Only a select few American Idol
alums—and even fewer in recent years—have had the good fortune of finding continued success outside the show. Adam Lambert may have lost the battle of Idol
's eighth season to overall winner Kris Allen, but he's clearly won the war, continuing to find success with his post-reality TV albums and singles, while presiding over one of pop music's most fervent followings. He even made a little history on the charts earlier this year, with an album we dubbed the finest of 2012's first half
Lambert proved with his first album that he was capable of being a pop star in his own right, scoring a pair of crossover hits in 2010 with "If I Had You" and "Whataya Want From Me." The songs showcased his incredible voice, though not a ton of his personality, being written by the likes of Pink, Shellback and Max Martin.
Before getting to his second album, Lambert tantalized fans with a three-song performance at the European Music Awards with legendary classic rock band Queen. Rumors abounded that Lambert would become the group's full-time lead singer, replacing the late great Freddie Mercury, though to date, the two acts have only played select dates together.
He also made peace with the American Music Awards—where he was the subject of some controversy two years prior after seeming to simulate oral sex onstage—by presenting a OneRepublic performance. "Adam Lambert is a friend of ours," testified AMA EP Larry Klein. "He's talented and I like everything about him."
Later in the year, Adam announced that his second solo album would be dropping sometime in early 2012. Lambert soon revealed some of the collaborators he was working with on the album, including Bruno Mars, Dr. Luke, and perhaps most unexpectedly/tantalizingly, Pharrell Williams of The Neptunes.
The album's first single was "Better Than I Know Myself," a heartfelt ballad that garnered mostly positive reviews, but peaked at just #76 on the Hot 100.
The single turned out to be poor preparation for the album that followed. Trespassing
, released in May, remains one of the year's most delectable pop LPs, a seductive mixture of stomping disco-funk (the Pharrell-produced title track and "Kickin' In," some of the producer's best work in years), stone-cold power-balladry ("Broken English," "Outlaws of Love"), and sleazy, strutting synth-pop ("Shady Love," "Naked Love"). With Lambert a co-writer on many of the albums tracks, Trespassing
showed much more of the artist's personality than debut For Your Entertainment
, and made good on all the promise Lambert showed on Idol
all those years back.
The album sold well enough in its first week of release to debut at #1 on the Billboard 200
. Not only was it Lambert's first chart-topper, it was the first-ever album by an openly gay artist to hit #1.
In addition, Lambert also made some headlines as a rumored replacement judge
for Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler on Idol
. The rumors have yet to develop into something more, but Adam has expressed his excitement at the prospect. "I would love that. I would jump at the chance," he told Capital FM. "I think it would be really exciting to be sitting at a judging panel and trying to help people reach their dreams."
Even if he doesn't make it to the Idol
judging table, Lambert should be gracing TV sets this fall anyway, as a guest star on ABC Family's hit teen mystery Pretty Little Liars
, performing two songs and co-starring in a scene with young star Lucy Hale. (Watch your back on set, Adam—them girls is trubble.
With all his progress artistically in the few years that he's spent as a pop star, we're excited to see where Lambert's career goes from here. Plus, now that he's gone platinum blonde, there should be a whole new William Zabka-esque dark side for him to explore on future releases. We can't wait.