The 27-year-old singer has electrified – and sometimes stunned – the audience like few singers in the singing contest’s history. Big-haired Sanjaya Malakar polarized viewers, but he didn’t have Lambert’s talent.
Each week, Lambert delivers the performance that generates the most buzz on America’s most popular series. He keeps bringing viewers back to see what he’ll do next. The seven Idol finalists turn to movie music, with mentor Quentin Tarantino, at 8 p.m. Tuesday on WOFL-Channel 35.
Lambert has set the standard for himself. During Michael Jackson week, Lambert owned the stage on “Black or White.” During country week, he intrigued and disturbed with a ferocious, sitar-flavored take on “Ring of Fire.” (More about that one later.)
On Motown night, Lambert delivered “Tracks of My Tears” tenderly and wowed Smokey Robinson. When the theme was popular downloads, Lambert brought a pulsing, rock sensibility to Wild Cherry’s “Play That Funky Music.”
Many viewers were furious last week when Idol ran long and they missed his end-of-show performance of Tears for Fears’ “Mad World.” He sang beautifully and simply, sat in a chair most of the song and earned a standing ovation from Simon Cowell, the show’s harshest judge.
Posters to my blog are awed. Kerry wrote: “Adam is the best they have ever had on ‘AI.’ We are witnessing the birth of a superstar!”
Stephanie raved, “Adam Lambert makes all the rest seem OK. He is magnificent.”
Yvonne declared, “They might as well give Adam Lambert the Season Eight title.”
That decision is six weeks away: The winner will be named May 20.
Yet not everyone is a fan. Mike Gonick, an Orlando real-estate agent, offers this take on Lambert: “Like a Broadway touring company of ‘Starlight Express.’ Glitterama mixed with cheese. He’s been in the L.A. production of ‘Wicked.’ It’s an amateur-singing contest. What are they looking for? For me, it was an undiscovered singing talent.”
Lambert’s “Idol” bio notes that he “has been involved with musical theater for the past eight years.”
Gonick says he’s rooting for Allison Iraheta and complains that the judges have given her a hard time. She’s a 16-year-old with magenta hair; a big, bluesy voice; and a style reminiscent of first “Idol” victor Kelly Clarkson.
The other finalists – Kris Allen, Anoop Desai, Matt Giraud, Danny Gokey and Lil Rounds – have lacked Lambert’s consistency and showmanship. Of those five, Gokey probably has the best shot.
But Lambert is the story. The New York Times offers a Lambert story today titled “A talented contender sets off the Web’s gaydar.” Lambert hasn’t said whether he’s gay, and an “American Idol” spokeswoman said the show doesn’t comment on contenders’ private lives.
If he is the best singer, shouldn’t that matter most? Of course, risk-taking Lambert could stumble if he offends too many fans.
After Lambert sang “Ring of Fire,” James wrote to my blog: “My ears were bleeding after that performance. I’m sure Johnny Cash was rolling over in his grave. That stare at the camera he does is really pretty scary. Who the heck does his makeup: a mortician?” (He dyes his reddish-blond hair black.)
Win or lose, Lambert has made viewers look at “American Idol” in a new way. The show may be the big winner because he was in the running.