Adam Lambert Talks Simon Cowell's Exit From 'American Idol' With Oprah

'He makes you step your game up,' Adam Lambert says of departing 'American Idol' judge.

"American Idol" star [artist id="3188063"]Adam Lambert[/artist] is finding these days that he's pretty famous — there are few places he can go where he isn't recognized. And despite all the notoriety surrounding him after his [article id="1627074"]controversial appearance on the American Music Awards[/article] in November, he's comfortable with the fact that people are touched by his music.

"The biggest change between before 'Idol' and now would probably just have to be the level of notoriety. I mean, it changes everything," he told Oprah Winfrey on her show Tuesday (January 19). "I try to go throughout my daily life just as if nothing has changed, but you don't have much anonymity anymore, which feels really good. People come up, and say hi and they enjoy your work."

Even though he is appreciative of the mostly positive fan response, he told Oprah that in December, he started to feel the stress from his newfound fame. "I just kind of got a little stressed out, and I was taking it all very seriously and getting really nitpicky about things. I was really beating myself up about performances and how I looked and this and that," he explained. "As the year came to an end, [I realized] this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I need to enjoy this. This is amazing. I got what I wanted."

He recently also received [article id="1613649"]advice from Madonna[/article] about how to handle fame when he met her briefly at her New York apartment last year.

"I said, 'I'm sorry, I'm sorry. I'm just really intimidated right now.' And she said, 'Why?' " he recalled. " 'Because I love you!' And she said, 'So love equals intimidation for you?' And I said, 'Yes, pretty much. Most of the time, I think, when I feel love, that's the way it manifests itself at first.'... [She said], 'Just keep your eye on the prize and put your blinders up,' " he added. " 'Don't get sidetracked with all the extra fuss.' "

Lambert, however, knows how to create headlines for himself, with the AMA performance or [article id="1613501"]coming out in Rolling Stone magazine[/article]. or his American Music Awards performance — and he said he doesn't regret them, particularly the latter.

"I knew that label would be attached to me from there on out, and I think people would jump to conclusions with that label," he says. "I've seen a lot of press where they say, 'openly gay singer Adam Lambert.' It's like the gay part comes before the singer part, and I'm like, 'That doesn't define who I am.'"

As for [article id="1629445"]Simon Cowell leaving "American Idol"[/article] after this season, Lambert, who placed second last season, admits that he's definitely going to be missed.

"I think the audience will definitely miss Simon, and I think the contestants will miss out on, like, really honest criticism," he said. "I think that that's important to making you a better performer — you've got to hear the good and the bad. He makes you step your game up and calls you out when it doesn't work. But I also think he's got a very specific taste. There's certain things he's not into, for example, country music. He doesn't like it ... I think that ultimately after the first couple weeks of auditions, the audience tunes in every week for the contestants. They grow fond of one or a couple of people. We tune in to hear the contestants blossom or not."