Monday, 11 May 2009

Apple Pie Adam

This was a week in which Adam returned to his past.  Revisting the past is usually something that's bittersweet but I get the feeling that the past was more on the unpleasant side for Adam because he's talked about how he's always been made fun of and how he was the weird kid at school.  Many people were concerned about the visit dredging up old high school woes but I think it's good to face the past before diving into the future because you can appreciate how the pain of the past is an important part of the journey that leads to the present.  Adam said he said he wasn't that popular, but he was also careful not to play the victim card by keeping any bitterness in check, emphasing that he wasn't necessarily disliked, but rather misunderstood.

I can't say I understand Adam and I think this is a conundrum that has gotten us so fixated with him.  He just seems to be such an enigma.  This past week has shown us polar opposites and the biggest possible contrast between the different sides of Adam that it's hard to believe they are the same person.  Seeing him sing in his graduation video as a cherubic sandy haired, freckly, slightly awkward teen after watching Whole Lotta Love was just shocking.

I'm sure I can't be the only one who has trouble in reconciling sweetheart, gentle, granny-hugging Apple Pie Adam at his homecoming with the disdainful, aggressive, so sexually charged he was audio-visual Viagra that could ignite a population explosion, rock god Adam.  How can someone be so completely different when they are on stage?  Surely to be able to be convincing you have to experience and empathise with the character you are portraying.  But there's nothing about Adam's personality we've seen that remotely resembles the contemptuous snarling sex god.

Throughout AI so far, Adam has managed to avoid any overlap between his on and off-stage self.  I did wonder before, but I'm now convinced that Adam is genuinely every bit as sweet as he apears to be.  I'm fairly certain that if the nice guy thing was just an act, then the cracks would definitely have appeared on such a day as his homecoming.  I spent the day watching the videos and my head hurt from all the screaming hysterical fans.  I felt exhausted and deaf and I wasn't even there so I can't imagine what it would've been like for Adam.  There's just no way you could keep a fake smile and persona throughout the whole day like that.  He conducted himself graciously, radiating charisma and charm throughout.  He showed how much he cared for and appreciated his fans and tried hard to make time for them, hugging them, speaking to them, fulfilling their requests for shouts out and signing autographs.  It was a long day and he displayed patience and stamina.  Through all the videos that I saw - and there were a heck of a lot - I was pleasantly surprised at how generous and responsive he was and he didn't snub anyone.  To be chased around like that I did feel concerned for him being overwhelmed.  It must be a bit of a headfuck to come out of the bubble and realise suddenly you're the world's shit-hot next biggest thing.  The negative part of me was thinking how fickle people are and would compare how differently they treat him now that he's on Idol.  Although I'm confident Adam knew what he was getting himself into from the lyrics of Pop Goes the Camera - which are quite prophetic - I'm fairly certain he couldn't have known how intense the spotlight would be on him or the extraordinary effect he has on people.  I think that if he fully understood the latter, he would be quite freaked out.  I see the benefits of why he waited so long to audition.  Although it was a struggle, I'm glad he has experienced a normal life which has shaped who he is before being whisked away with AI.  I'm glad he grew to be assured enough in himself not to feel ripped apart by the need to compromise because of any negativity aimed towards him.

Next brings me to the Adam I don't think I've seen on AI, which I categorise as a combination of the on and off-stage personas.  The one who likes to dress up and goes to Burning Man.  This side of him is compellingly mysterious and yet so appealing that we can't help but wonder.  Is he still Apple Pie Adam or does he get into a certain character?  Is he still sweet and charming even when he's dressed up as an other-worldly fantasy beast?  He captures our imaginations because he represents what we all wish we could be like but aren't daring enough to take the leap.  This part of him to me is exciting and fearless, symbolising an avant-garde creative free spirit with little regard for social convention.  It represents an exploratory and experimental side which is individualistic, bold and audacious.  He's talked about people loving or hating him and getting kicks out of arousing strong reactions and that if everyone likes you, you're playing things too safe.  His attitude portrays that of an artist who is dedicated to challenging us and he has the potential to create tidal waves.  The thing is, how can you be of all these things and still be so incredibly grounded and nice?  If you dare to push boundaries, surely you have to fashion a 'screw them' attitude about you in order to survive?  Those who take the leap can often get lost.  I can't say I like people who are provocative for the sake of getting attention.  How can Adam manage to be provocative without provoking outrage and consternation, and remain so likeable at the same time?  Or am I just blind to it and it's just a matter of taste?  Adam to me is a screaming contradiction who defies stereotypes.  He doesn't do it in a brash, in your face, 'Look at me, aren't I shocking?' kind of way, but in an unabashed 'Let's have some fun, aw, it's a shame if you don't like it' kind of way.  There may be parts of his art or assumed lifestyle that people could find to hate but he concedes no part of his actual personality to lend itself to be hated.  Even the bashers have to admit that he seems to be a truly amiable person.

I think the homecoming showed him in a very positive light as the theatre kid who worked hard, followed his dreams and done good.  He's not had the background story clips like the others so this will help to show other sides of him.  Each part of his visit showed us something slightly different but altogether, I think it was a great PR success.  I haven't watched any of the other homecomings so have nothing to compare it to, but it seemed to be personal and sincere with the focus on others rather than a pretentious flashy ego-trip.  The places he visited seemed to mean something to him and I thought he was giving a nod to all those who helped and shaped him along the way.  The visits to the radio and TV stations showed how appreciative he is of his fans, easily relating to both young and old.  The radio slots gave us more insight into his time on AI and how winning would validate everything he's done up to now.  It was touching that he was still able to remember his first-grade teacher.  The interview with his mother showed what a sweet and loving son he is.  The clip with the weathergirl showed us how unassuming but delightfully engaging he is at the same time.  The visit to the school was inspiring and full of positivity for the children.  The visit to the theatre group reminded us that he will never forget his roots and wants to make a difference to aspiring little Adams.  The trip to the military base was an unusual move but he showed his heartfelt appreciation to the troops, where he sang a moving and beautiful but very simple a capella national anthem.  In doing this, I think he added to his fan base and at the same time placated those who took issue with his previous Burning Man rendition of the anthem.  In one day, he managed show us his take on social responsibilities to promote art, education, individuality, patriotism, tolerance, acceptance and risk-taking without a hint of self-indulgence, which is an impressive achievement.

I'd challenge anyone to say that they really get Adam but I hope the difference between now and his high school years is that the message that he's been trying to deliver for much of his life has finally hit home for all of us.  I'm sorry you had a tough time, Apple Pie Adam, but it's made you into who you are today.  You may still be weird, we don't truly get you, but we wholeheartedly accept and love you for it.


  1. This is worth reading many times. Thank you!
    I was wondering about all this myself.
    But I thank you for this eloquent tribute to Adam!

  2. I've spent a lot of time pondering the enigma that is Adam, too. I wonder, does he feel the new, dark-haired version is his true self? Or was there trauma associated with the one you call Apple Pie Adam, so that he felt he must completely reinvent himself? Will there be future versions, different again?

    And then I try to compare him to people, typically women, who change their hair color or texture, have plastic surgery, frequent tanning booths, Society does not find it odd. Is this no different? Or is Adam's transformation somehow more extreme, a change to his core?

    I was thinking in terms of...I forget what you call it...when someone is born the wrong sex and has it surgically corrected.

    Or is it that he relates more closely to his mother (and possible again his father) due to their divorce and so has opted, consciously or not, to connect himself to her via appearance. What about his dark-haired brother?

    Most important, am I crazy for contemplating this all day? I don't believe I am. I think Adam's really just very interesting. And I can't wait to see what he does next.

  3. You know - I can relate to what Adam did. He completely reinvented himself from the ground up. I did that. On my 24th birthday. I call it the night of my epiphany. I became the me I’d always seen inside my head. It wasn’t an instant change. The actual conversion took a few years. But I emerged a different person; well – different to the people who thought they had known me up until that point. Funnily enough – I’d always managed to be that person on stage. The stage was the only place I felt safe; thus the only place I could be completely me. Strange…..but true. It sounds like Adam went through his own personal epiphany. Well good for him. He likely saved himself in doing it. In the end we all must find ways to follow our own drummer.

  4. This is a great read. I find Adam to be most refreshingly normal and grounded fierce alien ever. I see Apple Pie Adam when I look at him, no matter how outrageous the outfit, makeup, or manner.

  5. TheSpindleshay, thanks, it's funny reading back on this now that we know so much more about Adam. I like knowing that what we saw is who he is, and he is all those different things.

  6. And just as true two years on...such an amazing man, yet still a bit of an enigma. He certainly has kept us entertained, while also relentlessly piquing our curiosity, intentionally or not. If you'd told me two years ago that I'd get involved being a fan, I'd have said you were nuts. But here I am, nuts over one Adam Mitchel Lambert.

  7. Great read. Adam certainly isn't one dimensional in his personal life or his talent. He had liberal parents that allowed him to find his niche. He did have a few close friends in school, but he seemed to make his way better than most gay kids. He was uniquely talented, which also gave him an identity and placed value. His early travel and exposure to other cultures allowed experimentation and acceptance,realizing there were other creative individuals that didn't follow the norm. I think he is the best of all worlds. He is the sweet, loving, apple pie, considerate man, as well as the electrifying glam rocker. Adam is like a multi-faceted diamond, with many sides to him, brilliant and indestructable.He is the rarest of gems, to be valued and admired. funbunn40

  8. mtnwomanbc, me too! I expected that my interest would wane but I keep getting drawn back. He is one special MF.

    funbunn40, fantastic analogy! We've seen a few stumbles along the way but he just shines brighter each time.

  9. and here we are... May 2013! No longer wondering ...but know for sure - Adam is the most sincere, inspiring and awesome person and the most talented and exciting artist!

    Hail AFL!!!!