Back on March 17 I blogged about Adam Lambert's huge talent after seeing only two of his early American Idol performances. I believe I was one of the first to write about him and was afraid I would come across as too over-the-top in my praise and ultimately be exposed a pathetic loser.
Just call me Kreskin. Not only has Lambert completely dominated the competition since his first appearance, he has spawned a viral Internet industry. Countless articles have been written discussing his voice, fashion sense, performances and sexuality. Every bit of his past has been uncovered, every available YouTube video scrutinized. Ebay lists 11 pages of Adam Lambert memorabilia, such as dolls, dinner plates and an Adam Lambert Italian Charm Watch. TMZ stalks him outside of restaurants, evidently the final arbiter of mainstream success and definitely the final nail in the coffin of his privacy.
Writers have hurled superlatives as if he were the second coming of Elvis, Streisand and Al Freaking Jolson. Ann Powers of the LA Times called him "the kind of pop star who can change people's lives." Lynn Crosbie of Canada's Globe and Mail gushed, "Lambert is so gifted, he destroys the show's entire premise, which is the possibility that anyone can be an American Idol."
Lambert's fans are a cult as rabidly devoted as religious pilgrims to Bethlehem. A lovesick Newsday poster wrote, "Just when I was about to consider entering a loveless marriage, Adam came along and opened my heart to love. Something I hadn't felt since I walked out the door 8 years ago and left my husband." Someone please buy this woman a drink, for God's sake.
He's gone international. A friend who lives in Indonesia told me that Lambert is "huge" in Jakarta. Viewers from South Africa wrote, "Vote twice for us, we can't vote over here!!!" At this rate, Lambert won't even be able to vacation in Phuket without being mobbed.
Even as Ryan Seacrest attempts elimination night drama with his phony "dim the lights" shtick, the only genuine suspense of the entire season happened when Lambert inexplicably ended up in the bottom two, which spawned more hysterical "The World Shocked" articles than the swine flu epidemic.
Simon Cowell himself remarked to Ellen DeGeneres that Adam should win -If it were up to me based on originality, worldwide appeal, I would say Adam. He's got guts." Indeed, he has been the frontrunner for so long that his loss would be a disappointment not seen since E.T. lost the Best Picture Oscar to Gandhi.
Through it all, Lambert has wisely concentrated on his performances, singing Wild Cherry's "Play That Funky Music" and Led Zeppelin's "Whole Lotta Love" like he wrote the originals. His version of "Feeling Good" proved he should sing the next James Bond theme. He can probably sing anything, except perhaps opera, Navajo Indian War Chants or the Islamic Call To Prayer. The other contestants, while talented, are Six Flags Over Georgia performers next to him.
Last but not least, while nonchalantly out of the closet back home, he has inspired a huge yet infantile debate about whether or not a gay contestant can win Idol while uttering very little about it himself. Everyone from the harrumphing Bill O'Reilly to The New York Times has piled endless heaps of bullshit on this mountain out of a molehill. As Lambert himself said, "It's a singing competition, not a kissing competition," hinting very strongly that we should all collectively grow up.
Why has he created so much buzz? For one thing, Idol is the number one show on network TV in a landscape co-opted by cable and the Internet. Also, America hasn't had a "star is born" moment since Sarah Palin first appeared on the scene and could use another one, especially one with actual talent. Add to that Lambert's genuine star quality and charisma, which he probably possesses while mowing the lawn.
And why am I so taken with him? Because every comedian secretly wants to be a rock star, that's why. Ask any of them.
A lot of this is the hyperbole that happens when any exciting new talent appears. We will have to wait until he makes his own kind of music to see whether or not he's truly a great addition to the music industry. He still has that to prove, and it's a lot. But he has already proven that he's a great entertainer. Ethel Merman never wrote her own material, either.
At this writing, it's down to the bottom three contestants. Whether he wins or not ultimately doesn't matter, because he's already a star to the people who are paying attention, and his fans can't wait till he breaks free of Idol and really lets loose. I hope he maintains his nice guy aura, doesn't believe the fawning press, and hope that he will read these pieces I've written and, at the very least, have the decency to comp me into his first concert with an accompanying backstage pass. That's all I ask.