Adam Lambert and the Partisan Divide

I am a greenhorn in the music world. If you gifted me an Ipod, I’d probably mistake it for a remote control. Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, and Taylor Swift are names I have heard, but faces I could not place. I can’t operate a CD player and have always thought of concert-going as an activity other people do.

Until now. American Idol contestant Adam Lambert seems to have awakened my long lost music gene. It happened on a Tuesday in March when I coasted by the family room TV on my way to nab cashews from the kitchen. This male Elvira had cool, black nail polish, a Clark Gable confidence, an androgynous sex appeal and the ability to emote like I’ve never seen.

Heck, this is a concert I could attend, I thought.

With an alluring combination of pure talent, charisma, unpredictability and eccentricity, Lambert will no doubt go down in history as a superstar, not to mention American Idol’s greatest success story.

Commentators call Lambert a polarizing figure: you love him or you hate him. Could this stem largely from the partisan divide in America?

Lambert is a blue state. He is Hollywood, glamour and bigger than life. Using struts, vocal acrobatics, and bizarre song renditions, he sticks it to “the man” and orthodoxy. He upsets society, chastising manners and mores, much the way Elvis Presley did on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1956. Lambert is a comic book hero for those with an anti-establishment bent, such as 70’s children like me who learned early on to distrust government and convention.

His competitor, Kris Allen, is a red state. He is good ole boy from Arkansas who attends church and married his longtime sweetheart. On stage, he is as placid as a lake, even against the raging waterfall, Lambert. Allen is humble, casual and could live in Pleasantville. Lambert would be the Picasso of Pleasantville, upsetting the status quo.

In many cases, Lambert clearly transcends the red-blue divide, as evidenced by the statistics presented on “Dial Idol” and other websites that estimate the percentage of votes each competitor receives by state. But I have to wonder if some of his angry detractors are those with a deep-seated dislike for all things liberal and idiosyncratic. .

The controversy surrounding Lambert’s sexuality also plays into this theory. Bill O’Reilly, for example, thought it newsworthy to ask his Fox News viewers if they thought the singer was gay. Successful same-sex marriage initiatives are sweeping this country, and opponents may see Lambert as a poster boy for alternate lifestyles and as a threat to conservative values.

Could an Adam Lambert victory represent a new level of acceptance for difference? Would a Kris Allen win reinforce communitarian values and the familiar? Some may see this season’s contest as a battle of hope and change pitted against tradition and custom.

Win or lose, Lambert will be a music icon. And win or lose, I guess I’d better figure out what those shapes on the CD player mean.


Anonymous Nina said...

I know lots of women who share the same story. Never watched Idol, and have yet to use the iPod I was given several months ago, but one fateful Tuesday my husband yelled, "You HAVE to come see this guy!" From the moment I heard that spectacular voice I was a goner.

Now I spend a far greater chunk of day than I should admit, relentlessly searching the net for all things Glambert. His theatre and cabaret vocals posted on YouTube particularly stunning, and contrary to those attempting to use his flamboyance and sexuality as a divisive issue, everything I see just makes him that much more exciting.

The chameleon deserves to win the title because he has eclipsed the competition with his pure vocal talent, range and creativity. The delicious bonus of his possible victory serving as a rebuke to the folks wanting us to live in fear of diversity, would just be the icing on the cake.

2:57 PM  
Blogger Bekalynn said...

I have no doubt that some of Adam's detractors don't like him because of his sexuality. But there are others who don't like him because they feel he oversings...

For example a lot of times Adam screams. And sometimes it works for a song, but a lot of times it doesn't. This bothers A LOT of people and frustrates them.

Just because you can hit a note doesn't mean that you always should....

Many people started out liking Adam, but got tired of the vocal gymnastics.

In contrast Kris is Adam's opposite. He is limited in range, so he knows that he won't wont the vocal gymnastics. So he focuses on using what he does have, and he really has amazing phrasing. Tone etc. He focuses instead on expressing the lyrics and the music, and a lot of people really enjoy that.

So Kris and Adam really couldn't be more different in terms of who they are...

3:19 PM  
Anonymous Anita said...

My story is much the same as Nina's. Never watched Idol, never cared, until Nina sent me a Torchwood fanvid with "Mad World" as the background - and I was hooked! Some people may call it screaming, but those luscious vocals at whatever register just give me goosebumps. Growing up in the heady days of hard rock and heavy metal in the '70s, his music fires a throbbing in my blood that I haven't felt in years. The singers of the last decade or so are just way too bland for my taste. If you like everything to sound like the background to "Grey's Anatomy", great - pick Kris. But for the sheet excitement of seeing someone truly talented and deserving of all the accolades he can get, I'm going to be doing whatever I can tomorrow to help him win!

10:07 PM  
Anonymous Anita said...

oops, typo there - I meant "sheer excitement"

10:09 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home