So, How Was Your Decade is a series in which the decade’s most innovative musicians answer our questionnaire about the people, places and things that shaped their decade. We’ll be rolling these pieces out throughout December.
From joining Queen to donning a red outfit reminiscent of Elmo, Adam Lambert had had a packed 10 years. Lambert famously broke out in 2009 as the runner-up of the eighth season of American Idol. Since then, he has released three solo albums, as well as joined Queen for several tours over the last 10 years — most recently on the band’s Rhapsody trek, which came in the wake of 2018 biopic, Bohemian Rhapsody.
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Lambert spoke with Rolling Stone at the end of the decade to recall his best moments (meeting Patti Labelle), biggest lessons (maybe warn someone if you’re going to go sexy for the AMAs) and more.
My favorite album of the 2010s was: Beyoncé’s Beyoncé. This was the surprise visual album that no one was prepared for! It was a new sound and incredibly hooky! The memes were everywhere! She informed and reflected the zeitgeist and elevated herself to full icon.
My favorite song of the 2010s was: “Uptown Funk” by Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars. This song is an absolute beast. They ignored the trends of the moment and just went for the most badass sound they could. The groove, the vocal, the energy! This contagious track got everyone moving. Bravo!
The artist who had the best decade was: Lady Gaga has found a way to give a voice to the weird kids and forged ahead as a champion for the artist’s quest for integrity. Her performances always seem raw and wild but at the same time just polished enough to allow the audience to surrender.
And with some commercial hits and misses, she doesn’t give up! She manages to both compete in the music industry game and transcend it and reject it with rebellious reinventions. She’s also made the giant leap from recording artist to actor to great acclaim. I find her majorly inspiring.
The craziest thing that happened to me in the 2010s was: My work with Queen — aside from being in the finals of American Idol. That was pretty monumental in my last decade. It’s really defined my career, lifestyle, a lot of my travel and a lot of relationships.
The TV show I couldn’t stop streaming in the 2010s was: I liked True Blood a lot. I really liked what they were exploring. They used this device of modern-day vampires, but I think they were really exploring people that are others [and] outsiders. That’s very symbolic for a lot of different things. They definitely explored human sexuality; they explored race. They explored all these very current social issues, but they did it within the terms of the show, which I thought was really clever.
The best new slang term of the decade was: I think that’s lit. It’s lit. Like L-I-T, lit. My new favorite new slang term.
The best live show I saw in the 2010s was: A couple of Lady Gaga concerts that were pretty bananas. Such a good performer and her showmanship and her commitment to the performance is always really inspiring.
The most surprising encounter I had with a fellow artist this decade was: I met Patti LaBelle during an intermission of the musical Motown in New York. I was waiting in line for a drink and she was on the other side of the bar. We locked eyes and I mouthed, “I love you” to her, and she goes, “No, I love you.” And I was like, “What?” Then she walked over and I’m like, “Do you know who I am?” And she was like, “Absolutely.” And I’m like, “What?”
The misstep I learned the most from in the 2010s was: If you’re going to do something on TV, do it during rehearsal. It might piss some people off. I’m referring to the  AMAs.
The best book I read this decade was: The House of Fallen Leaves [by Mark Z. Danielewski]. It was pretty crazy. It’s a thriller/horror/sci-fi kind of thing and it was very, very abstract. In order to help tell the story and disorient the reader, the characters in the book were disoriented midway through. They started breaking up the text on the page and putting it upside down; they took the text of the book and they screwed it all up in order to create this feeling of confusion. I thought that was really interesting.
Something cool I did this decade that nobody noticed was: I recently bought a house that I really love and decorated it and that’s not something that’s necessarily out there for the public, but I love it. It’s my sanctuary.
The strangest thing someone said about me in the media this decade was: That my friend Sam Smith and I were dating after we hung out at a London club together. Don’t jump to conclusions. But we did laugh.
The best outfit I wore this decade was: I borrowed this jacket from [fashion designer duo] The Blonds; it’s a leather biker jacket with oversized red fur sleeves. And I wore that for a couple of different things, including a Queen performance, and my fans nicknamed it the Elmo jacket.
The most “2010s” moment of the 2010s was: When Brett Kavanaugh tried desperately to defend himself against the allegations of sexual assault by Christine Blasey Ford. This moment really summed up the #MeToo movement by shedding some light on a serious issue in our culture.
My biggest hope for the 2020s is: I hope that the next generation that’s coming up really come into more power, because I think that they have the right idea of where we need to go with things.
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