But how can a guy with such nice hair be sad?…
Kat Stevens: Adam is stressing out over his homework: doodling gothic cobwebs in the corner of his A4 pad, not-so-subtly trying to copy off his neighbour then having a go at the teacher for asking the impossible of him. But what is the lesson here? Emo 101 is obviously the most likely candidate but “need a second to breathe” suggests Adam’s been running around the football pitch for PE, and “I’m working it out” sounds like Trigonometric Functions to me. Then right near the end he wails in a slightly different key and sounds just like Marcella Detroit in “You’re History”. Aha!
Edward Okulicz: This is corny and cheap but it feels something like vital if not classic. Lambert ratchets the self-doubt up to eleven, ticks the obvious “feeling it” boxes and does the self-hating-lover better than the song’s author, Pink, does. And as far as self-hatred goes, it’s wonderfully generous — there’s a glorious lack of the possibility of redemption, but once the song’s over, you are more likely to remember the Euro-rock crunch. It really feels as if the only way it could have been improved would be if it had been done by t.A.T.u. — this spiral of conflicting, confused emotions is unusual for a male singer (even given his back story), and even if it’s not brave, he sings it like it is.
Martin Skidmore: It does sound more Pink than him, sadly – the defiance would suit her, but the “don’t give up on me” message doesn’t suit a debut album. It also doesn’t offer much for Lambert’s voice, but I guess Darkness covers would hardly work in the market American Idol opened for him. This sounds so much less striking or even interesting than his performances on that show.
Doug Robertson: If the concept still actually existed, this would be a Kelly Clarkson B-side.
Alfred Soto: Take a second to breathe. Your homegirl Kelly Clarkson did after her 2007 album “confessional” record tanked. Remember: to most of America — to most of us gays — you’re a minstrel show. Ask Jarvis Cocker to write you a few histrionic sleeve-flappers. Cover Grace Jones. Become the sine qua fag of queerdom.
Hillary Brown: Hey, it’s not a great song, but it’s got enough flickers of interestingness to suggest Adam Lambert may continue to develop into one of the most interesting things to come out of American Idol. Surprising as it is, you can actually hear showmanship. We just need to find him some slightly better material and he’s going to explode peacockosity all over the airwaves.
Michaelangelo Matos: This is pretty appealing for a singer and a style I basically have no use for. I wasn’t kidding about Eddie Money from last time, but this time he’s getting closer to Lou Gramm (“Once upon a time! I didn’t give a damn!”), and even if the banks of chorus synths could be Europe, at least they’re undermixed.
Matt Cibula: See, I TOLD you he could be a good radio presence. My kids make fun of the histrionixxx of this song, but I think they actually like it, and so do I. Pretty sure it’s like, not love, but this could change.
David Moore: A Max Martin/Pink cast-off in the somber “Who Knew” vein gets a bit glammier with Lambert’s Teflon delivery (I think that’s a compliment?), which makes everything he does feel like an attempt to cross the ocean to Eurovision. He’s probably the closest thing that we have to an American version of the Ark (which I would count as a good thing for us), though this doesn’t totally make up for the fact that it really sounds like a second-tier Pink single with a not-quite-right singer. But a little more Euro megaculture seeping into the Hot 100 would probably be good for us — today the pop charts, tomorrow health care reform!