If you buy the hype that is Adam Lambert and dive into his debut effort For Your Entertainment expecting a Freddie Mercury or David Bowie revival, I can only imagine how disappointed you are going to be. This CD isn’t about “glam rock” or even anything defiantly gay like the CD cover may suggest. No, For Your Entertainment is a melting pot of various recognizable tracks meant for other more established artists – Mr Lambert gets plenty of sloppy seconds, to put it crudely – and a glorious revival of the New Romantics music of the 1980s.
The title track, which sounds like something written for and rejected by Britney Spears, is actually one of the weakest tracks on the CD. A better track is Aftermath, which sees Mr Lambert trying to convince the world that he is the love child of Morten Harket of A-ha during the soaring chorus that culminates in the carefully processed shriek “In the AFTERMA-AAAA-AAA-ATH!” It’s Coldplay-meets-A-ha in the haunting ballad, Broken Open, which sees Mr Lambert restraining his vocals and giving a spine-tingling performance as a result.
Meanwhile, he tries to drum up interest in the revival of the 1980s, reminding me so much of Nik Kershaw in tracks like Sleepwalker and Pick U Up, of Howard Jones in If I Had You, and of pure cheese in Music Again, a track so campy and dated that I can’t help but to embrace the shame and dance along with it.
The downside is that when Mr Lambert performs songs meant for other established artists, it really shows. It’s not his fault, I think, because his performances of these songs are actually good enough in my opinion. But it’s very obvious from just one listen to the fabulous Fever that it’s a Lady Gaga song, for example, or that Whataya Want from Me is a Pink song. It is as if those folks took one listen to those songs, realize how those songs display them at their most clichéd form, and quickly put them aside until Mr Lambert’s people come around sniffing for songs written by high-profile people to give Mr Lambert some instant cachet.
In a way, For Your Entertainment offers a brand of pastiche that appeals to me more because I’m a shameless fan of schlock and embarrassing music from the 1980s, and this one has plenty of those vibes to keep me happy.