Music News

Adam Lambert's new album challenges "Idol" producer

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Adam Lambert’s debut album is coming out much earlier than planned, some time this summer.

American Idol runner-up Adam Lambert poses at the Hollywood Life's 11th Annual Young Hollywood Awards at the Eli and Edythe Broad Stage in Santa Monica, California June 7, 2009. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

That’s great news for fans of the “American Idol” runner-up, but it could be a big headache for some of the major corporations behind the talent show, who have been beaten to the punch by a pair of small, indie labels.

Before he became a household name, the flamboyant singer spent three years recording songs for Los Angeles-based Wilshire Records. The label has joined forces with Hi Fi Recordings to release the 11-track album “On With the Show” this summer. An exact release date will be announced shortly.

The first single, “Want,” went on sale at digital music retailer iTunes on Tuesday. Lambert co-wrote nine of the songs, working mostly with Madonna’s guitarist, Monte Pittman.

“American Idol” producer 19 Entertainment issued a brief, businesslike statement attributed to Lambert in which he is quoted as saying, “The work I did back then in no way reflects the music I am currently in the studio working on.”

“It doesn’t surprise us, but it doesn’t make us feel good,” Hi Fi Chairman and CEO John Hecker told Reuters on Tuesday. “For some reason it’s scaring Goliath, and I don’t know why.”

He said Lambert attended a post-production session last month, as “American Idol” reached its climax, and that the singer was “blown away” by what he heard.

It wasn’t supposed to be like this in the highly controlled “American Idol” organization. The winner and the runner-up from each season, along with some other finalists, score deals with a Sony Corp label through 19 Entertainment, which is owned by media firm CKX Inc.

Their albums are released with great fanfare in the fall. If they’re lucky -- and the odds are against them -- the stars will go on to enjoy Grammy-winning success like Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood.

In Lambert’s case, the stakes are high for both sides. The openly gay singer is one of the more colorful performers to emerge from the teeming “American Idol” pool of wannabes. His shock defeat at the hands of Kris Allen this past season that ended in May only added to his mystique, while a Rolling Stone magazine cover story gave him a hint of credibility.

Hecker denied some fans’ assertions that Lambert was being ripped off, saying the singer stands to make “a ton of money” through a royalties arrangement commensurate with deals for major artists. Lambert will not only receive songwriting royalties, but he also co-owns the copyrights with Wilshire, Hecker said.

But wait, there’s more. Hecker said the recording sessions yielded enough material for a second album, which will also see the light of day eventually,

A spokesman for 19 Entertainment did not respond to an email seeking further comment.

Editing by Bob Tourtellotte