Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Adam Lambert for Idol

OK, I confess. I like watching American Idol. I have ever since the 2nd season. It’s always been an evening’s entertainment while I was traveling for work. Many a Tuesday and Wednesday evening have been dedicated to watching Idol from a Hampton Inn hotel room. Come on already, I'm 57 years old--too old to be excited over this stuff.

Now I’m home and I still like watching it. It’s not just to see how acerbic Simon is going to be or how ditzy Paula will be; that’s part of it. I enjoy watching the kids perform—some of them much better than others. I like to be able to watch how some of them seem to grow week after week while others fade and yet others never seem to get much of a clue or realize that this isn’t some high school or family gathering where oversinging and being precocious are good.

So anyway, I have my favorite for the year. I have ever since Week 2 of the finals. That was the night when the guy with the weird hair and make-up blew me away with “Ring of Fire”. I doubt that anyone who remembers the original by Johnny Cash thought that this weird kid could do anything like that (if you don’t remember the original think “Walk the Line” with Joaquin Phoenix). Lambert’s version was totally original and invoked even better images of the fires of hell than Johnny Cash did.

I really got into Lambert the following week when he did Smokey Robinson’s “Tracks of my Tears”. Damn, but this kid can sing. He’s weird but he has a sense for music and melody and even better he’s an excellent singer technically. Pitch perfect. Spot-on timing. His breath control is phenomenal. I remember my high school choral director, Mr. Sherwood, and how he always insisted on 2 things—breath control and hitting a note precisely. This kid can do both of those and “Tracks of my Tears” also proved the other thing that Mr. Sherwood insisted was the hardest thing to do and that’s to sing softly. It’s far more difficult to sing soft than loud and takes even greater muscle control.

So, last night Lambert proved his gift again when he did “Born to be Wild” by Steppenwolf. But, he did his own 21st century version of it rather than an imitation of the 1967 version. Simon Cowell liked it but also said that he doubted that anyone who was a fan of the original would like this new version. Well, Simon’s wrong (what else is new). The original is an anthem of the 60’s. This new version is just that—new, different, compelling in its own way.

So, if I were going to vote (which I won’t), my vote would be for this kid. He’s going to able to sell records, sell concert tickets and make a name for himself. But, this kid can not only sing--he's a terrific performer too and that's even better.

Well, so much for my “fan rave”. I don’t watch on Wednesdays. I’ll find out who got kicked off next Tuesday. It won’t be Lambert or either of the 2 women. Probably the goofy kid who played the piano and sang off pitch with too much vibrato last night.

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