What do we KNOW for certain?
We know Adam’s worked with people as diverse as Ryan Tedder and Rico Love. We know he’s cowritten most, if not all, of the songs destined for the album – and that all together, he has well over thirty songs. We know people think he’s amazing to work with, but that says nothing about the album, just about him. Still, it’s nice.
We know it’s going to be electronic, organic, sorta funky, urban, real, authentic and that it will have ballads and will make us dance. Yeah, that’s very helpful, Adam.
We know he changed management recently. We know his label is in a time of transition. We can reasonably expect that things are a bit disorganized for those reasons.
We know that Adam had said repeatedly that the album would be out in the fall, and that there have been consistent rumors (to the point of magazine publications) that Adam2 will be out in November. But Adam told us that it won’t be out until 2012 (cue tearing of hair and gnashing of teeth.) He also said that his single won’t be out for…well. First he said eight weeks about 3.5 weeks ago, and then he said “Octoberish”. Which is about the same time period.
Except he also said yesterday that they hadn’t chosen the single yet – and that they had a good selection and some weren’t done. We also know he finished a song yesterday, and that he hasn’t done anything about cover art yet.
What we don’t know – pretty much anything else. We don’t know if he had a deadline at all, or even a tentative date. If he did, we don’t know why things were delayed. There have been tweets about songs on and not on the album (Sia wants to shop a ballad around, for example.) And he did say that “Outlaws of Love” will be on the album but that was back in July. So at least there is some idea of what will and won’t be on the album.
We don’t know how many songs he has yet to finish, or how many are under consideration for singles. We don’t who among his big name producers and cowriters will be represented on his album. We certainly don’t know when anything will come out, which is amazingly frustrating. And we don’t know if someone else got the dates he was “supposed” to get. We also don’t know what affect the change in management and the reorganization in RCA had on anything, although there have been some rumors.
What follows is purest guesswork and speculation, and my track record on that is not great, so here, have a huge grain of kosher salt. You’ll need it.
According to Evan “Kidd” Boggart in a leaked article from The Hollywood Reporter, Adam is calling the shots for this album. Boggart thinks that that was the ultimate reason for his management change.
He also seems to think this is a good thing.
Let’s postulate this. Let’s assume that Adam really has that much control. It’s not unprecedented in his case, as Rob Cavallo said that Adam had a huge amount of control over his first album, more than is normal for a first album. And we know that, rushed,overproduced and full of leftovers though it was, and despite getting a bunch of songs late in the game, For Your Entertainment was exactly as Adam described it way back in the top 8 show on American Idol – a mix of styles and genres more like a playlist than most albums, hoping that his voice would be the thread that held the album together.
So, even if he JUST retained that level of control, it would be remarkable, but if Boggart is right, Adam has even more. He holds the reigns(sic) to this album.
So. Last summer and fall, he was hoping to write on the road and maybe record in Europe, and so have an album out this spring. That didn’t happen. It was a grueling tour, and while he kept a journal and noted ideas down, and even got into the “sacred space of unrealilty”, he didn’t actually write.
He was hoping to start writing after the tour, but there were other projects and I suspect he was just exhausted physically, mentally and emotionally. And he had a couple of other things happen, the one most relevant for this discussion being his Grammy nomination. I think that put things on hold – being nominated would open doors; winning would open others. And they (his label and his then-management) maybe wanted to wait to see what happened (although no one really thought he’d win, they had to prepare for the possibility.) And Adam, still exhausted, pushing his new charity projects, moving to a new house and having other changes in his life, let them wait. He’d put an album together in three months before – seven seemed like purest luxury to him. I’ve said this before.
He’s not lazy. When the time finally came to get to work, he worked. He met with writers and producers, flying out if necessary. He spent hours each day in the studio. He created dozens of songs along the way, with his collaborators, learning the entire time.
This last is fact. This we know from things he and others have said and done.
And then he changed his management, and there are rumors that it didn’t go as quickly as could be hoped. Given all the ways management can be entangled in earnings and projects, this is not a surprise.
There were also rumors he was finished months ago. But he kept working, kept writing new music, kept getting major writers and producers gushing over him and the songs they were making even after those rumors happened, even after the management change happened.
And he started sounding less definite about a release in the fall. At the same time, other former Idols got dates, and one began tweeting about writing music and then getting it produced and a photoshoot, and there was a definite and desirable date, in the same month that Adam was rumored for – Adam getting the second week, and Daughtry getting Black Friday, the week of Thanksgiving in the states, the biggest shopping day of the year.
But this isn’t about Daughtry – I think whatever Chris Daughtry and his band was told, or received, was utterly independent of Adam. Daughtry is an HAC/rock group and Adam is CHR. I suspect that Daughtry was told “finish your album on time, and you’ll get Black Friday.” And so it happened. Good for Daughtry.
Adam, if we take his twitter party from Tuesday seriously, and I do, was not given a firm deadline, and when things happened to delay it, he got full support from his label.
My speculation? Adam was pretty set a couple months ago. His new management came on board and maybe got him some great gigs for this month and the next – Project Runway, Majors and Minors, All on the Line in November. Things that get him great visibility. And then other things happened. Maybe there was a delay in something other than the music – rumors that photoshoots had to be postponed because of problems in management changeover – and that’s possible. But I think something else happened (again, PURE speculation).
Last album, they got several songs late in the game, after the Idol tour. They got Lady Gaga’s “Fever” and Muse’s “Soaked” and, I think, The Darkness’s “Music Again” that fall. Why? Someone heard that there was a great singer needing great songs? A call went out for leftovers that would highlight Adam’s voice (and make some money for the writers?) I have no idea, but it happened. And the album, while essentially the same, became loaded with famous names.
This time, they didn’t get famous bands and singers. They got big producers and writers – and producers and writers who aren’t known just for pop. People who don’t tend to work with former Idols, who don’t produce the sort of music associated with the HAC ghetto former Idols inhabit. They also, as it happens, don’t do glam, either.
But Adam wasn’t looking at glam. He was looking at honesty and personal messages, and a generally rock-pop sound. He didn’t want to recreate FYE because it was done. He didn’t want to have that same image, either – a student of music history, he knows the most successful people kept reinventing themselves. Also, he gets bored.
And these new writers and producers came late in the game, and Adam and his label and management chose to go with them instead of going with what they had, and going in a direction that Adam probably loves but could also get him the radio play he needs. And maybe break a few walls along the way. To take that chance.
This is a gamble, you understand. His Idol fanbase expected more classic rock sounds and he gave them electronic dance (and heartfelt ballads and rock and so on). His current one may expect just electronic dance and some ballads, and he’s going for a different sound. So he may lose people again,b but last time he gained more than he lost and there’s no reason to suspect he won’t this time.
(I have lost all critical facility when it comes to Adam Lambert. I will love it no matter what. This scares me.)
But all music is a gamble. What worked last time may fail this time – ask David Cook. Adam knows what he needs is a killer single, good to excellent reviews and decent publicity. And he needs to put out the best album he can. And his label needs that as well so they gave him the luxury of time, even if it means stretching the release until next year, so this will not be a rush job album with overproduced songs and a tired voice. This will be crafted as well as Adam wants – or close to it.
This is the sophomore album, the one that’s the true test. And if he passes it, he will go on to greater things. And if he doesn’t – it’s his responsibility. I make no predictions. All I can do is hope. And I hope it does well. And speculate wildly.