Every so often — OK, quite often — Hollywood decides to makes a movie about stuff blowing up. In this case, it’s the apocalyptic “2012,” which is about the extinction of humanity in general. Somewhat understandably, this is a rather bleak subject to tackle — the end of the world isn’t exactly heartwarming — so the producers know they somehow need to inject some sunshine into the flick, something to leave audiences feeling better as they exit the theater. A logical solution is, of course, a power ballad.
The power ballad, of course, is perhaps the most humanizing of all tunes: With swelling strings and crashing chords, they are practically designed to evoke emotion, to tug at the heartstrings and cause tears to flow. Their lyrics — which are usually about the triumphs of love in the face of overwhelming odds — are just icing on the cake, a little extra bit of sweet sadness dolloped on to really drive the point home.
The classic example here is, of course, Aerosmith’s “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing,” from 1998’s “Armageddon.” It had absolutely nothing to do with the movie or a pending apocalypse, but was very much about love conquering all, which is why it resonated so well, and why it continues to be a karaoke favorite to this day.
But now there’s a new contender to that throne: Adam Lambert’s “Time for Miracles,” the ballad tapped by the producers of “2012.”
Written by the tandem team of Alain Johannes (who also plays in Queens of the Stone Age and Them Crooked Vultures) and the late Natasha Shneider, it’s a song that’s tailor-made to Lambert’s strengths: a completely classic ballad, and a showcase for his big, booming vocals and otherworldly range, the stuff he won audiences over with on “American Idol.” He’s apparently moving away from this sound on his debut album, and one could be forgiven for wondering why, because he positively owns it here.
It’s a big stage for him — the lead single from a big-budget Hollywood flick — to be sure, and he’s more than up for the task. And that carries over to the video, which has lots of flames and destruction, with Lambert serving as the omniscient everyman … the human who wanders through it all, weary but determined to survive, because he has to. Of course, given that this is a ballad, he also serenades us all from the roof of a skyscraper because, well, what better place to sing a power ballad?
It’s a time-tested formula, and I’m happy to say that “Time for Miracles” gets it all right. I’d put it alongside not just “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing,” but, as my colleague, MTV News’ “American Idol” expert Jim Cantiello pointed out, Bon Jovi’s “Blaze of Glory” and Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On,” too. This is hallowed ground we’re talking about here. Disaster is a tough thing to take, but when it’s accompanied with the right chaser, it goes down surprisingly smoothly.