Adam Lambert High Drama Review

“If ever there was a sonic surgeon you’d want holding a scalpel to your favourite song, it would be Adam Lambert: he knows where to cut to let his seductive style seep deep.”[1]

This is the album I always wanted Adam to make.

What made Adam Lambert the most singular and arguably most memorable Idolist ever was his extraordinary ability to see what was possible in a previously recorded hit song. And because of his impressive vocal capacity, the range of what was possible for a reworked-in-his-image version of a song was limitless. The results were week after week leaving tens of millions of viewers and a strong panel of judges regularly reacting with, “Holy %$^@! Did he just do that?

Whether it was a glammy in-your-face Born to Be Wild; a tender Tracks of My Tears (and getting a standing ovation from the Smokey Robinson); a stunning Mad World; and the WTF was that he did to Ring of Fire, Adam made everybody else’s songs feel like they were written for him.

That is what makes High Drama so compelling. After more than a decade of fulfilling Simon Cowell’s belief that in Adam, Idol had found a worldwide star, Adam has returned to what I believe is his greatest talent, interpreting and interpolating others’ songs. High Drama is no mere covers album. The range of artists he chose to take on is daunting: Culture Club, Sia, Duran Duran, Bonnie Tyler, Kings of Leon, Billie Eilish, Dinah Washington, Ann Peebles, Lana Del Rey, Pink, and Jobriath[2]. And the results of this challenge are impressive.

Many of these songs are fundamentally reshaped into new creations. And when he stays basically true to the originals, his immaculate voice draws you deeper into the song and makes you hear it more richly. The dexterity with which Adam uses his vocals from track to track is this album’s not-so-secret sauce.

The irony of High Drama is that it was Adam’s refusal to comply with RCA Record’s insistence to follow his album Trespassing with an ‘80s covers album that caused him to leave his label of five years. The vast scope of High Drama proves that RCA’s vision was too restricted but with ten more years of experience behind him, particularly in his job as the lead singer of Queen since 2014, the timing for this kind of project is much better.

I’m going to avoid recency bias by not proclaiming this to be Adam’s best work just yet. Time will tell how I feel about that. But this is a lot of fun to listen to and gets me feeling all the feels in the moment and in fond memories of his time on Idol. That’s enough for me to highly recommend High Drama.

P.S. Recency bias be damned, here are two new favorite Adam songs to add to my list: Duran Duran’s Ordinary World and Culture Club Do You Really Want to Hurt Me.

P.P.S. That time when Adam reworked Cher’s song and left her in tears.


[2] The first openly gay artist signed to a major record label.

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