"High Drama": Queen singer Adam Lambert turns pop classics inside out

He is still considered the new frontman of the band Queen.

"High Drama": Queen singer Adam Lambert turns pop classics inside out

He is still considered the new frontman of the band Queen. Adam Lambert has been performing regularly with the rock legend since 2011 and has since convinced many skeptics. In the summer, Queen Adam Lambert filled the large O2 Arena in London ten times in a row on their world tour. The 41-year-old is now dedicating himself to his solo career, which began in 2009 with second place on "American Idol".

"High Drama" is the name of his fifth studio album. There is currently no drama in Lambert's life, as he emphasizes in the zoom interview with the German Press Agency in London. "No! I guess I'm just known for being theatrical on stage," explains the singer. "When I perform, I like to bring a dose of emotion and intensity. And we just thought that title encapsulates how I approached these cover songs."

Lambert puts his own stamp on songs

The songs on "High Drama" are exclusively cover versions of songs by different artists and eras, which Lambert puts his own very distinctive stamp on. "I loved the challenge of picking songs, turning them inside out and making them sound like something new or something completely different," says Lambert.

His criterion for the selection: "Of course I have to like the melody, but also the lyrics, the story behind it. What is the message in a song and how does it fit my life? How can it reflect my own reality?"

It kicks off with a bang with Bonnie Tyler's "Holding Out For A Hero," which Lambert turned into an electro-rock song with a shuffle rhythm that's stylistically located somewhere between T.Rex, Gary Glitter, Katy Perry and Muse. The only thing the song has in common with Tyler's 1984 evergreen is the melody.

"Ordinary World" als Piano-Ballade

"It's totally camp of course, the lyrics are basically ridiculously dramatic," says the Indianapolis singer. "But I found it very interesting as a gay man to sing about how I need a hero, to sing about him. It's a he and that's how he's supposed to be. That was really fun."

Lambert turned Duran Duran's '90s hit "Ordinary World" into a poignant piano ballad that rivals the original. "We all know that feeling," he says. "We all know the feeling of loss, the feeling of grief." During an appearance on the US show "The Voice", he dedicated the song to the victims of the shooting spree at LGBTQ nightclub Q in Colorado last November.

Boy George gave Lambert the green light

The Culture Club hit "Do You Really Want To Hurt Me?" is virtually unrecognizable in Lambert's version. "I wanted to see what that would feel like if we took the reggae rhythm out and made it a little bit darker," he says. Boy George, who has always been one of his idols, gave him his blessing. "He really liked it." Equally odd is "Sex On Fire", originally by the Kings Of Leon, which now sounds like Prince is at an EDM party.

"Mad About A Boy" was written for a woman by gay jack-of-all-trades Noël Coward in the 1930s, but there is also said to have been a - at the time risky - version with homosexual allusions.

Album also suitable for Queen fans

"I'm A Man" comes from the forgotten Jobriath, who is particularly close to Lambert's heart. "The world wasn't ready for an artist like Jobriath back then," he says of the rock musician, who in 1973 became the first openly homosexual singer to be signed to a major label (Elektra Records). Despite excellent reviews, commercial success failed to materialize. After an eventful life, Jobriath died in 1983 as a result of AIDS. "This guy had a lot of talent and a dream, but it didn't work out."

Adam Lambert is a specialist in singing other people's songs without the one-time "American Idol" co-runner ever being suspected of trying to copy anyone. This has been known at least since his engagement with Queen, where Freddie Mercury probably left the biggest footsteps that a band frontman can leave behind. Nevertheless, Lambert basically kept on his own shoes.

So also on "High Drama". Whether it's cult hits from the 80s, jazz classics, pop obscurities or lesser-known, newer songs by Pink ("My Attic") and Billie Eilish ("Getting Older") - Adam Lambert makes them effortless and self-evident on his album own. That sounds really good. And Queen fans should check it out too.