By Michael Slezak
October 19, 2009 at 03:34 PM EDT

Listening to Adam Lambert’s “Time for Miracles” is kind of like watching a volcano on the brink of eruption. There’s a lot of bubbling and buildup and anticipation, all leading to the point where things finally explode in a torrent of heat and magma and glory notes. That moment arrives at the 3:30 mark, as Adam exits the bridge and tackles the chorus once more (with feeling), riffing magnificently over the melody as a tidal wave of strings swells up around him. And while the Adam-volcano parallel is an obvious one to make — after all, there’s no use denying the American Idol season 8 runner-up possesses a voice that’s its own uncontainable force of nature — the epic scope and execution of “Time for Miracles” (which hit Belgian iTunes over the weekend, and is embedded below, courtesy of YouTube, or if RCA yanks it, you can listen to it here) never seems forced or ridiculous. Maybe it’s because you expect a track that’s rumored to serve as the closing-credits anthem for the season’s big-budget disaster flick 2012 to have the sort of industrial strength to stand up on its own after two hours of hurricanes and earthquakes and fireballs and global devastation. Or maybe it’s because despite the fact that there’s a whole lot of production going on in “Time for Miracles” — I’m especially partial to the Asian-inspired instrumentation that pops up at the 1:30 mark (coming out of the first chorus) — the melody is so immediate and so simple that (if you’re really, really brave or un-self-conscious) you can sing along after only one or two listens.Oh, sure, it’s as cheesy as a grilled Velveeta sandwich, but who’d say no to that orange, melted goodness right about now? (Side note: What’s for lunch?)

What’s surprising about “Time for Miracles,” though, is its decidedly old-fashioned vibe. I’ve heard a lot of folks compare the track to Aerosmith’s “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” (from 1998’s Armageddon), and while I’d argue that comparison has more to do with disaster-flick association than musical similarity, I do get the sense that if “Time for Miracles” had been written, say, 20 years ago, its power-ballad-on-steroids sound would’ve made it an obvious choice for Steven Tyler & Co. Lyrically, “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” and “Time for Miracles” might be second cousins, too. The opening three lines of both tracks tap into the kind of romantic longing and “I’m conjuring up your smile” sentiments that are byproducts of true love, spatial separation, and/or insomnia. Compare:

“I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing”: I could stay awake just to hear you breathing/ Watch you smile while you are sleeping/ While you’re far away and dreaming.

“Time for Miracles”: It’s late night at night and I can’t sleep/ Missing you just runs too deep/ Oh I can’t breathe thinking of your smile.

The question remains, however, if two decades from now, “Time for Miracles” will be ingrained in the minds of pop-radio listeners the way Aerosmith’s Armageddon theme still is today. And really, that’s going to come down to two things: whether or not Top 40 radio embraces the Glambert sound, and whether or not Adam can capture the imaginations of folks who don’t sacrifice every Tuesday and Wednesday night from January to May on the altar of Fox’s ubiquitous singing competition. The biggest challenge for Adam, as far as I see it, is there really isn’t anyone quite like him on modern radio — a male singer with a monster-truck-sized voice who isn’t afraid to bring the bombast and the drama to match it. But I’m guessing that Adam — with his vampires-vs.-aliens chic and booming instrument — will be impossible for even the least adventurous radio programmer to ignore. Listen for yourself and weigh in by voting in our poll, and sharing your own review in the comments section below. (And for all my Idol news and musings, follow me on Twitter @EWMichaelSlezak.)

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