When American Idol first aired, viewers fell in love with the original panel of judges. Paula Abdul, Randy Jackson, and Simon Cowell became a fixture of reality television history. Their chemistry and interactions with the contestants made them memorable in their own unique ways.
Cowell was known as the “mean” judge. He would throw insults around with his brutally honest opinion. This caused some fans of the show to dislike him, while others respected him for it.
This reputation, however, caused Adam Lambert’s initial interactions with Cowell to be less-than positive. Their mutual respect and love for one another would eventually develop as Lambert made his way through his career.
Adam Lambert Once Said He Believed Simon Singled Out Contestants If They Were Perceived To Be Gay
Danny Noriega was a former American Idol contestant who competed in the show’s seventh season. They did so well that they were placed in the semi-finals. During the competition, Simon Cowell referred to one of Noriega’s performances as “grotesque.” The remark brought Noriega to tears and was just one example of something Lambert saw as a recurring issue on the show.
“Up until my season, anytime someone came on the show that was perceived to be gay or it was obvious enough that they were gay, they were a joke; They were made fun of,” Lambert said in an interview. “Simon would make fun of them.”
Noriega didn’t let Cowell’s comments stop them, however. They kept singing and eventually became known as drag queen Adore Delano. Lambert said that he felt a similar mistreatment by Cowell because of his identity while on the show.
During his audition, Lambert sang Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody.” The performance was cut off by Cowell simply by saying, “Okay.” Paula Abdul told Lambert he was a “great singer.”
Cowell, on the other hand, wasn’t so impressed. “I’m going to give you my opinion for what it’s worth,” he began. “I think you are… theatrical.” Cowell didn’t mean it as a compliment.
During Lambert’s run on the season, Cowell warmed up to Lambert “Over the entire season, you’ve been one of the best, most original contestants we’ve ever had on the show,” Cowell told Lambert during the season finale. “The hope and whole idea of a show like this is to find a worldwide star, and I truly believe we’ve found that in you.”
Lambert also said that the two are on much better terms today saying “I did the finale the year before last, and it was the first time I had seen him in 10 years. He was sweet. He said, ‘Good to see you — good job,'” he said. “He sort of wised up on that angle and he realized quickly that is not acceptable anymore.”
Adam Reunites With Simon Cowell On ‘America’s Got Talent’ And Simon Promised To Be Nice
While Lambert was on American Idol, he had to work on perfecting his performance every week. The goal wasn’t just to eclipse his competition, but to win over the opinions of the judges.
Lambert found himself stepping into familiar territory when he performed on the season finale of America’s Got Talent: All-Stars. He sang a cover of Sia’s “Chandelier,” from his new album “High Drama.” Lambert performed alongside AGT acts The Bello Sisters and Aidan Bryant.
Cowell sat in the audience next to fellow judges Heidi Klum and Howie Mandel. After the performance, host Terry Crews asked Lambert if he ever sang next to aerialists or hand acrobats in the past.
“No, and I think these [chunky platform boots] that I wore were kind of a hazard,” Lambert joked. “Because I’m extra tall, and there’s only so high [Aidan] can go up with them.”
Cowell was very pleased with Lambert’s performance. “That was amazing!” he said. “Adam, I have to say this. We’ve known each other a long time-”
“I’m having major déjà vu…” Lambert said. “But this time, I’m going to be nice,” Cowell promised. “Because Adam, you are honestly one of the nicest people in show business. I’m so proud of everything you’ve achieved.”
Adam Lambert Said He Believes Simon Cowell Never Sings Because He Isn’t Able To
In 2022, Lambert sat down with ET Canada and reflected on his American Idol audition “What I remember is that I went in there singing a Michael Jackson song, and the judges kind of looked at me like they weren’t sure about it. They weren’t really feeling it,” he remembered. “And so I was like, ‘I’m not leaving here without, you know, getting through.’ So I was like, ‘Well, okay, well, I can sing something else. What does you always want to hear?’ And they were like, ‘What else do you have?’ And I said, ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ by Queen.”
Lambert noted how that decision not only affected his chances on the show, but the rest of his career “If I hadn’t have picked that, I don’t know if the past decade would have looked like how it looked,” Lambert said. “It’s kind of one of those fate things where, you know, you have to give fate sometimes a little nudge, but something stepped in and took care of me. So, it’s been great.”
When asked which American Idol judge he would like to duet with, Lambert had an interesting reason for not choosing Cowell.
“I want to hear Simon sing, because I bet he can’t,” he said. “I bet Randy would be really fun, but it’s got to be Paula, you know, I love Paula. She’s amazing.”
Lambert was then reminded that Mariah Carey was also a judge. He said, “Oh, yeah. She was a judge after my time. But yeah, that would be good.”
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