I’ve added a new subset to my overwhelming American Idol addiction, and it focuses solely on the contestants of season 8! Indeed, thanks to the vocal firepower of Kris Allen, Adam Lambert, and Allison Iraheta (not to mention Anoop Desai, #signmattgiraud, Mishavonna Henson, and Deanna Brown), there’s so much news and music and awesomeness making its way to the Internet that some days I barely have time to get out of my pajamas. (For the record, I type this clad in Old Navy sleep bottoms and a promotional jersey I received from the publicist for Fox’s Brothers, a show I have never seen. It’s official: I’m tragic!) Also tragic: Adam Lambert’s For Your Entertainment song snippets leaked to the Internet a week ago, and I’m only weighing in on ’em now. (Thankfully, EW’s Music Mix blog did not commit such a crime.) But then again, the math is hard: Idoloonie X listens to a dozen 30-second song previews 50 times apiece. If Idoloonie X spends five times as long exploring his innermost feelings about said previews as he does listening to them, how many minutes will it take before he is ready to express said feelings in a ridiculously wordy blog post?
While you ponder that equation (or not), I’m gonna get on with the work of ranking Adam’s 12 new(ish) leaks in descending order from my least- to most-favorite. I won’t cover “Time for Miracles” since I’ve talked that one to death, and I’ll save my tone poem on hot-ass lead single “For Your Entertainment” for a separate post, since it’s not fair to compare full tracks to partial ones. Anyhoo, without further ado, let’s get this party started…
“Pick U Up”: Hands down the least compelling snippet from For Your Entertainment. (For me for you.) I keep pressing play, expecting something to hook me in or stick in my brain — especially since Rivers Cuomo is listed as a cowriter along with Mr. Lambert, and “Undone (The Sweater Song)” is a karaoke jam of mine — but nope. The musical accompaniment sounds like it was mixed from a giant vat of generic arena-rock solution, and Adam’s vocals sound peculiarly overworked. Metaphorically speaking, producer Greg Wells seems hell-bent on making a hot tamale taste like tofu. Why?
“Whataya Want From Me”: The “just don’t give up”/ “please don’t give in” lyrics are a tad high-school-journal for my taste, and the peculiar choice of “whataya” over “what do you” in the title rubs me the wrong way (petty, I know). But then again, the way this clip jumps directly into the chorus without even a hint of verse, it’s hard to dismiss the thought that the whole may be more compelling than this 30-second part. Or maybe I’m desperately hanging on to the hope that a track co-written by none other than Pink won’t just be album filler. Then again, maybe that’s why this track isn’t on her record.
“Aftermath”: Adam’s wail is like a pitch-perfect siren at the start of this snippet, and I cannot shake the urge to draw a vocal comparison to Heart’s Ann Wilson. And while the the beautifully bombastic chorus seems to definitively trump the ho-hum verse (“you feel the weight of lies and contradictions”?), I’m not ready to call the match after only seven seconds of the latter. Bottom line: More information needed.
“If I Had You”: Okay, now here’s where I’m starting to get excited, as Adam mixes a little dash of Euro-disco into the glam-rock stew without genericizing (not a word? should be!) his ridiculous instrument in the highly produced mix. The beat sounds like a fierce mid-’90s La Bouche record that crawled into a cocoon and decided to wait out the decade until a worthy vocalist emerged who could handle it. Can we please have a mashup with “Be My Lover“? Immediately, if not sooner?
“Broken Open”: Adam’s patented falsetto, paired with an eerie, echoing beat, gives off some good, solid “Mad World” vibes. And yet even though it’s the same length as the other FYE snippets, somehow the “Broken Open” clip seems like it gives away less information about the sound and tone of the full-length track than its other 30-second counterparts. Color me hungry, but intrigued.
“A Loaded Smile”: The combination of ethereal synths and Adam’s trademark falsetto hint at the kind of track that’s tailor-made for the “repeat” button, especially on a gloomy weekday morning when you’d rather visit the Lambert Dreamscape Experience than your dreaded office. Better still, the Linda Perry-produced/written clip hints at a more personal snapshot of Adam’s life, as the lyrics — “Yeah, I know my life has changed/ But honestly I don’t know if we’ll survive” — seemingly conjure up a promising relationship that may or may not be able to survive the sudden onslaught of Idol-/fame-related lunacy.
“Strut”: Say it ain’t so, Adam! If this track lives up to its leaked snippet, I’ll never again be able to truthfully use the phrase “good for nothin'” to describe Kara DioGuardi (who co-wrote with Adam and Greg Wells). That nasty little guitar line rocks harder than any other FYE snippet, and the rhythm seems guaranteed to turn even the most mundane walkosphere into the listener’s personal runway. Now press play and show us your signature strut. Sashay! Chanté! (And, yes, Adam, you’re correct: “We’re a complicated nation.” Can’t wait to see where the verse goes from there.)
“Sure Fire Winners”: An obvs homage to “We Are the Champions,” with Adam declaring “we are/ we are/ we are the sure-fire winners!” over a wicked “dun-dun DUN, dun-dun DUN” beat. This one contains my favorite post-Idol lyric — “I was born with glitter on my face/ my baby clothes made of leather and lace” — since Fantasia’s “Baby Makin’ Hips.” For reals.
“Soaked”: Call the CSI lab, because I was certain Linda Perry’s fingerprints were all over this one. Nope, dead wrong. It was penned by Matthew Bellamy of Muse, and produced by Rob Cavallo. Either way, I’m digging the lovely Beatles-esque chord progression, the overarching mood of haunted longing, the laser-like focus on Adam’s soaring vocal. Plus, the “and you had enough/ searchin’ for love” bit is like a knife right through the heart. Somewhere, Christina Aguilera is wondering how a debut artist got his hands on her next big hit.
“Sleepwalker”: Sounds like Adam’s got a case of post-coital confusion — “I’m not asleep, I’m not awake/ After the way you love me” — and while this half-minute song clip doesn’t answer how exactly he’s feeling about the sitchuaysh, as a listener I can say it was good for me. (Badum-bum.) Seriously, the Adam-on-top-of-Adam-on-top-of-Adam vocal line is beyond gorgeous, and the even the Ryan Tedder Thunderous Ballad Drumbeat ™ manages to sound fresh here. When does this one go to radio?
“Fever”: Oh how I want to take this track directly to the treadmill without passing the Fatty Snax Deli and without collecting a delicious carb/lard treat. Or maybe see it become the core of a Ryan-Ellenore samba routine on So You Think You Can Dance. The Erasure-esque chorus is the earworm in the delicious Cortland apple I am currently using to fend off a craving for chips. Okay, this paragraph makes sense to me and me alone, but that doesn’t mean “Fever” can’t be part of my late 2009 weight-loss/life-improvement program.
“Music Again”: It’s no surprise this track was written by The Darkness’ Justin Hawkins, what with that crazy blast of falsetto and a beat that would make a 90-year-old church organist want to bang her head, and yet at the same time, it’s totally and distinctively Adam: Theatrical, super-sized, vocally effortless. Plus, the message (“oh you make me wanna listen to music again”) could just as easily reflect his fans’ feelings about the season 8 runner-up as they could Adam’s feelings about a new love relationship. If ya like it then you shoulda pressed “repeat” on it. I did! (And so did my mom!)
What do you think of the Adam Lambert FYE song leaks? (You can currently find ’em here if you haven’t heard ’em yet.) Are you surprised that it already cracked the iTunes top 10 yesterday, and hit No. 1 on the iTunes pop chart? Which is your favorite snippet? Least favorite? Which one surprised you most? Head on down to the comments section and share your thoughts, and if you missed it, check out my take on the Kris Allen snippets as well. (Oh, and because I can’t finish a blog post without saying it, follow me on Twitter @EWMichaelSlezak!)
Image Credit: Craig DeCristo