Andrew H. Walker, Getty Images Nine days after the deadly tornado that touched…
- Posted on Apr 13th 2010 1:30PM by Joshua Ostroff
How is it possible that a singer who was on every single episode last year now has to pre-empt criticism by declaring his family-friendliness? Well, last season his sexuality was still a (thinly veiled) mystery. But after coming out publicly on the cover of Rolling Stone, the "unapologetically" flamboyant singer soon became a victim to the never-ending culture wars after his gloriously homoerotic performance on last fall's American Music Awards.
"It's like I have a target on my chest, but it comes with the territory," Lambert tells Spinner about his conservative critics. "It's like that high school mentality: If you're looking and putting energy into it, something about it is fascinating you, whether you like to admit it or not. I got your attention, that's why you're spewing negative hate at me, so I'm doing something right."
Indeed, Lambert's brush with controversy seems to have cemented his fledgling stardom, putting him up on a pop-culture pedestal alongside the likes of Lady Gaga and landing him a current Top 20 single with the aptly titled 'Whataya Want From Me,' while last season's winner, cutie-pie worship leader Kris Allen, has already fallen by the cultural wayside.
Though sexuality is the reason so many conservatives are on his case, Adam Lambert has no intention of toning himself down. "I am open and visible," he says. "I think visibility is really important. Being comfortable in your own skin and proud of who you are is the first step. I try not to get to overly involved in political issues because I'm an entertainer, a singer, not a politician. But when there are certain social issues that affect me, of course I have opinions about them."
In other words, he's taking the Ellen DeGeneres approach. Not a bad move, considering how far the newest 'American Idol' judge, once widely attacked for being overly political after coming out in the late '90s, has wormed her way into the nation's hearts. And their back-to-back seasons have put Ryan Seacrest and Simon Cowell's trademark homophobic banter on the back burner.
"In my season, it wasn't as intense as in previous seasons. Maybe because they knew I'd be standing up there, like, 'Really, guys?' I probably would have chimed in. I didn't catch a lot of it last year. Maybe they were being more subdued, more sensitive, 'cause my big mouth would have said something. I can't wait to hear what Ellen has to say."
"Theatrical" is a code word the show's judges have used over the years to imply something sounded a little, well, gay. But while Cowell still can't stand "theatrical" contestants -- recently using the term to slam "Big Mike" Lynche's 'Eleanor Rigby' -- it's clearly less bothersome to the masses in our era of 'Glee' and Lady Gaga.
"My first audition, they said, 'Oh, it's theatrical' and I said, 'What's the problem with that?' That's cool in my eyes; theatrical's a good thing, theatrical is what's happening right now," Lambert says. "Randy [Jackson] was actually the one who called that out and said, 'I think it's time for that.'
"I was really thankful that he got what I was doing, nodding to the glam rock of the '70s and '80s, and how it used to be really cool that music was not just a performance style but also a visual aesthetic. We used to love that. And for some reason there's no guys doing that anymore. I don't know if we've gotten more conservative and less open-minded as far as male musicians go."
Certainly, female pop stars have been busy pushing that envelope, most notoriously Adam Lambert collaborator Lady Gaga, who wrote 'Fever' from his debut album 'For Your Entertainment' and has inadvertently helped his career by taking gender-bending theatricality mainstream.
"I think Gaga has made an influence in the pop world by being weird and theatrical and over-the-top. She's definitely flung the door wide open for people to have at it and do something different. One reason she's so successful is that what she's doing is so different -- not so much musically but more visually."
But while both performers' debut albums heavily favoured club-friendly pop (and a 'For Your Entertainment' remix EP released this week) Lambert says we should expect his career to be as stylistically diverse as his weekly performances were on the eights season of 'Idol.'
"I look forward to being able to experiment with different music styles," he says. "On this album we did glam pop. What I wanted to do was create a contemporary fusion -- you're either Nickelback or you're Britney Spears in today's market, but how do we do a little bit of everything? I love pop music, I love dance music, but I love singing rock music -- singing hard and loud and high," he says with a grin.
"Maybe the next album will be deep funk, maybe it will soulful; maybe it'll be pure electro or maybe it'll be straight-up traditional rock. Who knows?"