For Your Entertainment – Adam Lambert

Title: For Your Entertainment. Release Date: November 2009. ©2009, RCA Music Group

Title: For Your Entertainment. Release Date: November 2009. ©2009, RCA Music Group

Adam Lambert can’t be accused of timidity.   His debut album, For Your Entertainment, hasn’t re-invented the acoustic wheel, but his bucking of any one genre is a risk most non-established artists would shrink from.     In an industry where pop icons themselves are branded as a commodity, music often takes a backseat to pomp and circumstance.   However, Mr. Lambert is a rare creature; his show-stopping style is backed by a preternatural vocal ability.   As Madonna (more a businesswoman performer than a vocalist) sagely stated, “An image and a good hook can get you in the door, but something has to keep you in the room”.    Mr. Lambert has made a bold and sweeping entrance.

The hook comes in the form of MUSIC AGAIN, the album’s opening track, and an irreverent, joyful hymn brimming over with 80’s enthusiasm.   The cheeky “Queen” sound makes this patchwork throw-back an homage of the highest order.    Why aren’t we treated to music like this anymore?   FOR YOUR ENTERTAINMENT, the debut single, really brings sexy back to commercial pop music, proudly displaying an element of sexual titillation usually exclusive to female pop stars.  Mr. Lambert gives men permission to be objects of desire; if Hellenistic Greece had possessed a techno-anthem, this would’ve been it.

P!nk’s WHATAYA WANT FROM ME is a bittersweet and simple song with an annoyingly catchy chorus designed for radio domination.   Its generic nature isn’t helped by Mr. Lambert’s careful reverence of P!nk’s signature style; his oft-admitted admiration of her may have prevented him from making the track his own.

Who knew that a man of such ear-piercing octave punches also possessed a lower-register growl with a tremolo capable of curling toes?  STRUT combines a kick-ass guitar riff with a gripping hook, but its verses seem plucked from Doctor Seuss.  Is the near-ridiculous rhyming scheme deliberately tongue-in-cheek, or a foray into junior-high-calibre Lyrics 101?   Mr. Lambert’s taste for kitsch suggests the former.

Those familiar with the rock-opera/futuristic-fusion sound of Muse will delight in Mr. Lambert’s treatment of Matthew Bellamy’s SOAKED.   The astonishing vocals are both immaculate and dreamlike, providing a stark contrast to the bombastic orchestra lending accompaniment.  Take a moment to fully absorb the lyrics and emotion evident in Mr. Lambert’s delivery.   Who knew that the self-flagellation of a person inured to one-night-stands could be so beautiful?

SURE FIRE WINNERS is tailor-made to be a romping, stomping stadium staple.  More observant listeners will recognize the song for what it is; a championing of male virility at the most primal level.

Close your eyes while listening to A LOADED SMILE.  Mr. Lambert’s flawless falsetto merges with the buoying synthesizers to create an almost aquatic ambiance that is both etherial and transporting.  The lyrics (brilliantly penned by Linda Perry) reflect the conflict of a person hopelessly in love, and the disenchanted object of their desire.

IF I HAD YOU is credible Euro-pop with guts.  Its rolling, cyclical refrain and staccato chorus perfectly compliment each other.  This is light fare and Mr. Lambert knows it, delivering the beguiling lyrics with a delirious abandon.  It is a song made for dance clubs and thunderous remixes, but is unlikely to have mainstream appeal.  Its mid-way placement on the album is somehow apropos; the song is forgettable until you hear it.

Rivers Cuomo of Weezer and Mr. Lambert collaborated to create PICK U UP, the album’s bravest and most subjective song.  Bold in its musical theatre roots, the track blends a fluid guitar with happy-go-lucky lyrics designed to elicit smiles.   It progresses predictably until the “money-shot” arrives; an insane vocal run that ascends toward a breathless key-change so unbelievable that you’ll have to stop and rewind just to make sure your ears aren’t deceiving you.

Don’t let the heavy disco-era references of Lady GaGa’s FEVER  deceive you;  its maturity and sophistication is belied by an appropriately sparse, yet raucus, musical arrangement which Mr. Lambert perfectly executes with a petulant and sinewy wail.  The opening line, “There he goes, my baby walks so slow,” will raise eyebrows, but years from now may be regarded as an important step in blurring the line between gay and straight cultural segregation.  Mr. Lambert doesn’t need to do the cover of Out magazine to be a human rights trailblazer.  FEVER is hands-down the best up-tempo track on For Your Entertainment.

SLEEPWALKER is an inevitable single; Mr. Lambert’s voice is earnest, pleading, yet unbearably sexy, making it a pop-ballad with an edge.   A killer guitar solo by This is It‘s Orianthi Panagaris gives this romantic lament some teeth.  AFTERMATH could be easily written-off as the accessible and bombastic rock anthem, but it serves as an empowering chant for all the faceless LGBT youths struggling to be themselves within a society that still largely rejects them.  With the simple urging “tell a stranger that they’re beautiful”, Mr. Lambert reveals not only his desire to spread love unprovoked, but gives us a glimpse at his own adolescent insecurities.  Every awkward teen hungers to hear such a simple affirmation of self-worth.   Perhaps next time we will be treated to musical composition worthy of such moving lyrics.

Closing out the album, BROKEN OPEN is easily For Your Entertainment‘s best slow-tempo song, and perhaps the best track overall.  Mr. Lambert’s sophisticated (and under-appreciated) abilities as a lyricist are showcased here; he gently urges a friend or lover to feel vulnerable enough to weep.  It is a song so other-worldly in its beauty that it evokes more traditionally “new age” electronic artists like Vangelis (Voices) and Enya (Shepherd Moon), but with a hitched, industrial influence.

There is brilliance peeking beneath the edges of this eclectic and brave album.  The fact that Mr. Lambert recorded it in a few short months boggles the mind; I am compelled to wonder what his limit would be if given sufficient time and resources.  His talents are immense and varied, and the untapped potential here is astonishing.  American Idol had to wait eight seasons for a discovery of this calibre.

  • suebella

    a good review from someone who has listened to the album with UNDERSTANDING….
    our brave bold beautiful boy deserves this level of appreciation
    thank you

  • hoopla1

    Thank you for a beautifully-written review of a deliriously beautiful and FUN album. Lambert (voice and personality) has truly made me want to listen to Music Again! I’m not an Idol fan; I accidentally heard one of his first performances, however, and was hooked. I don’t understand the snobbishness of some who dismiss him (due to Idol) without a listen to this CD; but after his AMA performance, I think he has left the Idol station forever and I’m just happy to be on the train!

  • DD

    Great, thoughtful review – and bonus: accurate details! What a great writer and I agree almost completely with this review.

  • Spencer

    Wow! Excellent review! Well thought out. I lvoe this album! My favorites are Loaded Smile, Fever, Sure Fire Winners, and Sleepwalker.

  • Linda

    “American Idol had to wait eight seasons for a discovery of this calibre.”

    Perfect ending to an amazing review. So nice to read this, you obviously “get it”.

    Love this CD, can’t even pick a favorite, which is unusual. Normally every CD, for me, has a few clunkers. Not this one. Adam was given an “instrument” that is rarely heard.

  • Leigh

    Thank you, Meghan White, for really listening carefully to Lambert’s album. And, yes, to produce a work of this caliber in such a short time is remarkable. It is both beautiful and fun.

  • Thankyou for your excellent and accurate review of Adam’s debut cd! Coming from the era of David Bowey and Freddy Mercury AKA Queen, I knew the minute I saw Adam on American Idol that he was special and would someday be a huge worlwide star. We have not seen such talent in a male vocalist in quite some time! he truly is a refreshing and unique artist! American Idol will never be the same again. I love all of the songs on his cd I can’t choose a favourite because they are all so different and well written.

  • Finally someone who really gets the album, and what a rare voice Adam really has. Idol will be a long time in finding another Adam, if ever.

  • Jerry

    Nice article, Finally someone talking about the Music..I don’t understand why FYE the song is not on radio. I heard an M&M song the other day, that was extremely vulgar and just plain rude, yet it played. Go figure..I watched the FYE video, and it is pretty good. But I must say when I am driving in my car, my favorite song is IF I had you.

  • agrimesy

    I can tell the reviewer really listened to Adam’s album. I play his CD from beginning to end at least twice everyday. I cannot help it. Once I start listening, I simply must hear the next song and the next and the next. It’s so rare for me to enjoy absolutely every track. If I had to choose, I’d say my favorites are FEVER and A LOADED SMILE, but what I end up humming all day is unpredictable. Today, it’s IF I HAD YOU because I’m pumped in a high energy zone! I must give a nod to BROKEN OPEN. It is floating somewhere above all the rest of the album and touches me so deeply that I have no words to fully articulate my emotion here in a public post. If you don’t own a copy of Adam Lambert’s CD For Your Entertainment, go get one. It has the ability to delight and transport one to otherwordly realms of pleasure.

  • carol

    what a great article. you see the real genuis of adam lambert. thank you miss megan white. and apparently the respect you have for adam.

  • Ali

    Great review….the album is truly fantastic and I hope more people give it a chance. Adam is a rare find and I can’t wait to see what more comes from him. I believe he will always be changing it up and will beautifully pull it off each and every time! That in itself is a gift! He is gorgeous and his voice is amazing!

  • Judy

    Great review.I agree wholeheartedly. I play this album a couple times a day and can’t seem to get enough. I can’t wait to see your review of his For Your Entertainment video.

  • Blank Frank

    Great to see theres someone else blown away by that bridge in Pick U Up. To me along with Soaked its one of the standout vocal highlights on the album.

  • Renee

    Wonderful review. I agree completely, with one exception and that is really an addition rather than an exception.

    “AFTERMATH could be easily written-off as the accessible and bombastic rock anthem, but it serves as an empowering chant for all the faceless LGBT youths struggling to be themselves within a society that still largely rejects them. With the simple urging “tell a stranger that they’re beautiful”, Mr. Lambert reveals not only his desire to spread love unprovoked, but gives us a glimpse at his own adolescent insecurities. Every awkward teen hungers to hear such a simple affirmation of self-worth.”

    There are many “faceless” right-brained creative souls out there that will hear these lyrics and take heart. Speaking as a 60 yr. old straight woman these lyrics speak to many, not just LGTB teenagers. Many of us stand a little “sideways” from our peers,even at my age. I love the song and thought he wrote it just for me. I do agree, however, the music composition could improve and really hit it home.

  • sizzlingsmile

    Briliant and thorough review, thank you. Looove “Fever”, “Strut”, “Sure Fire Winners” and “Pick You Up” which are pure Adam rocking it out. The emotional, soulful songs such as “Soaked”, “Loaded Smile” and “Sleepwalker” literally make you want to close your eyes, listen to the lyrics and just feel it…

  • Janika

    Thank you, your opinion was really interesting read. You really listened the songs. One of the best reviews of the album!!

  • Frances

    Bravo! Thank you for this wonderful review! This album is truly fantastic! Hopefully you may have convinced some who might have been on the fence to give it a try. I just hope the radio stations pick up his music.

  • Teresa

    A wonderful review of a CD I have already fallen in love with. I have read every review I can find–this by far is the best.

  • Laurie

    Awesome review! Finally someone who actually listened to the album. I agree with pretty much everything you have written. Adam Lambert is a very talented artist and his vocal range continues to blow me away. The album is a delight and I can’t get enough of it. It amazes me also that he came up with an album of this caliber in such a short period of time. He is indeed a natural wonder 🙂

  • val

    I’ve really enjoyed this CD. The songs I like best – Pick You Up, Broken Open, and Aftermath- all have writing credits for Adam Lambert. He is going to grow into a terrific pop/rock career. I love the power of his voice, the bridge on Pick You Up is not to be believed. I agree with the reviewer that his phrasing and restrained singing is just beautiful. He’s getting some rough treatment, but rising above it. His talent is undeniable.

  • Susan

    Thank you for such a thorough and thoughtful review of a truly wonderful debut album. I think I agree with your assessment of nearly every track. Broken Open is my favorite because it is not only other-worldy in its sound but the lyrics really make ME want to be broken open and safely sheltered by someone who is so loving and nurturing. It astonished me as well that this collection was written, recorded, produced and released in a matter of just a few months. Usually an album even approaching this caliber would take a couple of years to come to fruition. I expect we will be seeing and hearing a lot of Adam Lambert for many years and I am excited to be along for the ride of a lifetime.

  • Lynne

    I love your review and agree with most everything you said. Like you, I think the song “Broken Open” is amazing. It is one of the most beautiful and deeply intimate songs I have ever heard. I, too, am impressed with the album Mr. Lambert put together in such a short time. I love the brilliant moments and look forward for many more to come in the future.

  • drwo

    Broken Open is definitely THE track on this album and after two upbeat singles, we can hope this will be the next. Great review!! Adam is as good (if not better)a songwriter as anyone else who wrote for this album and it would be awesome if he could take the time to write an entire album. Talk about the genetic jackpot! Talent, brains, and the most gorgeous person on the planet.

  • Kathleen

    Your review is great and valid. I agree with all of it, but especially agree with AI taking 8 seasons to find a person as talented as Adam…so grateful for his discovery. I love every song on his CD…I love everything he has done.

  • sweets

    The writer of this article is very intelligent and has a very creative mind herself. She is right when she described Adam’s talent as unappreciated. because most people don’t notice what she has. Great review. Adam is the most talented person the world has seen in ages. Hopefully, he will realize this some day himself, that all he needs to do is sing.

  • Wow! Thanks for actually listening to the CD before reviewing it and thanks for reviewing each and every song! Who does that anymore? I’m impressed!

    I agree with almost everything you said except for WYWFM. I think he did a fine job of making the Pink song his own. Your reviews on all the other songs are right on.

  • Kari

    Thank you for such a thoughtful review. The album really is as multifaceted and amazing as this article indicates. One of the great albums of 2009!