If there was any question as to whether American Idol is capable of spawning credible, Grammy-worthy artists, Adam Lambert is out to prove the naysayers wrong. The Season 8 runner-up, who joins past Idol alum nominees Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, Fantasia, and Jennifer Hudson, among others, is nominated for best male pop vocal performance for "Whataya Want From Me," the second single off his 2009 debut, For Your Entertainment. The song was originally intended for Pink -- and, in fact was written by her along with Max Martin and Shellback -- but like all things Lambert, he made it his own.
So how did the outspoken and always outrageous glam rocker hear the news? "I was awoken by my manager in the morning while in Paris," he tells The Hollywood Reporter. "Much more effective than my usual cup of coffee to wake me up. I was so excited! After our call, I saw that a bunch of friends and family had texted and written emails."
Indeed, the Twitterverse was a flutter with congratulations wishes -- from fellow artists to fans to casual listeners -- even as Lambert was blissfully resting from the end of a long, successful world tour. And now that he's performed "Whataya Want From Me" ad nauseum for the better part of two years, one has to wonder whether he knew the song was special when it was first offered to him.
"I recorded 'Whataya Want From Me' on a day off from the Idols Live Arena tour and I was pretty wiped out due to the show schedule," Lambert reflects, "I knew the song would be a key track on my album and it was my first time working with the incredible Max Martin and Shellback, so I was a bit apprehensive. The vocal ad libs at the end were the most challenging as they are quite high and it had been a long day. When I heard the first mix, I felt really confident the song would have success thanks to the flawless production."
As far as the big music business picture is concerned, Lambert acknowledges that the Grammy nod further legitimizes an A&R tool that many in the industry had ostensibly written off, but he emphasizes that the credibility is also his, not just the show's. "I believe American Idol is a dream platform for any artist," he explains. "It did not however, teach me how to sing or perform. I made music for years prior to the show but knew that most major labels wouldn't be interested in me as a mainstream pop artist unless I could develop a legitimate fan base and prove that I had talent. Idol gave me these opportunities. But I feel I earned my current success by preparing and executing a variety of strong performances every week on the show and being comfortable being different."
Indeed, as one of RCA's breakout acts of last year -- with nearly one million units sold between his full-length, a remix album and an acoustic EP -- Lambert was able to parlay TV exposure into a real music career, no small feat in this time of talent show overload. "In addition to the writers and producers of the track, I hope that at this point, after all the hard work I've done over the past year, the nomination will give me credibility as a true vocalist in the industry," he says, "and perhaps help fade some of the stigma that comes from rising to fame on a competition show."