Queen frontman and “‘American Idol’ legend,” to quote host Ryan Seacrest, returned to where it all started to mentor the current season’s top eight finalists for a Queen-themed night of hits.
It’s hard to believe that just 10 years ago, Lambert first performed with Queen on the “Idol” stage and began his journey with the legendary band. The story of his rise from reality show star to international rock star will be explored in a documentary airing on ABC Monday night (April 29): “The Show Must Go On: The Queen and Adam Lambert Story.”
Lambert marked the occasion with the debut of a new, long-haired look, which, coupled with a classic poofy shirt, took contestant Walker Burroughs by surprise. “You look like a pirate,” he exclaimed.
Ever the gentleman, Lambert remained unfazed, immediately putting Burroughs at ease for his mentoring session.
As a mentor, Lambert is a true scene stealer. Even better, future mentors should take note of what he was able to do with the Top 8 with the little airtime he had.
The 37-year-old Grammy nominee used his time wisely to shape the remaining talent on the ABC program, whether it be coaching 17-year-old contender Madison VanDenBerg in the art of drama, gently advising the theatrical Jeremiah Lloyd Harmon to ditch the guitar for the dramatic “Who Wants to Live Forever,” or — in his finest moment — pausing small-town country girl Laci Kaye Booth (pictured below) during rehearsals of “Love of My Life” to sing a few lines and demonstrate how to create the emotional context of Freddie Mercury’s lyrics.
“Take the seconds to process what you’re saying,” he advised.
But if there is one thing Lambert brought to the table, it was the secret sauce of “Idol” experience, holding a mirror to the contestants and schooling them, as well as the audience, in the art of reality competition and what works and doesn’t. He cautioned musician Alejandro Aranda that while changing up an arrangement of “well known song and turn it on its ear” is the secret sauce of advancing on “Idol,” it is important to “stick to the melody.”
It was also endearing to watch Lambert march alongside the younger Idols like Burroughs and Alyssa Raghu to demonstrate the art of performance, a skill he clearly mastered after years on his own solo tours as well as fronting Queen. His own experience as a judge on “The X Factor: Australia” came into play with his sessions, loosening up the shy Laine Hardy and guiding Wade Cota through finding “intent” in a song like “We Are The Champions.”
Win or lose the show, hopefully every one of the finalists will take Lambert’s teachings to heart and apply it to their careers going forward, whichever genre they choose. Lambert had so much wisdom to impart, and it was easy to see how his instruction impacted each singer. He was so good, it begs the question of whether his involvement in the show should be more permanent: perhaps as an in-house mentor for ABC’s third season?