Adam Lambert, smoke alarm

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Fourteen years ago, my editor at The Tennessean in Nashville asked me to profile a local rock duo known as David and Eddie. The guys were playing weekly gigs at a local pizza place, drawing huge crowds and generating much local buzz. In Hall & Oates terminology, Eddie Mugavero was Oates—the mustached guitarist/songwriter who sorta hung in the background. David Spear, the lead singer, was Hall. He had a huge voice, an even huger ego, and told me in no uncertain terms that he would one day conquer the world of music.

Thing is, Spear misunderstood an important factor: Just because one has a big, powerful, booming voice doesn’t mean people necessarily want to hear it. Indeed, Spear could sing, but:

A. His high notes, though brilliant, reminded one of a cat being cut by a jagged piece of glass.

B. He was waaaaaay too cocky.

C. He was kind of a jerk. I’ll never, ever forget an incident that took place a few months after my profile ran. A friend of mine was visiting Nashville, and we took a walk downtown. At one point, we sat on a curb, just watching the world. Randomly,  Spear approaches, looks at us and cracks, “What are you trying to do, pretend you’re homeless? You’ve even got the black guy to make it authentic.” Again, I’ll never forget that.

Anyhow, Spear guaranteed anyone who’d listen that he would become the next big thing. I just Googled him, and found nothing—except this and this. Oh, well.

All this leads to Adam Lambert, the odds-on favorite to win American Idol. Unlike Spear, Lambert comes off as an incredibly nice guy. He’s soft-spoken and respectful—absolutely nothing bad to say about him, from what I’ve seen. However, like Spear, he has a voice that, while technically dazzling, sounds like a smoke alarm. It really does. He hits these high notes, sticks out his tongue and—ARRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGG. The judges go crazy, but the average listener, I must believe, cringes.

I’m not sure what the point is here, but I just don’t see the guy having an especially successful commercial career. In fact, while Gokey is my favorite, I’d say Kris Allen is the most marketable. And here’s why

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