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Adam Lambert and the Resistance

May 20, 2018

We have arrived at the ninth anniversary of the season eight American Idol finale—that unforgettable day when Adam Lambert failed to win the competition—and I find myself reflecting on the lasting impact of that cataclysm. As often happens, thoughts about my Adam world spill over into the “real world,” and I see intriguing parallels to what has happened in the aftermath of the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Does this seem like a stretch foo far? Bear with me.

Legions of disappointed fans, unable to accept how their godlike Idol could have failed to claim the crown, wailed over the homophobia and vote-rigging that seemed the only possible explanations for how the most prodigiously gifted singer in Idol history could have lost to a bland, sweet-voiced guy with a guitar. Xena and I had to constantly assure the fandom that the Idol loss did not matter. Adam had captivated audiences, and his career was going to be just fine. If anything, harping on the loss seemed counterproductive, and risked forever defining him in terms of his American Idol loss, or worse, as a bitter loser.

Indeed, with the benefit of hindsight, I am convinced that losing Idol was the best thing that ever happened to Adam. Imagine for a moment that he had won. How many of us would have felt self-satisfied about having picked the winner, and passively waited for Adam to reap the rewards we expected to flow to the victor. We would have enjoyed his music, and over the years, our ardor would have dimmed as we lost track of Adam’s life and career during the long waits between albums.

Instead, Adam lost, and we collectively, obsessively, googled every video and shard of information we could dig up about him. We reached out to others who felt the same way, for comfort and validation. We formed a collective intent to support Adam’s career and prove to the world that he was worthy. Without Adam’s loss, I would never have found the Glambertinas whom I now count among my dearest friends, nor co-written a book with Xena Princess Warrior about our journey, nor found myself traveling to distant lands to stand all day in lines waiting to get into the general admission areas for a Queen and Adam concert.

Because Adam lost, we constantly fanned the flames of our passion, reunited regularly with fellow Glamberts, and nine years into the journey, our obsession burns as hot as ever. His defeat turned us into evangelists, ready to like and re-tweet every social media post, comment on every tabloid story, sell out every show, and above all, sustain a community. Indeed, it’s not unreasonable to wonder whether Adam’s loss on Idol, by giving birth to such a deeply loyal fandom, accounts for his success today.

So what does this have to do with our current state of politics? Hillary Clinton’s loss was devastating to many of us. (Not all; I recognize that some Glamberts are Trump supporters.) But just as Adam’s defeat drove the fanbase into deep research on everything we could learn and turned us from a passive audience into a highly activated fandom, I see a similar phenomenon playing out across our nation.

We realize that we cannot count on the old institutions and world order to take care of our future. We must do it ourselves. Activists at the local and state levels, in both the public and private sectors, are advancing policies in areas once delegated to the federal government: climate change, immigration, health care, common-sense gun laws. Other nations, no longer able to count on America as a reliable partner or champion of human rights, global economic stability, or international security, are seizing the initiative without the U.S. These changes, I believe, signify a healthy transition toward a more balanced, empowered world community.

Which brings me back to Adam and American Idol. Placing power into the hands of the people would have seemed to have ended badly when Adam lost. But we won a more enduring victory, because we fans resisted. We took matters into our own hands, supported and promoted Adam along a singular path to career success. This vision—of people powered by nothing more than their passionate beliefs and social connections—should give us all hope and the courage to weather the storms ahead.
10 Comments leave one →
  1. Susie permalink
    May 20, 2018 11:20 am

    Thank you for this wonderfully well written and thought-provoking article.

  2. niamhcat permalink
    May 21, 2018 6:23 pm

    You’ve made connections I never would have thought of. Indeed, this is what happens when people take their fortunes into their own hands. We’ve seen it on a small scale with our Adam, ands it heartens me immensely to think what is possible for our country.

  3. Lam-My permalink
    May 22, 2018 7:58 am

    Hi Juneau!
    Those are good comments you made with regard the parallels between Adam losing American Idol and Hilary Clinton losing the Election and subsequently their fervent followers rallied and stood by them and formed supportive groups, and even carried out research on their own and brought people together as you pointed out; which is the good part that arose from their loss, respectively.

    There are some stark differences from my perspective and mine alone. Like I have stated, your comparisons are sound.
    In my case, I knew Mr Trump would win after following the 2016 primaries. Trump came across more forthright, direct, daring, with strong leadership qualities; even though Hilary was more specific in laying out what each would do if elected. Trump wasn’t so clear regarding specifics, having insufficient experience as a politician; Hillary on the other hand being the former Secretary of State was far more convincing at the start.
    Perhaps of my partially psychic intuition which I’ve always had when confronted with making choices, like when I feel strongly about something, coupled with reasoning, most times pan out as I expect; so never wavered that Trump would win even when the polls were always in Hillary’s favour. Another factor that deterred me from picking Hillary was, I kept thinking how come a person while under investigation by FBI, could still stand for election; it could never happen in Singapore, that being my background criterion.
    As more and more things are coming to light these days, I think both American Idol and the Elections were manipulated to the core. I am not going into the right and wrong, cuz that would take a lot more in-depth dissections, amounting to deceit.

    In Adam’s AI loss, it was admitted by the company involved with AI, that certain special text-voting devices were handed out to Kris’ camp so that multiple votes could be recorded with each vote, sent in. The person/s involved later resigned,
    We all watched Season 8, as for me right from the get-go when he sang…’Mama, killed a man’ and every week subsequently. There is absolutely no way Adam could have lost to Kris. Even Kris himself, the winner was dumbfounded and stammered…What about Adam? Did you see magnanimous Adam going forward to Kris on stage, to tell him it was okay to accept the outcome.

    Finally, if the Winner of any competition not just AI is robbed of their victory in broad daylight, there should not be any excuse or consoling, like, is it better that he lost…if he had won, would he be just as successful because his fans might not have been so feverish in protecting and projecting him.
    It’s hypothetical at best! How about he might have gotten his first Grammy if he had won and he might not have done what he did at the AMA because being the Winner, he had a reputation to uphold and would have thought twice. Adam did say later it was done on the spur of the moment, not rehearsed. He let go because there was nothing to lose. Alas, he had 1400 signatures thrown at him and it went all the way to the court.

    Whichever way one wants to view it, it’s wrong to rob someone who had given up all his previous stage work, and took a last-ditch turn in another direction; working so hard, week after week to achieve his ambition, only to be eventually halted in his tracks abruptly by underhand means. He might still be as successful with Queen if he had won; they were so impressed especially at the finale in ‘We Are The Champions’, Brian kept smiling at Adam at the AI finale.
    I’m not harping on Adam’s loss nor feel at all he is a loser…just being fair to him, we owe him the truth not a camouflage. But Adam is very sensible about the whole AI taboo and he has not once said anything negative about his loss because he knows the bottom-line is if it had not been AI who opened their doors to him, he wouldn’t be what he is today.


  4. Lam-My permalink
    May 22, 2018 11:01 pm

    Adam Lambert – Never Close Our Eyes


    Adam Lambert
    Published May 29, 2012

    Sauli and Terrance – dancers. Like this video very much and Adam sings it on an ethereal high key. The gassing is symbolic in the video but relevant and deadly in present time.

    • lynnshulman permalink
      June 24, 2018 12:10 pm

      which one was sauli, I never saw him in this

  5. Lam-My permalink
    May 24, 2018 1:31 am

    22 May 2018

    Helloo Pharaoh! Walky walky with Daddy…I see you keep very close to him; very smart. What’s intriguing the both of you?

    Ni hao Lam-My! Actually, I’m not sure what’s intriguing Daddy, I just follow; but I see some unusual movements, don’t know what exactly until I go right down and give it a sniff.

    You are so at ease with Runyon now, you just follow Daddy; I still remember the first time Daddy exposed you to the Canyon and you kept sniffing the ground until Daddy had to call you…Phara hi!
    Would you be able to find your way home on your own without Daddy?

    That’s actually quite far away for a dog but I may be able to reach half way and somebody will probably spot me looking lost and get me back. But Daddy doesn’t leave me on my own, his eyes are always fixed on his prize.

    So you are Daddy’s prize?

    Well, Daddy loves me so much for sure!

    Okay, Pharaoh have a great walk with a great Daddy at a great Canyon on a great day. lwl!


  6. Lam-My permalink
    May 24, 2018 2:01 am

    Oh I see…Adam is talking to someone at Runyon…(far-off) jackbanderson’s new IG

  7. Lam-My permalink
    May 25, 2018 6:13 am

    Adam live streams from home…says he’s leaving on Monday for London and then to Lisbon for the first show QAL. Also said Pharaoh is chilling, lying between his legs. He’s sitting on his circular sofa, I recognise that yellow glow at the door. He sang a bit of Save Me but not saved in above live stream; also, new outfits for the new QAL.
    Click on video for sound.

  8. Tanyss R. Martula permalink
    June 19, 2018 11:23 pm

    Great piece, blogger-in-chief! Yes, both Adam and the last election created a Resistance on the ground level.

    • Rosemary permalink
      June 19, 2018 11:26 pm

      Oops, my name is actually Rosemary which is also my mother’s name. Who would ever have a weird name like Tanyss?!

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