Adam Lambert didn’t watch the grand finale of American Idol, the show that launched his music career, last night (April 7). He was too busy shooting his role as Eddie in Fox’s TV movie remake of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, set to air this fall.
“I know. I’m so sad I missed it,” he tells Billboard at 3:30 a.m. at the Toronto soundstage. “I’ll probably go find it online somewhere. It is bittersweet because if I hadn’t have been working on this, I would have definitely been there. But I was on the show two weeks ago, which was good.”
He didn’t think to ask anyone to text him the winner, and he didn’t text anyone to find out. “I haven’t really been following that closely because I’ve been so busy.”
Lambert, 34, was the runner-up on the eighth season of the popular franchise. He went on to earn a Grammy nomination, release three solo albums and tour the world fronting Queen.
While blessed with a stratospheric voice, he doesn’t think such opportunities would’ve come his way were it not for Idol.
“I don’t know if I would. The music industry is really tricky to break into and highly competitive. When I did Idol, I was 27 and that was part of my reason for doing it,” he says of auditioning. “I was like, ‘I’m not getting any younger,’ and I knew I was a little bit left of center of what music executives typically want to sign. I’m not necessarily an obvious, safe signing.
“I figured out quickly — by doing some demos and I had a band, trying to get into the business and sending stuff to people — how hard it was going to be because I was different. And I figured, ‘Well if I could just get an opportunity to showcase my performance style and my voice to the public first, maybe I’ll have a shot, maybe that will convince an executive,’ much in the way nowadays people have YouTube for that, you know?
“I needed some sort of shortcut to the people. And I hoped that Idol would do it for me. It was the right thing at the right time.”
Does he think now is the right time for Idol to have ended after 15 seasons?
“I don’t know,” he says — but it sounds like he does. “All good things must come to an end. You can’t keep pulling something along if it feels like its time is done.
“I think they’ve done an amazing job this season of being nostalgic and wrapping up. With the little bits that I’ve seen — I haven’t really been watching well — I think it’s been really interesting that they’ve kind of done a retrospective and talked about all the Idols. That’s nice for all the former contestants, too, because it’s one last hurrah for us to go, ‘Yeah! Hey!'”
Lambert has a solid career now. Since January, he toured Asia, Australia and New Zealand behind his 2015 solo album, The Original High, then stopped to film Rocky Horror. On Saturday, he flies to London to do some press and then resumes his tour in Amsterdam on Tuesday, which will take him all over Europe and the U.K. for about six weeks. “Then I get a little break from staying overseas, and then I start doing festivals again with Queen in the summer,” he says excitedly.
A new solo album isn’t in the cards just yet. Maybe at the end of the year, he says. “When I have a whole break and I can just be home for a little while, I’d like to start working on some new music if I can.
“At this point in my life, I’ve gotten to do a lot of things, I’m really lucky. And I figured out that I’m so project-oriented that I like doing a lot of different kind of things. I like having my solo pop career and then moonlighting with Queen is another thing that I like to do — they both satisfy different parts of my creativity.
“And I do things, not even in a public forum, like decorating: I bought a house this year and I love creating my environment. We’re designing our backyard and working with a landscape architect. I love all that.”