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Let me make a bold claim: Adam Lambert is one of the most subversive and relevant contestants in the history of American Idol. An if he becomes a pop star, then he will be one of the most subversive and relevant parts music history.
Why is that? Well… read on!
Obviously, there are lots of non-subversive reasons to love Adam Lambert (which I do.) He’s got a great voice with an amazing range, and he knows how to control it. Plus, he knows how to work a stage and a camera.
Granted, for some people—most of them misguided—Adam Lambert is a toxic brew of black fingernail polish and shouty high notes. But no matter what we think of him, we’ve all got to acknowledge this: Of all the seemingly gay contestants in the show’s history, he is the first to be this sexual.
Think about it: Clay Aiken? Neuter. Jim Verraros? Neuter. Danny Noriega? Neuter-neut-neut-neut. On the show, all of them exuded a non-threatening, asexual glow.
Adam Lambert, on the other hand, has strutting, lusty confidence. Watch this video from his performance of “Satisfaction” (while you can):
He seems like a man who is comfortable with his own horniness.
For this show, that’s subversive, because Lambert isn’t trying to make himself palatable to the supposed tastes of middle America. He’s not turning his sexuality into a joke that uncomfortable straight people can laugh at until they feel their understanding of the world isn’t threatened anymore. Instead, he’s behaving like any other cocky male rock star. Ultimately, this could make him more polarizing than Clay or Danny because for some people, that confidence is threatening. It says he doesn’t need the majority’s approval to exist, and that can challenge the majority’s need to feel powerful.
And really, even if Lambert isn’t gay—he hasn’t officially come out—he still comes across as queer (meaning the opposite of heteronormative). The effect is the same. No matter who he is off camera, Adam Lambert is presenting a confidently un-straight persona to the world.
Now imagine that Adam Lambert makes it in the music industry. When was the last time this country embraced a male pop star with so much queer energy? Boy George? George Michael in the early 90s? It’s been a long time.
And sure, Jake Shears and Rufus Wainwright could fit the bill, but they don’t have a mass audience.Â I mean, can you imagine the Scissors Sisters having a top ten hit in this country? I can’t.
But if Adam Lambert wins Idol, he could have a chart-topper by June. And that would mix it up around here.