Adam Lambert on Hosting 'VH1 Divas': 'Men Are Divas, Too'
The "American Idol" alum divulges a few secrets about his Sunday TV gig, lists his favorite divas and looks back on 2012 -- the good, the fab and the tragic.
Adam Lambert says he's ready to “dig in” to his hosting debut this Sunday for VH1 Divas adding that fans should get ready for “a little bit of everything."
This means seeing the American Idol favorite singing, acting, and of course, displaying his own unique sense of style. “A lot of the ideas for how I’ll be dressed are mine,” he teases. “Some of them I wish I could blame on somebody else, but I can't." He promises to change outfits "a zillion times."
Lambert's hosting gig is a maiden voyage for the rocker that's sure to show his range. On the run-of-show: a sketch with non-performer and Real Housewife Ne Ne Leakes, who will act as a diva coach for the 30-year old Idol season eight finalist. “We've pre-recorded a sketch that's quite funny," he tells The Hollywood Reporter. "I haven't seen the final edit yet so I hope I'm actually funny ... But we had so much fun filming it so I think people will get a kick out of it."
Lambert will be sharing the Shrine Auditorium stage with a bill of strong, female performers, including American Idol winners Jordin Sparks and Kelly Clarkson, The X Factor’s Demi Lovato, Kelly Rowland, Keri Hilson, Pitbull and Bootsy Collins. The show will also feature tributes to late divas Donna Summer and Whitney Houston.
The event doubles as a sort of American Idol reunion for Lambert, who will re-team with musical director Rickey Minor and his band of musicians. “Working with Rickey again is really nice," says Lambert. "His band and backup singers are a lot of the same people who were on Idol so it’s a great comfort and they are some of the best musicians in the industry.”
Lambert also divulged that he will be trading vocals with Rowland and Hilson, for a tribute number honoring Summer. “I'm doing a medley of songs by Donna Summer and they're both fantastic singers,” he said. “For my [own] musical performances there's dancers involved and a few of them are actually good friends of mine. So it will be fun to be on stage with close friends. It always makes for a better experience when you're connecting with the people that you're sharing a stage with.”
Lambert said the opportunity to perform alongside other artists is a “treat” that he doesn’t get to indulge in as much as he likes. “It’s cool to be on stage with other artists and collaborating. I don’t get to do that as much as I’d like. I think that’s a real treat,” he said. “You cross the line a little bit, and get into somebody else’s territory and introduce yourself to their fans and my fans are introduced to them, it’s a nice way to bring everybody together.”
Other revelations shared by Lambert include a Houston medley featuring Sparks, who shared screen time with the late star in the film Sparkle this summer.
“I love Jordin -- she has such a great voice,” says Lambert, who also sang the praises of Summer and Houston as iconic divas who both left indelible imprints in the world of entertainment. “These are two divas that are part of everybody's lives and their music and their voices and affected pretty much everybody both artists and the audience. When you think about their music -- especially their dance music -- those songs are a part of our experience. They've been played at weddings and bar mitzvahs and school dances and all these big events that people have in their lives so we all associate the special times in our lives.”
So who else does Lambert consider as a “diva?”His list includes Madonna, who he will be covering on Sunday (though he's staying mum on which song), Aretha Franklin, who offered herself to be an American Idol judge earlier this year, and Beyonce.
“Madonna has defined her own genre over the course of her career. She's iconic,” he said. “Aretha is the Queen of Soul. She's influenced everybody and contemporary music in such a major way. Her voice alone is undeniable and the songs she made famous are just so they're iconic and affect all of us. I think Beyonce is a contemporary diva who's amazing.”
Lambert’s diva’s list is male inclusive, it turns out, as he name-checked Elton John and Elvis Presley and, of course, Queen's Freddie Mercury, whom Lambert channeled for a series of concerts. "I learned so much from [Queen guitarist] Brian May and [drummer] Roger Taylor, sharing the stage with them and understanding the legacy that they left behind. It inspired me. It got me psyched about why I do this in the first place."
That naturally begs the Glamberts' top question: will there be a North American Trespassing tour? "To be honest with you, we are doing some international touring, but it’s still kind of up in the air," he says. "I think sometimes we like to all live in an ideal world. If it were so easy as to say, ‘I want to tour’, it would be a different story, but there is so much that goes into touring and the financial side of it and the planning side. It’s not quite as easy as people might think is."
As for Divas, Lambert said he is honored that VH1 has confidence in his hosting duties, and wants to serve the show well. "I was so excited when the opportunity presented itself, he says. "I was pretty flattered. Obviously they trust me and they have faith that I am going to be able to handle it and that kind of trust gives me confidence."
Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter on Friday hours after the elementary school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, Lambert took a moment to reflect on the devastation of recent events -- from 28 people dead in a senseless tragedy to the wrath of Hurricane Sandy.
"When I found out this morning, it’s been like a dark cloud all day," he says. "My drummer has children and he said 'I don’t want them in school right now.'" But Lambert sees his place as an entertainer in trying times like these in simple terms: "Sometimes the feeling of celebration and joy is a way to pull out of something for a brief time ... "That’s the power of music."
VH1 Divas airs live on VH1 Sunday at 9 p.m.