FUN!!!! I’m going to split semantic hairs by distinguishing between enjoyable (like a great glass of wine) and fun which is enjoyable AND carries a sense of playfulness. All of the elements I’m describing below came together in such a way that the evening felt far more like a party and a celebration than a concert. I’ve enjoyed myself at many shows but rarely have I had as much as sustained fun.

The Original High album. Beginning with the opening song Evil In the Night, Adam focused on his new and most artistically complete album Original High while weaving in fan favorites from his first two albums. Although it was nice to finally hear songs from the Trespassing album performed live[2], the ten songs Adam performed from The Original High showed him to be a cutting edge artist with a diverse palette of vocal styles to draw from.

JPEG image-B6CEAAF08CFF-1Staging. The staging is a major upgrade from his first Glamnation tour in 2010. And while they’re hardly on the scale of a massive arena act like Muse or Coldplay, Adam’s visual effects – which includes his two dancers – augmented rather than took attention away from watching him as a solo performer. They gave the sense that something BIG was happening but that something big was Adam.

The “dance club” portion of the show. This began with a big, high-energy breakdown[3] along with a spectacular display oIMG_4828f multi-colored lights ending with a stunning white flash which introduced a medley of dace songs: The Light[4]/The Original High/Never Close Our Eyes – the latter done in with a slick disco arrangement. These were followed by the For Your Entertainment era club banger Fever and a colossal cover of David Bowie’s Let’s Dance. Like a good club DJ, Adam slowed the energy down (just a bit) with These Boys – a bonus track from The Original High – before “closing” the show on an old high with the disco/dance-pop hit If I Had You.

The encore. Oh my. Trespassing – which riffs off Queen’s Another One Bites the Dust – blending into . . . wait for it . . . Another One Bites the Dust . . . and back into Trespassing. Body worn out. Mind blown. #Wow

Community. As compared to seeing him back in 2010, it was nice to see Adam’s fan base growing beyond the Idol demographic, no doubt in large part due to his success with Queen, radio hits like Ghost Town and major television appearances. Having said that, his rabid core fans are unlike those for almost any other major performer in that they/we all became fans at the same time and in the same way – watching him on American Idol. This creates a shared experience and intimacy between Adam’s fans that can’t exist for any other non-Idol artist[5]. It’s a palpable, intense re-connection between strangers that is special and unique.

Mad World. I’ve seen Bon Jovi sing Livin’ On a Prayer; Adele sing Someone Like You; Alanis Morissette sing You Oughta Know. And I could on and on. In other words, I’ve seen lots of BIG artists sing their BIG song. But because of the community effect I just described, I’ve never seen an audience as collectively under an artist’s spell as when Adam did Mad World. We were collectively remembering and reliving that singular moment when we witnessed one of Idol’s historically remarkable performances – while watching Adam repeat that performance right in front of us. It was as magical as it was stunning[6].

The Money Notes. Seriously – who in popular music hits stratospheric notes like Adam Lambert? His fans love them and come expecting to hear them and he did not disappoint. But because of the subtlety of the new album, the big money notes are less frequent but more impactful.

singing adamThe Voice. In the end, that’s why we love Adam Lambert. Who sings like this? His virtuoso force of nature voice spans genres, effortlessly leaps octaves, and sings with power and pathos. Who sings like this? No one would be the correct answer.

Yes, Alex Newell, you were right. Adam did indeed slay. And I expect him to slay again when I see him in DC on Saturday night.

Set List

  • Evil In the Night
  • For Your Entertainment
  • Ghost Town
  • Underground/Rumors
  • Whataya Want From Me
  • Lucy
  • After Hours
  • Mad World
  • Another Lonely Night
  • The Light/The Original High/Never Close Our Eyes
  • Fever
  • Let’s Dance
  • These Boys
  • If I Had You
  • Encore: Trespassing/Another One Bites the Dust


[1] A phenomenal singer, by the way.

[2] Adam did not do a U.S. tour for that album.

[3] An extended percussive and instrumental period in a dance song.

[4] My favorite song from Original High.

[5] And I would argue the intensity of the Glamberts’ fandom is greater for him than any of Idol’s current megastars, i.e. Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood and Daughtry.

[6] To be fair, witnessing the shared joy of Livin’ On A Prayer; the shared sorrow of Someone Like You; and the shared anger of You Oughta Know were singular concert moments in their own way, too.

What You Need to Know for Idol This Week

February 22, 2016

So, you know that whole thing about the viewers getting to vote this week? Well, it’s only half-true. It is more true than the show trying to take credit for discovering current popstar Tori Kelly when actually she was cut before they ever put her on television. Nice try on that, though. And it is more true than J-Lo telling us last week that the judges thought Haley Reinhart was going to win Season X. Um, that would be the same Haley Reinhart the judges mercilessly criticized and sometimes humiliated[1] with what seemed like predetermined criticism at times. Nice revisionist history there, too.

So here’s the truth on voting this week according to the best intel I could find. Fourteen Idolists[2] remain. On Wednesday night’s pre-taped show, the judges will reduce the field to eight without our input. Once again Simon Fuller is doing his best to try and end his show with a really strong Last Idol Winner Forever[3].

The six contestants who didn’t make the cut will then sing for two Wild Card spots and . . . wait for it . . . WE WILL GET TO VOTE!!!! And at some point during Wednesday’s proceedings we’ll get to hear the Original Idol Kelly Clarkson sing.

On Thursday, the Top Ten will be announced in the first live show of the season. Original Idol Kelly will pull up a chair and join the judges’ panel.[4] The Top Ten will perform in a two-hour show and we will vote to eliminate TWO Idolists. Since the next show isn’t until the following Thursday, it seems we will have a week-long cliffhanger which is like what The Bachelor did before eliminating the annoying Olivia.

With the judges making yet another cut and the public finally getting to vote, the intrigue will be the fate of the teens. This is an amazingly young field that has seven teenagers in the Final Fourteen: Boy Band Dude (19); Thomas Stringfellow (17); Possibly My Girl Olivia (16); Gianna, Jeneve Rose, Lee Jean and Possibly Not My Girl Tristan (15). A big part of the judges’ cuts will have to be based on who they think has the maturity to go through this difficult process each week. Season X’s country kids Scotty and My Girl Lauren aside, young people have tended not to do well. Even My Girl Lauren never lived up to her stunning first audition when Stephen Tyler and producer-at-the-time Nigel Lythgoe proclaimed they had already found the winner. She is a good case in point for the challenges that the fifteen and sixteen year-olds face.

IMG_0587By the way, doesn’t Tristan look a lot like a 16 year-old Rihanna? Maybe that’s why I like Tristan?

Anyway, after a thorough review of my prior musings, here is who I would “cut” and have compete in the Wild Card Round for viewer votes: Manny. Quirky Jenn. Thomas. Wow. This started easy and got hard. Deep breath and . . . Avalon. Lee Jean. Sonika. However, given the story arcs assigned each Idolist by the Evil Genius Producers heavily scripted hands, I expect the list to be very different than mine. In particular, the judges seem to like Thomas and Avalon; and they seem to have it in for Gianna and her helicopter ex-popstar mom. And what to do with off-the-grid Jeneve Rose? No matter – the judges will cut and we will vote.

For the month of March, Idol will be on just Thursday nights for two hours. And the show ends with a bang the first week of April with its last three shows April 5-7. The March schedule seems calculated to avoid The Voice aka The Game Show With Singing, which is interesting since Idol still has relatively strong ratings. Wednesday night’s show was tied for #1 with Survivor.


My Boy with Jack Antonoff of fun. and Bleachers

Alright, one last piece of news. My Boy and #1 money-earning Idolist Adam Lambert sang at Clive Davis’ pre-Grammy Party. This is a big deal. Clive’s party is THE party of The Grammys where scoring an invitation is to be conferred a level of royalty status in the music business, and by the business I mean the industry. Performing is even a bigger deal. Some artists have half-joked that getting an invite to perform at Clive’s party is the equivalent of a Grammy.

I’ll see you next week. In the meantime I have lots of new music to work through. I did listen to My Girl Amy Lee’s EP of covers cleverly titled Recover-Vol. 1; Dutch pop/symphonic metal band Delain’s EP Lunar Prelude[5]; and Rihanna’s Anti which is really interesting because it’s so un-Rihanna (which I guess explains the title). I still need to hear UK singer Rosie Lowe’s debut album Control. And I have to check out Sierra Kusterbeck’s new band[6] Neaux, which is streaming on Bandcamp. So much music, so little time.


[1] Like the time Ryan asked Randy who did well and Randy named everybody but Haley.

[2] How many times will I type Idolist and forget to override autocorrect before it changes it to “Idolizes.” Grrrrrr.

[3] I’m on record that I’m OK with this. However, I do reserve the right to criticize the judges’ choices, of course.

[4] We can only hope that she will block out some of the swaybots when Mackenzie Bourg sings.

[5] Charlotte Wessels sounds so much like Karen Carpenter. She makes so happy I want to cry. Yes, I love the Carpenters and I watch The Bachelor. Deal with it.

[6] Check out her prior band VersaEmerge (a later incarnation was just called Versa). While you’re at it, check out PVRIS, a hot new band produced by Sierra’s ex-bandmate Blake Harnage. I love them.