Before becoming a front-runner in the eighth season of American Idol, Adam Lambert made his name in the theater world, where he performed alongside Val Kilmer in the debut production of Ten Commandments: The Musical and landed an understudy role in a touring production of Wicked. The California native then parlayed his theater background into a multi-month run on American Idol in 2009. Lambert's flair for neo-goth clothing and eclectic arrangements made him a critical favorite, as did his dramatic tenor vocals. Following performances of Led Zeppelin's "Whole Lotta Love," Tears for Fears' "Mad World," and Johnny Cash's "Ring of Fire," Lambert found himself pitted against Kris Allen in the grand finale, which he ultimately lost by a slim margin. Lambert was unanimously praised by the American Idol judges, however, who all but guaranteed him a successful recording career following the show's conclusion.
Although Lambert didn't win the Idol competition, he received far more attention than his castmates during the following months, during which he appeared on the cover of Rolling Stone in June ("I don't think it should be a surprise for anyone to hear that I'm gay," he stated in the accompanying article, thus putting an end to the public's speculation) and elicited standing ovations during the summer-long American Idol tour. He also signed with RCA and began recording his debut album, working alongside producer Rob Cavallo while soliciting material from the likes of Lady Gaga, Linda Perry, Justin Hawkins, and RedOne.
One month before For Your Entertainment's release, Lambert unveiled his first single, a track from the 2012 soundtrack titled "Time for Miracles." His debut album followed in late November (arriving one week after the release of Kris Allen's own debut) and sold close to 200,000 copies during its first week, outdoing new releases by Rihanna and Lady Gaga in the process. Meanwhile, a risqué performance at the American Music Awards -- during which Lambert kissed his male keyboardist and danced suggestively with both sexes -- helped gather additional headlines, not to mention a fair amount of controversy.
Lambert's five-song EP Acoustic Live!, featuring stripped-down versions of songs from For Your Entertainment as well as the Tears for Fears cover "Mad World," was released in December of 2010. The following year, Lambert delivered the concert album/DVD Glam Nation Live, featuring performances recorded during the Indianapolis, Indiana stop of his 2010 Glam Nation tour. Lambert's full-length sophomore effort, Trespassing, was released in 2012, with the album featuring a bevy of big-name collaborators including Bruno Mars, Nikka Costa, Sam Sparro, and Pharrell Williams. It hit number one but sold fewer copies than For Your Entertainment, and Lambert announced in 2013 that he was leaving RCA. He returned several times to American Idol, however, and also announced in 2014 that he would tour with Queen, where he would front the band in place of the late Freddie Mercury. In 2015, Lambert returned as the first former contestant to appear as a judge on American Idol. His next studio release would be The Original High -- his first on Warner Bros. following his departure from RCA -- on which he had worked with Swedish songwriter/producers Max Martin and Shellback. The album appeared in June of 2015. ~ Andrew Leahey