Our beloved Brew.

Our beloved Brew.
R.I.P. Big guy.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

American Idol Runner-up Adam Lambert Stages a Huge Error in Judgment

Adam Lambert, who I think is a rare and gifted talent really blew it during his performance at the American Music Awards and fell as flat as I predict his recently released album will. His stage antics proved to be a misguided attempt at gaining attention for his political and social views as well as his sexual orientation rather than his singing.

As part of my marriage vows it seems I am required to watch American Idol with my wife or risk her scorn. If either of us are not at home on a night the show airs, Tivo takes over, and we watch it together the first chance we get. From the first time I heard his voice in auditions, I picked him to be in the top three. Lambert can sing. He's also got charm, polish and character - something the other contestants in the '09 edition didn't exhibit as well. As the show progressed from week to week, he appeared to be a man against children in terms of his talent. He is one of my three all-time favorite contestants.

As a brand strategist, I desperately hope he seeks better career counsel. Let's start with the recently released album. There really isn't a single song on it that does his voice or personality justice. This was an album that was produced for middle of the road. It's as if Baskin Robbins produced it and decided to offer 31 Flavors of vanilla.

At the American Music Awards, Lamberts risqué behavior including simulating sex, and kissing one of his male band members really distracted from and cheapened his performance. I guess, if he is to be believed and his behavior was a "spur of the moment" response, then he isn't as mature as one would hope. I doubt this was anything but a calculated attempt to "steal" the buzz from the show for the following morning's TV news.

Lambert defended his actions by claiming he believes in artistic expression. What he did had nothing to do with artistry. It was all about expressing his sexual orientation and an attempt to advance his "bad boy" image. In the process, I think he did a disservice to gays everywhere who fought hard to win the level of public and commercial acceptance he now enjoys.

His claim that people didn't complain when Madonna did it is shallow and weak. It seems that Lambert is attempting to follow in Lady Gaga's footsteps, someone he has professed to admire, for audacious her behavior. The difference is Lady Gaga isn't half the talent he is; she's just a stage act. Lambert can sing, and shouldn't dilute his gift with distracting behavior. Is he afraid to let his singing speak for itself? The first rule of branding is authenticity. Be yourself, Adam. The second rule of branding is consistency. Lambert can't bounce from portraying someone who is dedicated to honing his craft, to someone who is swept up in his "if it feels good, I do it" persona and expect to find long term following.

This inappropriate stage behavior and a weak first recording suggest his leap into stardom has been more of a misstep and may require a "do-over." Lambert has so much talent, stage presence and star potential, one can only hope he gets his head screwed on straight (not the best choice of words) and invests as much effort in taking his talent to the limits as he does his sexuality.