For Your Entertainment
At the 2009 American Music Awards, Adam Lambert ramped up the raunchiness of both the telecast and his public image with an explicitly homoerotic performance. While singing his new album’s title track, he simulated oral sex with one male dancer and kissed a male drummer before grabbing his groin. It was all "in the name of entertainment," the Season 8 American Idol runner-up said in an MTV interview. Given such a sexual spectacle, it’s reasonable to wonder what his music has to say for itself.
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On "Whataya Want From Me," Lambert asks for a second chance. "Just don’t give up," he pleads. "I’m workin’ it out/Please don’t give in/I won’t let you down." "Soaked" and "Time for Miracles" explore themes of finding hope after failed romances, while "Pick U Up" and "If I Had You" praise the power of love. "All we need in this world is some love," Lambert sings on the latter.
Sexual swagger and innuendo pervade For Your Entertainment. The first two lines of the first song (a Queen-esque anthem titled "Music Again") set the stage in that regard: "I want your body, mind, soul, et cetera/And one day you’ll see, you should give it to me." Later in that track, Lambert makes a bid for another person’s lover, saying, "You give me back my raison d’être/ … In some ways we’re kinda evil." On the title track, Adam hints at sadomasochistic sex with these lines: "I’m a hurt you real good baby/ … Give it to ya ’til you’re screamin’ my name/ … Take the pain/Take the pleasure/I’m the master of both."
Given Lambert’s highly publicized announcement that he’s gay, it’s hard not to read the lyrics in "Aftermath" as strong encouragement for others to come out as well: "Wanna scream out/No more hiding/Don’t be afraid of what’s inside." That interpretation is backed up when he sings, "You feel the weight/Of lies and contradictions that you live with each day/It’s not to late/Think of what could be if you rewrite the role you play."
"Strut," co-written by American Idol judge Kara DioGuardi, instructs, "Strut for me and show me what you’re workin’ with." It also implies oral sex. "Sure Fire Winners" is saturated with sexually suggestive double entendres ("They wanna ride on the rocket ship/ … Flick the switch and the missile will fire/I’m a heat seeker when I’m full of desire"). Lady Gaga helped pen the lewd sexual invitations on "Fever": "Just you, me and the bar/Silly ménage à trios/ … I’m sick of laying down alone." That track also implies a relationship with an underage lover.
Lambert celebrates destructive rock clichés on "If I Had You" ("Getting high, rock and rolling/Get a room trash it up/Till it’s 10 in the morning"). Mild profanity ("d‑‑n") and misuses of God’s name appear on a few tracks.
Adam Lambert’s definition of entertainment seems to be anything that’s meant to shock, offend and, as he says, "promote freedom of expression and artistic freedom." The best that can be said of his debut is that a couple songs mention the importance of fidelity and hope in romance. But even those bright spots are dimmed by Lambert’s own sexual choices. And so we’re left with a mess of tracks that simply glorify sex—of any kind.
"Close your eyes, not your mind," Lambert suggests on the title track. "Let me into your soul."
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Debuted at No. 3 on Billboard’s album chart with first-week sales of 198,000 copies. (It’s a figure that’s high enough to secure No. 1 status most weeks.)
November 23, 2009