Adam Lambert is a flamboyant musician and the runner-up in Season 8 of American Idol.
Before he was in American Idol, he was doing musical theater -- he had been in the San Francisco production of Wicked, and a musical version of The Ten Commandments starring Val Kilmer as Moses. Since he wasn't signed to a record label, he was still eligible to enter, and so he did. Since he had professional-level talent and showmanship before auditioning for American Idol, he still had it after entering, and so he did well. His covers of "Mad World" are legendary despite the first one being cut off completely when the show ran over.
On the show, Lambert was known for his flamboyant mannerisms and appearance and sometimes over-the-top performing flair, requesting interesting costumes, remixed musical accompaniments and flashy lighting effects during the rehearsals for the live shows, which mostly helped him, the judges quick to recognise his showmanship. Rumours swirled about his sexual orientation and Lambert didn't outright deny the claims, but he was careful to remain in the closet until the season was over so as not to harm his chances of winning. He also drew flak because he had past professional experience, with some viewers feeling that perhaps he had an unfair advantage over the other previously-undiscovered contestants.
The show made no secret that they wanted him to win -- guest performer Katy Perry had the name "Adam Lambert" embroidered on the back of her cape during her musical number (not the one with the contestants) in the Top 3 show. Lambert himself probably was ready to go before then -- in recent seasons, getting into the Top 2 can hurt your musical career relative to a lower placing. But between his obvious talent and Danny Gokey's disaster with "Dream On" the previous week failing to leave the radar, he made runner-up.
His loss to Kris Allen shocked almost everyone who didn't vote for Kris Allen. It didn't help that some AT&T dealerships in Arkansas (Allen's home state) may have rigged some of the cell-phone voting -- not enough to make a difference in who won that season, we were assured, but probably enough to tarnish American Idol's credibility and do serious damage to the Ratings for Season 9.
Adam Lambert has released two albums since then: For Your Entertainment (his studio debut) and Take One (consisting of pre-Idol recordings). His musicianship and showmanship remain good, and he has sold better than Kris Allen. His live performances, however, are controversial because some of them were sexually provocative and filled with overt Ho Yay - Lambert has had dancers put their faces in his crotch, and has kissed the male keyboardist/guitarist of the backing band full on the mouth. This came as an unexpected shock fo the television stations who were airing the shows (most of them big awards shows like the Grammys, several with television audiences expected to include families/young children and teens) live, led to his appearances on several daytime/morning talk shows getting cancelled, and also is a double-fault with some audiences and some Standards and Practices departments. Lambert has said he does not regret his risque performance decisions, though sometimes concedes that it may have been a little much.
- For Your Entertainment (2009)
- Trespassing (2012)
- Badass Longcoat: When singing "Mad World" on American Idol.
- Break Up Song
- But Not Too Gay: Pick a random music video of his. He has more chemistry with pet snakes than with any of the guys on-screen.
- Dream Team: Lady Gaga, Orianthi, Matthew Bellamy of Muse.
- Guyliner: Became a signature of his - so much so that in the intro to the finale, Ryan Seacrest described the two finalists as "the guy next door vs. the guyliner."
- Incredibly Long Note: "Pick U Up".
- Intercourse with You: "For Your Entertainment", "Fever" and "Strut".
- Moral Guardians: Does make them mad for many a reason.
- Obligatory Bondage Song: "For Your Entertainment". If it wasn't clear enough from the lyrics, just watch the video.
- The Runner Up Takes It All: Compare his success to the season's winner Kris Allen.
- Shout-Out: While it might not be intentional, parts of the video for "Better Than I Know Myself" is reminiscent of Persona 4, including the "shadow self" with yellow eyes that seems to act like his repressed side, and the two selves merging in the end.
- Signature Song: "Whataya Want from Me".
- In spite of the fact that P!nk wrote it, and when you listen to it with that knowledge the vocals are very clearly in her style rather than his.
- Silly Love Songs
- You Are Not Alone: "Aftermath".