Single Review: Adam Lambert – ‘Whataya Want From Me’

Adam Lambert, as a person, presents a very difficult problem. The same kind of problem artists like David Bowie and Elton John had in their day.

He and his guyliner terrify the living daylights out of children.

And he’s not too loved by many adults either: woman think he’s “a bit weird” and men think he’s “a puff”. Prejudice is an awful thing, but Adam needn’t have worried about prejudice once everyone heard his first erotically named single, a rocky club stomper from Dr, Luke and Claude Kelly entitled ‘For Your Entertainment’, which saw the man scream in an unbelievably dynamic voice about how he’ll “entertain you ’till you scream”. So even if prejudice lost him many UK fans in his target demographic, the ‘inappropriate’ song did him about as much help as a kick in the teeth.

People are prejudiced of even the highest alpha-male, especially when it comes to people not being seen as ‘normal’, but what is normal? Whether they’re homosexual, of a different religion or have a different skin colour, they can expect discrimination, because I doubt anyone these days knows what ‘normal’ is, which can be interpreted as quite a good thing because it means everyone can be diverse and different because it irons out stereotyping. Moving back to music, Adam’s cleverly picked a song called ‘Whataya Want From Me’, as if he’s trying to ask the prejudiced what can he do to impress us?

So, after his last attempt at breaking the UK turned out a bit of a flop, Adam’s not about to tone down the high energy, powerhouse vocals with his second release. But one things is for absolute certain: this does not deserve to flop.

The song opens with a weeping, muted electric guitar riff, soon accompanied by heavy drums a saddened, timid sounding Adam pleading for you to “slow it down” and tell him how he can impress you whilst going through a difficult time, so that he doesn’t have to live with his pain any longer. As is the norm with power ballads the chorus is loud, it’s brash and has lots of angry guitars but at the centre of this song is a bleeding heart filled with confusion, self-hatred and fear – “Just don’t give up/I’m working it out/Please don’t give in/I won’t let you down”, giving the impression that behind Adam’s enormous vocals lies only half a man.

Adam’s stripped down all the theatricalities of ‘For Your Entertainment’, all the props, the ornamentation, the electronic dance influences, and we’re given a pleading power ballad in the vein of Daughtry or Nickelback, but with far more anxiety in both the instrumentation and the vocal performance, with Adam’s vocals very reserved, husky and timid one moment and then very desperate and pleadingly he wails over the chorus in a level of emotion that’s been sucked out of the charts these days with the onslaught of soulless Record Label puppets.

The song’s rousing finale, where Adam repeatedly cries “Whataya want from me?” could bring a tear to your eye, it’s so loud and brimming with emotion and angst. Adam Lambert doesn’t just sing songs: he performs them, even on the record he sounds like he’s really giving everything into the song as if to say “Here I am. Take me. I know I’m not good enough but what can I do?”. Now name someone in the charts who can convey such a heartfelt message? I honestly didn’t think it was achievable but Adam has managed to convey more emotion than is humanly possible in the short space of just 3:46.

The video is one of those that enhances the mood and drama of the song, a low-budget, all theatrics spared video with plenty of shots of Adam looking very melancholy and self-loathing. There’s also some parts that appear to be Adam trying to stop the camera crew from filming or stop people looking at him in his private life.

In true Adam Lambert style, the song is very dramatic and is going to join only a handful of songs to be released this year where the listener could be affected by it’s desperately sad message. It’s horrible to hear this song isn’t doing to well in the charts, it’s wandering as confusedly as Adam in this song around to #80-#90 margin. I don’t usually do this but I would strongly suggest giving it a download or a CD purchase: it’ll probably be the most honest song you buy this year.

Rating: 5.0 STARS

Download: July 19, 2010 (OUT NOW) (pleaseeee buy)

Featured Album: ‘For Your Entertainment’

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  1. magsmagenta

    Thank you so much for this review, it started off a bit confusing but by the end I got your point, How such a brilliantly talented artist could flop here in the UK is a mystery to me, the snobbery of BBC DJs and BBC Radios refusal to playlist him despite many many requests must have a lot to do with it. Everywhere else in the world where this song has been released it has been a massive hit, it has gone platinum in some countries and won a Much Music award in Canada ahead of such artists as Lady Gaga and Beyonce.

    That it shows every sign of flopping here unless something dramatic happens by the end of the week truly shameful.

    1. Gerard McGarry

      Is it really looking set to be THAT big of a flop? I can’t understand it. Is there any sort of fan-led campaign to get the single charting higher? If there’s anything we on Shout can do to help, we’ll be happy to jump on board!

      1. fi

        Well it’s not made the top 40 in the midweeks, so does that count as a flop? (My god, K Price is on the Indie Chart at no.4!!) It’s actually gone down on iTunes from last week, now that there’s a remix version on there as well. have been trying to get radio to give it some airplay, with some (but mixed) success with commercial radio. Any idea how to get Radio 1/2 to pick it up?

        I think Adam Lambert’s fans are very committed but his promo in UK seems to have been piecemeal. He is currently touring America so not going to be able to physically promote this single here. We are hoping he will play some dates in the UK towards the end of the year, but that may depend on this song selling well. He is phenomenal singing live.


        1. Gerard McGarry

          Depending on expectations, some artists may consider anything less than Top 20 a flop, especially when you consider how few units you have to sell these days to chart. And again depending on the status of the artist.

          If Adam’s not even charting in the Top 40, it means there’s a lot of work ahead. I really do wish him well, because Whattaya Want From Me is an absolute anthem.

  2. wordsfailme

    I don’t really think prejudice is the major reason behind this song not being more popular.  There are two main problems. The first is lack of support from Radio’s 1  and 2.

    Radio 1 seem more intent on going with the safe option of playlisting established artists, even if the songs are sub-standard and the talent pool is low. Alternatively they go down the pretentious route of pushing so called trendy artists despite lack of talent or material (but it helps if you have famous parents).  I don’t know enough about Radio 2 to comment but I suspect the same “head up their backside” attitude is to blame.

    The rest of the blame should go to Sony UK for their totally ineffective marketing strategy.  Sony in every other  part of the world have had no problems, and I don’t believe it is all down to the UK market.  Their campaign has consisted of ridiculous, badly written and often factually incorrect tabloid pieces or articles in gossip mags. The main context being “look here’s Adam with JLS and he has a crush on one of them”, “Adam has met Gaga”, “Adam fancies David Beckham” and all sorts of crap like that.

    Where are the interviews with “Adam is an amazing singer and performer” or “look at Adam’s amazing live performances”

    To put it in a nutshell Sony UK were  given an artist who belongs in the “Tesco Finest” range and he’s has been marketed like something out of the “Asda Smartprice” range.  It comes across like they put the YTS trainees in charge of Adam’s UK promotion.

    I am so gutted for Adam he is probably one of the best singer/performers around at the moment and he loves the UK so much. He has been let down badly. Shame on you Sony UK.  I sincerely hope they find some way of turning this situation around and that backsides are being kicked as we speak.

  3. LolaGlamb

    It seems to me to be early days yet to be calling Adam’s single, Whataya Want From Me. a flop in the UK.  It’s only been released 3 days!  I don’t know how things work over there, but Adam’s singles were slow to take off in the US.  He’s a new artist, in spite of the Idol recognition, and had to overcome some prejudice in the US, along with the ‘scandal’ of his brazenly erotic performance at the AMA’s (gasp!).  Yet, after 7 months, WWFM is still doing well on the charts, going platinum, selling 1.4 million copies. It is double platinum in Canada, and gold or platinum in at least 7 other  countries.  Meanwhile, his next US single, IF I Had You, is beginning to rise up the Billboard Chart. 

    I do agree with wordsfailme, however. It is a shame if the UK does not accept Adam, because he does love you so.  Most of his major musical influences and icons are British; Queen, Led Zeppelin, David Bowie, Boy George, Freddy Mercury, Robert Plant….  However, since he did mention he might even want to live there some day, maybe this is a good thing.  No way do I want to see our Adam moving across the ocean from us! 

    1. wordsfailme

      bb! It isn’t that the UK don’t accept Adam, as I think a very large proportion of them would.  The song is not selling because a large amount of the UK don’t even know who he is and of the one’s who do lots of them only know what they have read in the tabloids and gossip mags.  Most of those articles have very little to do with his talent as a singer.

      I feel like a real bitch for this but I am still holding Sony UK responsible.

  4. Music Again

    If it wasnt for youtube and the fantasticly dedicated fan groups that feed each other with information and the social networking of Face Book- I too wouldnt have a clue that Adam has a single released this week, why we had to wait so long is another mystery to me . All that the Uk Sony promo reps consider being a job well done -is offering the odd competition to keep the fans feeding from their hands, and the nod to some shonky half written sniggering comments in a cheap tabloid once in a while.. Well the worm is turning- we think Adam is more deserving than what has been given up to now. Shout, if you can do something positive for us PLEASE DO- there are still 3 major Radio stations that are not playing Adams songs because they say ‘not enough people know him in the U.K’ we have been requesting ’til we are blue in the face and very heavy hearted. BBC 1 & 2 the Heart F.M network and Kiss Fm network still are being stunbborn.To put the record straight – the only women i know who think of Adam as being weird- is how its weird in the fact that even though we have known Adam was gay right from the start it has done nothing but strengthen our desire to defend this extraordinary talented and gifted man. Adam is weird to me- because he has reawakened my heart and soul to music, sex, love and glam rock and roll and i shall be bloody miffed if the likes of the Aunty BEEB brigade deem Adam as not being the Brits cup of tea without taking our true point of view into consideration! thanks again for this article.

  5. steelcitylambrit

    Thank you for the great review. Unfortunately I’m with a lot of the other fans here in that his UK PR so far seems to have been a complete shambles – even the good appearances like his Jonathan Ross appearance have in my opinion been wasted because they haven’t been followed up on. Clearly Adam isn’t at fault, as he has tour commitments in the US, but his UK PR people should certainly hang their heads because as far as I can see their “promotion” for him has been pretty much limited to the odd Tweet to fans, and pathetic little “articles” in papers like the Daily Star which focus largely on his sexuality and makeup. Over a year after Idol and still hardly anyone here knows who he is – I don’t think that counts as a job well done on the part of his UK team by any stretch of the imagination. Added to that is Radio 1 and 2’s apparent refusal to playlist him thus effectively decimating his potential chart positions.

    So anything you can do to help tell people about this amazingly gifted singer would be most appreciated! I have a music degree and know a lot of talented singers, but this guy is something else. Even my husband likes him and followed him week to week during his Idol run!

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