Posted by: dcmjlive | June 1, 2009

Idols Revisited: Adam Lambert

Quick wit, humility, edge and personality. These are the qualities that gave the distinction to this frontrunner. Adam Lambert was in no question a hot lava bomb waiting to burst out to stage with the glam of a glam rocker and the soul of a balladeer. With his flashy costumes, guy-liner and various hairstyles, Adam was more showy than even Sanjaya. And not to mention his three and a half octave range with the ability to create a passagio, he was a shoe-in to win. He had the things worthy of calling him a winner. And despite losing, he did win the hearts of many opening up the door to gays and bisexuals who would want to make it far in the competition. (And I’m not forgetting Sanjaya, Danny Noriega or Clay Aiken.)

So why the heck did he lose? I think this has been what glamberts and media have been screaming.

Well, to be frank, he lost to himself. What hurt him the most was that he was too good. But huh? What do I mean, you say. Last time, I discussed Danny Gokey and how he failed to meet the high expectations of a frontrunner. This time, I’ll discuss how Adam Lambert did meet expectations, which actually fails him. Winning is about EXCEEDING expectations, not just meeting them. And for someone of Adam’s league, the equalizing factor to be compared to other contestants is being able to exceed the expectations set before him.

When Adam started, the highest of all expectations is heaped upon him as he tackles one of THE songs that really sets the bar high for him. He had to start high with Bohemian Rhapsody, a song that either makes you or breaks you on the usual idol stage. But he decided to feature it in his audition and just nailed him. How can you not have high expectations of him?

Prior to the top 36, his name is one that you would have had remembered, in a good way or not. Not only does he stand out but also expectations become a bit higher. Then of all songs he could do, he takes Satisfaction by the Rolling Stones and introduces his mighty range right there on the spot. The problem with this performance is that it reveals a lot about Adam. It shows his range, his performance skills and his x factor. All that contributes to the high expectations. Not to mention the judges have heaped loads of praise on this performance alone. Upon the reaching the finals, he continues the showmanship with Black or White. Again, he completely blows people away with that high class Vegas-like showmanship. This reaffirms that Lambert is a force to be reckon with.

The first turn in the finals for Lambert is the controversial Ring of Fire. Introduced at the wrong time, viewers were not ready for this type of performance from Lambert. It was ingenius and inspired but it was also unexplainable. Not only did he have to face high expectations but also, he had to face  polarization. Danny himself, had to face polarization but this was because he failed to meet expectations. Whereas, Adam’s polarization comes from his tendencies in how he delivers music. It was this sitar-esque music that polarized more things about Adam. First, it showed how over-the-top he could be that could either turn you on or off. Second, the passagio is shown in a way that is either tasteful or untasteful tot he senses. Lastly, his sexuality also comes out and again is another polarizing thing. We have to watch out for these three in the succeeding performances.

Adam however is a clever person. He knows the first three songs that got voted on are very controversial and he needed to show another facet of him just to win back people. He did that with Tracks of My Tears. According to Adam, he had two choices, that or something like what he previously did. With that choice, and a new polished look, he was named the new Elvis. It is endearing to finally see a sensitive side to Adam and he was coined the new Elvis of this generation. But now, people were not only expecting high but also expecting new things from Adam.

Recap with just four performances, he made these problems: high expectations, polarizing over-the-top-ness, polarizing passagio, polarizing sexuality and new expectations.

By the time he did Play That Funky Music, he wasn’t able to surpass what he did with Black or White or Satisfaction.  Second, he brought out the over-the-top-ness factor again. And third, he brought the passagio again. He gained a few fans and more detractors.

By this point of the competition, Adam had developed a pattern. He wanted the audience to see both his showy side and his emotional side. His first side came to be known as Flamebert while his second, Lamebert.

Songs from the Year of Birth came and he did his peak performance, Mad World. It was an enthralling eerie enstranged piece that was the best performance of the season during the time. What’s so nice also is that it wasn’t over-the-top, it didn’t feature the passagio and it didn’t feature his sexuality. Being the peak performance, the song gained new fans willing to vote for him. But now, he had set the bar so high that he has to be able to make his renditions better than either Black or White for Flamebert or this for Lamebert.

He did Born to be Wild next. It was engaging, it showed his presence, it was another great performance from Flamebert. But did it beat out his best Flambert performance, no. Effect: few added fans and detractors.

With Disco week, he took an amazing risk. He changed up If I Can’t Have You and made it into a ballad. OK, ballad equals Lambert. Was it better than Mad World, almost. What I loved about this performance was the desperation that came out of it. You had to feel it hit you in a way or another. Little downside, there were people who loved the original melody and by making it a ballad, the original melody was thrown to the side. Not that relevant but it added both fans and detractors.

What could come next but RatPack Week. Here, Adam destroys his pattern and just doesn’t think anymore. Here, he fuses the two (Lamebert and Flamebert) and makes sure he showcases both sides in whatever song he sings. This was obviously seen in Feeling Good. It had pieces of sexuality in it but also the emotion from the Lamebert side. Now since the songs had to compete with the bar of Black Or White and Mad World together, and not to forget the polarities he has to avoid, the fusion hurt him more than help him. He still gave stellar performances but he couldn’t rereach his summits. At this point, he couldn’t get new fans or new detractors. Also, it was this week that Adam went to the bottom two. A factor of this happening was people wanted to save Kris and Allison plus the fact that Danny did awesome on that night while Adam was his normal self.

By rock week, he gave one out of two performances supposedly better than Black or White. Whole Lotta Love just reinstated the tenacity of Adam. But this was the one that failed him because he does have that burdened expectation of him to do new things. Because he did a rock song the way it was done originally, it pulled off as karaoke. But a saving grace for Adam was Slow Ride. The magnetism of the song and the performers just blew off the roof. It was the fuel for Glamberts to vote for him more given the bottom 2 scare. This song topped Black or White so presumably, it added a few fans.  This actually marks the last peak for Flamebert.

It is in the top three that all Adam’s burdens finally take a toll on him. One raised detractors once again because of the scream. Many thought that if he hadn’t fused Flambert to Lambert on that performance, he could have made another moment. But the thing was he did. Looking back, without focusing on the competition, this performance was really really good. But previous burdens really take the toll and the acclaim from this made detractors want to vote more for Kris than anyone else. Cryin’ could have given a moment for Adam as well.  It had that desperation shown in If I Can’t Have You and that class but what actually destroyed him this time was the back-up singer. It was literally like a catfight had ensued. And because of this, Adam actually sounded pitchy. It was the first time that his pitch went off in a more blatant way.

We then reach the final two. With Mad World reprise, he not only could reach that mountain peak way up high but he stumbled and fell with his pitch for the second time in a blatant way. His last note was a big bum note that the judges failed to comment on. At this point, he was not just clinging but he was already falling slowly from that high peak that he had. To try to save it, he did A Change Is Gonna Come. He starts out karaoke and pitchy but then hits those glory notes that at times were pitchy as well. The competition has obviously taken the toll on him. He still gets rave reviews but in the eyes of the detractors, they were more and more eager to vote for Kris after that. Also, these two performances didn’t have enough fuel to get his fans to vote the full hours of the competition. And of course, we know how much a trainwreck No Boundaries went for him. He became pitchy all over the place, too dramatic, too over-the-top and all the heaploads of wrong came pelting towards him.

So actually, did he meet expectations, at first yes. But the more he went on to the competition, he became an open book and nothing seemed new anymore. In short, there was no more area for improvement that the saying what goes up must come down surely applied to Adam. He was too good and in the end, he had too high expectations and on the night he could have won, he stumbled and fell.

Was it an upset that Adam lost, actually yes. Was it an upset Kris won, nope. The true upset comes from the fact that in the end, he could never topple the evergrowing expectations of him. Had there been a reversal of happenings where he did songs earlier than others and peaked at the right time, he could have won. What was worse is that he even fell at the worst time possible to fall. Seriously, if you watch back at all performances of Adam, most of his performances, even in top three and finale night could be seen as awesome.  But since we can’t change timing, all we can do is support Adam in whatever endeavors he does.

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Responses

  1. I couldn’t agree with you more on this DJ. Too bad for Adam. But I’m still happy that things went this way because if not, Kris will probably not get the recognition he is getting now, which he truly deserves.

    When I first saw Kris perform ‘Man In the Mirror,’ he became an instant favorite of mine. I knew from that moment that he’s good and he’s gonna do good although I had doubts if he could make it to the finals. I was actually sad for him knowing that there is the tough to beat Adam Lambert and a very good vocalist Danny Gokey. In fact, I even whined to my friend about how sad it is knowing he could sell millions of records (and I honestly thought he could sell more than anyone from the season) but is just being over-shadowed by other contestants.

    That top 36 night, when Adam performed ‘Satisfaction,’ I immediately concluded that he’s the guy to beat. Throughout the whole season, I don’t think anyone was able to make an impact as strong as Adam’s. His performances were all delivered at a ‘performance level.’ Unfortunately, it reached the audience as ‘just an impression’ which could either make you love him or hate him. Another thing with Adam, because he is way different from the rest, his style (aka screech; super high octave) became very familiar with the audience that made half of the AI followers sick of it after 3 or so performances. Kris on the other hand silently, and slowly but surely consumed the hearts of the viewers. Kris had an element of surprise on each of his performances. There was no big expectation from him at all and yet, people knew he could and did good on every song. There was absolutely no reason for the viewers to hate Kris from beginning til the end. Kris only gave us room to love him more and more.

    • LOL, talking about Kris on an Adam blog. You should’ve given this comment on my next blog. Sheesh, you just can’t wait to talk about Kris. HAHAHAHA.

      Kidding aside, you do get tired with the passagio (yes, that’s the screech; super high octave). Instead of showing versatility, doing it again, and again and again makes you look more like a one-trick pony. If I were Adam, I would reserve the passagio near the end where people would just be amazed. Adam has an amazing voice on his own and if he had just reserved it instead of showcase it more than half of the time, it would make more of an impact.

      But of course, keeping it all in is the biggest thing that Adam cannot do. He’s a man who wants to just show his talent. Too keep it simple, you don’t need a wail in every song. That’s why more fans appreciated Lamebert rather than Flamebert.


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