Review: ‘For Your Entertainment’ by Adam Lambert

Though he may have come in second in this year’s American Idol, the bulk of the media attention paid to contestants post-Idol has gone to Adam Lambert.  From coming out on the cover of Rolling Stone to a highly controversial performance at the American Music Awards less than a day before his debut album’s release, Lambert has captured the media spotlight in a way few new artists do.

That attention also translates into the production of For Your Entertainment, Lambert’s first album.  Featuring work from high-profile producers such as Max Martin, Dr. Luke, Ryan Tedder, and Rob Cavallo, plus songwriting contributions from Lady Gaga, P!nk, Muse’s Matthew Bellamy, The Darkness’ Justin Hawkins, and Linda Perry, For Your Entertainment unequivocally features the most attention paid to an Idol alum’s debut ever.

Fortunately, the names translate well into legitimately good music.  From the opening otherworldly sounds of “Music Again” to the closing notes of the ethereal “Broken Open,” For Your Entertainment works its way between the rock sounds of the 70s Lambert routinely performed on Idol and the dance pop made popular by Lady Gaga, one of Lambert’s self-professed current influences.

In interviews, Lambert has stated that the goal of the album was to reflect the different styles of music he wants to perform, and it shows in the setup of the album.  While the album flows smoothly from track to track, few of the songs have a particularly strong connection going from track to track – in other words, it’s a perfect album for the iPod generation.  Ballads like “Soaked” and “A Loaded Smile” provide Lambert with a perfect opportunity to show his vocal abilities and dramatic interpretation, but are balanced with upbeat tracks like “Strut” and “Sure Fire Winners.”

While nearly all of the tracks are strong – the lone exception being “Aftermath,” which is good but pretty standard in comparison to the rest of the album – there are a few that particularly stand out on the album.

“Music Again,” written by Justin Hawkins, is a fun, energetic track that sets the tone for the entire album about the power of music.

“Whataya Want From Me,” the album’s second single, balances the outrageousness of “For Your Entertainment,” the album’s first single, and comes across as a legitimate question for Lambert’s audience, many of whom have already ascribed various attributes to the singer.

“Soaked,” written for Lambert by Muse, is the most theatrical song on the album, serving as a nice nod to Lambert’s background in musical theater.  Its subject matter – the aftermath of a one-night stand – certainly distinguishes it from the content of most songs by Idol alums.

“Fever,” the album’s contribution from Lady Gaga, ties with “Music Again” for the most sheer fun on the album, and unlike most of the songs on the album, goes as far as naming the gender of Lambert’s desire in its opening line: “There he goes/My baby walks so slow/Sexual tic-tac-toe.”

“Sleepwalker” follows the prototype of producer Ryan Tedder’s recent hits (among them: “Halo,” “Already Gone,” and “Battlefield”) in its production, but works mainly due to Lambert’s vocal performance.

Which is ultimately what For Your Entertainment comes down to: Adam Lambert. Even with any outside help, the album’s success comes down to his performance, and he knocks it out of the park.

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