Dear “Never Close Our Eyes,”
Hey, it’s Mark! Remember? We met last week when I listened to you online. I was wearing that cute gray jacket and those shoes with the cool stitching. I was really excited to hear you, since you’re the latest single from Adam Lambert’s upcoming album, Trespassing.
And sure… I was disappointed by the album’s first single, a sludgy ballad called “Better Than I Know Myself,” but I don’t hold grudges. Like all right-thinking people, I fell for Lambert during his season on American Idol, and those memories help me forgive a lot of things.
Those memories, in fact, got me through the crappy song Lambert recorded for Poseidon and the noisy chaos of his single “For Your Entertainment.” My patience was rewarded with “Whataya Want from Me.” It highlights Adam’s voice, and it rocks a strong, straightforward melody. It pleases without trying too hard.
I thought you’d do the same thing. After all, you’re co-written by Bruno Mars and Dr. Luke, who make brilliant pop music every day.
But that’s why I’m writing. Because even though you’re pretty good, you’re not good enough.
On the plus side, you sound like a Bruno Mars song, with the drawn-out notes in random places and the dark throb of hits like “Grenade” and “It Will Rain.” And like the best Dr. Luke singles, you deliver a key change like whoa. That is good.
But you bury your sound under sixty five layers of electronic fuzz. It’s like A-Lamb is singing from the bottom of a well, and that well is in a late-night club. I can hear the beats and the echoes, but I have to strain to hear the song.
That’s what happens on Britney Spears tracks like “I Wanna Go,” but I don’t mind because Britney’s not much of a singer. At this point, she’s just a famous name whose processed vocals are an excuse to dance. But with Adam Lambert, burying the vocal is practically a sin.
Honestly, a lot of Lambert’s music has suffered from the same noisy clutter. I understand that he wants to be a modern-day answer to glam rock and that club beats are an obvious avenue to that personality, but damn… if you can sing—and if people fell in love with you because you can sing—then why not release music that highlights your singing?
So here we are, “Never Close Our Eyes.” You and I won’t be hanging out again, but please tell Adam that I still have feelings for him. If he can just start releasing better singles, then he can come over any time.
Mark Blankenship has written about pop music for The New York Times and NPR. He tweets as @IAmBlankenship. He wanted to like this song. He really did.