With stunning vocal prowess and equal-opportunity sex appeal, Adam Lambert is American Idol’s first real rock god. Just six months after taking second place on Idol, the 27-year-old singer is releasing his debut, For Your Entertainment, a retro-futuristic dance-pop collection featuring tunes penned by Lady Gaga, Pink, Rivers Cuomo and Muse‘s Matt Bellamy. “The vibe is a blend of old and new, to take a classic-rock-sounding track and ask, ‘How can we modernize this, how can we give it an electronic edge?'” Lambert says. “I want it to be a little bit over the top and tongue-in-cheek, and at other times, I want to do something vulnerable and real.”
When you put your album cover online, it got a lot of criticism for being too campy and too gay.
But that’s what I was like on Idol! When I did “Ring of Fire,” that was pretty camp, so I don’t understand why the cover is a surprise. People are forgetting me at my wildest – with platform boots and rhinestones around my eyes. Is the album cover that much of a departure? Hunky Dory and Velvet Goldmine were a big inspiration, along with old Poison and Motley Crue covers. It’s fun – it’s supposed to be kind of campy.
Do you think some people feel differently about you since you came out?
Gene Simmons spouted something, that he thought I’d ruined my career by coming out. He’s obnoxious, and what a hypocrite – all he talks about is his sex life. He was being a dick – and he’s not the greatest singer. I guess he’s a good businessman, I’ll give him that.
What are your go-to tunes when you’re getting ready to go out?
Goldfrapp’s Supernature was on rotation for, like, a year. It’s electronic, but it has an organic, psychedelic feel to it. When I heard they were working with Christina Aguilera, I was like, “Aw, she beat me to it.”
Lady Gaga wrote a song for you. What was it like working with her?
Even though she seems super-eccentric and out there, as a person, she’s really down-to-earth – very New York. The song was a demo of hers from three or four years ago. At the end of the session, we had a drink – and then recorded more after some whiskey. The song captures us partying.
There’s also a tune by Justin Hawkins of the Darkness.
Their song “I Believe in a Thing Called Love” is a great example of kitschy, glammy rock & roll. I told the producer, “I want it to feel like it’s a time capsule to the Seventies, and we’re going to blast off into space.” It’s a rock song at the core, but it has all this sonic ear candy all over it.
What did you dress up as for Halloween this year?
I walked over to a Hollywood Boulevard costume shop and bought a pair of fangs and creepy white contacts. I was a “glampire” — it’s a vampire with full-on fashion.
This story is from the November 26, 2009 issue of Rolling Stone.