Paula Abdul's departure from her American Idol judge's chair has left producers with a hole to fill, but Adam Lambert says it will be difficult to replace the unique qualities Abdul brought to the show in her eight seasons: support, love and heart. Last season's runner-up tells Rolling Stone, "I love Paula," that he checked in with Abdul after her unexpected Twitter announcement, and is sure she'll find success in her future endeavors. But there's no question she'll miss her role as hopefuls' support system.
"She obviously is going to miss interacting with all the Idol contestants, she really loves that process of discovering new talent," Lambert says. "I think she brings so much heart to the show. She's so supportive, she knows what it's like to be a performer and she really provides a sense of safety for the auditioners in the room. I have no doubt her future endeavors will bring her success and happiness. She's got a lot that she's capable of." (Click above to watch our interview with Lambert — and check back next week for an update on his album and the Idol tour.)
As far as news that Katy Perry and Victoria Beckham (a.k.a. Posh Spice) will sit in as guest judges during auditions, Lambert says those choices are "Fun! I think Katy Perry is a genius, she's a sweetheart, a great performer. I haven't met Posh, but she's fierce." And despite criticism that the four-judge format slowed the show down, Lambert says he's in favor of keeping more voices in the mix. "I think it worked really well," he says. "I think it was a nice balance this year."
The audience and contestants will miss Abdul, Lambert says, adding, "She made me feel safe and loved. It's hard when you're facing intense criticism from some of the more harsh judges on the show and you have millions of people behind the camera watching you, it's nice to have a presence in the room that will root for you and smile. And not only after the performances, but during the performance, she stands up, she claps, she smiles at you — it's like a safety net."
Abdul was so devoted to the Season Eight hopefuls, she even hit a parking lot to help them rehearse the choreography for their disco-night performance. "That was wild," Lambert recalls. "Paula came to the recording studio and rehearsed with us with a car stereo. To me that was the most surreal moment of the entire season — I was like, I can't believe I am dancing in a parking lot with Paula Abdul!"