He didn’t win American Idol, but you could say Adam Lambert certainly walked away a champion from the longtime Fox reality competition.
Along with such talent as Jennifer Hudson, Jordin Sparks, Carrie Underwood, Clay Aiken and Kelly Clarkson, the season 8 runner-up is one of the few contestants to gain household-name status. And Lambert’s success is holding strong — six years later; the 33-year-old is still stepping into Freddie Mercury’s tremendous shoes as lead singer of Queen and just released his third solo album, The Original High.
The good news: You’ll be able to hear some tracks. The powerhouse glam-rock singer with the shock of black hair and piercing blue eyes will be in town appearing at Miami magazine’s annual Swim Week kickoff party, Splashion, at The Fillmore Miami Beach Tuesday night.
We talked to the Indianapolis native from his home in L.A. before his trip about the album, in which he re-teams with Swedish producing greats Max Martin and Shellback, whom Lambert worked with on his debut album, For Your Entertainment.
How are you feeling about coming to Miami? Where do you usually go when you’re here?
The humidity down there is like magic for my voice. I’m excited to get some Miami sunshine. Unfortunately, I don’t come very often so I don’t have a “usually” kind of place. I don’t remember what I did, but I enjoyed myself!
What can you tell us about “The Original High?”
I’m really excited that it’s finally out. I put a lot of work into it. I did two months in Stockholm, and the producers I got to work with are some of the best in the world. They’re the two guys responsible for my two hits Whataya Want from Me and If I Had You. They’re also really down to the earth, pretty chill, so it was easy to be in the studio. I didn’t have to worry about a lot of ego and politics. It was like, let’s just make some good music.
What is the record’s theme?
If I had to boil it down I would say: The pursuit of happiness. I think everyone is looking for the thing that makes them feel alive and content. It’s a journey trying to figure out what that thing is. Sometimes it’s love, sometimes it’s success, sometimes it’s power. Each song is kind of what it’s like to chase that.
How is this current music different from your past sound?
I think most people are used to seeing me do bombastic, over the top stuff, which can be fun. But Max and Shellback asked me, What would happen if your album was a little more intimate and more emotional but with cool beats attached? I said, ‘That sounds perfect to me.’ So there’s a different vibe. It’s not as campy or theatrical. It’s more straight ahead, which is exciting for me as an artist. To do something fresh. I hope fans will connect. One of my favorite things as a live performer is to see people’s reactions. That’s the biggest treat. We erase all our differences and pull together.
You’re doing solo work but also still filling in as lead singer for Queen. Any big gigs coming up?
Well, we’ve got six dates in South America in September, including [Rock in Rio]. Queen is my side project. Each project means something very special. I love that I have both on my plate. It’s my first time going to South America. I grew up in San Diego so you’d think I’d know more Spanish, but even though I took it in school, I didn’t do all my studies! I was more focused on the creative arts. But hablo un pocito.
Have you watched “AI” lately?
Not really much last season as I was busy recording out of the country. But I liked being able to guest judge the auditions earlier this year. It was weird being on the other side of the table. I like coaching and mentoring if the opportunity came up. I have a lot of opinions. But I also want to guide talent to help them get to where they want to go.
Info: MIAMI Magazine Presents SPLASHION: The Summer of Color; The Fillmore Miami Beach at Jackie Gleason Theater, 8 p.m. Tuesday; Livenation.com; general admission starts at $13.75.