Adam Lambert’s 2016 Breakthrough

Things are looking up for Adam Lambert, in probably his busiest year to-date, as he is finally apparently transitioning into a permanent celebrity fixture independent of his role on American Idol. Here is the list:

  1. Adam just signed with a UK modeling agency. It’s about time.
  2. Adam is judging the next season of X Factor Australia (after “Ghost Town” reached #2 for 2 weeks there following a well-received performance on the Australian version of “The Voice”).
  3. Adam is playing Eddie on an upcoming remake of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.”
  4. Adam recently released two non-album singles, “Can’t Go Home” and “Welcome to the Show.” While neither has been a major international smash, (or much of a hit in the US), “Can’t Go Home” has had some success in Germany, while the new music video for “Welcome to the Show” has been getting quite a bit of buzz (35 articles show up in a Google News search, and 0.5M youtube views in its first 3 days — competitive with other recent Adam Lambert releases “Ghost Town” [which was an international hit], and “Another Lonely Night” [which was not]). Is the music video the first step of a full promotion campaign to US radio?
  5. Adam featured vocals alongside Mary J Blige, Jason Derulo, Britney Spears, Tyler Glenn, Selena Gomez, Halsey, Ty Herndon, Imagine Dragons, Juanes, Jennifer Lopez, the Trans Chorus of Los Angeles, Kacey Musgraves, MNEK, Alex Newell, P!nk, Prince Royce, Nate Ruess, RuPaul, Troye Sivan, Jussie Smollett, Gwen Stefani, and Meghan Trainor, and Mary Lambert (quick shout-out: who just released a super-cute and probably under-appreciated new music video about her love for her dog and her girlfriend), in charity single “Hands,” to raise money for survivors of the Orlando nightclub massacre.
  6. Adam has “The Original High Tour” PLUS more tour dates with Queen + Adam Lambert.
  7. Adam is apparently already working on his fourth studio album, and he is doing it with hitmakers Max Martin and Shellback.
  8. Adam has been featured in major recent advertising campaigns by Macy’s and Oreo.
  9. Adam was the biggest-earning American Idol alum of 2015 with $10M (largely due to touring with Queen). With all of his projects this year, coupled with more Queen tour dates, Adam could see an even bigger paycheck in the wings.
  10. Oh, yeah. Also, somehow, Adam has basically become the token gay of country music, despite having never released a country single. Adam performed “Girl Crush” alongside Leona Lewis at the CMT awards last year on December 2nd. Now, he has been nominated for a CMT award for “Performance of the Year” for that performance. Either he is the token gay, or country music misinterpreted the performance as the first successful case of conversion therapy.

All of this follows Adam’s true post-Idol breakthrough success with “Ghost Town,” which the New York Times said was “perhaps his best single to date,” before it went on to sell over 1 million copies worldwide (including half a million in the United States), charting in dozens of countries, and reaching the upper rungs of several major music markets (#2 in Australia, #11 in Germany, #1 in Poland, and top five in Russia [of all places!]). Yes, “Whataya Want From Me” was legitimately a bigger international hit, and “If I Had You” was at least a bigger hit in the United States.  But, both of those singles were released in the afterglow of American Idol. Typically, artists have their strongest sales with their first project after the talent show — then they slowly fade away to obscurity.

After 2012’s Trespassing, a person could have been forgiven for wondering if that was what was happening to Adam Lambert. The initial sales bump was just enough to give Adam the first ever #1 album by an openly gay male artist, but the singles largely flopped, and album sales dropped like a rock. The media talked less and less about Adam, despite an album that was chock full of what I would consider some of the best music that Adam has ever made. To some extent, that isn’t just me, either. Billboard wrote a 2015 cover article explaining why music aficionados should give Trespassing a second glance, saying “The majority of the album is pure kinetic energy, with Lambert delivering its choruses rapidly and squeezing over-the-top sexuality into every tawdry syllable.”

“Ghost Town” was Adam’s breakthrough single. It a sleeper hit with a long life, whose success was driven by its own catchiness. And the fact that two of pop music’s biggest hitmakers (Max Martin and Shellback) are still working with Adam Lambert for his next project bodes well for his future. But stacked up next to everything else that Adam Lambert has going on this year, it is just one sign among many that Adam has become a permanent fixture, and that he has finally outgrown his origins on American Idol.


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Peter Daines is a law student at Georgetown University Law Center. His interests include studying foreign languages, watching and predicting events in politics and the music industry, and searching fruitlessly for the meaning of life.

12 thoughts on “Adam Lambert’s 2016 Breakthrough”

  1. So now, maybe, all media will stop linking his name with ‘American Idol runner-up’ in any article they write about him? It’s funny because in many European articles he is called ‘American Idol winner’, hee hee, guess they just can’t fathom that he didn’t win. This kind, humble, compassionate man is so insanely talented


  2. No need for a preamble of American Idol … Adam Lambert… 7 years have passed and Adam is doing what he loves to do Entertain. Long lasting careers are for those with true talent and Adam has what it takes to be around for a very long time in the global entertainment industry.


  3. American Idol was the springboard, one might say, although Adam Lambert planted himself firmly in the music firmament since childhood, faithful to his art and vision from musical theater to garage band, sessions, cruise ship work, working and learning, and honing a craft he has cleaved to and never abandoned. His musical odyssey was launched way before AI, but became more evident with it. I appreciate your thorough chronicle of Adam’s career highlights, as not everyone is so knowledgeable. Thanks from this true Glambert.


  4. I believe he left Idol behind the minute that season was over. His insane talent was far too much for that show…you didn’t mention he was the ONLY western artist asked to perform in the finale of The Voice China in 2013 to 500 MILLION viewers, yes you heard me; International Male Artist of the Year China 2013, many more accolades from across the pond
    He’s one in a billion, as Dr Brian May of Queen has stated many times


  5. Adam is amazing and deserves all the success in the world. I’ve been to both his solo shows and the performances with Queen. So much energy, so much joy. Watching his interaction with Roger Taylor and Brian May is mind boggling. They have become such a well oiled machine on stage yet no backing track, no lip synching, Adam improvising and making rest of the band laugh. On his own, same thing, just honest to God talent on display.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Thank you for the synopsis. Glamberts everywhere have been tallying these achievements but for the general public a nice timeline to show what we already know. That Adam is incredibly talented, handsome and busy. I’m waiting for the day he is a household name like he should be. Ever a fan, adoring of all things Adam Lambert!!!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Adam lambert what can I say !Always knew he’d be a star one day the best voice iv heard in a long time .It’s a pity the UK don’t play his music much .I for one don’t get it they play so much rubbish and they don’t play aadams music .Hope that’s going to change from know on 💖him


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