After spending 2013 in a successful guest spot as Elliot “Starchild” on Glee‘s penultimate season, and 2014 touring the world as the frontman for the one of the world’s greatest rock bands, Queen, Adam Lambert is finally releasing new music.
Lambert’s new single “Ghost Town,” produced by Max Martin and Shellback, the genius minds behind hits such as P!nk’s “Raise Your Glass,” Taylor Swift’s “Blank Space,” Britney Spears’ “I Wanna Go,” and Lamberts own “Whattaya Want From Me” and “If I Had You,” leads his third studio album, The Original High, expected to drop on June 16th. For diehard “Glamberts,” it’s the single they’ve been anxiously awaiting since the American Idol runner up dropped his sophomore effort Trespassing in 2012. For the rest of the world? “Ghost Town” should be the song to finally put Lambert on the map as an incredible musical force to be reckoned with.
Yes, it’s that good.
Don’t believe me? “Ghost Town” has already received much fanfare on Twitter:
The song kicks off with a sparse guitar accompanied by Lambert’s dreamy vocals reminiscent of his cover of Tears for Fears’ “Mad World.” His lyrical prowess is not only on full display, it’s easy to see how much he’s grown as an artist since his debut as the fearless guyliner-wearing performer on American Idol. The first verse offers a crushing perspective of love in the time of Hollywood, and the result is chilling: “Died last night in my dreams / Walking the streets of some old ghost town / I tried to believe in God and James Dean / But Hollywood sold out / Saw all of the saints lock up the gates / I could not enter / Walked into the flames, called out your name, but there was no answer / And now I know my heart is a ghost town.” Plucking synths fill the spaces between the verse and chorus, while the whistles serve as a nostalgic reminder of the emptiness he’s singing about. The metaphor of a heart as a ghost town is particularly striking; the imagery of an empty town where people once lived is obvious, but it’s the way in which he leads up to the lyrical reveal in the chorus that truly resonates. It’s not just that his town, his heart, is empty, it’s that everyone in it is dead: God, James Dean, Elvis, his “disaffected friends,” even he himself is a ghost in his own heart. His heart is occupied by the undead, the vampires, the leeches, those who take without remorse.
The electronic elements, reminiscent of Disclosure, MNEK, and Years & Years juxtapose the raw organic pluck of the guitar and the western whistles, but it’s Lambert’s vocals that truly elevate the song in a way no other singer, male or female, can do. When he belts the bridge, his voice is a lightning bolt that strikes the spine, sending electrical impulses through the body. It’s a natural high, the original high, an effect produced after digesting the song’s infectious notes over and over again. With each second, the song builds and builds and builds to this gorgeous crescendo, a symphony of sound that combines the organic, the electronic, and the raw power of Lambert’s voice. If “Ghost Town” is a gateway drug, I’m fully prepared for the addictive album to follow.
Early on April 20th, Lambert revealed the tracklisting for The Original High on Instagram, which features Queen’s Brian May and rising star Tove Lo:
After a string of commercial disappointments following 2010’s “Whattaya Want From Me” and “If I Had You,” it seems that Lambert is returning with a vengeance. He parted ways with RCA in 2013, and, at the beginning of 2015, announced that he had signed with Warner Bros. Records. Lambert has expressed in multiple interviews that he wanted to take his time with his third record, really exploring the creative process like he’d never done before, and it seems like his hard work and commitment to artistry has paid off in spades. He told Express, “‘I kind of had to stop and ask myself, ‘Why am I doing this? What do I want? Who am I? What am I about?’ and just re-examine at everything.” He’s already proved that he can out glam the legendary Freddie Mercury, and The Original High poses to finally set Lambert up as his own star, a rising tour de force who oozes the talent to not just fill in for music legends, but to stand beside them. “Ghost Town” is a song that marries contemporary pop with an original sound and thematic content that the masses can easily relate to.
Adam Lambert is poised to take over the pop music scene with The Original High. Will you be listening? You should. It’s rare for a singer of his caliber to come along. Then again, a song like “Ghost Town” is “Song of the Summer” material, so you’re bound to hear it either way.
Listen to the new song and watch the lyric video below: