Can Adam Lambert succeed? Notes on the ontological homophobia in popular culture

Welcome Lambert fans. Based on some of what I’ve been reading in your comments, I’ve made a few corrections.

Those of you who are interested in Adam Lambert have probably heard his new single, if not seen the video, which is not from his upcoming album, to be called For Your Entertainment, but rather from the soundtrack to 2012, Roland Emmerich’s latest worldwide snuff film.

[embedyt] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mEcUq0tmg9Y[/embedyt]

The song is getting a lot of attention, not just from the usual suspects, like gay blogs and crazed American Idol fans.. Ann Powers, the highly respected Los Angeles Times music critic raved about the single:

Listen to “Time for Miracles,” the single that begins this fall’s triumphant ascent of “American Idol” finalist and hard rock liberator Adam Lambert with a swoosh and bang that does Freddie and Steven (and Ann and Jon and Axl) proud.

Of course, as with anything Adam Lambert does, there are naysayers. A bunch of folks are just revolted by the song, since it is a rather low-rent Dianne Warren-ish power ballad. It sounds separated at birth from Aerosmith’s Oscar-nominated Dianne Warren power ballad “Don’t Wanna Miss a Thing” from Michael Bay’s worldwide snuff film Armageddon. This is not an unfair criticism. But I’m a sucker for songs like that, as long as they are sung by someone like Steven Tyler or Adam Lambert, whose voice, for the record, I love. It makes the hair on my arms (and back) stand on end. But some people simply loathe the sound of his voice, and I can see this, since it can go from intense to screechy rather quickly. But it works for me. Because the boy can control it as well as any recording artist working today. When he screeches, he’s doing it deliberately. He’s simply an amazingly gifted vocalist.

However, Adam could sing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” without a screech or a flourish, and some people would say it sucks. This guy cannot stand Adam. Since they think he sucks, in more ways than one. Some people just can’t stand they way he moves, or his eyeliner, or his hair, or that he wasn’t spit out by the cloning technology that churned out “masculine” performers like the lead singers of Matchbox 20, Nickelback, The Fray, Coldplay, Kings of Leon, or whatever act you want to list that happens to be led by a straight man. Or supposedly straight. Want to read some hate? Here’s some. Adam Lambert is no less masculine — or more feminine — than David Bowie or Steven Tyler or Axel Rose were at the heights of their popularity, but Adam is actually and openly gay, as opposed to being just ambiguous or faux bisexual like Bowie was back in the day.

And that changes everything. Unlike the guy I linked at the beginning of the previous paragraph, many of the anonymous Lambert haters are not concerned about his supposed pitchiness, but rather that he’s a faggot. A typical string of comments from idol-mania.com:

Coolman // May 24, 2009 at 7:22 pm

Adam is a FAGGOT!!!! He is a “male” Cher. He is the worst contestant EVER. I would rather listen to Sanjia for 10 hours than the FAGGOT adam. He will never be anything
#

156 Anti-Kara // May 24, 2009 at 7:25 pm

Adam is a pillow biter. Isn’t there anyone left in the USA with MORALS???
#

157 AdamsGay // May 24, 2009 at 7:26 pm

Maybe adam should get into gay porn. He’ll never make it as a singer. Just goes to show how many queers there are voting. He sure didn’t make it on his singing!! LOL. HE SUCKS—-Literally!!

Want more? Try this.

(By the way, I love how google searches for “fag,” too, when you search for “faggot.”)

(Also, by the way, a lot of the internet hate concerning Adam Lambert is virtually identical, discourse-wise, to the faggot-bashing-shitstorm-tsunami-flamewar that Perez Hilton experienced after his altercation with the Black Eyed Peas’ entourage. Read the comments. If you don’t act like a “man,” you are always already guilty.)

There has never been an openly gay pop star. The closest we’ve ever had are Elton John, George Michael, KD Lang, and Melissa Etheridge, and all were big stars before they came out. And aside from Elton John — with his Disney work and his Princess-Diana-is-dead song — none of them have had a radio hit in the United States since they came out. In case you haven’t noticed, American radio stations are more homophobic than any other popular media format.

Rob pointed out that there was one exception to this: RuPaul. He was out — way out — when he had a hit with “Supermodel (You Better Work).”
[embedyt] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vw9LOrHU8JI[/embedyt]
This is the exception that proved the rule. He didn’t have a hit as a gay man; he had a hit as a drag queen. He was not a man with a slightly ambiguous gender performance, which is threatening to many straight men. RuPaul’s gender was never ambiguous — this was a man pretending, mocking, satirizing, loving the female and feminine. There’s a reason why female impersonation is safe for straight men to watch, love, and participate in: It reestablishes and reifies gender more often than it disrupts and confuses it. (Check out Gender Trouble and Vested Interests for more.) Out gay men who shirk masculinist stereotypes — guys like Adam Lambert — do not do confirm gender; they fuck with it. Which is one the reasons why I love Lambert so much. Also, I fucking love RuPaul. This song led off the dance-party playlist at our wedding. And the video? One of the greatest ever made. Yeah, Kanye. Really. However, it’s also important to note that “Supermodel” wasn’t a major hit, outside of the clubs and MTV. It peaked at 45 on the pop charts. It wasn’t even a Top 40 hit.

[embedyt] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SfrhCvDLlCg[/embedyt]

While radio only allows gay people to be drag queens or forces them to first pay their dues by pretending to be straight (or both, a la Boy George in the 80s), gay people and gay stories are hugely successful on TV, on Broadway, in bestselling books, and even in Hollywood films. Sure, we complain about homophobia in American films. And we should. Brokeback Mountain lost the Oscar because of homophobia, both the overt “Ugh, fags” stuff from older voters and subtle “Ha, gays are funny! Here’s my Brokeback parody!” stuff from younger voters. Mincing and/or creepy queers are still used for comic relief and/or as easy villains, even after The Celluloid Closet pointed out that it’s damn offensive to do that. The “Gay Steppin’ Fetchits” in He’s Just Not That Into You. Charlie Prince (Ben Foster) in 3:10 to Yuma. Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro) in 300. Ruby Rhod (Chris Tucker) in The Fifth Element. Albert (Nathan Lane) in The Birdcage. Prince Edward (Peter Hanly) in Braveheart. Scar (Jeremy Irons) in The Lion King. Ra (Jae Davidson) in Stargate. Ted Levine (Jame Gumb) in Silence of the Lambs. Also, everything about Boat Trip and Chuck and Larry.

[embedyt] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZtfhD70eaS4[/embedyt]

And then there’s Brüno, which was ostensibly a movie mocking gay stereotypes and homophobia, but was so badly conceptualized, marketed, and made that it simply furthered gay stereotypes and homophobia — except in the people who were already aware of the evils of gay stereotypes and homophobia. It was at times hysterically funny, diamond-sharp satire, and at times so offensive-and-not-in-a-good-way that I was aghast. As in, my jaw dropped during some of the scenes focusing on Brüno’s adoption of an African baby. GLAAD rightfully attacked the film, which caused some gays to attack GLAAD. My response to the criticism of GLAAD (written as a comment to a Facebook update) was (with some editing), “I haven’t seen it, though if I had any money I probably would. But I don’t think I need to see it to think that GLAAD’s press release makes sense. Barrios says clearly that he knows the point of the satire and knows that a lot of gay people will find it funny. But he also points out that the movie will do no good in areas of the country where most people aren’t able to find humor in homophobia. Like Arkansas. I think GLAAD actually has perspective here. And honestly, I wouldn’t want GLAAD to have much of a sense of humor. If they found very un-PC humor funny, they’d be rather useless as an anti-defamation group. It’s their job to complain about representation and to question stuff like Brüno. Even if I found Brüno funny, and I bet I would find a lot of it funny (though A.O. Scott, who I agree with 95% of time, wasn’t thrilled with it, so I may react with a “Meh,” like JoeMyGod), I’m sure I would still think GLAAD’s response is appropriate.” Then I saw it, and I really agreed with GLAAD.

Clearly, we’re having growing pains as a movement. In parts of the country, we’re so accepted and embedded in the landscape that the sort of satire found in Brüno is fine, maybe even needed. Many of us have been lulled into a content, fuzzy happiness because our local leaders are so pro-us. So, we’re flummoxed that Obama hasn’t made good on every single one of his promises to us, even though some of those promises are rather radical positions in much of the country. In many parts of the United States, where anti-gay marriage proposals pass with the 90% of the vote, Brüno was going to play like I’m Gonna Git You Sucka in 1950s Alabama: Badly. These are the parts of the country — and I’m not talking about fly-over country only, but also Orange County and eastern Washington State and north Florida and Staten Island — where people actually believe the lies of Frank Schubert or Tony Perkins or Glenn Beck. They nod along with So You Think You Can Dance judge and executive producer Nigel Lythgoe when he says he doesn’t like it when men don’t dance like men — on a show full of gay contestants who seem not allowed to say or even imply that they’re gay — if they watch the show at all. They voted for Kris Allen over Adam Lambert on American Idol because Kris is so very straight and manly (in a sweet, farm boy way), and Adam is so very not (in a glam rock, showtune, Lady Gaga back-up dancer way).

It also seems that these are the same people in charge of radio playlists. Notoriously conservative Clear Channel dominates radio in the United States, and aside from their back-of-bus, mostly online Pride channel (which has played just two gay acts among their last 200 songs, when I checked), none of their mainstream rock or Top 40 stations play anything by gay acts, so it doesn’t seem terribly crazy to believe that they are either preventing gay acts from succeeding on the radio or tacitly allowing their failure. As someone pointed out, Clear Channel is nice to its gay employees. Awesome. But that has nothing to do with whether or not they will promote out gay artists on the radio. For example, Fox News gives its gay employees domestic partner benefits, but their shows spew homophobic garbage. Yeah, blaming Clear Channel makes me sound like a conspiracy theorist, for sure. But it’s not one that is particularly far-fetched (unlike, say, the theory that HIV doesn’t cause AIDS or that 9/11 was “an inside job”). Worse, however, is that even independently owned stations don’t have the balls to play any gay artists.

[embedyt] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WPMBlXfpSNA[/embedyt]

In San Diego, where Clear Channel owns seven of the radio stations and more or less controls the radio waves, we have two independently owned alt rock stations. One basically plays the Top 40 hits on the Modern Rock list — it’s pretty corporate. But the other, 94.9, brags incessantly about being “100% Clear Channel-free,” playing only great music, playing music that you haven’t heard of, recommending cool news acts, and having a slogan that claims “It’s all about this music.” It is the best non-satellite radio station I’ve ever listened to, which isn’t saying much but it’s still saying something. They have an irritating habit of playing Alt Rock’s Greatest Hits© over and over and over again. I hear songs from Nirvana and Sublime and the Red Hot Chili Peppers albums from the 90s so often that I actually change the station when I hear songs like “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” Not in that rotation? REM and Hüsker Dü. Yep. The two major alt rock groups with out front men. (Yes, REM gets played, but much less than Nirvana or Pearl Jam. Hüsker Dü, never.) But the station introduced me to LCD Soundsystem and MGMT and Metric and Muse and TV on the Radio and Black Joe Lewis and the Honey Bears. And they’ve done such cool things as put Neil Diamond’s excellent last album in heavy rotation. But for a station that plays David Bowie and Queen and Depeche Mode and The Smiths and The Decemberists never to play — not even once — a Scissor Sisters song is bizarre. One of Rufus Wainwright’s rockers? Never. Hercules and Love Affair? Of course not. I wouldn’t expect international-except-for-the-United-States superstar Mika on 94.9, but he’s certainly never going to be played on our local Top 40 station, 93.3, where he belongs. Since it’s owned by Clear Channel. If 94.9 was actually “about the music,” they would have introduced San Diego to Mika’s “Grace Kelly” and Rufus’s “Foolish Love” or the Scissor Sisters’ “Take Your Mama” or Hercules and Love Affair’s “Blind.”

When even the rebel radio station is too weak-kneed to play anything remotely threatening to heterosexism’s domination of radio, it’s hard to imagine that Clear Channel will suddenly embrace something as gay as Adam Lambert. Obviously, Adam Lambert is different. He’s already a star. He lost American Idol, but he got the cover of Rolling Stone. And he’s on the cover Details right now. But Details decided the best way to deal with having a gay guy on their cover is make the entire feature about him be about how women want to sleep with him. The photos of him are gorgeous, but they also look like outtakes from the video for Chris Isaak’s “Wicked Game.” They heterosexed Adam Lambert. Because gay people are scary! Michael Jensen at AfterElton.com is much less negative than me about this. (They had a lot of fun mocking the spread though.) I’m partial to the view of this blogger:

I don’t have any problem with him being gay, but I still think that Details made the editorial decision to wrap him up in this more hetero-sexualized image of a boob-lovin’ mysterious… bisexual, maybe? And it’s pretty clear he’s just straight-up gay. That I take issue with that, because it’s as if Details thinks their readership won’t respond if they made Adam pose with nude men, you know? Or maybe it was just a way of getting us to talk about their magazine. I don’t know. In Page Six this morning, Details editor-in-chief Dan Peres said: “Women obviously know he’s gay, but they are still crazy about him. He’s no Liberace. To put him with a beautiful female model felt absolutely right.” Uh… no.

Of course, Details has issues with the gays. They have a huge gay readership but they pretend like they don’t. It’s very odd.

I think many people expect Adam Lambert’s album to be a huge hit. It has amazing Amazon pre-sales and lots of buzz. I hope it is a huge. I hope he becomes a massive star. But Amazon pre-sales do not a multi-platinum album make. It’s much more complex than that. To become the hit people expect, singles from For Your Entertainment need radio play, and a lot of it. But I don’t think radio — either Clear Channel or un-Clear Top 40 radio or indy stations or the crass morning DJs — is going to help that happen. I think they’ll chase after the bandwagon when it’s already down the street, but they won’t help grease the wheels.

Oh, and “Time for Miracles” is out and available for purchase and download. Anyone hear it on the radio yet? I haven’t. It’s a serious question — I want to know. It’s only at #28 on the iTunes chart, though it’s at #16 on Amazon.com (as of 12:03pm PST on Saturday, October 24). Hmm. If there’s a god, it will be #1. But I’m worried.

UPDATE:

And this is the cover of the album. Zounds! As Andy Towle wrote, it’s “unabashedly gay.”

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36 comments

I think he will be successful. I think people, young and old, are looking for someone like Adam, not only for his vocal ability which is off the charts, but for his honesty and courage to be himself against all odds.
I really hope America doesn’t disappoint me again.

I hope you are wrong about Adam’s song not being played. He is the most talented person to come along in a long time. Time for Miracles is so beautiful.

Somehow, in spite of the homophobia that is still “out” there, primarily amongst ignorant bible-thumping so-called followers of Christ, or amongst young heterosexual males who are still not 100% comfortable with anything “other”, or amongst older heterosexual males who are not 100% secure and sure of themselves as heterosexual males, or amongst the odd assortment of homophobes that cannot be classified in any particular group; somehow I see Adam Lambert being brilliant and becoming the worldwide star he is meant to be.
Why do I say this?  Because hating people because they’re putting their junk in a place that you think their junk should not be put in, is, in a word, stupid.  What’s it to you? 
One group that could care less about Adam’s orientation is women in the 40 and older club.  We are crazy for Adam because we know a good thing when we see it, and we know how rarely it comes along.  In our lives, we’ve experienced the great rock stars of the 70s and 80s.  We’ve smoked a joint or two.  We’ve gotten married, had a kid or two or three who are now grown or nearly grown. Many of us have really good jobs, or have husbands that have good jobs, and we have money to spend. 
Money talks, and we’re talking about spending a lot of it on Mr. Lambert. 
Watch and see, we don’t give a damn who he’s with, where he puts his junk, and whether he could ever consider having sex with a female. 
So what.
All we care about is who he becomes when he’s on stage performing.  He is a beast of sexuality and intensity.  His voice is a one-of-a-kind phenomenon.  There’s nobody like Adam.  There’s been nobody like him.  I doubt there will ever be anybody like him in the future.
I know he’s compared to Elivs, to Bowie, to Freddie Mercury, and so on.  He’s compared to those music icons because, like them, he makes us feel something that we rarely get to feel.  We get to feel like we are perfect, that our lives are perfect, that we are nothing but beautiful and successful and charmed.  We get to forget about all the crap in our lives.
Not many artists can make us forget about the crap we have to live with daily.  But Adam can.  And that’s all I really want from him.  The thing is, this man is able to turn me on and carry me away.  Where I go to changes depending on what he is singing about and how he’s singing it.  But trust me, I do go away, and it’s perfect.
In the end, these radio stations that are supposedly filled with homophobes of all stripes or closeted homosexuals who do not speak up lest they lose their jobs, will not be able to resist the tidal wave of Adam that is just beginning to hit us in these early days.  His music will be played, and played, and played.  Homophobia be damned, Adam is just that good. 
Bottom line, Adam will break the pink glass ceiling, no worries there.

Rock on! Great comment. Thanks! —Ed.

I share your concern about radio play for Adam’s album. Shortly after the AI finale, a radio station in the Midwest was playing both the Adam and Kris Allen versions of  “No Boundaries” but then abruptly stopped playing Adam’s. The reason given to callers? Adam was a “diva”. Nonetheless,  I choose to believe that Adam’s talent and magnetism combined with a solid fan base, extensive media coverage, past and present YouTube and iTunes downloads, kickass album reviews and association with artists like Pink and Lady Gaga will sell albums despite lack of radio play.  He’s such a seasoned performer it’s easy to forget he’s still a newcomer to the record business. I don’t doubt he’ll be successful, but it’s going to take time for people to realize he’s here to stay.

OMG. They actually told callers it was because he was a diva? I guess I wasn’t so off-base, as some of the commenters seem to think. —Ed.

[…] Wonderfully written, very intelligent viewpoint. But I sincerely believe that Adam can and will and is rising above the fears that some people have simply by his incredible talent and wonderfully open personality. […]

It is so sad that some people dismiss Adam’s talent just because he’s gay.  Have they taken the time to listen to him or learn anything about the guy?  I’ve never heard anyone that has met him say anything  bad about him.  Who cares who he sleeps with?  It’s funny that straight men think it’s okay for 2 women to be together but not 2 men…and I’d be willing to bet that alot of these straight men like giving it in the ass too!  Get over it!  Enjoy the music because Adam’s voice is out of this world!  Gives me chills!

A very good and interesting piece to read. I agree to lots of your point in your blog/article/piece. In regards Details cover story, you have to read an article on afterelton.com, from a gay point of view of the photoshoot and the article in Details magazine. Actually your point of view and his would really be a good match. And as for US radio stations that they probably help Adam and won’t play Adam’s songs because they’re homophobic, I agree too. Even though, during the tour some of them are very excited to get his interview and they talked highly of him. So I hope when his real music comes out they would still supportive of Adam. If not.. well.. his label company, RCA and his management 19M are setting Adam to be an international star. If majority of his fellow American won’t support him, international citizens will. A lots of Adam’s fans in Europe said Adam will be loved and well accepted in Europe and other countries and he will be big internationally. Also don’t forget Japan and other countries in Asia that loves their Adam Lambert. And I agree with you that when he’s famous and become an international/world-wide star, then suddenly these people will chase his bandwagon when it’s already too late… very sad… but it could be very true..

Thanks for pointing out the AfterElton piece. I linked to it. Jensen’s more optimistic than I am. Which is great. —Ed.

” I think many people expect Adam Lambert’s album to be a huge hit. I don’t.  “
The pre-orders – the largest for any contestant ever  – already guarantee that it will be.  Writers who have submitted tracks for the album and producers who have worked on it have been tweeting their fingers off over the last couple of days, in between chewing their nails to the quick, because Adam, his management and the record company were deciding on the final tracklisting and they have all been desperate for their songs to make the cut, such are the pre-sales figures and the guaranteed revenue.
I think you think too much.  Lighten up.

Sigh. I edited that line to be more specific. Yes, the pre-orders are awesome, but they do not guarantee a sustained run on the charts. Only radio play can do that. And marketing and cool songwriters can only do so much. Just ask Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston. And c’mon, on the AdamOfficial, you wrote, “That article is the biggest pile of misinformed, poorly-researched, self-pitying, oh-woe-is-me garbage that I have read in a long time.” That’s just obnoxious. The post is hardly misinformed or poorly researched. I have been writing about LGBT issues in the arts for 13 years, and I am arguably an expert on homophobia in American culture. You may not like to hear that the experience of gay people in the United States is rife with discrimination both overt and subtle, both legal and cultural, but it’s there. Telling those of us who have devoted our lives to fighting such discrimination to “Lighten up” is patronizing. Smiling while we are discriminated against doesn’t help anyone except for people like you, who cannot bear to admit that their inaction and apathy make them party to the discrimination. —Ed.

Very interesting article on the homophobia apparently still prevalent in American radio.  I think Adam Lambert has the power to change all that – the buzz surrounding him seems almost unprecedented; I mean – who gets invited to perform on the American Music Awards and have a cover on The Rolling Stone BEFORE they’ve even released a record??
Brian May of  Queen in his exhuberance over Adam’s talent, seems to have annointed Adam with the title Heir Apparent to the late fabulous Freddie Mercury.  A huge A-list of music producers, writers and artists (including Pink and Lady Gaga) have gathered to collaborate with Adam on his highly anticipated first record. Unanimously they have sung staggering praises about the music Adam is making!!
So, my guess is that we are going to see Adam break through the antiquated barrier of homophobia on radio and hear hit songs from his first album played all over radio.  I certainly HOPE so – for truly; Adam’s orientation shouldn’t matter one little iota!  I am a straight woman in her 50s and I adore Adam Lambert – he’s the best thing to hit the music scene in the past twenty years, IMO!!!

[…] wickedone on Sat Oct 24, 2009 10:43 am TAG097 wrote:Can Adam Lambert succeed? Notes on the ontological homophobia in popular cultureI think many people expect Adam Lambert’s album to be a huge hit. I don’t. I hope it is. I hope […]

Stellagirl, you are my hero. Glenda, you too. I want to have cocktails with you! (I’m a gay man; ok, and I happen to be married to the writer of this blog post). But Stellagirl you totally nail it:
“he makes us feel something that we rarely get to feel.  We get to feel like we are perfect, that our lives are perfect, that we are nothing but beautiful and successful and charmed.  We get to forget about all the crap in our lives.”
That’s exactly what he does. His voice is liberated– it makes us, all of us, gay, straight, bi, trans, married, single, 40s-60s, 20s-30s, feel liberated as well.

Rob, cocktails it is!  If you’re ever in Toronto, let’s do a round.  And if I’m ever in San Diego, ditto.  
Your comment about Adam’s voice making all of us feel liberated, feel free, is so true.
Here’s to freedom, to Adam Lambert, to being liberated – gay, straight, bi, trans, married, single, and all ages, all races, all religions. 

Excellent article, really. And the comments are so well thought out.
I have firsthand knowledge of Adam being admired and listened to by straight men.  He has even won over older straight men, just with his voice.  He had the once in a lifetime opportunity to show us his stuff, in the mainstream of mainstream television shows.
I’m convinced that Adam is going to be our first openly gay superstar.  He has everything we want in our superstars.  If enough of us are asking for it, the radio will play him.
Also, I don’t believe TFM has been released for adds to the stations, but I have seen many tweets that the song was heard by various people on various radio stations – so already they are playing it on their own.

Awesome! Great news. I think I’ll request it on 93.3 here and see what happens. Our Sophie station will do it, I bet. —Ed.

I have read comments like the ones you linked to. They are disgusting, and they pop up in more “mainstream” sites like Eonline and Yahoo etc whenever Adam’s mentioned. I think that you may be right, and that there could be a concerted effort to refuse to play him on the radio, which would, yes, pretty much destroy his career.
On the other hand, Adam is unusual. He came out very early in his career. His studio seems to be backing him, and he also seems to have the music industry on his side. He’s been getting the kind of promo that any new artist would probably commit murder to get.
Yes, “Time for Miracles” is not playing on the radio, but I don’t know how much of that is due to homophobia, or to the non-top-40 nature of the song. There’s also the fact that his studio might not want it on the radio as it would otherwise compete with an album single that will hopefully be released soon.
I don’t know. Adam’s situation is so very unusual that, imo, when it comes to him, all bets are off.  Despite everything I said earlier, my pessimistic side thinks that you are right, and that his sexuality will, idiotically, irrationally and tragically,  stymie his career.
 
 

I love this post, very intelligently written. I must defend 94.9, though. Bob Mould (Husker Du) is a staple on that station. He does shows, interviews, guest djs all the time. They don’t play Scissor Sisters or Mika (or Adam for that matter) because the music doesn’t fit. There just aren’t many out rockers. Every night 94.9 play 5 hours of electronic music. Where else can you find that? They play Goldfrapp, Beth Ditto, Basement Jaxx on and on 9-2 every night. It’s second only to their morning show in popularity. I just told (fangirled to) the DJ for that show about Cassidy Haley, Adam’s friend and fellow out musician, and she loved his music and had me send her a cd to play on air. 94.9 is a rebel rock station and they are completely progressive and indifferent to sexual preference.
That said, I do agree that it is so much more difficult for an out artist to be played on top 40 radio. But I contacted the program director who oversees several of San Diego’s Clear Channel stations and he told me straight out that his stations will play Adam’s music. Unlike 94.9, though, they wouldn’t play the music just because it’s good, they’ll play it because Adam is so popular.
Next week I expect to hear Cassidy Haley on one San Diego station and Adam Lambert on another. Progress to be celebrated indeed for just as agenda didn’t keep them off air, agenda didn’t put them on air either. Good music and good business is all that matters. That’s a beautiful thing.

Weird — I’ve never heard Bob Mould mentioned or played on 94.9. But I trust you. That’s cool. However, he is similar to the other artists I mentioned. He was not out until after he was important. And I have never heard them play The Gossip. But that’s cool if they have. And while I agree about Mika not fitting on 94.9, I think the Scissor Sisters would, since their sound is not so much different from Depeche Mode, LCD Sound System, MGMT, or David Bowie, all of whom 94.9 play. And then there’s the whole thing about there not being out rockers. There are, but they don’t get pushed or played the same way as straight rockers. I somehow blanked on it when I was writing the post, but another example of a gay act that doesn’t get played on 94.9 is the Magnetic Fields. I think I may have heard them once on 94.9. Once. And not playing Rufus Wainwright when they do play Neil Diamond is pretty bizarre. And don’t get me started on why the songs from the Hedwig soundtrack aren’t on the radio. But yeah, 94.9 is a great station. And they may not have an overt bias against gay acts. But it doesn’t have to be overt to matter. That said, I’m thrilled that Cassidy Haley will get played. I’m going to go find some of his tunes. —Ed.

I live in the South and the buzz on radio here has been all about Adam, not the winner, Kris. You mention that Adam’s single hasn’t received any airplay. I live in Dallas, #4 in the radio market, and have yet to hear Kris’ single on the radio here. And his single has been out for a month. The demand for Adam is out there. The response to him by the audience  on the AI tour was phenomenal, an audience filled with families as well. I think you’re forgetting one thing about Adam. He’s a strategist. I truly believe that if anyone can break the barriers, he can.

Thank you so much for taking the time to go to AO and read the comments and respond.   It is appreciated.   We are all hopeful that Adam’s talent will outweigh any negativity from homophobes.  If anyone can do it, Adam can.  As a straight woman, I have to say that my eyes have been opened wide by Mr. Lambert and the reactions to him.  People that I have been friendly with for years and who I never suspected of being so prejudiced dismiss Adam and my support of him, asking why I would be interested in listening to ‘that gay guy’.   I always considered myself to be a supporter of gay rights, but did not realize how deep the fears are in some people.  I was always like ‘hey, let everyone love who they love, it’s all good to me’ and thought that most people were the same way.  But then I read some of the poison spewed and comments made – and watch things like TFM being voted down on myspace simply because of hatred – and am somewhat shocked.  I feel that I can no longer listen to snide comments or jokes about gay people with the same equanimity as I did before.  I truly wish to see a change come in my lifetime.

I’m a 54 year old wife and mother who with no religious affiliation and I love me some Adam.  My husband is a religious fanatic and still ignorantly believes that homosexuality is a lifestyle choice.  He doesn’t dislike my love for Adam but he is happy that Kris won, even though he cares nothing about his music, because the kid is a nice christian boy.  Yes, Adam lost because he’s gay but Kris lost too because his votes were to keep Adam from winning and now he doesn’t have a fan base to support his sales.  The whole thing stunk and if America does this again with Adam’s career, it will be a sad day indeed.  It may be that he will have to rely on Asia and other countries for his biggest success, but I also believe that Adam is a strategist and very smart and extremely charismatic and he will somehow worm his way into more people’s hearts as he continues his journey to stardom.

Ted,  this is extremely well written, and was a refreshing read. I have had issues with the fact that artists don’t make it here in the US for years, many of which I feel like are hindered by the fact that they are a gay artist, or have a gay artist in the band (as you mentioned, Scissor Sisters are a great example).
If we look to the UK, we can see how much more open and accepting they can be with gay musicians; I mean, just look at Will Young for starters. He won Pop Idol, and while he wasn’t out at the time, he is still (somewhat) successful now that he is out (AND he is incredible). I hope that Adam can strike a chord there at least, if middle America focuses on the fact he is gay, and not the fact that he could sing circles around Kris Allen. I think it just shows the ignorance of Americans that are so willing to digest horrible premanufactored pop like the Black Eyed Peas, Nickelback, and Matchbox 20, and never give something truly good and different a chance because it might somehow make them more “gay”.  It’s a wonder that Lady GaGa still has the momentum she has; but honestly I think that she has the fact that she’s a woman working in her favor. People seem to be able to stomach the idea of a girl representing something gay, but never a man. I can’t wait for a time when the people of this country get off their “moral” high horse and just accept the fact that gay people are everywhere, and we don’t deserve to be ridiculed and disregarded just because of who we are.

[…] This blog post about the (possibly diminished) potentiality of Adam Lambert’s success in the American […]

In response to Duane:  I do understand where you’re coming from, but please remember that it was middle America that propelled Adam Lambert into the top two Idol contestants out of over 100,000 who tried out.  Adam proudly stood apart, unapologetically dared to be different than the “cookie cutter molds” most Idol contestants are, and still mainstream America kept voting him in.  The pictures of Adam kissing his boyfriend surfaced on the web in the middle of the competition; and still Adam kept getting the votes he needed.  And the majority of these votes were coming from mainstream America, right? The finale results hurt, for sure – Adam so deserved the whole tamale; but I am glad that he got as far as he did despite the prevalence of homophobia that sadly still exists in this country.  I’m a straight female in her fifties, by the way, and homophobia makes me sick to my stomach. I come from Canada and it just seems we are raised differently in Canada; more accepting and less judgmental overall.
I hold out hope that we “middle Americans” ARE in fact, ready and waiting for someone so special as Adam.  I truly feel this amazing young man will make a difference in our country; and maybe even help dispel some misconceptions and stereotypes.  Once Adam has his career established, I absolutely could see him working from a political perspective to help enlighten the ignorant.  Let’s all hope there will be light!!
By the way – I’ve met Adam and chatted with him; he couldn’t have been nicer, truly.  I was shocked at how ego-less this incredibly talented young man is.  In my profession I’ve met other celebrities with a lot less talent who had a whole lot more ego than Adam does.  He’s really remarkable!!

[…] by atlmalcontent Ridiculous, and it doesn’t explain the success of Barry Manilow, Little Richard and countless […]

Yawn. —Ed.

I also see Kris Allen getting lots of airplay vs Adam’s Time For Miracles.  I don’t believe for one minute that it’s not radio friendly. It’s the perfect song for radio.

For the first time ever I actually sat through an entire season of American Idol and yes because of Adam’s skills.  No one will ever convince me that Kris Allen won because of talent. He was the “safe” christian boy. Married and from backwoods Arkansas. His talent is very average. His performance skills are less than average.

Anytime I see an article relating to Kris Allen the worst I see written about him is he is boring. When I see an article written about Adam they shred him. People leave incredibly vile comments in the comments section.

Is this representative of the country I live in? Is this how people think?  I have to admit I never really gave much thought to gay issues in the past. I never thought about the imbalance or the hatred. 

As I heard Adam’s vocal abilities I became a fan. I will admit I was “thrown” a bit by him being so openly gay. In the past I may have been one of those people to comment in a negative way.

I’m not sure why I had my epithany or why I found myself thoroughly examining the way I think. I do know a lot has to do with the way Adam has been treated.  But I have looked at my way of thinking and quite frankly I’m ashamed.

To be a straight male and a fan of a openly homosexual man has raised a lot of eyebrows. But I find I no longer care. I don’t back down and I stand my ground and force people to explain to me what the problem is. I will say I have changed the thinking of quite a few people.  I’m not the most articulate person going but I hope I conveyed some of what I was thinking with out offending anyone in my clumsiness.

I think Adam is extremly gifted and he will have a long rocky road ahead. I believe he could end up as one of the greats. One of those who forged the path for future generations. However, I do believe a lot of it will not be recognized for many, many years.

One thing people can do is put their money  where their mouth is and buy the CD and call your radio station. If you want to break the cycle you have to be proactive and not complain that he’s not getting airplay. Ask for it, demand it.  Adam’s biggest obstacle will be the straight, white, middle-America male.  Yes, that’s me.  But if one person can try to change their thinking can there be hope?

Fantastic comment. Thanks so much. —Ed.

Bruce – I LOVE your comments – and you are indeed articulate.   The way Adam has been treated and how he has held his dignity through it all has taught me so much about what gays in our country experience.  I am a straight, open-minded female but until Adam came along I had no idea just how much hatred and prejudice still exists towards our gay community. I really do believe Adam, with his undeniable talent and immense likability, will help to open people’s minds and hearts and make us a more accepting nation!  I’m proud of you, Bruce, for opening your heart and embracing someone so gifted and precious as Adam.  I hope his example will show more Americans that acceptance and embracing each other’s differences is the most enriching of paths.

I have been listening to Kiss FM and have not heard Adam lambert. What I do hear is the same awful rap ,etc.I think a letter writing campaign to the corporations that control the radio stations might help. Also boycotting the air waves that refuse to play Adam’s music.. and if necessary boycotting their sponsors.After all we are the listeners.. if they want us to listen, they will play what we want to hear !

[…] Since I was deeply concerned about whether radio would ever get behind Adam Lambert, and he has been getting all gay this past week, there are three things I really need to discuss. […]

He’s so gay, he’s being bashed by all the other gays.
Shouldn’t the name of his album be ‘Fag for your entertainment’ and the first track be of him singing ‘I’m every woman’
 
I’m approving this comment simply to prove my point about how much idiotic homophobia Adam (and anyone out and gay, really) has to experience by being who he is. Thanks for stopping by. If your email is real — tahoe@cruelmail.com — I hope you get a lot of spam by my posting it. —Ed.

 

Thanks so much for the article.  I was just thinking earlier today in my ride home that I did notice no airtime for Adam’s music.  I am very upset about that.  I hear the same songs within a one- or two-hour block, everyday.  Same old, same old.  Nothing from Adam!  I think I will call my local station and demand they play anything form the 3rd most sold album in the country!!! (I live in Orlando, Fl)

You should qualify “no openly gay pop stars” with “in the U.S.”  In England there was Jimmy Somerville of Bronski Beat and Andy Bell of Erasure, who were out from the beginning of their careers.

I thought it was pretty clear I was only talking about the US. In the UK, it’s a totally different story. If I was in the UK, I never would have written this blog post, unless it was the bash American homophobia. —Ed.

I had been searching for this and was wondering if you have any thoughts on radio play now?  It still seems that radio is very slow to embrace him, it’s very much an uphill battle.  Would love to hear you revisit this topic!

I think the lack of radio play of especially the second single — which should be a massive hit and would be if it was recorded by anyone else — is obviously due to the homophobia of radio and the music industry and nothing else. The response to his AMA performance showed a wildly obvious triple standard: a woman could do worse and not get in real trouble, a straight man could do worse and no one would have blinked, but a gay man doing it was somehow akin to puppy murder. Colbert’s Grammy joke about Adam’s lack “any sense of personal restraint” was telling. No one seemed to laugh at the Grammys, but the idea that it was worth writing and doing showed that Adam’s tiny error in judgment is still worse than, say, Chris Brown’s or John Mayer’s vastly more appalling behavior. Mayer’s songs are still in heavy rotation everywhere. As are Chris Brown’s, and Brown is a man convicted of felony assault on his girlfriend, a major star. I think the answer to the title of the post is “It’s not looking good.”

So the single WWFM is steadily being added to some stations – including many Clear Chanel stations –  and saw a huge increase in spins last week.   However, it seems that not one Cumulus Media station has yet added the song.  343 stations and not one plays this song?   The Mediabase stations seem to be playing this song and the video for it is 3rd most streamed on their sites currently.  The song is in the Top 40, yet I cannot find a single Cumulus station that plays the song.  Is Cumulus known for being anti-gay?  Or is the fact that Cumulus does not report to Mediabase skewing a search for stations that play the song?  I cannot believe that NO Cumulus will play it.  If that is indeed true, I would love to see a copy of the memo with rationale for not adding Adam Lambert to playlists.

I noticed that WWFM was moving up, but I didn’t see that it had hit the Top 40 yet. Yay! Still, it’s not playing on my local pop station yet — not that I’ve heard anyway. Cumulus Media is a problem. They’re the ones that banned the Dixie Chicks and had a CD smashing party the destroy the Chicks’ albums. I think it’s safe to assume they’re not plating Adam because he’s gay.

Yay: My local Top 40 station is playing WWFM! I just voted for the song on their “You Pick the Hits” survey and I found it on their playlist, though it was spelled wrong. W00t.

So how does it all look now, almost two years on? Anyone want to change any of their earlier comments?

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