When Adam Lambert appeared on the eighth season of American Idol, people couldn’t stop talking about the shape-shifting, 6’1” singer with the glam-rock sartorial flair, triple-snap sense of humor, and, of course, jaw-dropping, powerhouse voice. In 2009, Lambert released his debut album, the platinum-certified For Your Entertainment, scored the smash single “Whataya Want From Me,” and set out on his 2010 Glam Nation World Tour, taking his electrifying show to thousands of fans across the globe who screamed his name, tossed their lingerie onstage, and happily sang along with every word of his genre-bending electro-pop-rock songs.
But despite all the success, Lambert returned home from the tour feeling not only exhausted but also somewhat isolated. “I’d been in a couple of dating situations that weren’t so successful,” he says. “So when it came time to write new songs my first instinct was to go really dark, but I quickly realized that I didn’t want to stay in that space creatively. At the end of the day, it’s very limiting and I felt it would be false to stay in a dark place when things in my life had started to change.” Lambert began to write celebratory songs that reflected the positive events in his life. The result is Trespassing, which Lambert describes as a more personal album than its predecessor.
“The point of For Your Entertainment was that it was ‘for your entertainment,’ Lambert says. “It was a presentational style album, very showy and theatrical. It was an escape. Trespassing is more honest and paints a better picture of who I am and my experiences. Whether it’s about dealing with being an outsider in society on ‘Trespassing,’ or the ups and downs of a relationship on ‘Better Than I Know Myself,’ or talking about the sadness of being a gay man and not having a lot of options on ‘Outlaws of Love,’ each song lifts the veil a little bit more. There are songs about that joy of finding love, and its potential to feel like a fairytale, but there are songs about the struggle, and how love is not always easy. That’s what the album explores, the reality of relationships. And musically, it shows you how I feel about things.”
Where For Your Entertainment was all glitter, glam-rock, and guyliner, Trespassing, which was executive produced by Lambert, is a buoyant, dance-pop set with a funk-rock sensibility. Working with such top-notch producers as Pharrell Williams, Dr. Luke, Josh Abraham, and Lester Mendes, as well as gifted co-writers Claude Kelly, Bonnie McKee, and Sam Sparro, Lambert has crafted a piece of work that reveals both his dark and light sides. “For the darker side, songs like ‘Underneath,’ ‘Chokehold,’ and ‘Outlaws of Love,’ we delved into harder, industrial, dubstep types of sounds to create atmospheric moods,” Lambert says. “On the lighter side, songs like ‘Cuckoo,’ ‘Naked Luv,’ and ‘Trespassing’ describe my most celebrated, joyous moments — going out at night, falling in love, feeling comfortable in my own skin. Those songs are expressed in a very funky disco-electronic-rock hybrid kind of way.” Straddling the middle is the album’s first single “Better Than I Know Myself,” which Lambert describes as pivotal. “It’s right in between the dark and the light in a way, because it’s about how I’ve found someone, but that I may not be the best partner all the time and apologizing for it.”
The album’s funky tone was set by Lambert’s sessions with Pharrell Williams, with whom he wrote the ’90s house-influenced “Kickin’ In” and the album’s title track, which Lambert explains is about breaking down barriers and proudly trespassing where you may not initially be welcome. “Working with Pharrell was definitely a turning point for me sonically,” he says. “He pushed me to a brash, groove-oriented musical place that I love but hadn’t had a chance to explore yet.” After the sessions with Williams, Lambert expressed his interest in doing something more rhythmic to his other collaborators, which resulted in the part funk, part ’80s rock tune “Cuckoo,” as well as the slinky disco grooves of ‘Shady,’ which features Chic’s legendary co-founder and guitarist Nile Rodgers.
“I think that as an artist, and as a person, I’m always growing,” Lambert says. “For this album I wanted to evolve and explore new sounds. Having been on tour for a year, and really understanding what gets my fans moving and what elicits an emotional reaction, I had a better idea of the type of music I wanted to create. Also, having been through the experience of becoming a public person, I know myself better as an artist. I’m more in tune with the things that I want to express. This album is the most vulnerable I’ve let myself get. These are my words, ideas, fears, and challenges — that’s what I’m singing about.”
As is known to many by now, the Indiana-born, California-bred Lambert was a seasoned theatrical performer before competing on American Idol, where his stunning performances are still widely regarded as some of the most riveting moments in Idol history. When the show ended, he toured the U.S. with the other top 10 finalists while working on For Your Entertainment, which debuted at No. 3 on the Billboard Top 200 chart and earned Lambert a Grammy Award nomination for “Best Male Pop Vocal Performance,” in addition to scores of international awards and honors. He graced the covers of Rolling Stone, Details, Entertainment Weekly, The Advocate, and Out, appeared on every major late-night and daytime talk show, and became the first openly gay mainstream pop artist to launch a career on a major record label in the United States. Lambert channeled his newfound fame into raising awareness about issues close to his heart, advocating on behalf of LGBT causes The Trevor Project, Equality California, and GLAAD, as well as for charity organizations MusiCares, charity:water, and DonorsChoose.org. Other achievements include becoming the first American Idol finalist to tour the world in support of a debut album in the year following their season — a thrilling spectacle documented on Lambert’s 2011 DVD Glam Nation Live, which bowed at No. 1 on SoundScan’s Top Music Videos chart and became the best-selling debut of any release on the Music Videos chart last year.
“I was on such a high coming off of American Idol,” Lambert says. “Everything I did — the album, the photo shoots, the tour — was over the top and extravagant, which is an artistic statement in itself. But now that I’ve kind of settled a bit and gotten to know myself in this new life, I think I’m coming from a more grounded and soulful place. That’s where Trespassing lives.”