'American Idol' bits: Adam Lambert interview (Tabernacle, March 8), my Power top 10

By RODNEY HO/ rho@ajc.com, originally filed Thursday, March 3, 2016

Adam Lambert is aware of fans who say he has "toned down" his solo tour this round, which is coming to the Tabernacle in Atlanta March 8. But he questions that description.

“It’s just taken a different direction," Lambert said in an interview last month. "It’s still me. I’m still the same guy. I have my instincts. They’re never going to change. Some of the references and inspirations have shifted. Six years ago, I was really in love with glam rock from the 1970s with really outrageous outfits. I had sort of a campy delivery."

But nowadays, his look is more refined. "As an artist," he said, "I’ve evolved. I’m more based in reality than fantasy now. In terms of production and visuals, this is the biggest show I’ve done on my own. We’ve worked hard to put together great lighting and video with a strong sense of fashion. It’s pulling from different areas. It’s contemporary.”

As for his fashion sense, he said making more money makes a difference. "I don't have to shop on Melrose Ave. in Los Angeles for wannabe rock star clothes. I can actually buy rock star clothing that rock stars are making. I've always loved fashion, I've always loved clothing. Before, I felt like I was sort of in costume. Now, it's about actual streetwear."

Forbes recently said Lambert made more money last year than any other "Idol" alum, even more than Carrie Underwood or Kelly Clarkson. The magazine estimates he pulled in a career high $10 million. Lambert didn't dispute the dollar amount. "I may have generated that number but I didn't walk home with it. There's a whole lot of overhead involved."

For the past four years, Lambert has also been the primary substitute lead singer for the late great Freddie Mercury of Queen. He splits time between touring as a solo artist and as part of Queen. At the Tabernacle, expect one Queen cover. "I think at this point, not doing one would be robbing the audience. I've been doing 'Another One Bites the Dust.' Who knows? Maybe I'll change it up. Queen has so many hits."

He said it's been a huge honor to work with the classic rock band. "At first, I was intimidated. I didn't know if the fans would accept me or if I'd be capable of pulling it off. Once I got in and rehearsed and got in front of a few audiences, we realized it was working. People liked it. This has been an amazing opportunity. It pushes me. Modern pop music is very different form what pop was 30-40 years ago stylistically."

Lambert said his latest album "The Original High" was purposely different from Queen musically but he said Queen helped inform his own music. "My goal with my music is to move forward," he said. "I did have [Queen guitarist] Brian May play on 'Lucy.' He lays down a scorching solo. With Queen, I also got to tap into real truth and find that Freddie was writing about things that were quite deep even if they came off as playful and campy. They were real issues. So I made sure my album talked about real stuff, real personal moments."

Lambert is clearly influenced by David Bowie, who passed in January. He performed a cover of "Let's Dance" at a Clive Davis Grammy party soon after Bowie's death.

"My father was a big Bowie fan," he said. "I remember pulling out 'Diamond Dogs.' That first track 'Future Legend' scared the hell out of me and my brother. It was so spooky. As a kid, I was dressing up, make believe. I was big about Halloween... I was very very intrigued by Bowie. Through the years growing up and falling in love with classic rock and doing my music research of the past, I was blown away by all the stuff he did and the messages he sent out and his artistry and visually the stuff he did. And he's such an icon fashion wise. He was very much ahead of his time. That's why there was such an outpouring of love from contemporary artists. He was a provocateur and the guy who shook things up for a whole generation ahead of him."

Given Lambert's international following, he has lost count how many countries he's visited. "It's funny," he said. "I've not been to Spain. I'm going there this summer with Queen. I want to go to Egypt and see the Pyramids. I want to go to Mykonos Greece. Those are the top of my list."

Lambert said he will appear on "Idol" by the time the series ends in five weeks.

"Obviously, that show was a huge game changer for me. I'd been doing theater until then. Professionally, I was itching to make a cross over to being a recording artist and a pop star. I didn't think it would happen so I tried out for 'Idol.' If I didn't, I'd be kicking myself. I couldn't believe it worked!"

He still feels lucky he came in second season eight. "I'm not typical of what the music industry seeks out. I'm not the typical artist they look for. Getting on TV and sharing what I do and what I'm capable with to the public was sort of my way of getting in."


Adam Lambert

8 p.m. Tuesday, March 8

$36.50-$70 before fees


152 Luckie Street NW, Atlanta



For more than 12 years, Fox PR has sent me and other reporters an "Idol" sheet with stickers of the finalists and X's to place over their faces as they get eliminated. I only have the past three or four on my desk. Here's the last one and my power 10 with Dalton on top. CREDIT: Rodney Ho/rho@ajc.com

My Power 10 shifted a bit after last Thursday's performances. Lee Jean, Avalon Young and Olivia Rox all disappointed while Tristan, Sokina and MacKenzie impressed so here are my new rankings.

1- Dalton Rapattoni (up from 2). I have moved Dalton ahead of Olivia after last Thursday. Although I thought Dalton picked an especially wimpy tune last week, he didn't hurt himself. He's got the look and feel of a potential winner.

2- Olivia Rox (down from 1) She's still a front runner but her first live performance was disappointing. Her voice seemed like it was swallowed up by the mix and it simply was a poor song choice. So she loses her top spot.

3- La'Porsha Renae (same) Her commanding take on "Diamonds" merited a standing ovation and praise form Kelly Clarkson. She could very well win this.

4- MacKenzie Bourg (up from 5) - He outdid Lee Jean in the Ed Sheeran singer-songwriter department. He's more mature and emotes better.

5- Trent Harmon (up from 7) - He restrained his theatrical delivery but still brought the intensity and stage presence. He's rising to the occasion.

6- Sonika Vaid (up from 8) - Surprise! She showed some life on stage and gave a commanding performance along with that amazing voice.

7- Avalon Young (down from 6) - Big downer last week. She seemed uncomfortable this week for the first time ever. Clearly, a bad song pick for her.

8- Tristan McIntosh (up from 11) - Although the judges weren't too keen on her song pick, I saw her confidence is growing. But she still may be in trouble tonight.

9- Lee Jean (down from 4) - I'm a huge fan but he keeps picking very similar songs and not adding fresh nuances to his performances. His inability to shake things up may be his downfall and that could have something to do with his age.

10- Gianna Isabella (up from 14 but that's only because it was a top 14 last week) - She is 100% going home tonight during a double elimination. She shouldn't have been here in the first place. Period.



Each time I post about "Idol," I will include a bit of nostalgia from my desk.

Here's an old cover of "Entertainment Weekly" from March 28, 2003:

This was from season two of "American Idol" when the show was careening to the top of the ratings. CREDIT: Rodney Ho/ rho@ajc.com

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About the Author

Rodney Ho
Rodney Ho
Rodney Ho covers radio and television for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.