Adam Lambert’s ‘For Your Entertainment’ Turns 5: Stan & Deliver
Stan & Deliver gives fans an opportunity to shake, cry and sing the praises of the albums they love from their faves.
Adam Lambert is on top of the world.
Right now, he’s out on the road, touring with legendary rock troupe Queen, dazzling crowds across the globe while working on material in the studio for his upcoming highly-anticipated third studio album.
At this point, it feels like Adam’s been an industry player for…well, forever. So, it’s almost kind of shocking to realize that it was only five years ago (November 23, 2009) when the talented crooner first made his mark, following his impressive run on American Idol, with his debut album: For Your Entertainment.
The album would quickly solidify the talented singer’s superstar status: Packed full of productions by pop’s greatest producers, including Max Martin, Dr. Luke and Ryan Tedder, the record showcased Adam’s impressive and highly dynamic theatrical vocal skills, his versatility across genres and, of course, his ability to deliver a mean hook-filled anthem or two for pop radio.
To no one’s surprise, Adam’s intensely devoted fan base, the Glambert community, came out in droves when we put out the call to celebrate the 5 year anniversary of For Your Entertainment — so much so, that in some cases, we even have two excellent contributions per song! (You guys are seriously the best.) So without further ado, read on as we all go track-by-track back in time through Adam’s stellar 2009 debut.
Name: Thachamon | Location: NYC | Twitter: @nyciloveu
1. Music Again
“Music Again,” written by Justin Hawkins and produced by Rob Cavallo, kicks off For Your Entertainment in the best way possible: This is definitely a glam rock at its best with a sweet, sugary hook: It’s fun. It’s silly. It’s happy. It’s campy. Adam showed us he’s not afraid to go glam and delivered one hell of a vocal performance.
I enjoy his layered vocals, his stratospheric falsetto and a few of his signature riffs. Yes! This track is a true glam rock throwback and it makes me “wanna listen to music again” — which is nothing short of Adam’s ambition. PS: This is not the mainstream pop crap that comes out of the Top 40 radio waves. ;)
Name: Michelle | Location: Tampa, FL | Twitter: @baking4fun
2. For Your Entertainment
The first time I had heard “For Your Entertainment” was when it premiered on Ryan Seacrest’s radio show. The day had finally come when we fans would get to hear Adam’s debut single, and it was like waiting to open a present on Christmas morning. I was excited to hear Adam on the radio and curious as to where his sound would go. Musically, Adam always found a way to give me something I didn’t even know I wanted.
Built on dark, unnerving synths, the sexually-charged lyrics were full of double-entendres that titillated our imaginations. It was a bold, confident statement from America’s least typical Idol: He was here to entertain us, and entertain us he did. I was pretty amazed (and yet not surprised) that the same guy who sang both classic rock and ethereal ballads on American Idol could also belt out a dance anthem with the best of the pop divas.
Adam’s outstanding music video directed by Ray Kay remains my favorite of his videos. It featured him frolicking in a dark club with pulsing lights and flashing images; Adam cavorting with men, women and snakes alike. Adam’s commanding presence carried the theme of ringmaster throughout the video, yet it retained a playful and light touch. With a wink and a nod, “For Your Entertainment” served as a mission statement for the album and foretold us that “Once I’m in I own your heart.”
“For Your Entertainment” remains the perfect tag-line for Adam Lambert, in all aspects of his career in the years since.
Name: Mark Gilroy | Location: York | Twitter: @markgilroymusic
3. Whataya Want From Me
Released as the second single from his debut album, “Whataya Want From Me” is a great example of what a mature artist Adam Lambert is, even at this early stage in his recording career. Penned by the winning team of Pink, Max Martin and Shellback, in someone else’s hands, this could have been a radio-friendly pop-rock flash in the pan. (Pink originally rejected it from her Funhouse album.) Yet with Adam in the driving seat, he lifts it beyond the mundane. Many vocalists with Adam’s sizeable range would blast straight in from the start, showboating and displaying the Aguilera-esque gymnastics to attempt to prove “Listen to me, I can sing you know.” But not Adam – he underplays his vocal, croaking through the verses (I love his delivery of “It’s me/I’m a freak.)
It’s only with a minute to go that he really lets rip, ad-libbing the final chorus and unleashing that multi-octave range. Even co-writer Pink admits: “I honestly have to say, Adam did a much better job. I mean, he hits notes that I couldn’t hit when I was twelve.” Don’t forget to check out his various acoustic versions of the track, which in typical Adam style, transform the song from a pop-rock anthem into a heartfelt, tender ballad.
Name: Islandgirl | Location: Calgary, Canada | Twitter: @islandgirljams
With the opening declarative statement of “I want to start a revolution,” Adam Lambert did indeed have “something to say” on “Strut,” a track he co-wrote with Greg Wells and Kara Dioguardi. Although “Strut” was never released as a single from For Your Entertainment, it gifted listeners with a rousing call for self-empowerment.
We mused over the play on words in the line “solo, solo, don’t want to be so low” and giggled over our failed lyrical guesses “take a Maybelline vacation” or “a maple leaf vacation” (the correct wording being “a make-believe vacation”, for the record!) Strut’s authoritative tone softens dramatically at the start of the bridge when Adam croons: “I’ll be your mirror, darling let your hair down, show me what you’re working with” before commanding “and let me see you STRUT” — at which point we were all ready to put on some Louboutins and werk a runway!
The visual of Adam on stage, performing this song while twirling his cane and sporting a top hat conjured up images of a glam-rock Gepetto, a puppet master commanding us to own our lives with confidence and bravery. In the intervening years, “Strut” has held up its dictate simply by Adam being openly and unapologetically himself while inspiring others to do the same through his work with the AT&T Live Proud campaigns and other causes, such as the Trevor Project, which supports LGBT youth.
P.S. Thanks, Adam, for five years of helping me to own that walk.
Name: ALAlwayz | Location: From N.Y. to L.A. | Twitter: @ALAlwayz
“Soaked” will always be one of my favorite Adam Lambert songs. It’s definitely one of the standout gems of Adam’s 2009 debut solo album For Your Entertainment. One of the longer and more serious songs on the album, “Soaked” is one of only two songs that feature an orchestra.
Adam said he really loves the song, melody and the vocals. He interprets the meaning to be about loneliness and drunken one night stands. In an interview with Larry Flick SiriusXM/OutQ, Adam quotes the lyrics and explains: “It’s not the first time, it’s not the worst crime and your soul will be OK. So there is a light at the end of the tunnel, which I think is the beauty of the song…”
Matthew Bellamy of Muse wrote “Soaked” and Rob Cavallo produced it. Muse is one of Adam’s favorite bands and he said he was “blown away and so honored” when he got the song.
Adam performed “Soaked” live during his highly successful Glam Nation World Tour, and it’s also featured on his Glam Nation Live CD/DVD & Acoustic Live EP.
The first time I experienced Adam singing “Soaked” live, I cried. It was like nothing I’d heard or seen before, so beautiful and very dramatic. The song really showcases Adam’s amazing vocal range and power, his skill in conveying the meaning and emotion of a song and his theatricality.
Adam Lambert has the uncanny ability to take any song and make it his own. “Soaked” is a perfect example. Once he sang it, it was his forever. No one can match Adam’s interpretation, his passion or his incredible vocals.
Name: SusieFierce | Twitter: @SusieFierce
“Soaked,” on For Your Entertainment, has always hit me square in the heart. I could relate all too well with being single in the big city and sometimes looking for love in a situation I knew would bring me more pain and uncertainly later than escape in the moment. The lyrics of the song illustrate the complex personal struggle many of us experience when we want to take shelter and hide forever, when we know forever isn’t even a remote option.
“Burned by your dreams/It’s never how it seems/cold crushed esteem” Where does one draw the line and why do judge ourselves so harshly regardless of where we set that line? We all have a different point in which we feel our souls will be okay and it’s up to us as adults to figure out where that is without judging ourselves too harshly. Life and looking for love is tough enough.
The orchestral bombast of the song contrasts with the heart-rending tenderness with which Adam sings it. (Live, especially, it is a show-stopper.) In a way, the style is a metaphor for the song – we present ourselves to the world with confidence and bombast, when beneath it all, we are often at our most vulnerable.
“It’s not the first time; it’s not the worst crime”…You’re allowed to feel lonely and seek company and comfort and you don’t have to let it undermine your sense of self, if that works for you.
I remember when it was tweeted that Adam was being backed by a full orchestra and the excitement of having a Matthew Bellamy song on the album. As one who loves theatrical ballads, I was beyond excited for this collaboration and it’s been an evocative, personal favorite ever since.
Name: Kassidy | Location: Oregon | Twitter: @KassidyKindt
6. Sure Fire Winners
“Sure Fire Winners” from Adam Lambert’s debut album For Your Entertainment is a perfect example of what he is all about as an artist. It’s one of his more upbeat songs that will always have you on your feet. and has the ability to get stuck in your head for days. Lambert performed this song during his 2010 Glam Nation Tour and captivated the audience. He has a strong, demanding stage presence and that’s exactly what this song is about: It’s about having fun, going out, getting what you want and taking the world by storm. “Sure Fire Winners” has the ability to shock the crowd, which we all know is a huge part of Adam’s career. This is something that we’ve noticed early on from his days on Idol, and needless to mention his “shocking AMAs performance” of 2010 which, I believe is safe to say, was one of the most memorable that we have seen on American television to this day.
“Sure Fire Winners” was written by David Gamson, Alex James, Oliver Leiber and produced by Rob Cavallo. Though this song was not the most popular off the album, it was however released as the second radio-only single in New Zealand and went on to be one of the many fan favorites. The lyrics “all the girls and the boys wanna know, how far this bad wild child’s gonna go” fits his stage persona perfectly. Adam constantly has his fans asking “what will he do next?” and always keeping us guessing.
And yes Adam, we do want to know how far this child of glam rock will go!
Name: Etta | Twitter: @starchildAL
7. A Loaded Smile
“A Loaded Smile” seems to be a song that in some respects mirrors Adam’s own experience with relationships. At one point, Adam was, indeed, either confused or ambivalent about his own relationships. In “A Loaded Smile,” he is in the process of drowning his sorrows with a one night stand at a bar. I hear the words of a man singing a song that has a grain of truth in it. Without a doubt, this has to be the saddest song ever, and because it is Adam singing it, it’s very poignant indeed.
Then, of course there is THE VOICE. That marvelous instrument that reaches out and grabs you with its tender and sorrowful beauty — not for the first time has this voice managed to wring out of me an emotional reaction. Time and time again. this voice is everything. Adam is surreal in his ability to canvass the full range of human emotion and human experience in a three minute song. He does so in this song with a bittersweet, tearful sorrow. He asks: “Can you feel it?” My answer is, “Yes I can!”
Name: Aleksandra K. | Location: Kraljevo, Serbia | Twitter: @aleks_kv
8. If I Had You
“If I Had You” is a super sexy, upbeat, powerful Europop song, and it is the second most successful hit from For Your Entertainment.
The video is like a glam, psychedelic dream, but more than anything, it is Adam’s personal vision of dolce vita, with people dancing under the moonlight and Adam ruling the forest like some kind of contemporary Oberon. In every second of it, the influences from Adam’s past experiences are felt, from his days performing with the LA’s “Zodiac Show” to his exploration of possibilities during Burning Man; together with the fact that the people in the video are his real life friends, it carries a strong feeling of community and togetherness, of families of choice, of dreamers and doers, but above all, it emanates the feelings of joy and celebration.
The lyrics are deceivingly simple, with a clear message that, in Adam’s own words, “no matter what color your skin is, no matter what religion you are, no matter what your sexuality is, no matter what your age is, we can all party together. We can all find common love.” For the past five years, Adam has fought for equality and human rights in many ways, and this particular invitation to dance and party together is just one disarmingly cute and fun way of doing it. Put into that context, there is nothing cliché or too idealistic about the song’s message – coming from Adam, it is a discrete and unpretentious way of getting his point across without being too explicit about it. You can choose not to see it if you wish and just join the celebration.
Compared to Adam’s darker songs from both his albums, with recurring themes of love and acceptance, the messages of “If I Had You” stop seeming what they never were, frivolous, and take their place at the lightest end of that thematic arc, serving their purpose of offering lighter counterbalance to its much more serious and dark opposites, creating relief from their heaviness. Only together they paint the full picture of Adam’s feelings and attitudes on such themes. At the time, Trespassing was not even an idea, but the lyric “There’s a thin line ‘tween the dark side and the light side” may be a foreshadowing of ideas taking root in Adam’s mind and leading to the dark/light dichotomy of his second, autobiographical album.
Finally, as much as the last five years have given depth and credibility to Adam’s messages of acceptance and tolerance, they have also made clear beyond a shadow of doubt what exactly for Adam is the love that he sings about and puts above everything else in “If I Had You” – it is the love for music, for stage, for friends, for performing, having fun, expressing yourself and celebrating together. It is a perfect song for a perfect party with friends, and no wonder it was such a hit.
Name: Spencer Winson | Location: Philadelphia, PA | Twitter: @pency23
9. Pick U Up
While not the most obvious hit or fan favorite, “Pick U Up” contains the essence of For Your Entertainment – sex, 80’s and one hell of a climax. The song, clearly inspired by ’80’s hair-metal, was written by Lambert himself, as well as collaborators Greg Wells (Katy Perry, Adele) and Rivers Cuomo (lead vocalist and songwriter for Weezer).
One of Lambert’s six co-writes on the album, this classic tale of a hook-up is made personal with lines like “breaking through the boundaries, rollin’ on, strollin’ on,” addressing his place as a first of his kind – an openly gay, mainstream musician. Lambert expresses his self-confidence within a song all about bringing someone else home, and in that way making it an added nuance, not the main focus.
The song really makes its mark as a highlight of Lambert’s discography at its climax, where the song comes to reach a vocal and emotional peak. The slow crescendo of a bridge ends with Lambert exasperatedly exclaiming: “Where are you? I need someone to be my lover!” That powerful line ends not only with a classic display of Lambert’s impressive pipes but also a key change, elevating the song to anthemic proportions for the last chorus. The combination of nuanced lyrics, incredible melody and a fantastic vocal performance makes this song a real winner on For Your Entertainment.
Name: Ellie G. | Location: Bulgaria | Twitter: @elliegf
Adam Lambert took to stardom in 2009…by storm. And what a ride it has been ever since! He basically ruined the show that launched him — after he was gone, the excitement was gone too.
Being a Glambert for a while (actually from the beginning!), it’s needless to say I love every note that comes out of Adam’s beautiful mouth. When For Your Entertainment was released back in November 2009 there were few songs that immediately, instantly became favorites. One of them — a track called “Fever” — sneaked in the back of my head, and I was often catching myself humming to it. (Well, that’s what the hooks do, you will say!)
But there is a little bit more to that song than just a hook.
Lady Gaga wrote the song a while before, and she thought it would be a good fit for Adam. She said in a radio interview: “I worked with Adam. I think it was last week. They called me. They asked me to write for him. I was actually like, ‘Geez, I got this record that I wrote a while ago.’ It’s, like, a total hit, smash record, but for some reason, I couldn’t get it right with me doing it, and I said, ‘Gosh, it would be perfect for him.'” And it was. Adding Adam’s personality to the song is priceless — the vocals, the emotion, the twist, the cheekiness, the power and the belief in every word.
Although “Fever” didn’t make it as a single (shame!) out of the album, it became fan favorite during his hugely successful Glam Nation Tour in 2010 around the world – the theatrics and the high notes were incredible! And each and every one of the 100+ renditions were different! This speaks volumes of what kind of performer Adam is…unique! Judge for yourself in the video below.
Name: Luis Gonzalez | Location: Austin, TX | Twitter: @albumconfession
The phenomenal single that never was: “Sleepwalker” is a truly captivating, underrated gem.
There’s a theatrical moment of pure shock and awe when the first few notes of the glam rock track encompass the listener. Almost immediately, the ambience of the album grows tense, cold and urgent, as a personal love story begins to unfold.
“Sleepwalker” is a beautiful, somber power ballad, co-written by Ryan Tedder of One Republic, included on Lambert’s impressive debut. As one of the effort’s often overlooked yet brightest moments, the song was a solid, darker achievement for the American Idol runner-up. Fans of the artist, including this die-hard Glambert, immediately gravitated towards the emotional restraint and bittersweet message of loving someone who does not express the same love in return.
Rumors of the track receiving the official single treatment quickly floated around when Lambert brilliantly performed the track on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno in March of 2010. The performance remains one of Adam’s best live moments to date for capturing the pure heartache in both the lyrical content – “you’re everything that I want, but you don’t want me” – and Lambert’s chilling delivery. The track is emotional – Lambert definitely hits every single note, and it holds a deeper underlying significance than most of the album’s predominantly pop/rock track list.
While the album’s three singles did carry a distinct, fun pop vibe, “Sleepwalker” was Adam showing the American audience that he was indeed a rock ‘n’ roll inspired kind of guy – the same artist that he introduced to the world while dominating the American Idol stage. The show has unfortunately never been the same since his departure.
With a songwriting credit from hit-maker Tedder, the track does bear some slight production similarities to Beyonce‘s “Halo” and Kelly Clarkson‘s “Already Gone.” We all know how messy those allegations got, but “Sleepwalker” stands strong on its own two feet. Maybe Adam and his team were afraid to announce the track as a single after the feud between Tedder and Clarkson occurred?
Ignoring all the reasons why it was never released as the official fourth single in the US, it was promoted as a radio-only single in some of Europe, the song is effortlessly amazing and I would have liked to have seen Adam promote it more, potentially lengthening the cycle of his unique debut–the best first release from an AI alumni. The music video ideas keep playing in my head as the song remains on constant repeat five years later.
Name: John Geraghty | Location: New York | Twitter: @johnpgeraghty
“Aftermath” came at that time in my life when I was truly lost. It felt like there was no one out there who understood me. I was different, and I was faced with the decision to either embrace that or to hide it. I was battling internal demons while painting on a smile for the world to see. For Your Entertainment’s stand out anthem empowered me to accept myself for all that I am, flaws and all. Lambert’s lyrics inspired me to search deeper into the person I wanted to be. I learned the importance of taking risks and going through what you need to go through in order to find solace. My aftermath: I was able to let go and live free.
What’s so powerful about “Aftermath” is that the weight it holds for LGBT youth discovering their voice and purpose via The Trevor Project can also be more universally shared with any individual going through a traumatic or transitional moment in life. We all as people need to be reminded that we are never alone and that things do in fact get better for all of us.
Name: Kathy P | Location: Connecticut | Twitter: @PerkiKat
13. Broken Open
Like many others, I fell in love with Adam Lambert when I first saw him sing during the auditions on American Idol; and then when he sang “Satisfaction” on the Top 36 show (making it into the Top 13) he got his hooks in me for good. After seeing him twice on the Idol tour, I anxiously awaited the release of his first studio album, For Your Entertainment.
The first time I listened to FYE, and after loving each and every song, “Broken Open” immediately stood out with its haunting, ethereal opening and Adam’s beautiful, quiet, calming and, at times, almost breathy voice. It was very emotional and I felt it reach deep down inside into the very essence of my being, actually bringing tears to my eyes. It was a reaction I wasn’t expecting. There was Adam’s beautiful voice quietly and tenderly singing about vulnerability and imperfection — “broken pieces” – and offering acceptance, trust, safety and comfort. Adam was singing we can be imperfect together, it’s OK to open up and be “broken” because he was there and he understood, no need to hide anything or pretend to be anything but yourself, it’s safe to be who you are, I know what you’re going through and I understand:
“I know the battles of chasing the shadows of who you want to be It doesn’t matter, go on and shatter I’m all you need”
This was the kind of liberation that Adam has brought to my life through his music, by being who he is and by being open and honest and true to himself. This song was just laying it all out there – broken open – and Adam was the safety net. It’s OK to be who you are and stay true to yourself.
“Let’s enlighten the night We can fall away, slip out of sight When you drop your guard Melt into time, so intertwined, Quiet”
Such beautiful lyrics. Such a powerful message. So quiet. So tender. So vulnerable. So accepting.
Every word is perfect, every note is perfect and Adam’s voice is perfection. As he once said about the song, it’s “solace” and “liberation.”
Name: Lori | Twitter: @lorismile1
“Broken Open” has made a very deep, lasting impression on me. I love all of Adam’s songs and all of his music and I have seen him perform many times. He is intelligent and articulate, the most amazing person and a phenomenal artist – a gorgeous man inside and out. The world has not yet discovered his greatness. Even to this day, with his groundbreaking Trespassing album and fronting Queen, and while waiting for Era 3 to begin, I still love to listen to “Broken Open” often in the dark with my eyes closed just taking it all in. For those few minutes it is Adam speaking to me, connecting with me.
Adam is known for his vocal prowess, the loud voice and the high notes, but it’s his soft, subdued vocals, along with otherworldly music, that fits the lyrics of “Broken Open” so well. This song, unlike a hard hitting jam, exemplifies a haunting ballad of vulnerability. There’s nothing more frightening than exposing your deepest fears and secrets to a loved one. Will they accept the real you, the one you hide from the world? “Broken Open” is the reinforcement that you are loved, that you are safe, that you can strip down the emotional walls often holding you back. There’s someone strong enough to hold you together when you can’t do it yourself.
We all need to hear that it’s okay if we aren’t perfect because we’re “imperfectly who we should be.” We all need someone we know will be there when everything seems to be caving in on us. “Lay here, it’s safe here, I’ll let you be broken open. Hide here, confide here so we can be broken open.” Adam singing these lines, in a confident yet soothing tone, wraps around the listener like a security blanket.
I was lucky enough to hear him sing this during the Glam Nation Tour. It is stunning on the album, even more breathtaking live. It remains one of my favorites from For Your Entertainment.
Name: Alice Miller | Location: New York | Twitter: @plumcomm
14. Time For Miracles
The 14th and final track on For Your Entertainment, “Time for Miracles” remains a worldwide favorite among Adam devotees. Adam was asked to sing this scale-jumping power ballad theme song for the 2008 apocalyptic disaster movie 2012 even before FYE was released. He aces the song’s storyline, which superimposes a heartbroken lover’s pining over cataclysmic global destruction. The song’s scale jumping and deep emotions are a perfect fit for Adam’s remarkable voice and gift for story-telling. Every time I hear this high-impact song, I picture Adam walking through the end-of-world destruction pictured in the movie’s video—his first music video!
During his 2013 We Are Glamily Tour, Adam thrilled fans with his first-ever live performance of “Time for Miracles” in Hong Kong. Throughout Asia, fans shed tears and screamed with joy, feeling his pain yet uplifted by his holding on. When Queen’s Brian May first heard the track, he said, “I’m not easily moved to jelly by male vocalists, but Adam’s voice reaches out with sensitivity, depth, maturity and awesome range and power, which will make jaws drop all around the world. It’s an awesome performance. No doubt about it. The world of Rock has a bright new star.” Well said, Brian.
I LOVE “Time for Miracles” and totally believe Adam’s heart is breaking yet his brave, beautiful soul refuses to give up. I tear up every time I hear it. His killer delivery and shocking range and power make this song forever Adam’s own.