Monday, 27 April 2009
Will The Real Adam Lambert Please Stand Up?
Where does Adam sit musically? He's said himself that his album would be quite schizophrenic, (or should that be more like schizophonic) and would include electro, pop and rock. All the American Idol performances we've seen have been so varied, winning over slightly different legions of fan every week. His fan base has been piling up, and as far as I can tell, none of the other contestants have been able to amass such broad appeal because they've more or less stayed near their genre and comfort zone whereas Adam has straddled them with ease. Everyone has their favourite Adam performances and because there are so many different types of fans, it's becoming increasingly difficult for him to satisfy everyone with each performance. This is a factor that will influence his upcoming choices on the show.
Many believe his true self to be outrageous and OTT and that he's playing it safe and toning it down to win by trading in some of his edginess for popularity. One thing we must remember about all his pre-Idol performances is that they were just performances and not necessarily him. I don't know how much creative input he had on gigs such as the Zodiac Show or Citizen Vein, but he immersed himself into each of the characters for the roles he had to play. He has shown his ability to adapt to anything but what would he be like if given complete freedom? Some argue that American Idol is stifling his creativity somewhat, but do we know by what extent? Much in the way that he did theatre to earn a living, that he has done outrageous stuff before doesn't necessarily mean that's where he wants to go. I'd of course love it if it is.
Adam has talked about structuring his performances like a set list in a show, which suggests he's a strategist who's been carefully plotting each step beforehand. Or have the decisions he's made upon his journey been more intuitive and worked out as he's gone along? From his interviews and soundbites, he comes across as unimposing and articulates himself very well, somewhat in contrast to his performer persona. His answers are intelligent and considered and you get the feeling that he knows a lot more than he's letting on so it wouldn't surprise me if every move is carefully calculated. If you take it even further, you could conjecture that he's been planning and preparing for the show for years. In those years, he's been steadily developing himself, his skills and building up a fan base from his various gigs, applying to American Idol only when confident in his ability to go far on the show.
On the show, he comes across as a modest, respectful and considerate person, which certainly makes him likeable and helps win votes. But could the fact that he has acting under his belt have allowed him to carefully construct his on-screen persona to perfection, treating every moment as a performance? Surely he can't keep up the façade all the time? And when he does perform, does he really sing from the bottom of his heart and feel all the emotions he portrays? If not, it's a true testament to the mastery of his acting ability.
Having said that, he does seem to test the persona on rare occasions, where I think I've detected a tiny inkling of cockiness in his reactions to the judges, and how he seems less camp on the show than during interviews. And doesn't all the pre-Idol material somewhat contradictorily paint him as someone very daring, bold, flamboyant and uninhibited? Or is that just his performing alter ego?
Is the pleasant image part of his manipulating masterplan or is it the real Adam?
All the interviews with people who've worked with him suggest the latter. If he were a Machiavellian genius, then surely he would already have broken through as an artist? I've often wondered why he hadn't already been discovered. Could it be because he's such a nice person and hasn't elbowed, hustled and manipulated his way up?
I guess it doesn't matter who Adam Lambert really is, only that we are under his spell. We just feel that he's captured our imaginations by being fascinating, intriguing, exciting and addictive. I can't wait to see how he expresses himself when he's given free reign. In the meantime, we'll just have to settle for whichever side he choses to show us. Just like his music, Adam is fluid and multifaceted, and I suspect that whoever the real Adam Lambert is, will elude definition. It's all part of his mystique.