The Jury is Out on Adam Lambert as AI Judge
There’s a pesky little rumor floating about all over the internet, newscasts, and print media that supposes that American Idol producers are negotiating with Adam Lambert to replace Simon Cowell as judge on the show after Cowell leaves at the end of this season. And as is usually the case with pesky rumors and contagious diseases, one can rarely pin down their original source, yet they spread with alarming replication. This rumor is spreading like the flu in a middle school classroom.
Who floated this rumor? American Idol? Are they courting Adam Lambert and hoping the response to the rumor is positive? Positive enough to get him to sign his name in glittery ink on the dotted line?
Could it be Adam’s management, or possibly Adam himself? Maybe Adam is desirous of filling the seat of the man whose standing ovation lent sway to the future of his own career. Could Adam be putting feelers out to his fanbase to gauge their reaction?
Or is the rumor the brainchild of a rabid tabloid press that banks on the certainty of the golden goose that is Adam Lambert?
No matter the source, the subject makes for lively and revealing discussion around the dinner table or internet message board, the latter likely being a rich and revealing source for the-powers-that-be to mine the state of public opinion. What will they find there?
No doubt a game is being played here. If the rumor is true, it’s a game with high stakes.
So let’s play the game. Let’s assume the rumor is true. What effect could Adam replacing Simon Cowell as a judge on American Idol have on his career? Is it a win for him or a losing game?
On the one hand, Adam is engaging, articulate, smart, charming, witty, personable, funny, insightful, charismatic and handsome. He brings a huge presence to any place he hangs his hat. He’d be sheer pleasure to watch each week. He proved in his stint as mentor to the contestants during Elvis week that he has what it takes to discern their strengths and weaknesses, gleaned from over 10 years of stage performing. He also proved he can tell it like it is with the candor of a Simon, but laced with the friendliness, kindness and supportive spirit of a Paula. He’s developing a poise and polish that sets a fine example of how a star should conduct himself in the public eye. He has a wonderfully contagious confidence. And he’s a ratings magnet. He would bring all that to the judge’s chair that will be vacant come season’s end.
Yes, he would make an excellent judge. And fans of American Idol, the contestants, the other judges, and the producers of AI, would all reap great benefit from his consent to fill that role.
But what benefit, aside from monetary gain and increased notoriety, would Adam stand to gain from this?
Adam Lambert is poised on the edge of what many believe will be a career of stratospheric proportions. Paula Abdul predicted he would be “iconic”. His first North American tour, aptly named The Glam Nation Tour, was recently announced to take place this summer, and as his first solo concerts proved, will sell out. Just today, his current single, Whataya Want From Me, broke into the top 10 on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart at number 10 and is approaching platinum status in sales. His singles are charting in the top ten in several countries, his album platinum in Singapore and double platinum in Canada. His WWFM music video placed in the top 3 of VH1’s Top 20 Countdown for several weeks, taking the # 1 spot for 5 of those. He embarks today on a European promo tour as his album releases in the UK and word is they are waiting for him with baited breath. The list of his successes continues to increase at the speed of a shooting star.
So, is this the right time, just as his star is rising high, for Adam to commit to a gig that will plant him as firmly in terra firma as will a judge’s role on a reality show? Even the reality show that started it all? Shouldn’t the man his brother Neil dubbed as Glittery Alien from the Planet Fierce keep sparkling up there among the stars above the Earth? The weather has been mighty fine up there and the atmosphere suits him.
Adam Lambert doesn’t need American Idol to do him any favors by handing him a cushy job with a big paycheck, by planting his derriere in a seat more suited to a music mogul than a singing superstar space alien. But maybe American Idol needs someone like Adam to stay afloat. Without Simon and Paula and the fans that loved and hated them, without the excitement Adam brought to season 8, and the lackluster of season 9, American Idol may be starting to sink, and reaching out to Adam Lambert as a life preserver.
But can Adam plug the holes and keep it afloat? Is the risk worth taking? Does Adam need to take it? Or is it American Idol that needs a fresh new rising star like Adam Lambert to keep its leaky ship from sinking? And if the ship sinks anyway, Adam could be setting himself up to take the blame. His detractors will surely gather to cast it on him. Why should he take that on?
Another thing for Adam to consider is the effect this could have on his Rockstar image. No matter how many concerts he plays or albums he releases, watching him twice a week for months, sitting in a chair pronouncing thumbs up or down for each contestant’s performance, trading rehearsed quips with Ryan Seacrest, could render him too familiar and passé. Some will say he's there due to a struggling career, as many reality show judges are. And if he does replace Simon there may be pressure for him to play the bad guy. That might not fare so well for him with his fans who value his sweet, kind, generous nature.
Asking Adam to be a judge in a reality show at this point in his career would be like asking Michael Jackson to do the same just after his Off the Wall album came out and revealed his amazing and unique gifts, or Celine Dion just after her debut album. Adam’s album, For Your Entertainment, may not compare to the likes of those artists, having been rushed into production as all post Idol albums are, but the potential it has revealed in its artist IS comparable, and the star quality Adam exudes as an entertainer is almost universally acknowledged to be the stuff superstars are made of. It's just absurd to even imagine him settling for the cheap notoriety of the reality TV show world and the dust that would gather on his glitter, when he is right on the cusp of true greatness. It would be like setting a rare diamond in gold plate or clipping the wings of an exotic, brilliantly colored bird. Adam has the potential to be one of the GREAT ones, to soar to the highest heights, if he makes wise decisions. If he takes this earthy gig, he may never attain to that level of stratospheric iconic greatness that legends are made of, and the world will be a lot less glittery for the loss.
Ok, so maybe the rumor IS false. I can tell you of one author who will be very relieved. She's made her case. Now it goes to the jury. That's you. Vote in my poll below and give your verdict.
Read my update to this article addressing Adam's subsequent denial of this rumor. He discusses many subjects, including Lady Gaga, his Glam Nation tour, his worst fear and much more in a live video webchat.