Monday, May 7th, 2012

Adam Lambert – Never Close Our Eyes

It’s Bosh Monday! Over-under on angry one-time commenters here?


Jonathan Bogart: In which Our Adam connects with the sort of power-ballad inspiro-gospel his voice was made for, but isn’t given anything memorable to sing, and tries to make up for it by sounding convinced. Which — “Whataya Want from Me” excepted — could stand as the epitaph of his entire career.

Katherine St Asaph: Pity Adam, who’s again been sucked into a pop aggregation turbine. Writer Bruno Mars has poured in overheated Smeezingangst like “we can always sleep when we die,” which needs a more settled container than the one Dr. Luke’s cranked the handle off. Now it’s fritzing: frazzling Adam’s voice until it resembles the Voice of Men version of latter-day P!nk and spitting out as a prechorus a hasty mash of dubstuff, synth claps and Gym Class Heroes acoustic wank. That’s completely fine by 2012’s quality standards. It’s apparently fine by his fans, who I guess really do think this sounds like Prince or Depeche Mode or whichever comparison last got pissed out the PR hole. It is not fine by me, and it shouldn’t be fine by him.

Alfred Soto: Why on earth would anyone want to “stay awake until [you’re] older” when his boyfriend is going to shout Auto-Tuned cliches into my ear? The other problem: Rolling Stone’s anointed gay superstar wants to be straight superstar Enrique Iglesias, complete with electro stutterbeat.

Anthony Easton: When the Scissor Sisters do this sort of thing, I believe that they believe in ketamine and disco — there is a mark of historical relevance that makes it sound a bit kicked around. This is so clean and precise, but amateurish and ugly, painful to listen to, and not worth anything. I was going to compare it to the Boise Junior Chamber of Commerce doing a Studio 54 night in 1981, but that would have heart and charm. How do you manage to avoid having the snake-oil tawdry sleaze of the Scissor Sisters and the amateurish spangle of Boise, and have nothing at all to replace it with? Is this what Simon Callow has wrought?

Brad Shoup: The cadence, the lean of the pre-chorus lets the light in splendidly. A stringed flash makes a cameo, but it’s not that type of disco. More in this vein, please.

Edward Okulicz: Still not sure that even Lambert himself knows what to do with Lambert, but histrionic disco is probably one of the better ideas he’s executed. Darker dance music could actually be an even better fit; his voice seems to work better the more busy the backing and the more anguished the song. This, despite its fifteen-year-old-goth-girl lyrics, is too perky to work completely. When the synths snap like elastic bands, how do you get all angsty convincingly?

John Seroff: As of late, sadly, Lambert is about as powerful as mainstream power pop gets. Most of that energy gets too often sopped up in yowly ballads, so I can muster up a bit of enthusiasm when dude has his biannual go at a party anthem. True to form, “Never” offers the definite but limited rewards of a song built on chained crescendos. Tomorrow I will have forgotten I heard it, but for Mister Right Now, this’ll do.

Jamieson Cox: I think my rating for this one is affected by my chosen listening environment. “Never Close Our Eyes” isn’t made for sleepy Sunday afternoons with tea and the NBA playoffs muted in the background; it should be deployed at arrhythmia-inducing volume on a sticky dance floor, and I should be moving my hips with abandon. But if I heard this on such a dance floor, what differentiates it from every other entry in Dr. Luke’s formidable production catalogue? Lambert’s potential VORD (Value Over Replacement Diva) isn’t fully realized, as he’s given few chances to truly unleash that powerful tenor. Nevertheless, if “Never Close Our Eyes” reaches my ears on a Saturday night this summer, I won’t be complaining.

14 Responses to “Adam Lambert – Never Close Our Eyes”

  1. Lazy of me not to mention: the bit where he yelps “NEVER!” after the chorus is brilliant.

  2. One thing I want people to address, but I know better, is how even though everyone talks up Adam’s co-writes and executive producer position (which may be meaningless; Britney executive-produced Blackout when in the frame of mind of Blackout), the stuff the label’s releasing is stuff he has no credited involvement in.

    (I’ve heard snippets from the album. It is intermittently better than him. Nobody has any idea what musical direction to take him in, though.)

  3. For most star cowriting credits I assume the producers and label offer the star a price he can afford.

  4. I listened to this on the train this morning under the mistaken belief it was a different song that we’re reviewing today. Reaction: He sounds like he’s asking to stay up past his bedtime. (It would have got a [2])

  5. @Alfred, I do wish I knew more about the behind-the-scenes of that kind of stuff. There are lots of instances where co-writing credits seem pretty legit, others where it’s less clear. Interesting are the between cases, where you can hear an original (by credited songwriter) and then a remake by a star, and guess (somewhat) at the changes the star may have made. In “Te Amo,” Rihanna keeps the gender of the subject of the song (doesn’t change a word from James Fauntleroy) but there’s the added bridge where they dance on the beach in the moonlight and Rihanna reminds her that they can’t touch, but she still wants to watch. Which alone makes the song about 1000x better, and I wouldn’t be surprised to hear it was Rihanna’s idea (who knows if it was).

    The one documented production that I really do want to learn more about (for a few obvious reasons) is Ashlee Simpson’s Autobiography. Much of the recording was filmed for the reality show and only a tiny fraction of it (and usually some fairly stagy-looking stuff) was actually used. In part this is probably because standing around in a studio shooting the shit and doing fifty vocal takes doesn’t make for great television. But I think seeing the raw footage would reveal a lot about the co-writing process, for better and worse. (And for whatever it’s actually worth — to some degree I don’t really care who the songwriting credits go to.)

  6. Agreed — I rarely stare at songwriting credits.

  7. I like the song well enough (it’s a [7] for me) but am rooting for it for other reasons…

  8. If the album is as flat as Bridesmaids, then forget it.

  9. Love the VORD concept. Is there a known name who can be the zero base case, or does being known inherently raise them above that?

  10. Nayer?

  11. Miranda Cosgrove.

  12. I think maybe Demi is closer to a replacement-level diva than Miranda Cosgrove, because Demi has shown flashes of the requisite vocal power for diva-hood. I suppose you could also choose someone like Jordin Sparks, if only because of her all-encompassing blandness. It’s up for debate.

  13. “Replacement pop”! Great concept.

    I would have guessed Kat McPhee as a match for our phantom “replacement player” in the VORP (Value Over Replacement Pop) genre. In the teen realm, Cheyenne Kimball was something like it; Demi is pro (has a positive VORP score).

    Miranda Cosgrove is interesting because her string of second-run singles (Amy Diamond, Sugababes) might be the closest thing we have to an argument for a hypothetical level of minimum competence. (Jordin Sparks, too.) But actually I don’t think Miranda’s even at “minimum competence,” might have a negative VORP score.

    I would have identified Emily Osment as “replacement pop” a year ago, but it turns out she’s playing Calvinball.

    The “replacement player” concept, btw, reminds me of Scott Seward’s brilliant piece in the Voice about Interpol, which referenced the old music nerd meme “Steve Forbert test.”

  14. This is fun! Also, I feel like that should be renamed to the Paula Cole test, because she’s the first person I thought of. (Being the Forbert of ’90s whatever-it-is.)