It was a confluence of glitz and glamour, spikes and suits and all manner of bare-chested male dancers. In other words, Adam Lambert‘s Sunday night… And VH1 Divas 2012, which featured the American Idol season eight runner-up as host to a lineup that included such performers as Kelly Rowland, Miley Cyrus, Demi Lovato, Ledisi, Keri Hilson, Ciara and Pitbull along with Idol alums Jordin Sparks and Kelly Clarkson.
While the talent turn-out may not have been quite on the level of Celine Dion, Aretha Franklin or marquee names of that ilk, it nonetheless paid tribute to some of the greatest voices the pop charts have ever known, including the late Donna Summer and Whitney Houston and the very much alive Madonna and Debbie Harry.
Jordin Sparks, Melanie Fiona and Ledisi and paid tribute to Whitney Houston with a medley of the late singer’s hits. “Sparkle” co-star, Sparks, kicked off the tribute with a sweet cover of “I Am Every Woman.” Melanie Fiona walked down the aisle, singing, “I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me),” transitioning into “It’s Not Right But It’s Okay” once hitting the stage. Ledisi, later joined by Sparks and Fiona, closed the tribute with “How Will I Know,” hitting every one of Whitney’s signature soulful high notes.
Lambert joined in on a few of those numbers, belting a selection of Summer’s disco classics (“Love to Love You Baby,” “Hot Stuff” and “Last Dance”) alongside Rowland and Hilson and later nailing Madonna’s “Ray of Light.” He also opened up the show with a dramatic entrance followed by David Bowie’s “Let’s Dance.”
Other highlights of the two-hour event, broadcast live from Los Angeles’ Shrine Auditorium, included Clarkson’s “Catch My Breath,” during which her brand new yellow canary sparkler dazzled beneath the TV lights; Ciara‘s homage to “Billy Jean”; the unexpected trio of Bootsy Collins, Natasha Bedingfield and Iggy Azalea delivering “Groove is in the Heart”; And Miley Cyrus, who matched her recently buzzed haircut with a spiked leather half-jacket and a fierce crotch-grabbing, crowd-surfing rendition of Billy Idol’s “Rebel Yell” — diva relevance undetermined.
Keeping the show on schedule and energized was Lambert, who had a flub-free night and was clearly elated at the end of it. “I had so much fun,” he told The Hollywood Reporter after the show. “Figuring out all the outfits and all the different beats was a little bit stressful, but when I got out there for the show, it just felt really warm and the energy was great.”
Lambert added that his favorite moment of the show came during the Donna Summer medley, which he described as “pretty magical.” As for whether he found singing one of Madonna’s most challenging songs intimidating? “Yeah,” he said, “but I had a lot of fun and I liked my outfit.”
Indeed, you could even see the musical theater lover in Lambert come out swinging — with multiple acts and costume changes rather than a one-song performance and you’re out. Or so Lambert noted: “Usually with these events, you do one thing and you’re done and it’s like being shot out of a cannon. But the way this thing was structured, and that I got to sing with other artists onstage, was something fresh for me. I really got to enjoy myself and get comfortable. It was really cool.”
Additional reporting by Erika Ramirez.