Pop music’s been pretty gay for a while now, especially pop male stars.  Look up video of Elton John performing in a sequined baseball uniform at Dodger’s Stadium back in the 70’s if you don’t believe me.  Hell you could even go as far back as Liberace.  The funny part is female fans eat it up, and I do mean FUNNY because snarky assholes like me love to poke fun at this.

The fun poking isn’t as funny when we find out the singers are actually gay though.  The humor lies in the pop starts looking, dressing, and singing in an extremely gay way while still putting themselves out there for chicks.  When I was in high school I laughed my ass off at N’Sync with their frosted tips, faded denim, and sleeveless shirts dancing like they’re in A Chorus Line about how they’re gonna rock you girl, and I was straight up bewildered when girls actually went for it.

So when Lance Bass came out of the closet, I felt like an ass.  I was like “it’s not funny if you’re ACTUALLY gay!”  This is why we rightfully mock guys like Tom Cruise.  We don’t mock them because “oh ha ha, they’re secretly gay”.  We mock them because they act so obviously gay but still pretend they like chicks!  Tom Cruise has launched $100 million lawsuits against reporters that’ve claimed he’s gay.  Think about how strapped for cash you are in this recession.  And this guy is willing to invest nine figure sums just to prove to the world he likes chicks!  I’m straight-as-an-arrow but if I had to cough up $100 million to prove it, then point me to that prison shower because it ain’t worth it.

So naturally I felt like a shmuck when former American Idol poster boy Clay Aiken came out, because I made PLENTY of gay jokes about him.  I can still tease him for his crappy music and the OBVIOUS plastic surgery he’s had (nowdays his face looks like a Mission: Impossible mask), but not for the gay thing.

And since Adam Lambert has already come out of the closet, this puts him at a disadvantage.

I should state for the record I don’t really watch American Idol, at least not regularly.  Usually I tune in to see the freaks that show up for the early auditions and tune out after that, because like many on the internet I survive on Schadenfreude.  So I missed Lambert’s performances completely.  I even missed the recent show where he full on kissed one of his male backing dancers.  When I heard he’d been banned from Good Morning America the next day I knew he had his gold record in the bag, because nothing moves units like controversy.

And if any of you are debating whether he should’ve been banned or not, you’ve been caught in the publicity web.  Weep at the beauty and horror of it all.  Madonna would be proud.

Since I’ve also skipped the albums of every other American Idol winner this would make Lambert my first.  What I DO know about pop stars though is that they’re only as good as the people they work with, and Adam got a laundry list of producers for his debut.  This is par the course for pop star debuts though, and often it can lead to some painful moments while the artist tries to find their voice.  Don’t believe me?  Look up Avril Lavigne’s attempt at rap on her debut.  Ugh.

Opening track “Music Again” is written by former Darkness singer Justin Hawkins, digging himself up from the “Where Are They Now?” black hole to contribute a song.  I want to say this sounds like Queen, but it’s The Darkness so it sounds like The Darkness trying to SOUND like Queen.  And of top of that is Adam Lambert trying to sound like The Darkness trying to sound like Queen (I just got winded writing that).

“For Your Entertainment” is written by Katy Perry collaborator Dr. Luke (excuse me while I shake off douche chills of “Raditude”) and makes a pretty good manifesto for Adam Lambert’s sound.  Has a pretty good beat and chorus, not much to say other than that.

“Whataya Want From Me” is the first ballad, and the first track that feels kind of average.  Written by Pink and produced by pop music mogul Max Martin, it feels like something the latter could’ve sold to any pop star on the market and nobody would’ve been able to tell the difference.  Even has the sappy strings and anthemic chorus.  What-freaking-ever.

“Strut” is produced by American Idol’s non-crazy (and thus boring) female judge Kara DioGuardi, and it certainly lives up to it’s title with it’s insistent pounding beat.  Too bad there’s not much else to the song.  Not bad, but not very unique.  Right around here is where I see the filler starting to pile on.  Next time don’t let Bam Bam near your drum machine.

“Soaked” is written by none other than my beloved Matt Bellamy of Muse, and it sure lives up to his everything-and-the-kitchen-sink style.  Opens up with an orchestra, piano, and pounding guitars.  Since both Bellamy and Lambert are joined by their love of Queen, the grandiose production and singing is apt.  Lambert shows off his range here and I hate to admit I was impressed by his voice.  What can I say, the dude can sing.

“Sure Fire Winners” has more crunching guitars and synth beats.  When Lambert signs about his baby clothes “were leather and lace”, you can’t help but think he ain’t just whistling Dixie.  Rock guitars and synths seem Adam’s default at this point, not much to say.  Moving on.

“A Loaded Smile” is written by Linda Perry, who frequently collaborates with Pink and Christina Aguilera (actually isn’t this the same chord progression as “Beautiful”?  I swear to God).  Lambert is crooning over phased guitars and actual drums for once.  I dug the ambience and Adam can remain smooth even when not belting it out.  Nice change of pace.

“If I Had You” is another Max Martin piece with a beat straight off an NES console.  Like “Strut” it has a stupidly simple beat that insists upon itself.  Nothing special.

“Pick U Up” has a pretty good chorus and Adam belts it best he can.  I could make some mention about Rivers Cuomo of Weezer co-writing this song and how he seems to be ingratiating himself more in the mainstream pop world, but I can’t go there yet. That sitar from “Love is the Answer” still haunts my dreams…

“Fever” is written by Lady Gaga, and hoo boy does it sound like one of her songs, right down to the teasing innuendo laden lyrics.  That’s about all I can say about this one, it sounds like Adam Lambert singing a Lady Gaga song.  Take from that what you will.  Though I have to mention during the bridge I thought Christina Aguilera guested, but no that wail was Lambert’s!  He should get that checked.  Forget having sex with men, that shit’s unnatural!

“Sleepwalker” has really bad swelling synths that sound like they were played on a $100 Casio.  It gets real bad when the synth choir comes in.  I’m far from against synthesizers, but at least make them sound good.  Basic ballad stuff, next song.

“Aftermath” changes the pace by removing the synths and doing just a straight up rock song (unless you count the pitch-shifted guitar).  There’s even an acoustic guitar…albeit buried in the mix and sparsely heard.  Nice to remember that actual humans played this music occasionally.

“Broken Open” is pretty subdued, that term being relative to guys like Adam Lambert.  Basically a quiet piano ballad with some sprinkling of synths.  Doesn’t have a schmaltzy chorus like the Max Martin stuff thank god, so probably the best ballad on the album (next to Matt Bellamy’s song of course.  Ah Matt…)

Despite being the last song, “Time for Miracles” was actually the first single, and appeared on the 2012 soundtrack of all things.  So since this IS the single the schmaltz is upped to 11.  I can’t help but think of John Cusack speeding away from giant fireballs when I hear this (which oddly is exactly what the video is).

So final impressions?  I hate to admit it, but I actually liked a good portion of this record.  Lambert is genuinely talented and seems to have better vision than most American Idol winners.  Like most pop singers though, anything that’s not a single is pretty forgettable and this album does get bogged down in filler.  It might do him some good if he tightened up his list of producers instead of throwing stuff against the wall hoping it’ll stick.

I recommend having Matt Bellamy write all your songs.  That’ll make ANY album kick ass.  Then again when is that NOT true?

My rating?  Pretty good.

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