Mea Culpa – Why Adam Lambert’s music doesn’t get more radio play
By Thea Washington
We, the fabulous glamberts, are always wondering why Adam’s music doesn’t get more radio play. Well, I may get kicked out of the Salon for saying this but I have a thought: It’s because of us. I mean “cause,” not “fault” because we’re not the guilty ones.
Adam has always said that he co-wrote and produced Trespassing because of his understanding that his fans, many of whom are like us, wanted to know more about him, about what makes him tick. So that’s exactly what he gave us—a beautifully brilliant, intelligent and fun collection of music and talent, with depth. And that’s exactly the problem.
Trespassing was never destined to be a smash hit. Yes, it’s critically acclaimed. There’s just one thing wrong with it.
You can’t dance to it. Mostly.
Now, I’m not saying that none of the songs are dancy. Some of them are. “Cuckoo,” “Shady,” “Pop That Lock,” “Naked Love” and “Kickin’ In” immediately come to mind. But those aren’t the ones we’ve seen released as singles. I don’t know what those people who make the decisions are thinking but we haven’t heard a free fall, club-demanded single from “Trespassing” yet. I think it’s because of a couple of reasons (at least).
When we look at ourselves as fans, who are we? Many of us are intelligent, artistic, well-lived women who have the good taste and sense to realize that Adam is an emerging icon. Many of us haven’t been to a club since—no, I won’t say how long—but it’s close to “who knows when.” From what I’ve seen as representative on the dance floor, though, the moves have changed since the last time I was on a dance floor. The beats sound the same. They’re still what make you want to get up and go cuckoo.
On the other hand, when I’m reading the Salon comments, I see us raving about the songs that have meaning, that have some intellectual AND heartfelt substance to them. We love “Runnin’,” something Adam says he was surprised by. “Trespassing” is our anthem. We worship “Underneath.” “Outlaws of Love” makes us cry, as do “Broken English” and “BTIKM.” They’re just not club-friendly, dance-your-ass-off songs.
Here’s my take on it. I think that there’s a circular dynamic that runs from club play to radio play and back. I think even one of these can put a song into play and I wonder which comes first. If it’s club play, which I suspect, we have a problem.
Because, as I said before, you can’t dance to most of Trespassing.
When “BTIKM” was released, I understood that it set a context for Trespassing. It explained the message, and the motivation, of the CD. I also realized that the only dance I knew I could do to it was the “bop,” sort of a three-plus point slow cha-cha that was popular back in the day, in the clubs and parties I went to, anyway. It was a perfect fit with the four-beat “Trespassing” because the accented beat is the same. But I haven’t seen a dance move like that recently. With the “bop” you had to stay physically connected, by hand or body, throughout most of the song. The only disconnect was when you were being twirled (think “Dirty Dancing”).
So immediately there was a disconnect between the song and the clubs. And without club play I suspect there’s no high-volume radio demand. “BTIKM” is a great song to think about and a beautiful video to watch, but it’s more mental than physical.
Then comes “NCOE.” Great song, great video but I just don’t see myself dancing up a storm to it and then coming back to my table happily exhausted, high on endorphins and ready for my next drink. The choreography in the video is artistic but it never “moved” me. I do see it as more dance-able than its predecessors but to me “club” dancing is free-form.
So here we are with “Trespassing.” Same deal but without an official video. And “in your face,” which I may even get to later; however, I make no promises. If I don’t get to it, just think about it vis-à-vis the kind of emoting one hears in today’s popular music. Adam’s music focuses on his singularity rather than those things that make gay people just like the rest of us.
Now, if anybody had asked me—which they didn’t—I would have led off with “Pop That Lock.” Very dance-able and also very drive-able. It’s highly scream- and head-bobable, too, also a consideration when driving with the radio or CD on. Except on snow.
Then I would’ve followed “Pop That Lock” with “Naked Love”, immensely dance-able, screamable, bobable and great for highway driving. Both songs would have been timed for the summer. As autumn set in I would have released “Shady”, a little darker to bring things down a bit but still maintain the beat. And to keep the kids up on the floor, “Cuckoo” would’ve been next. “NCOE” would be released sometime around the holidays maybe. I do know I’d release “Nirvana” in time for Valentine’s Day. Of course there’d be some overlap. Is that OK? Not knowing a thing about the business, all of this is pure conjecture. I stand by the sequence, though.
There’s even some consideration of “Take Back,” except that it’s sort of a downer. Don’t get me wrong, great song, but not one that makes me feel happy (like Adam himself does!).
After all this I go back to my first thoughts, that we, Adam’s fans, are somewhat the cause of Trespassing’s fate. Again I emphasize NOT FAULT. I know that it probably wasn’t conceived with thoughts of awards dancing in their heads but it should have been handled differently. Release the dance songs and leave the rest to those of us and others who can fully appreciate and enjoy them.
Other than being handled differently, we glamberts got exactly what we asked for. Adam has given us himself in music. That’s enough for “Happy Holidays”!