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"Idol" is out; Adam Lambert remains
He's certainly not the only one, but Adam Lambert is proof positive that there's life after "American Idol."
Even if you're not a champion.
The Indiana-born singer was the runner-up to Kris Allen during "Idol's" eighth season in 2009. Since then he's run up three Top 5 albums and a Top 10 single with "Whataya Want From Me." He's also appeared on "Project Runway," "Majors & Minors" and "Pretty Little Liars," and he had a five-episode arc in "Glee."
And since 2012 he's been fronting an "upstart" band called Queen, whose drummer, Roger Taylor, calls Lambert "sensational...an extraordinary singer and a real talent."
So, yes, Lambert has made his mark beyond the show that made him famous -- and is happy to have flown in the face of any and all doubters.
"I really came down to me just having to prove it, that I had a right to be here -- which is good. I like a challenge," Lambert, 34, says by phone from Hungtington, N.Y., at the start of the North American leg of his Original High Tour. "It's very easy tow rite off somebody from a TV show talent competition, and I understand why people do it.
"At the end of the day people have to understand that everybody who goes and auditions and does ('Idol'), we all have dreams. We all want to make it. Being on a TV talent show competition doesn't diminish that drive, and it doesn't diminish the validity of the dream you had in the first place. It doesn't make me any less of an artist than the next person.
"I just found a very different path, the way I chose to go."
Still, Lambert acknowledges a more advanced creative charge for his latest album, "The Original High," which came out last June. Moreso than predecessors such as "For Your Entertainment" and "Trespassing," Lambert and his collaborators worked with different moods and textures, as well as heavier and more personal subject matter.
"I think it represents my personality really well, and the things I thought of and feel," Lambert explains. "But hopefully more than just me, I think it actually represents people. I think it represents what people are experiencing right now." And Lambert fully realizes he may not be the first artist fans expect to grapple with the emotional toll of social upheaval, terrorism and political unrest.
"It's easy to be an artist who releases songs that help people escape," Lambert explains. "I think that's important, and I've done plenty of those types of songs. But with this album and (the single) 'Ghost Town' in particular, I wanted to really comment on where we're at right now.
"There's a lot of scary things going on in the world right now. There's a lot of strange sort of disenchantment that happens with technology and feeling that we're communicating with each other but are actually disconnected. It's easy right now to end up feeling alone and sort of aimless.
"Now, I'm not a depressed person. I have a good life. I'm very happy, but I think it's important to write music about real things and things that aren't so easy to talk about."
Lambert says "The Original High" songs still weave into his concert sets alongside his other material, giving the shows a bit more ebb and flow and emotional heft. "There's a lot more special thought given to the set and how it goes and how it looks and how it feels," he says. And he's been pleased to see that being part of Queen has expanded his audience since the last time he toured full-scale as a solo artist.
"The interesting thing about being on tour with them was that I saw such a cross-section of different ages and races and genres," says Lambert, who will be playing European dates with Queen this summer but doubts this edition of the band will ever write and record new material (though Queen guitarist Brian May plays on "The Original High" track "Lucy"). "It was a very broad audience, and that's sort of similar to what I see at my shows. I see kids. I see their parents. I see their parent's parents. But I do think there are people (attending) who might not have considered coming to see me before."
TV beckons for Lambert again, too. After returning to "Idol" for a guest appearance last week, next month he'll be filming his role as the doomed delivery boy Eddie in Fox TV's version of "The Rocky Horror Picture Show," which airs this fall. Lambert joins a cast that includes Laverne Cox, Victoria Justice, Ryan McCartan, Reeve Carney and Staz Nair, as well as original Dr. Frank-N-Furter Tim Curry -- this time in the narrator role.
"I love that movie, I absolutely love it," Lambert says. "It's such a cult favorite. I just think it's incredibly silly and campy. It's way out to lunch. I think that they've assembled a great cast to sort of bring it into this era, and I'm really looking forward to how it turns out."
As for "Idol," which is in the midst of its farewell season Lambert feels his launch pad is bowing out gracefully.
"It's an end of an era," he says. "'Idol' will always go down in history for what it is and what it did and what it represents for people. It came along at a time when I think we, as a country, we needed to come together and we needed to believe in something hopeful and give underdogs a chance and celebrate music and the diversity of music in our country.
"I think they did a great job, and it's time to pack it up."
Adam Lambert and Alex Newell
Friday, March 25. Doors open at 7 p.m.
The Fillmore Detroit, 2115 Woodward Ave.
Tickets are $25-$55.
Call 313-961-5451 or visit thefillmoredetroit.com.
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