10 Times Adam Lambert Showed The World He's the Master of Covers

J. Merritt/Getty Images for GLAAD
Adam Lambert performs onstage at the 29th Annual GLAAD Media Awards at The Hilton Midtown on May 5, 2018 in New York City.  

Pop-rock superstar Adam Lambert has a sound that's all his own. But throughout his decade-long career, the star has always made a habit of paying tribute to those who influenced his journey and his taste in music. 

Whether it was singing some of his favorite songs during his 2009 run on American Idol, during his live shows, or even as the touring frontman for Queen, Lambert has proven time and time again that he is a master at offering original covers of classic songs. 

Here, we've compiled just a few of our favorite songs that the singer revamped with his signature flair. Check out the 10 best covers by Adam Lambert below:

David Bowie, "Let's Dance"

Kicking off our list is Ziggy Stardust himself: this iconic track from Bowie, which was famously co-produced by Chic co-founder Nile Rodgers, seems like a perfect fit for Lambert. Ultimately, it is -- Lambert and Rodgers collaborated together on his Tresspassing track "Shady," and the chemistry of their sounds is palpable. So, when the two performed the classic track together at a charity concert in 2013, the planets aligned. Lambert's silky smooth vocals mixed with Rodgers' expert guitar skills made this one of the singer's most memorable musical moments to date.

Rihanna, "Stay"

Who doesn't love Rihanna? Adam certainly does, as you can tell by his gorgeous cover of her ballad "Stay," which he performed on the road during his 2013 We Are Glamily tour. He doesn't reinvent the song because he doesn't need to -- backed only by a piano and some light drums, the star stuns with every note, doing RiRi proud.  

Led Zeppelin, "Whole Lotta Love"

We would accept any excuse for Lambert to just pick up a mic and scream out some high notes, and Led Zeppelin's classic hit "Whole Lotta Love" is the perfect song for him to do just that. Adding in his own flavor of glam-rock to the early metal track during American Idol, Lambert blew away audiences everywhere (and the judges) with his insanely rocked-out voice. If you haven't listened to this cover, you should go give it a whole lot of love.

T. Rex, "20th Century Boy"

In yet another example of Lambert's prowess as a rock star, during his 2010 Glam Nation tour, he took on T. Rex's B-side single "20th Century Boy" and delivered it for his doting audience. Once again, the song seems to be a perfect fit for Lambert -- with an already campy quality to it, along with high-profile covers from other rock stars like Def Leppard, it's almost like Lambert was meant to sing this song. And according to the video evidence, the audience agrees. 

Lady Gaga, "Marry the Night"

But not all of Adam's covers are based in hard rock! During his appearance on Glee's fifth season, the star premiered his character of Elliott "Starchild" Gilbert with a stunning performance of Lady Gaga's "Marry the Night." It's complete with everything you want to see from an Adam Lambert performance -- great costumes, even better vocals, drama, stunts, shenanigans, etc. We're with Santana on this one: That insane audition should've landed Lambert's character a spot in Kurt's band. 

Tears for Fears, "Mad World"

While all of Lambert's performances on Idol were top-notch, few were as affecting as his cover of Tears for Fears' "Mad World". Based off of Gary Jules' popularized cover of the song, Lambert wears every emotion on his sleeve, emoting through each of the song's painful lyrics. It's not only one of his best Idol productions, but one of his best performances to date.

Bob Marley & the Wailers, "Is This Love"

Clearly it doesn't matter what genre Adam is taking on, which he proved definitively with his cover of Bob Marley & The Wailers' iconic hit "Is This Love." Instead of offering up a cheap impression, Lambert instead gave an understated performance of the reggae standard, showing off his chameleonic ability to adapt his voice to whatever kind of song he wants to perform.

Cher, "Believe"

It's one thing to cover someone else's song -- it's something else entirely to sing their song directly to them. But still, when Lambert performed Cher's most iconic track in front of her during the 41st Kennedy Center Honors, he never wavered. Bringing the tempo down and turning her smash-hit dance number into a gorgeously orchestrated ballad, Lambert's voice soared through the audience, even bringing tears to Cher's eyes to the entire audience to their feet.

Johnny Cash, "Ring of Fire"

One of the best things about covers is it gives artists free reign to completely reinvent classic songs. So when Lambert was tasked with performing Johnny Cash's "Ring of Fire" on Idol, he decided to strip it of its country roots and add a Middle-Eastern flair to the track, completely making it his own. Throw in a few insanely high notes, and you get one of his most memorable performances during his time on Idol.

Queen, "Bohemian Rhapsody"

You can't have a list of Adam Lambert covers without including at least one Queen song. "Bohemian Rhapsody," in many ways, is the song that started it all — it's how he auditioned for Idol, it's how he met Brian May and Roger Taylor, and now it's a song he regularly performs on the road with the band. We're including his recent performance of the song at the 2019 Global Citizens Fest, where after years of performing with the band, it seems he has found the perfect version of his performance of the track -- making it his own, while still tributing the late great Freddie Mercury.


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