Adam Lambert exploded onto the music scene at last night's American Music Awards with a rough-and-tumble performance of "For Your Entertainment." Unfortunately — and it pains me to say this — the results were mixed at best.
If Adam Lambert's goal was to simply rile America, then he succeeded. The in-your-face sexuality was bold, brave and totally groundbreaking. (Whether it was "appropriate" for a major network awards show is another discussion entirely.) I applaud Adam and his team for not pulling any punches or watering down his or his single's rawness.
The problem I had with the performance is that Adam Lambert is better than just being a lightning rod for controversy. With his Mariah-esque range, his effortless-yet-controlled wail and emotional delivery, Lambert has the potential to go down in history as one of the most technically-gifted rock vocalists of all time. Adam had a gigantic platform to show the non-"American Idol" viewing public what us Idol Freaks have known since February: He can sing his face off!
But that talent was barely on display last night. Lambert hit more bad notes than spot-on ones. His rock yelps, used so precisely and carefully on the "Idol" stage, seemed like manic grandstanding. His phrasing, so masterful in front of Simon, Paula and Randy, felt uneven — especially after Kelly, Carrie and Daughtry's solid offerings.
So what happened? "Idol" blogger extraordinaire MJ Santilli thinks he was given too much to do too soon. Last night she wrote on her blog, "There was too much hype and too much expectation around this performance — a lot of pressure to place on the shoulders of a young, new artist, I think." Echoed Entertainment Weekly's "Idol" Obi-Wan, Michael Slezak, "Lest we forget (and it certainly is easy to do so), he is not a seasoned headliner, so nerves certainly could've played a factor, too."
It's a shame that the success of this risqué performance hinged entirely on this strength of his voice. If Lambert had delivered the knock-out vocals we know he's capable of, all the crotch-grabbing, sex-act-simulating and sloppy kissing could have been argued as being part of a bigger artistic statement. But because Lambert had an off night, only shocking antics are grabbing headlines.
Do I think his career is over, as some "Idol" conspiracy theorists are implying? (Hi Rickey!) Hell to the no! Do I think it's going to hurt his album sales? Not particularly, although the wider, non-"Idol" viewing public might have been more inspired to snag a copy had he hit a few more notes. Will it keep Adam Lambert in the headlines for the next week? Sure, but in a negative light. And given Lambert's post-show "It was supposed to be ridiculous!" rhetoric, it seems that buzz — good or bad — is all he was after anyway.
What did you think of Adam Lambert's post-"Idol" debut on the AMAs? Did it make you more or less of a fan? Do you think Adam's shock-for-shock's-sake plan of attack was a smart one? Leave a comment below!