A good reason to celebrate Adam Lambert is that to many, he seems to lead the resistance against conformity, which I hope doesn't get eroded over time. He's the weird kid who's strong enough to rebel against societal pressures but even he isn't immune to this human affliction. He's not completely comfortable in his own skin having changed his natural appearance and has mentioned issues with his weight.
As you can gather from the title of this post, I'm not fan of meddling with natural beauty just for the sake of it but I see it happening all the time. Firstly there's Adam's voice. I've always preferred the live to the studio recordings where we hear more of its raw dynamic quality. Tampering with it on those tracks for me is a definite no-no. There seems to be little of the rough guttural tone left after the studio manipulation although the later ones did show an improvement. Of all the studio versions, I believe BTBW is the closest to what the album will sound like. I love the heavy driving bassline and can see where he wanted to go with it. But I don't love that they cleaned up the voice and removed the gritty edge, making it too thin and light for the instrumentals. The snippet of Time for Miracles suggests that they didn't overdo it, but when it comes to the soaring backing wail, it sounds a bit too smoothed over, losing many of the qualities that uniquely distinguish it as Adam's. Why anyone would want to artificially hinder the biggest selling point to its detriment is beyond me. I hope that the production on the album steers well clear of masking the natural vocals to sound like any other good singer's. To tame them and not allow them to flourish is an injustice to their splendour. It's like dyeing the vibrant hues of autumn maple leaves green.
Another example that comes to mind are recent photo shoots. Apart from Rolling Stone, I haven't liked the results of any. There are the 'vampire' photos which don't look like Adam and resemble a heroin junkie, and the Sebree ones which should have been so much better. They are excessively airbrushed, sucking the life out him and making him look like an exhibit from Madame Tussauds. Considering how photogenic Adam is, they somehow turn him into a plastic still life subject, the eyes and expressions vacant, allowing little of his personality to shine through. There's just no need for such liberal use of the airbrush if there's little that needs to be covered. It removes the natural contours of his face, not to mention the freckles. He may not have the smoothest skin, but just look at someone like Brad Pitt to see how necessary that is. I can appreciate that the photos are meant to be highly stylised and I like the colour composition, but I prefer almost any other candid or any of the pre-Idol photo shoots. The three below are my least favourite:
The first one strikes me as just odd - the pose, the line of the clothes, the expression. It doesn't work for me. He looks uncomfortably awkward, like he's throwing a strop after having been forced to do something against his will so is subsequently giving you the evil eye. The next one strikes me as your bog-standard catalogue underwear pose where the requisite look far-off into the distance is replaced by a rather blank expression. I just don't get it. I'm really bemused by the last one. I like the chair, I like the background, I love the lighting, but WTF? There's just too much going on with the clash of clothing styles. It's like he couldn't decide what to wear, so decided to wear everything and as a result, the clothes wear him and drown him. I expected so much better from a professional photo shoot.
Not to be all negative, there are a couple that I do like, and they are the ones featured at the start of this post. In the first one, Adam wears a commanding expression with eyes that bore into you with the slightest trace of a smile, like he's daring you to do something and waiting for your response, finding mild amusement in your dilemma. Here the futuristic mediaeval knight/count of the castle look works well, keeping the focus on Adam. The next one looks like a Tim Burton creation, a little camp and melodramatic, where he's the dandy eccentric gent in charge. The pose is one I envisage Jack Skellington of The Nightmare Before Christmas might strike due the graceful elongated figure he cuts. The airbrushing still makes his complexion look like a Ken doll's though.
I'm crossing my fingers that whoever's in charge of Adam's music artwork for his upcoming single and album will resist the temptation to doctor the image beyond recognition and whoever's in charge of the sound mixing won't feel the need to obscure some of that magnificent voice. I think it's a huge a mistake to try to 'fix' something that's already so close to perfection.