Confession: I’ve watched every single episode of “American Idol.” Even through the dark days of Lee DeWyze and Scotty McCreery, I stuck it out, appreciating its pop-cultural significance and also the fact that I love to watch people sing because it’s the one talent I wish I had. And while there are a few performances that stand out in my mind across all 14 seasons (Caleb Johnson slaying Led Zeppelin’s “Dazed and Confused,” Candice Glover’s take on the Cure’s “Love Song”—high-drama rock and roll gets me every time), none does as much Adam Lambert’s.
In the fray of homogenous growly white male singer-songwriters—the type of contestant that started to gain traction with “Idol” viewers around 2008—Lambert, who finished second on the show’s eighth season, was the person I’d been waiting for. He was cool, he was edgy, he was theatrical, he had the best damn voice I’d ever heard on the show. And he was openly gay—not something that would have swayed my opinion on his talent, but something that propelled the pandering-to-the-heartland show forward just a little.
I may or may not have all his post-“Idol” albums, so I was pumped that the 34-year-old—who’s touring with Queen right now, NBD—returned to “Idol” to perform his new song “Welcome to the Show” on Thursday with Swedish singer-songwriter Laleh, who cowrote the track. It’s so good, I watched it four times in a row and spent my entire commute to work on Friday listening to it on Tidal, freaking out about how much Lambert sounds like Steve Perry, the best rock singer ever.
Watch it for yourself above, then watch it again—it’s that great.