Adam Lambert’s ‘Feeling Good’: The Story Behind The Cover

On Tuesday's 'American Idol,' Lambert used Muse's arrangement of the 1964 classic.

The bright white suit, the hot-pink staircase: Adam Lambert’s entrance on Tuesday night’s “American Idol” was one part Rat Pack homage , one part theatrical glam-rock extravaganza. What else might we expect from the front-runner with the eyeliner and the virtuosic voice on a night that paid tribute to the group of ’60s crooners led by Frank Sinatra?

The song Adam chose was “Feeling Good,” originally penned by the team of Anthony Newley and Leslie Bricusse for the musical “The Roar of the Greasepaint — The Smell of the Crowd,” which debuted in Britain in 1964 to little public acclaim. However, Tony Bennett picked up another of the musical’s songs, “Who Can I Turn To?” and turned the track into a hit recording while “Greasepaint” was touring the United States. The musical eventually landed on Broadway in 1965.

The song’s connection to the Rat Pack was a 1966 cover by Sammy Davis Jr., but it has been covered by countless artists — almost no two alike. Two versions appeared on platinum-certified albums in 2005: one by jazz singer [artist id="1233884"]Michael Bublé[/artist] (It’s Time) and one by the [artist id="1841713"]Pussycat Dolls[/artist] (PCD). Perhaps the most well-known adaptation belongs to soul goddess [artist id="507351"]Nina Simone[/artist] on her album I Put a Spell on You.

But the arrangement Lambert selected comes by way of the British alt-rock group [artist id="1191782"]Muse[/artist], whose organ-driven take on “Feeling Good” appeared on their 2001 album Origin of Symmetry. The band, which Lambert didn’t credit by name on Tuesday, actually once sued Nestlé for an unauthorized use of “Feeling Good” in a TV ad for instant coffee.

The lyrics couldn’t have been more apt for Lambert, who finds himself on the precipice of an “Idol” victory after another routine that wowed the judges. “It’s a new dawn/ It’s a new day/ It’s a new life for me,” he sang with a more serious look in his eye than in performances past. “And I’m feeling good.”

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