Entertainment & Arts

Adam Lambert: Ready to rock the UK

Adam Lambert
Image caption Adam Lambert was the runner-up on American Idol in 2009

Adam Lambert first came to the world's attention in 2009 when he was a runner-up on American Idol. Known for his flamboyant style and vast vocal range, the singer is beginning his assault on the UK.

Historically, contestants from American Idol have not managed to break this side of the Atlantic, with the exception being the first winner, Kelly Clarkson.

Lambert's hoping to change that with the release of his second album, Trespassing.

The record went straight to the top of the US Billboard chart when it was released last month and US media made much of Lambert being the first openly gay artist to top the chart.

"The media's more obsessed with it than most people," the singer says.

"I understand why it is a very sensitive topic - the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) community is in the middle of essentially a civil-rights movement.

"I consider it a privilege to be as visible as I am because I'm not necessarily the example of what a gay person is, but I am an example of being comfortable with it and not letting it get in the way.

"One of the great things about that milestone is now there is someone who is commercially viable that's open about [being gay]. It creates hope and proves a point to all the haters that say it's not possible, but it does seem to be a hang up for a lot of consumers."

Vocal gymnastics

The singer already has a devoted following of fans - affectionately known as Glamberts - in the UK thanks to Idol, and is hoping Trespassing will earn him more.

Lambert says the album is more mature than his first effort, the 2009 release, For Your Entertainment - even the cover artwork takes on a sophisticated style.

Image caption Lambert is known for showing off his wide vocal range during performances

The singer also had more input the second time around, co-writing almost all the songs with the likes of Pharrell Williams, Bruno Mars and Katy Perry hitmaker Dr Luke to give him a mix of retro, funk and industrial tracks.

"I've grown up a lot in the past couple of years," says the 30-year-old.

"This whole lifestyle: Idol, having my first album and touring - it forces you to face certain things and it definitely caused me to mature.

"After my tour I had time to stay at home, be with my boyfriend and hang out with friends and that brought me down to earth and helped me write music from a more relaxed place."

Lambert also shows off less of his vocal gymnastics on the album and although there are moments, he says the record is "more about telling a story now".

Getting noticed

Before Idol, Lambert landed his first proper job working on a cruise ship, where he learnt "very specific things I didn't learn on other jobs".

"Like learning how to perform for a geriatric audience that's falling asleep but it can also feel like the most lovely holiday at your grandparents house."

The singer then spent six years honing his craft in the theatre and although he was cast in high profile musicals, Lambert began to feel discouraged after continually landing the understudy role.

It was then he decided he would audition for Idol in the hope it would get him noticed by record companies, despite the stigma attached to being the product of a TV talent show.

"It all comes down to money and it costs a lot to put an artist's first album out - record companies are not going to take a gamble if there's not a sure return," he says.

"I weighed the pros and cons and figured I should audition because this show could help me break through - and it did. I think it is possible to break the stigma, but it takes a little extra work."

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Media captionAdam Lambert: 'I can't replace Freddie Mercury'

As well as his solo material, Lambert is also known for his collaborations with British rock royalty, Queen.

They first met on American Idol in 2009, when Queen appeared as guests on the show to perform with Lambert and fellow finalist Kris Allen.

They joined up again last November for a special performance at the MTV Europe Music Awards where the band were honoured with a global icon award.

'Balancing act'

So impressed were they with the singer, they asked him to tour with them this summer as the band's frontman.

Lambert acknowledges there is an expectation and pressure that goes with the gig - and for someone who was known for "making a song his own" on Idol, he is aware he can't take too many liberties.

Image caption Lambert will be touring with Queen this summer

"I'm up there with the people who wrote these songs and I'm their guest so I intend to treat this opportunity with respect and dignity," he says. "I don't want to let anybody down, but it's also important for me not to mimic and a bad impression of Freddie Mercury would be really tacky.

"It's a balancing act - interpreting it for my own voice, but not straying too far from the original and not copying it."

However Lambert doesn't intend on fronting the band on a long-term basis - and says that even if Brian May and Roger Taylor asked him to do it permanently, he wouldn't.

"I have my own songs and album I believe in and my own path to chart," he says.

"And I think they know that so I don't think they would ask me anyway."

Trespassing is out on 2 July. Adam Lambert is on tour with Queen at London's Hammersmith Apollo on 11, 12 and 14 July.

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